Our local pool is amazing. Set right by Sydney Harbour, directly under the flight path to add interest to the swim, and wonderfully heated so even I, the ultimate cold water wimp, can get in. For the past few months I have been swimming twice a week and loving it. It is fantastic exercise for fitness and, at the leisurely pace I swim, very relaxing. There’s just one problem: I am losing the battle against the middle aged tummy bulge. You would think that cycling a couple of kilometres to the pool and swimming two kilometres twice a week would keep the gut fat at bay but horror or horrors, it hasn’t.
Before you toss your togs to the back of your wardrobe and reluctantly fish out your running shoes, let’s think about this. I am one of the many people who has noticed that after they swim they get hungry. For me it is a delayed response, the urge to eat, and eat, doesn’t kick in until late afternoon. Some research suggests that swimming in cold water stimulates appetite by increasing the hunger hormone called ghrelin (think gremlin). But this pool is very warm. Perhaps there is individual variation and some people are more sensitive to ghrelin spikes than others – just a personal theory.
Whatever the cause I need to do something about it while I can still, just, fit into my tight skirts. First step is stop eating so much in the late afternoon. This takes some will power which, I have to admit, I have not bothered exerting too much lately.
Second, to help reduce the food craving, eat a fibre and protein rich meal within a few hours of swimming. My favourite anti-pigging out meal is Katalin’s Beans (recipe on this blog) with a small can of tuna dumped on top and some grape tomatoes.
Thirdly change my exercise routine. My recent love affair with the pool meant that I dropped my totally exhausting spin classes to just one every few weeks. This is about to change! It’s back on the spin bike for me – with the fabulously strict Anne screaming at me to keep cycling well past the point that I would stop myself. Spin classes burn up plenty of kilojoules but don’t stimulate my appetite so much.
Will I keep swimming – yes! Swimming makes doing other exercise far easier. It gets you fit and helps tone the whole body. Just don’t eat too much afterwards!!
What’s your experience? Does swimming make you eat more and what do you do about it?
Or if you know of some new research on swimming and appetite I would love to hear it…