Why Does Swimming Make You Hungry? (What to Do About It)


Exercise burns calories. Swimming is mainly an aerobic exercise which burns a lot of calories and serves as a terrific way to unwind. However, you might experience extreme hunger after a good swim session. Why?

While swimming, you need to use nearly every muscle to make a stroke. It burns a lot of energy and increases the body’s blood flow. Pool water temperature, duration of the session, and your metabolism level are also responsible for making you feel hungry.

Why Does Swimming Make You Hungry?

Our bodies are unique and respond differently to every situation. But there are a few common grounds where you can find similarities across the whole of humankind.

So, if you feel you are the only one who experiences post swim hunger, you are wrong. A rigorously designed experimental study has been done by sports science to determine why swimming makes you hungry.

Exercise trials compared with the swimming trial have shown some tremendous results. And here, we are going to break down a few of their findings. Let’s check them out.


The Temperature of Your Body (Specifically Body Heat Loss)

The human body maintains a particular body temperature. If it fluctuates oddly, then that’s a warning for your body. The normal temperature of a typical person is between 97 degrees Fahrenheit and 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

Usually, when we exercise, we generate body heat. But in swimming, this is not the case. After 20-30 minutes of a swimming session, the overall body heat loss can occur by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

This unusual thing happens because of the law of thermodynamics. And when the temperature of your body drops, your body starts using stored fat to produce body heat. Which eventually hits the metabolism rate higher and makes you feel hungry.

Besides, low temperatures influence appetite, and food intake responses increase. Here, the brain signals are also responsible for increasing appetite stimulating effects.

The Length of a Swimming Session

Swimmers rarely swim for a short amount of time. Depending on the intensity, the duration can vary from 30 minutes to even four hours. Professional swimmers experience increased appetite than other athletes. Sports, other than swimming, tend to increase body heat. For which, you might not feel hungry. 


However, a swimmer might not feel the hunger in the middle of the session, but after getting up from the water, the only thing they can think of is food. Detailed brain imaging studies have shown how our body craves energy after swimming.

The Temperature of Pool Water

The important factor that so many of us miss out on is the cold swimming pool temperature. Whether it is low-intensity swimming or high-intensity swimming, pool temperature affects a lot while swimming.

Usually, the pool water temperature is 10–20 degrees Fahrenheit less than the human body. When your body suddenly gets exposed to cool water, it tries to keep the body temperature intact, and that’s why more calories are burned.

Some other researchers say that your body burns more calories in cold water than in warm water. You might be thinking, does cold weather also have the same effect? The answer is yes!

In cold weather, your body produces heat to keep your body warm and burn calories. But in the water, this process occurs in a much more effective way, as water reduces body temperature way faster than in the air. 


Overall Calories Burned

A calorie is the primary unit of energy. Every day, we need a certain number of calories to keep our bodies running and burn a certain number of calories just by respiration and other bodily activities.

However, some of us might lack nutrients, and some might need to lose calories to become fit. In both cases, swimming can work well. Water is a lot denser than air. That’s why working out in water burns more calories than doing it in the air.

The denser atmosphere needs more muscle pressure to make a move. So, undoubtedly, swimming in the water burns a fair number of calories. And after a session on the fuel furnace, you will need to refuel your body. The more you burn, the more fuel you will need.

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Video Creator: Global Triathlon Network

Swimming Is A Full Body Workout

Do you realise that swimming involves so many muscle groups in your body? Even if you keep multiple swimming styles in your session, it will engage almost every muscle in your body.

Here, the more muscles involved, the more calories you are going to burn. It eventually increases the appetite and leads to excessive food intake.


Between Swimming and Cycling Sessions, Which One Makes You Even More Hungry?

Researchers from some renowned universities used volunteers to participate in their cycling trials and swimming trials to determine which group of people gets hungry more than the other group.

The group of people included both male and female participants. They give the participants a certain routine to follow during their cycling and swimming sessions. After finishing each of their sessions, they were asked to rest for a while and then eat subsequent meals until satisfied.

They ate as much pasta as they could. There were a few intervals during every session, and further research studies have shown that the swimmers potentially eat more pasta than the cyclists. And then the result was obvious. Swimming makes more hungry than cycling, and swimmers tend to eat more than cyclists.

What Should Your Diet Look Like?

Every fitness plan must include a nutritious diet. And when you swim, your food intake becomes much more important because this sport can cause a variety of health problems if you don’t follow certain rules. Poor diets commonly lead to an unhealthy and inefficient way of living. 

Before starting the session, you should eat healthy snacks so that you don’t indulge in eating and overstuff yourself. And for post-swim nutrition, always keep healthy fats and lean protein in your diet. Here are some dos and don’ts for you to consider.


Choose the Right Carb

Carbohydrate is the primary source of our energy. It breaks down to glucose and energies the cells of our body. Although choosing the wrong carbohydrate can lead to bad weight management.

However, you should always check up on your portion size. If you intake more carbohydrates than your body needs, it will do more bad than good. The glucose control will hamper and lead you to health issues. So, keeping the pros and cons in mind, you can eat good carbs and make the most of it.

Some good carbs are multi-grain bread, oats, red rice, brown rice, quinoa, fresh fruits, etc. Besides, avoid any processed carbohydrates like cereals, instant noodles, sugar, sweets, canned fruits, etc.

Fill Your Plate with Enough Nutrition

Especially for swimmers, there is no alternative to a balanced diet. Besides, good carbohydrates fill your plate with enough lean proteins if you fill your stomach and lose weight at the same time. You cannot forget the importance of healthy fats as well.

Most swimmers gain weight rather than losing it because of improper meals. It is difficult to stop eating after a high-intensity swimming session. That’s why you should try to eat food that doesn’t give you much body fat but full of nutrients.


You can take a granola bar with bagels before diving into the water. After finishing your session, you will need a balanced meal to provide your body with proper nutrition.

Keep Hydrating to Control Body Temperature

As swimming makes you hungry, it is important to keep hydrating your body to escape from dehydration and overheating. When you are underwater, you will not realize how much you are precipitating and losing water from your body.

Besides, the more you drink, the easier it is to control your body temperature. Some don’t even realize how dehydrated they are while having a high-intensity swimming session.

It increases the chance of collapsing your body and escalates the risk factors for your health. So keep hydrating yourself before, during, and after your swimming session.

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Video Creator: Simply Swim