Swimming is a great way to not only get into shape but to stay in shape. If you’re looking for an intensive workout that’s effective on your body-building, look no further than the pool. Before we talk about which of the four main swimming strokes are the best for burning calories while swimming, let’s talk a bit about what is a calorie? And how to burn it
A calorie is a unit of energy. Historically, scientists have defined "calorie" to mean a unit of energy or heat that could come from a variety of sources, such as coal or gas. In a nutritional sense, all types of food — whether they are fats, proteins, carbohydrates, or sugars — are important sources of calories, which people need to live and function.
"Our brains, our muscles — every cell in our body — require energy to function in its optimal state," said Jennifer McDaniel, a registered nutritionist dietitian in Clayton, Missouri, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "So for one, we want to nourish our body right and our brain right. If we don’t get enough of those nutrients [that calories provide], there are negative consequences, whether its losing lean muscle mass, not being able to concentrate, or not having the energy we need on a day-to-day basis."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to the balance of calories burned and calories consumed as caloric balance. It functions as a scale; when you are in balance, the calories consumed are balanced by the calories burned. This means you will maintain your body weight.
According to the CDC, if you are maintaining your weight, you are in caloric balance. This means that every day, you are consuming roughly the same amount of calories you are burning. If you are in a caloric excess, you are eating more calories than you are burning and you will gain weight. If you are in a caloric deficit, you are burning more calories than you are eating, and you will lose weight.
So that, in order for you to lose weight, you must burn more calories than the ones you take in.
There are two ways to measure caloric expenditure or calorie-burning; directly and indirectly. Direct measurement of caloric expenditure requires monitoring of heat released by the body whereas, indirect measurement requires monitoring of ventilation and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide by the body. Indirect measurement is a more accurate way of evaluating caloric expenditure during exercise.
When your heart rate increases, you need more oxygen. You burn more calories when you burn more oxygen. Therefore, exercises that increase heart rate and use more muscle will increase oxygen consumption and burn more calories.
Swimming is known for increasing lung capacity and utilizing almost all of the muscles in the body. So when you swim, you are active the whole body in intensive activities. This will make you burn a lot of calories.
There are 04 main swimming strokes: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly stroke. Those 4 strokes help you lose weight as well, but the calorie-burning of each stroke is kind of different from each other. We can do a comparison chart of 04 strokes here.
Breaststroke is a bit of a slow burner in terms of calories. In fact, it is the least beneficial stroke for burning calories.
Backstroke is the second lowest-calorie burner next to breaststroke. However, it’s one of the best for improving posture.
Freestyle is the fastest of all the strokes, so as you might expect it is up in second place for calorie-burning potential.
It’s the hardest to learn, and definitely not for beginners, but Butterfly is at the top of the calorie burn list.
As we can see that the butterfly stroke is the best calorie-burning stroke of all. The amount of calories burn per hour swimming fast butterfly is approx 774 calories and indeed, this is the stroke that burns the most calories but it comes with a big IF. That big IF you’re able to sustain swimming fast butterfly for a long duration. Most people can not swim that in a long term.
In the long-run, breaststroke is more optimal because it’s easy to swim for prolonged periods of time. If you’re not a competitive swimmer, breaststroke is the best option as you can swim for longer without exhausting yourself quickly. Not like the butterfly, breaststroke is also the easiest to swim and perfect with regards to technique. When you swim efficiently, you waste less energy just staying afloat and you work out longer.
In conclusion, the best stroke to burn calories is not necessarily the most physically demanding but the one that you can perform efficiently to ensure that you have a long and fruitful workout.