T Nation

Swimming = Hungry?


Just found this on the web:

"Many people observe that they feel like 'eating a horse' after they have finished a swim training session, and may overcompensate for the energy they have just burned," says Professor Louise Burke, Head of Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport.

They reckon that the temperature might have something to do with it, that running or exercising another way causes you to feel hotter and possibly supresses your appetite.

Anybody experience this? And more to the point, might be a great way to feel hungrier and stuff more food into the system once in a while.


yeah i read an article about this, saying that swimming is not a great option for weight loss because it makes people hungry and eat much afterwards. i wish i could copy and paste but i cant cause its a subscription site and last time i tried it didnt work. so i will try to paste some quotes here and there:

"Presumably," speculates Professor Gwinup, "swimming in cold water stimulates the appetite to increase caloric consumption."

A group of 11 men exercised for 45 minutes in "neutral" and "cold" water temperatures. After the workout, they were allowed to eat as much food as they wanted.

The men burned a similar number of calories in the cold and neutral water conditions, averaging 505 and 517 calories, respectively. However, calorie intake after exercise in the cold water averaged 877 calories, which was 44% more than for the neutral temperature.

Previous studies show that ethnic groups spending a lot of time in water have the most body fat. The same holds true for Japanese female pearl divers, who are very fit but also very fat, despite swimming for several hours each day.


Yes. I'm not sure what it is either. But I would always be absolutely starved and eat like crazy after a swimming workout during triathlon training. Maybe it is something to do with being in the water rather than just swimming itself. Back in high school, our track team would either have a recovery day or a second training session in the pool where we'd do aqua running rather than swimming. It was a nightime training session around 8 or 9. I would also go back home and clean out the refrigerator afterwards. My parents could never believe it. I guess if you're having trouble getting enough calories, maybe it would help.


I was a competitive swimmer in my youth and there is no calorie burner like it. Swimming literally uses all your muscles at once and alot of the time you have to hold your breath while doing it. Imagine running sprints and only being allowed a one second breath every 4th step. I have known a bunch of really tough swimmers and none of em were fat, I don't think adding more of the most real cardio there is into your routine is the avenue to weight gain.

When I was in college I worked for a while in the Athletes kitchen. The ladies in there full time laughed when I commented on how much they must have to cook for the football team, said the swimmers could eat them under the table. Some of the gridiron boys were pretty heavy, not so the big eating water boys.


Personally, I eat big after I swim. Can't help it. Whether it's the temperature or the fact that you're working the whole time I'm not sure.

I just know that I eat like freaking grizzly who just woke up from a winter-long nappy poo when I get out of the water.

The problems I've come accross is meal planning after arduous pool workouts.

Having a plan on what I'm going to eat is important for me because I'll be knee deep in mexi-melt wrappers before I know what the hell is going on. Oh yes, it's happened before.

I don't swim competitively, just for low impact cardio so maybe I'm not the best person to chime in on the topic, just thought I'd add my two cents...



Swimming is the only endurance sport where even the athletes training at the elite levels need to constantly be on guard about weight gain. I know. I swam for one of the top high school teams in the nation and then at a Div I college. During the off season I would run and lift weights, and always showed up to the first practices of the year looking shredded. A month or 2 into the season, I'd be noticably fatter.
The reason I always subscribed to is that since swimming is not weight bearing, your stomach is relatively stable through the workout. Running on the other hand shakes up your system. I would begin to feel hungry a half hour into practice. During any other type of workout, thinking of food makes me sick. During swim practice, visions of grits and western omelettes would just dance through my head (weird that it was often those particular foods). If you're looking for overall fitness, swimming is great, especially if you have bad knees or a bad back. If you're looking to get ripped, find a good weight bearing aerobic activity.


The reason is known.

Your hypothalamus thinks you are not eating enough, because after all that excercise your temperature is not as high as it should be (you are in the water).


You aren't supporting your body weight though.


Totally agree with this. After doing laps or going to the beach I feel very hungry.

I'm not sure if I agree with the idea that you get fat swimming because all of your bodyweight is supported. If you try to swim with correct form you really have to "lock in" the torso muscles to ensure that your body is as flat as a board whilst rotating your body each stroke. Try the pull-board drill with perfect form to see what I mean. This gives you a great abs workout despite the flotation effect of the water.

A swimming coach once told me that she made sure all of her squad members could do the "plank" for multiple sets of 60 seconds or more, which reflects the amount of work your abs must do to swim correctly. Also if you do any butterfly the "dolphin kick" movement will work your abs as it is almost like doing a series of crunches.


When I was small enough to go surfing during the summer, I used to eat huge amounts after being in the water for 2 hours. I always thought it was "the sea air" or something like that. The body temperature thing makes sense.


The "sea air" would also have an effect due to the salt in the air. Salt makes you more hungry (Proof as to why food manufacturers often pump salt into their products to make you feel more hungry and hence buy more!). You don't have to go for a swim just to feel hungrier at the beach, just being there does that!


I most certainly agree with the article. But i feel similarly hungry after a cold shower PWO if i dont consume a Surge or similar shake before the shower.


Interesting stuff, Just changed gyms and they have a swimming pool, try and use it at least three times a week for a post gym stretch out and cool down, for that purpose it's fantastic - especially after a legs sess!