Swimming is a great low impact cardiovascular exercise. If you swim and feel an increase in hunger a few hours after your workout, you are not alone. Research shows that swimming can increase appetite.
While the exact reason that swimming causes hunger isn’t clear, some research suggests it is due to body temperature. The cool water of the pool can decrease body temperature and constrict blood vessels in the skin, which can influence the action of hormones that control appetite.
It’s important to pay attention to your hunger and eating patterns to ensure that swimming doesn’t cause you to increase your food intake. There are a few things you can do to control your appetite and stay on track to reach your fitness goals.
- Keep track of your hunger. Make notes when you feel hungry throughout the day and compare your non-swimming days to the days you workout in the pool. This will help you identify how swimming is influencing your appetite.
- Exercise in warmer water. One study found that people who exercised in cold water consumed 44% more calories afterwards than those who swam in warm water.
- Warm up after your workout. Raising your body temperature after swimming may help decrease the effects of cold water on your appetite. Put on warm clothes, take a short walk, or plan to do your strength training or more cardio following your time in the pool.
- Plan a healthy snack. Help avoid unexpected hunger and plan to have a healthy snack about 30 minutes after your workout. Eat a balance of carbohydrates and protein such as bananas with peanut butter, yogurt with fresh fruit or a low-sugar energy bar.
- Eat more often. On the days you swim, spread out your meals and snacks so that you are refueling the body every few hours.
- Stay hydrated. When you stay cool in the water during a workout, it is easy to overlook your hydration needs. Later, when thirst kicks in, it’s possible to mistake it for hunger. Continue to drink fluids at regular intervals before, during and after your workout.