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Thread: Swimming & Weight Loss

  1. #1
    Very Active Member MichiganHusker's Avatar
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    Swimming & Weight Loss

    It seems that there are completely different opinions among the so-called experts when it comes to swimming for weight loss.

    Does anyone know of someone who swims regularly and has not lost weight? I don't mean a leisurely couple of laps, but a regular workout.
    Are there any obese swimmers who work out regularly and are competitive?

    I'm thinking that the fitness experts don't like swimming because they are either:
    a. Not good swimmers
    b. Can't swim enough distance to get a good work out in; or
    c. Had a bad experience with swimming.

    Any input on this topic is appreciated (beyond the diet and exercise speech).

  2. #2
    Very Active Member scyfreestyler's Avatar
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    Losing weight is about one thing, burning more calories than you consume. If you can maintain your weight with no exercise then swimming while maintaining the same caloric intake will surely yield a loss of weight.

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    From what I recall in a kinesiology class many years ago, weight loss in swimming is gradual. You may maintain the weight you began with when beginning for a month or longer, but you will "look" different, meaning the weight will be re-distributed. If you are looking to lose weight add another activity such as walking, bike riding, or circuit weight training with alot of reps on a low weight. And of course eat better. As far as fitness experts, I just think their expertise is in the gym setting and not at the pool.

    As far as being competitve, do you mean Master's swimmers? Sure, I've seen some larger athletes at meets, but generally no. As far as the younger set, no. Like the previous post, those young people are burning too many calories to sustain any weight beyond what they burn the next day. Now for rec swimmers, I've seen plenty who never lose any weight and that's due to the level of effort they do or don't put into the workout or swim.

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    Very Active Member MichiganHusker's Avatar
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    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I am speaking of the masters swimmer - 3-4 times a week swimming for 1 to 1 1/2 hours with 2000 yds+.

    I did a search of former threads and there was some discussion about weight loss but mostly the successes were posted by men.

    I just started back in the water after 25 years and many pounds. While I realize it took me many years to gain the weight, I want to lose it now! Swimming is the only sport that really feels natural to me. I hate running & aerobics, I can tolerate walking and cycling is great when the weather is good, but Michigan's cycling season is rather short (too hot or too cold).

    I'm glad to know that if I don't see immediate results on the scale not to panic.

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    Woman "weighing" in here....

    I lost 30 pounds just swimming. My workouts consisted of 2500-4000 yards - 60-90 minutes, 4-6 times per week.

    I wasn't losing weight for a long time doing the above workouts; I lost weight by changing my eating and drinking habits. No cheese, no booze, stopping when I was full (i.e., learning how to push the plate away), and portion control.

    So....I lost 30 pounds in 5 months! I was able to eventually add wine, beer, cheese, other favorite foods, etc. back into my diet, but I still practice portion control.
    Kari

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    MichiganHusker:

    Glad to hear you are back in the pool. I understand your walking and biking predicament especially due to those Michigan winters. Are you on a team? If so, add some fins to your routine. Talk with your coach about it: when they are doing a set of 100's, kick them with fins instead. You'll make the same interval as if you were swimming. The reason I say this, is when I need to shape up, I kick more (usually 200 backstrokes). Also fast/moderate sets will increase your metabolism and burn more calories--such as 25 fast, 50 moderate.

    I think just making a commitment and sticking with a routine is beneficial. What the aerobic swimming is doing is toning your body, as fishgrrl wrote, combining that with some food modification will help. Be sure and hydrate while you swim, it helps from gorging after practice! Which I'm sure we all have done. Best of luck, the board here is great for inspiration and advice.

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    Very Active Member dorothyrde's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichiganHusker
    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I am speaking of the masters swimmer - 3-4 times a week swimming for 1 to 1 1/2 hours with 2000 yds+.

    I did a search of former threads and there was some discussion about weight loss but mostly the successes were posted by men.

    I just started back in the water after 25 years and many pounds. While I realize it took me many years to gain the weight, I want to lose it now! Swimming is the only sport that really feels natural to me. I hate running & aerobics, I can tolerate walking and cycling is great when the weather is good, but Michigan's cycling season is rather short (too hot or too cold).

    I'm glad to know that if I don't see immediate results on the scale not to panic.
    Losing weight is more about what you put in your mouth, exercise is just the healthy bonus. When I don't swim at least 60 minutes, 4 times a week, I have trouble with weight gain. I have lost 35 pounds and swimming most certainly helped. But the weight loss was slow, 1-1.5 most weeks, but some weeks under a pound. So watch what you eat 98% of the time, get in the pool and get your work-out in and if you don't have any other underlying issues(metabolism), then you will slowly lose weight and tone up.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    I noticed they've got an Endless Pool on the TV show "The Biggest Loser," so I guess they think swimming helps people lose weight

    Yes, I do think swimming helps you lose weight. I don't know if it's the best way, but it definitely does. I'm about 15 lbs lighter now than when I started swimming masters and I eat a lot more.

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    Very Active Member MichiganHusker's Avatar
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    I've always been a healthy eater - I just have a big appetite, so definitely portion control is important. I've cut back on the glasses of wine during the week (that alone should be huge).

    I did have my metabolism/thryroid checked as I was not losing any weight by diet along (1500 cals/day). The MD told me that the ONLY way to safely increase your metabolism is by regular exercise.

    Dorthyrde and Fishgrrl: What sort of diet did you follow?

    Does anyone have an opinion on weather it is better to exercise in the a.m. or p.m.?

    Patrick: I'm not on a team - the local masters team works out too late in the evening for me. I've been using Mo Chambers' workouts - they are great! Mo has been extremely kind in helping me interpret the new fandangled lingo/stroke drills and set a strategy for maintaining a **lower** heart rate as I tend to work out way too hard - 90-95% of Max heart rate - unless I slow down and take it easier.

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    Susan - I wasn't on a particular diet; I just cut down on the amount of food I was eating.

    I LOVE cheese - any kind of cheese and I would eat it for snacks while cooking dinner; I would sprinkle it on almost anything that I ate, etc. I was in a kind of cheese-denial that I had to force myself out of - because when I finally braced up and looked at the calorie and fat grams of cheese, I HAD to stop eating it all together for a while. I was also drinking a lot of wine, pretty much every night - sometimes a bottle just on my own! Hence, the little personal wine and cheese parties were keeping the weight on, no matter how much I swam. When I cut that out, it made a huge difference.

    Another thing that really helped was learning to listen to my body and STOP eating when I was full. That took practice because I was in the habit of overeating and stuffing myself and not listening to my body. Once I started doing that, I was amazed at how little I actually ate. I would give myself permission to not eat everything on my plate and if I couldn't bring myself to throw the food away, I just covered my plate and ate it later, when I was hungry again. So - no starving myself, but I only ate when I was truly hungry.

    Drinking a lot of water helped too, because I noticed that I would think I was hungry when I was actually thirsty or dehydrated.

    Now - I still have potato chips - but instead of taking the whole bag with me in front of the TV, I put a small amount in a bowl, and when I am done with the bowl, I'm done with the chips!

    Basically, I still eat and drink whatever I want - I just don't eat a lot of it or too much of it.

    Hope this helps!
    Kari

  11. #11
    Very Active Member MichiganHusker's Avatar
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    Kari, I think you are my long lost twin! Your comment about the personal wine and cheese parties made me laugh. Sometimes I think that wine bottle has a leak in it! I have noticed that I really don't want a glass of wine on the evenings I swim right after work. Uh....do you think there might be a connection here between wine and attempts at relieving stress?


    Thank you for your advice. I love to hear about success stories from real people.

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    Susan - yes, you're my long lost twin! LOL. I don't like to have wine either after I swim at night; in fact, I don't to drink at all for at least 4-5 hours after I work out.

    Yes - there is definitely a link between the "wine and cheese" parties and stress relief.....
    Kari

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    Very Active Member kristilynn's Avatar
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    After college I backed off from swimming a bit. I only got to the pool two to three times a week. Then, a few years ago our local masters team put in an a.m. workout that I could fit into my schedule. I decided to get back into the pool more regularly because it's a lot more motivating to have a group with whom to swim. I now do the group workouts three days a week and Mo Chamber's and Mel's workouts two to three days a week.

    I have never been significantly overweight, and losing weight was not my goal, but I lost 12 pounds in my first five months just by upping my frequency to 5 times a week, 3500-4500 yards per practice. Three years later, with the same practice schedule, I'm still the same weight (130).

    As far a diet is concerned, I eat a LOT of whatever I want. Luckily I don't like soda and gave up french fries on dare at age 12 and haven't had one since, but you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who eats as much chocolate as I do!

    As far as workout times go, at some point I remember reading that morning workouts are good for weight loss -- something about getting your metabolism going.

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    Very Active Member dorothyrde's Avatar
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    I do Weight Watchers and I especially like their Core plan. It teaches eating until satisfied, and selecting foods from a list of healthy foods.

    I am 44, and have had a weight problem since high school. I started swimming 5 years ago, and swimming helped me firm up, but until I watched my portion size, I did not lose weight. I also love to weight train and have been weight training since age 20. I do step aerobics and walk my dog too. I think crosstraining really works well with losing weight, at least for me. Keeps me from being bored.

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    I did Atkins, 50 lbs in 5 months. swimming 4 times a week, from 3k to 6k yards a workout. it was very hard to swim on 20 to 30g of carbs a day for the first month, but eventually it worked out well.

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    I find that I achieve a given level of weight when I do a given regimen of workout. If I increase my distance and intensity a given amount, I quickly drop some amount of weight, and then stay there as long as I keep that workout schedule. If I drop back to my old level, I put back on the weight I had before the increase in workout, and stay there.

    I don't pay a whole lot of attention to my caloric intake. I know it is high. Way high. I do not shy away from the potlucks at work. Never turned down an invitation to a picnic. Back in 1993 I participated in a study at the Olympic Training Center, and one of the elements of the study was a diet analysis. I averaged over 4000 calories per day. They also did a body fat analysis. At the time I had 11% body fat and weighed 219.

    Since then I have been as high as 249 (beginning of 2005), but was averaging in the lower 240s. In March of 2005 I decided I wanted to swim in a 2.4 mile open water swim. I upped my workouts from 2500 yards, 6 days per week, to 4200-4500 yards, 6 days per week. By August I had dropped to a range of 226-233. I'm still there today. I'm curious to have a body fat analysis done again, because I believe I have added muscle mass, and not just fat, since my 219 days.

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    Very Active Member Alicat's Avatar
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    Maybe something should be said about the ability of swimmers to use aerobic/anaerobic workouts. Some strokes may use more anaerobic training and then there will be less weight loss even though there is major cardio going on.

    Here is what I got off googling anaerobic workouts:

    Anaerobic Training is 'Highly' Aerobic


    By Jack Blatherwick

    This is not a lesson in semantics; there is a very important concept here regarding the development of skills and athleticism among young hockey players.

    The phrase 'anaerobic training’ is often equated with 'anaerobic metabolism,' and the terms are not interchangeable. The other day, a fitness instructor on TV incorrectly explained that when a person is working anaerobically, he/she is no longer using oxygen. Let's hope the workout doesn't last long, or the athlete would obviously suffocate. The fact is, anaerobic workouts can be highly aerobic - - more aerobic than aerobic workouts, for that matter.

    To understand this we need to know the basic terms. First, metabolism (in this case) means the chemical conversion of dietary fuels to energy to be used for muscle contraction. Muscle cells 'burn' fuels like glucose (sugar), fat, protein, and even lactate (one of the products of anaerobic metabolism). The word aerobic literally means with oxygen. Aerobic metabolism occurs when energy is supplied by combining oxygen with dietary fuels. Typical aerobic training (long, slow distances like jogging) is done at a slow pace so that oxygen can be supplied to working muscles fast enough to match the need.

    Anaerobic metabolism is the chemical breakdown of fuels without oxygen, and this is required when the muscles are working so hard that oxygen cannot be supplied fast enough. Technically speaking, the only way exercise could be totally anaerobic is if the person were not allowed to breathe. In reality, during normal anaerobic workouts there is a huge aerobic component - - breathing is often much heavier than during aerobic workouts, the heart is pumping at (near)-maximum rates, and muscles are being supplied with a lot of oxygen. But the delivery of oxygen is inadequate to match the elevated workload, so anaerobic metabolism must also contribute to the energy production. How much it contributes depends on the intensity and length of the work intervals, the length of the rest, and the ratio of work to rest.

    Therefore, anaerobic training uses both the aerobic and anaerobic metabolic pathways. It also challenges - - and therefore trains - - the cardiovascular system. So, when fitness instructors refer to 'cardio' workouts, as if they must be aerobic, they are wrong. It is also incorrect to claim that aerobic workouts are the best way to increase aerobic capacity. For old duffers like this author, long, slow distance workouts are the safest way to increase cardiovascular fitness. But for young hockey players, much of the endurance training should be anaerobic intervals, which also elevate the comfort zone for competition and increase speed, power, skill, and explosiveness.

    By training aerobically (long, slow distances) there is no improvement in speed, explosiveness, or power. Furthermore, training at an aerobic pace on the ice would establish a slow comfort zone which is more than just a habit. There are definite physiological consequences when one tries to compete at a faster pace than practice.

    So, what's the point? Without skating speed, quickness, and agility, no one makes it to the highest levels of hockey, and this requires hours and hours of training - - on the ice and off - - using quality intervals. The good news is that you can also gain aerobic endurance and cardiovascular efficiency as a byproduct of this training. We tested a college men's hockey team before and after six weeks of dryland interval training designed to improve running speed and quickness, anaerobic power on hills, and explosive power using skating-specific squat jumps. The training included short sprint intervals (5-15 seconds work : 50-60 seconds rest) and longer intervals for anaerobic power and endurance (30:60 and 30:90). There was no aerobic distance training. Workouts lasted only 45 minutes in the first week and increased to 90 minutes by the sixth week.

    Post-tests showed significant improvements in skating quickness even though none of the training was on-ice. There were also improvements in power, measured during two anaerobic bicycle tests (12-second sprint test improved 6.8%; 40-second all-out Wingate test improved 8.0%). But the greatest percentage improvements were apparent during a graded exercise test to measure changes in cardio-respiratory parameters normally associated with aerobic training. Total work done during the graded exercise test increased by 29%. This, of course, measures a combination of aerobic and anaerobic work.

    Anaerobic threshold was elevated by 20%, and VO2 max increased 6.3%. In a separate 5km run, subjects improved their times by 5.5%, and no one ran distances during the training period. Cardiovascular parameters also improved. One indication of successful endurance training is that the heart rate is lower at any given workload, indicating the stroke volume has increased. In other words, after a six-week training program the heart pumps more blood per beat, so it doesn't have to beat as fast.

    For this team, the heart rates were lower at every workload after training six weeks (post-testing). This is shown on the graph. Furthermore, the elapsed time until the heart rate reached 85% of its maximum was extended by 5.5%. Similar results were reported by scientists in a separate study (Fox et.al. Med.Sci.Sports Exerc. pp.18-22. 1973).

    The message is clear. You do not have to train aerobically to gain cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, because anaerobic training can have a tremendously high component of aerobic metabolism along with the various anaerobic pathways supplying energy to the muscles.

    Hockey is an interval game, so the most important endurance training is interval workouts on-ice. During games, shifts on the ice are typically about 40 seconds long, and rest intervals on the bench are 2 to 3 times as long if there are no face-offs. Biomechanists analyzed high-speed film to determine that a typical 40-second shift will have a series of short (3-second) bursts of acceleration and deceleration. Furthermore, research has verified what hockey players feel each year at training camp: endurance training off-ice may not increase endurance on-ice (Daub et.al. Med.Sci.Sports Exerc. pp. 290-294. 1983).

    The Bottom Line

    At a young age when it is still possible to make significant improvements in skating skill, speed, quickness, and agility, it is important to spend most of your time training for these goals (along with other hockey skills). Whether skating, sprinting, jumping, or lifting weights, the anaerobic interval training needs to be very intense, much greater energy output than the pace of an aerobic workout.

    The good news is you can have your cake and eat it, too. If you plan the anaerobic workouts wisely there will be significant improvements in cardiovascular and respiratory fitness without the need to jog or bike distances.


    From: http://overspeed.info/staticpages/in...=HighlyAerobic

  18. #18
    Very Active Member MichiganHusker's Avatar
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    Definitely alot of food for thought.

    Thanks everyone for your input/advice!

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    Very Active Member hmlee's Avatar
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    Ask me in February after I finish my first season on the varsity team here....then I can tell you if I've lost weight, lol.

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    Swimmign can possibnly help you lose weight. It is better to build muscle and heart strength. You won't lose weight if you don't push yourself & watch your intake.

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