Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

5 Weight Loss Tips While Swimming (From A Trainer)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 20, 2022

It’s true you can’t exercise a bad diet. But some exercises can make the fat loss process a lot more effortless.

Enter swimming.

I've been a competitive swimmer since high school, and over the years, I've managed to trim my weight to healthy levels.

Today, I’m in my best shape, and in the guide below, I’ll share how you can also burn calories through swimming.

Read on.

Quick Summary

  • Swimming is among the best full-body workouts that engage most of your body muscles.
  • Usually, weight loss from swimming comes from the intense calorie burn and resistance from the water.
  • It’s necessary you combine swimming with a healthier lifestyle and diet change for maximum results.

Is Swimming a Good Workout for Weight Loss?

Top view of a professional swimmer

Yes, swimming is a good workout for fat loss. The water amplifies the resistance during swimming, allowing more calorie burn compared to other cardio workouts.

It’s also a low-impact exercise [1]. In my opinion, this aspect is way under-rated.

I've knee problems, so I can't perform most joint-intense cardio exercises.

Swimming, however, hardly trashes my knees while losing weight. It evens the playing field and will work for anybody in any age group.

The best part is it allows me to work muscles between muscles, even when my form isn't perfect, and it is good for alignment.

So, if you're considering swimming for fat loss, go for it. For beginners, look for a certified personal trainer.

It has numerous fat-loss benefits,  not to mention other health benefits.

How Does Swimming Help You Lose Body Weight?

Two women swimming in an indoor pool

Swimming helps you to lose body weight by burning lots of calories.

Swimming requires an individual to utilize their stomachs, arms, legs,  and torso, using practically every significant muscle group.

Swimming is a fantastic method to burn more calories.

However, the number of calories burnt is determined by an individual's weight and how actively they swim.

Swimming, like many forms of aerobic activity, burns fat and can make you lose weight.

The thing that differentiates swimming from other cardio workouts is that it produces added resistance, pushing you to engage your muscles more.

Swimming develops your lower, core, and upper muscles all at once, providing you a full-body exercise and overall muscular definition than other aerobic activities such as jogging [2].

The butterfly, for instance, engages your chest,  shoulders, and arms, whereas the backstroke works your quadriceps, back, and abs.

And as you gain muscular mass, you burn more fat.

How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?

A woman swim training

Swimming the breaststroke for 30 minutes burns roughly 370 calories, whereas swimming freestyle burns approximately 405 calories.

Contrast that to 105 calories for 30 minutes of fast walking or 305 calories for 30 minutes of 6-mile-per-hour jogging [3].

Swimming's fat-burning effects are realized quickly.

According to a study, middle-aged females who swam for 1 hour three times a week shed a considerable amount of fat within only 12 weeks.

They also increased their endurance, agility, and even decreased their cholesterol [4].

"Swimming is one of the greatest cardiovascular exercises any individual of any age can perform, despite being quite difficult and occasionally terrifying."

- Kris Gagne, ASCA-Certified Swim Coach.

5 Tips for Maximizing Fat Burn When Swimming

Top view of a professional swimmer in the pool

Here're a few swimming tips I use to maximize my swimming fat loss potential.

1. Swimming as a High-intensity Interval Training

Hard swimming will allow you to realize the full benefits of swimming.

Swimming burns calories to bring you to a caloric deficit [5].

The high-intensity swimming in short bursts is the best form of cardio and muscle development you'll get from the pool.

While recreational swimmers can still get a decent amount of calories in long-distance swimming, the short 20-minute sessions of high-paced swimming intervals will give better results.

2. Finish Strong

If you’re a recreational swimmer, I’d suggest you try finishing your sessions strong.

Personally, I sprint in the last few laps for maximum metabolic effect on my cardiovascular system.

It’s much like doing heavy weights and crunches. The aching muscles will delay lethargy and hunger pangs.

3. Be Aware of Hunger Reflexes

A woman in a swimming pool with her back turned around the camera

Speaking on hunger pangs, many people find that exposure to cold water triggers hunger reflexes.

A swimmer’s hunger after a workout is legendary, and this is why you should pay attention to your calorie intake to ensure you don’t eat what you just burned [6].

I love to schedule my swim laps on an empty stomach right before lunch and dinner because I find it easier to give in to the desire to eat after a meal.

However, I always plan for it and control the calories to ensure it doesn't ruin my goals. But you could try to swim after a meal or even before eating breakfast.

If you need to eat before swimming, you can check our guide on the best foods to eat before swimming.

4. Discipline is Key

Swimming requires more discipline than anything.

Remember, it's a full-body workout, so if you breathe wrong or perform an incorrect stroke, you're screwing your entire body.

Therefore, having a coach or a swimming plan may help relieve the burden of structuring your swim sessions, improving your technique, and ensuring you've got a clear sight of your goals.

5. Patience is Important

I must point out to fresh starters that there will be muscle build-up. The build-up can negate the fat loss and can be quite demotivating.

Instead, I suggest adding another metric to your progress, like tracking your body fat.

FAQs

Can Swimming Help You Lose Belly Fat?

Yes, regular swimming can help burn belly fat, but understand that it doesn't specifically target stomach fat. Instead, swimming burns the excess fat throughout the body.

Which Stroke Burns The Most Calories?

The butterfly stroke burns most calories. However, it's an advanced move and not for beginners.

Will I Lose Weight Swimming 30 Minutes A Day?

Yes, you will lose fat by swimming 30 minutes a day, especially when combined with a well-balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Should You Swim to Lose Weight?

Swimming is a full-body cardiovascular exercise that lets you burn more calories faster than other cardiovascular workouts.

The catch is that, as with any other fat-loss exercise, you can't outrun a bad diet. You also need to consider a lifestyle change to achieve maximum benefits from your swimming workout.

To amp up your fat-burning journey, consider introducing a quality fat burner into your routine, such as these:

These lists deliver top-notch products formulated with appetite suppressants but without harmful chemicals.

I’ve tested them firsthand for efficacy and safety so you won’t have to go through all the trouble in that department.


References:

  1. https://www.thenationshealth.org/content/48/7/16
  2. https://www.medicinenet.com/swimming/article.htm
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4625655/
  5. https://www.webmd.com/diet/calorie-deficit
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952805/

Was this article helpful?

About The Author