Why Does Swimming Make Me Hungry?


What’s the deal with being ravenously hungry after swimming? I’ve been spending a lot of time in my backyard pool followed by a lot of time in front of the kitchen fridge. I fear I am undoing all the good of my pool workout.

While your post-swimming hunger may be because you put in a good workout, there are two main reasons why hunger strikes upon leaving the water. One, your body’s changing temperatures as you move from land to pool and two, dehydration.

The water you swim in is cooler than the air and cool water is a great environment for working out especially on sweltering hot summer days. Immersing your body in cool water lowers your body temperature, even when you are swimming really hard. When you return to dry land (warmer temperature) your body wants to re-establish its ‘normal’ body temperature and what happens is that your body mistakes being cold for not enough fuel too keep it warm, which is when your hunger signal strikes.

Solution: Reheat without refueling. While your body does need carbohydrates to replenish its energy stores and some protein to repair the muscles, what it really needs post swim is to reset its temperature. A few good ways to do this are light stretching, going for a brisk walk or taking a hot shower.

The thing is, you’re not hungry, you’re thirsty. Every cell in your body needs water, your muscles are 75 percent water; your lungs are 90 percent water, your blood is 82 percent water and even your bones are 25 percent water. When your body does not have enough water to perform all its tasks, it searches for insulin (sugar in the blood that can be used energy). When you exercise in water you often forget to drink it! Did you know that being even five percent dehydrated leads to an energy loss of 25-30 percent? That’s enough to make you go running for the fridge.

Solution: The best way to stabilize your body temperature is to pre-hydrate: Drink 500 ml of water 20-30 minutes before you jump in the pool, drink 200-300 ml ( two to three gulps) of water for every 10-15 minutes you are in the pool, and follow up with 500 ml of water when you reach dry land.

Sarah Brown is a very healthy woman. She is not only a fitness instructor at GoodLife where she teaches Body Pump, Body Flow, Boot Camp and yoga but she is also a registered holistic nutritionist.

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