Swimming is the exercise that helps you get the most out of it and also the activity that helps you move all the muscle groups. Particularly for women, swimming is the most effective form of exercise to help lose weight and belly fat. But do you really know which stroke among 04 strokes is the most calorie-burner?
But first, in order to lose fat effectively, we must understand what is calorie and how to burn it.
Definition of Calorie?
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.”
How can you burn calories?
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.
Can you burn calories by swimming?
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.
4th place: Breaststroke
Breaststroke is a bit of a slow burner in terms of calories. In fact, it is the least beneficial stroke for burning calories.
- Average calorie burns around 200 calories for 30 minutes swimming.
- Breaststroke is a much better cardiovascular workout than the other strokes.
- It helps strengthen heart and lungs while toning thighs, upper back, triceps, hamstrings and lower legs.
- It helps to work and tone the chest muscles.
3rd place: Backstroke
Backstroke is the second lowest-calorie burner next to breaststroke. However, it’s one of the best for improving posture.
- Average calorie burns around 250 calories for 30 minutes swimming.
- Practicing keeping yourself straight in the water can help you to lengthen your spine, helping you look taller and less hunched.
- Backstroke works to tone the stomach, legs, arms, shoulders, and buttocks.
- It’s great for improving the flexibility of your hips. Great for office-bound workers.
2nd place: Freestyle
Freestyle is the fastest of all the strokes, so as you might expect it is up in second place for calorie-burning potential.
- Average calorie burns around 300 calories for 30 minutes swimming
- Swimming freestyle tones your stomach, buttocks, and shoulders.
- Out of all the four strokes, freestyle is said to have the greatest impact on toning back muscles.
1st place: Butterfly
It’s the hardest to learn, and definitely not for beginners, but Butterfly is at the top of the calorie burn list.
- Average calorie burn: around 450 calories for 30 minutes swimming
- It’s the most effective all-round stroke for toning and building muscles.
- It helps with upper body strength, toning your chest, stomach, arms (particularly your triceps), and your back muscles.
- It helps to increase your flexibility, suppleness and stretches out the body to improve posture.
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.
What stroke is best for calorie burning?
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.