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The Ultimate Guide to Swimming For Weight-Loss

July 24, 2013 0 Comments

Everyone wants to look in the mirror and like what they see. Everyone also has a different idea of what they WANT to see.

For many, this means shedding unwanted weight, developing muscle, or toning up existing muscles. Swimming has been heralded as a flag-ship of weight loss or ‘calorie burning’ activities, but as always, it is easier said than done!

When I was wrestling I had to manage my weight very particularly. I had to weigh certain amounts at certain times. This required me to know the ins and outs of the business because if I lost the weight the wrong way, I would have no energy for competition! The barrier of losing 17 pounds to make weight can be overcome, but not with a ‘magic formula’ or ‘secret trick’. It’s science.

The Science of Weight Loss 

Weight loss has a “simple” equation: (Calories in) – (Calories out) = (Net gain or loss of calories). Without getting too technical, here is a quick overview:

Calories are a unit of energy that we use to measure how ‘much’ a food is worth to our body in terms of energy value. The problem is that when our body has too much unused energy (too many excess calories) it stores them for later- as Fat!

Cooldesign via

So the real question then, is how do we turn two things that not many people like (math and losing weight) into something that works for us? We put on our mathemagician hats and balance the equation in our favor!

Calories In

So the first piece of the equation is “calories in”. This is the number of calories you take in per day. Calories are found in most foods and drinks, but the safe zone is water. Water has zero calories, and any food that has an abnormally high water content (celery, cucumbers, etc.) will probably have fewer calories. If we can take down the number of calories that go in, the end result (net calorie gain or loss) will be a smaller gain or a larger loss!

Cucumber Salad

Calories Out

The second piece of the equation is “Calories out”. Now if you remember the definition of a calorie, you know it is a unit of energy! This means everything we do that requires energy (even the smallest amount of it-like breathing!) burns an amount of calories. Things that take a lot of energy burn lots of calories!

Net Result

So the end result, “net gain or loss of calories” is a direct result of intake and output. To lose weight we just need to burn more calories than we take in each day over a long period. Even doing something small each day such as walking places instead of driving can help contribute to your overall equation!

walking down stairs
Serge Bertasius Photography

My coach always said: “National Champs take the stairs.”

Swimming Is Fantastic for Weight Loss

So what is this guide to math and weight loss doing on a swimming / underwater music blog?? Well swimming is a fantastic way to burn those calories and subtract from your net! Swimming is resistance-training because the water resists you as you perform the movements. This means it promotes the thickening and growth of muscles-a very good thing for weight loss.

swimmer butterfly stroke

Weight Loss… While Sitting?

Even when you are sitting around doing nothing, your body’s natural processes and tissues are metabolizing, or ‘burning’ calories. Muscle mass burns more calories at rest (on your couch watching tv) and in action (doing stuff) than any other type of bodily tissue. This means building more muscle means you will burn calories at a higher rate ALL THE TIME!

On top of helping build muscle, even a short workout like the example a few pictures up, walking stairs instead of taking the elevator, boosts your metabolism making your body burn calories faster!

Swimming as an activity also burns calories at a very impressive rate. Follow the following link to a page on NutriStrategy’s website that details how many calories you burn swimming for 1 hour. It even breaks it down by what stroke or style you are swimming! Check it out and plan a workout of varied strokes to work on different muscles, or set a calorie output goal!

NutriStrategy’s Breakdown of Calories Burned Swimming:

It’s Simple Math

The key to losing weight is controlling the two factors on the left side of the equation. Taking in 100 less calories per day by cutting out one little thing like a granola bar or drinking water instead of soda combined with burning just 200 calories extra per day (swimming any stroke for 30 minutes) will make you lose 1 pound of fat every 10 days! That is roughly 3 pounds a month, 36 pounds a year! (a pound of body fat is ~3,000 calories)

Get Out There!

Underwater Audio ipod shuffle

The little things really do add up, so add a swimming workout (even as short as 30 minutes) to your day and see what happens! For most people, listening to music intensifies their workout in the gym-giving them that little something extra and preventing boredom or monotony. With a waterproof shuffle, you can take the music to the pool, and make that little 30 minute addition to your day even more exciting. Baby steps are the key to healthy weight loss, and swimming can help get you going. What are you waiting for!?

Your Thoughts

Readers, time to ‘weigh in’ (figuratively of course!) What are your favorite workouts to do? What music do you like to listen to while you workout?

Ally Henley
Ally Henley

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