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How Can Swimmers Gain Weight?

By Laura Wallace Henderson ; Updated July 18, 2017

Professional athletes and others who regularly participate in sports burn more calories than inactive people. The constant demand for calories can lead to a reduction in weight. A 160-pound person burns an average of 511 calories during an hour of swimming laps. To counteract weight loss from intense exercise, swimmers and other athletes require additional calories to maintain or increase body weight.

Increase Calorie Intake

Eating 500 extra calories each day can help you gain about one pound per week. Gradual weight gain can help you avoid putting on excess fat. Increasing portion sizes during meals can help accomplish this goal, as well as including healthy snacks throughout the day. Nutritious sources of calories include cheese, multigrain breads, peanut butter, bananas, lean meats and starchy vegetables. Cooking with olive oil and adding nuts and cheese to your meals can increase calorie consumption.

Build Muscles

According to Purdue University, individuals who wish to increase their body weight need to participate in strength training exercises on a regular basis. This type of exercise adds weight to your frame in the form of lean muscle tissue. Swimming provides a workout for your entire body, helping to build strength and muscle tone. While this is good exercise for keeping in shape, adding a weightlifting routine to your swimming workout will help focus your weight gain on muscle tissue rather than fat. recommends participating in strength training at least twice each week.

Carb Loading

Carbohydrate loading is a dietary method practiced by many athletes. This type of eating is most effective when preparing for a swimming event that lasts more than 90 minutes. Increasing your carbohydrate intake during the days before the event helps increase your energy stores, improve endurance and limiting fatigue. This involves increasing carbohydrate intake to about 55 percent of your calorie intake about a week before the event, then increasing carbohydrate intake to 70 percent about three days prior to the event. Carb loading prior to an event protects muscle tissues and fat stores, allowing you to compete without losing body weight.


Beverages provide a simple way to get more calories while quenching your thirst. Drinking whole milk instead of skim milk will help increase calorie consumption. Although whole milk doesn't contain many more calories than skim, making this substitution can help you meet your daily requirement of calories. Fruit juices and smoothies also have calories, but drinking too much fruit juice can provide calories without the variety of beneficial nutrients found in a balanced diet. Protein drinks contain plenty of calories, but while these can help you put on pounds they can be expensive and may fill you up, making it difficult to consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates and healthy fats.

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