5 Useful Tips to Lose Weight Swimming

Best tips to lose weight swimming and experience amazing health benefits

Whether you’re swimming to tone up, lose belly fat, increase stamina or to introduce more variety in your cardio exercises, read on to learn how you can lose weight swimming and achieve better results.

Did you know that you can lose the same amount of weight swimming as you could by running? The main advantage being that it’s less stressful on your joints since the water will support 90 percent of your body weight.

Water is also 800 times denser than air, which allows you to build strength in your muscles and bones and reduce joint pain without excessive pounding on hard surfaces.

If you’ve been relying on traditional methods like cycling and running then you might want to change up your routine and give swimming a try. According to Miguel Lopez, head swim coach at Thanyapura Phuket, swimming for weight loss is the most complete and safe exercise for adults over forty-five.

“If done correctly and under the supervision of an expert, it will increase longevity, and, most importantly, improve quality of life during the golden years.

It involves all major muscle groups, enhances elasticity, and promotes longevity while protecting the back and the joints from the high impact of land movement,” said Coach Miguel.

Swimming burns the most calories out of all sports, however the amount of calories burned is unique to each individual. You can control this with the intensity of your workout, stroke type, duration and water temperature.

A cold swim increases your basal metabolic rate, meaning you burn off more calories afterwards. However, exercising in cold water can also significantly increase your appetite. Plan the right amount of calories consumed after a cold swim to avoid this common pitfall.​

A research on the effectiveness of swimming in treating and preventing obesity showed that different swimming methods and prolonged physical effort, of over 40 minutes three times a week, along with dietary measures, will lead to an improvement of body shape and weight.

The research also concluded that swimming determined visible changes in the body shape, mainly a decrease of the body mass index and of abdominal circumference (Ganciu, 2015, p. 248).

Here are five useful tips to get you the best weight loss results from swimming:

1. Swim all four strokes

When you add variety to your workout with all four strokes, you will engage more muscle groups thus burning more calories. Studies show that butterfly burns the most calories, closely followed by breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle.

However, it’s not easy to do an hour of butterfly so try a combination of all the different strokes instead. Aim to do your harder strokes for a minute or two at a time and incorporate freestyle as an active recovery.

Swim all four strokes

2. Train with a swim coach

Getting started is probably the hardest part, especially if you’re not an experienced swimmer. A swim coach can help you move past any fear or hesitation and inspire you to love swimming as a fun weight loss workout.

You will also benefit from learning proper stroke techniques to build up your time and speed. Thanyapura group and private swimming classes can help you swim at a moderate pace with effective workouts for best weight loss results. 

3. Swim harder, faster and consistently

While swimming is low impact, HIIT intervals can help you burn more calories by swimming harder and faster to keep your heart rate up.

  • Swim as many laps as fast as you can for 30 seconds, with a 30 second break in between.
  • Break up your workout into sets of specific intervals to maintain a higher rate of speed and stroke form. This will improve your performance and the amount of calories burned.

You can monitor the intensity of your workout by watching the clock or by monitoring your heart rate. When using a heart rate monitor, it is important to know that heart rate in the water may be lower than on land.

4. Fuel for weight loss

Swimmers are hungry all the time and it’s no wonder as swimming boosts your body’s metabolism, hence the post-swim hunger.

Since swimming takes a lot of energy and the cold water can cause you to feel ravenous after a swim, the nutrition considerations for weight loss are two-fold:

  • Find out what’s the daily calorie intake to maintain your current weight.
  • Begin experimenting with calorie deficits of 300-500 calories until you find something that is sustainable.

Weight loss is about burning more calories than one eats; most masters swimmers who combine consistent workouts with sensible diets lose weight. Swimmers should aim to consume 0.3g of high-biological-value protein per kilogram of body mass immediately after key sessions and at regular intervals throughout the day to promote tissue adaptation (Shaw et al., 2014).

Keep in mind that you don’t actually need a huge meal for a one-hour swim workout—a light snack that focuses on carbs is a great option such as a few crackers, fruit or juice. While it isn’t feasible for everyone, you could try swimming while your body is fasted rather than on a heavy stomach to avoid feeling heavy and sluggish in the water.

A registered dietitian specialising in nutrition for swimming recommends ½ plate carbs (potatoes, rice or bread), ¼ plate protein and ¼ plate fat after a tough swim session. For optimal weight loss, maintain a consistent blood sugar level throughout your day to help control cravings and ensure a steady energy supply to your muscles and brain.

5. Use water weights

You can increase resistance in the water by adding flippers, resistance bands or buoys. Any items that makes it harder for you to kick and stroke through the water will increase your strength. These will also help you to improve your technique.

Feel at home in the water

The best part of swimming to lose weight is that you don’t really have to start off with too much, especially if you’re new to swimming.

Going three times a week for 30 minutes will benefit you greatly and you will start to notice a gradual toning of your body.

Consistency is key to achieving your weight loss goals so just keep swimming and have fun with it! Most importantly, complement your active lifestyle with sufficient sleep, better stress management and proper hydration.

Swim your heart out and see you in the pools at Thanyapura. 


  1. Ganciu, O. M. (2015). The effectiveness of swimming in treating and preventing obesity. Palestrica of the Third Millennium Civilization & Sport, 16(3).
  2. Montgomery, J.P. & Chambers, M.A. (2008). Mastering swimming. Human Kinetics.
  3. Shaw, G., Boyd, K. T., Burke, L. M., & Koivisto, A. (2014). Nutrition for swimming. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 24(4), 360-372.
  4. Stellingwerff, T., Maughan, R.J., & Burke, L.M. (2011). Nutrition for power sports: Middle-distance running, track cycling, rowing, canoeing/kayaking, and swimming, Journal of Sports Sciences, 29:sup1, S79-S89, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2011.589469

This article is written by Ashlyne Nair