Why does swimming make you hungry?

Often people that exercise believe that it increases the appetite and therefore eat more subsequent meals. One of the reasons for this is that they feel that they can eat more due to the increase in “calories-out”. However, single land based sessions, such as resistance training or running, can actually decrease the appetite. This article looks at “why does swimming make you hungry?”

Swimming has not, to date, been tested in an experimental study to answer the question: “why does swimming make you hungry?” However, one study has now identified that swimming does increase appetite and intake in both males and females.

Controlled Study

The study recruited 32 adults (17 men and 15 women) who were swimming and cycling at a recreational level. Participants took part in 3 training trials, swimming, cycling and resting, in a random order. Each trial was separated by at least 4 days.

Participants of the study were provided with set meals and followed a structured interval swimming, cycling or resting. The swimming and cycling training was designed as 6 intervals, each lasting 8 minutes with 2 minutes rest between rounds. An RPE scale was used to ensure that participants were training hard on each of the intervals.

30 minutes after exercise, the participants were able to eat as much pasta as they wanted until they were “comfortably full and satisfied”. The study found that during the swimming trial participants ate, on average, 142 Kcal more. This is the equivalent to a 25g packet of crisps.

Further to this, the participants of the trials felt hungrier after the swimming session and felt that they could eat more in the subsequent meal. The study looked at the calorie deficit after both the swimming and cycling, which were both negative (greater in the cycling).

It is not understood why there is an appetite-stimulating effect in swimming. One reason for this, the study suggests, is the body temperature linked to increase appetite. In cooler temperatures, the body may use food intake as a way to generate body heat through diet-related thermogenesis. However, more research is required in to this.

Health Benefits

However, there are studies that show swimming to not be as beneficial as other forms of exercise for weight management. Further studies are needed to look at this topic.

Swimming is a great sport and vital part of a healthy lifestyle with so many benefits: improved blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol control. However, for those using swimming as a weight management control, it is important to be aware of the possible increases in appetite.

Source: The Conversation

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