There’s nothing like a good workout to leave you feeling sweaty and accomplished. Many people equate how much they sweat to how effective the workout is. But does sweating help you lose weight?
It’s common knowledge that sweating is a natural process that the body uses to regulate temperature. Does the amount of sweat produced relate to weight loss or fat burn? Read on to find out.
Why Do We Sweat?
We all know that we sweat when we get hot. Whether it’s from a hot yoga class or the sun beating down on your back, your body naturally sweats as a way to cool you down. Regardless of what sweat-filled activities you take part in, your body’s process is the same.
There are two types of sweat glands in the body – apocrine and eccrine glands. The majority of your sweat comes from eccrine glands. However, your apocrine glands are the ones located in the areas you might associate with sweating most – the armpits, breasts, and groin.
Sweat itself is made of salt, proteins, ammonia, and urea. This is why, if you ever lick your upper lip after sweating, it tastes salty. When your body releases this mixture, your sweat evaporates and cools you down. Although sweating is primarily a way to regulate body temperature, your body sweats because of your nervous system, as well. Have you ever been nervous before a test or a first date? You probably broke into nervous sweats. This is because your body also sweats to meet challenges as part of the fight or flight response.
Benefits of Sweating
Sweating has other benefits that we don’t often think about, aside from regulating your body temperature.
A Performance Indicator
Some people may struggle to know what level of physical exercise is enough for their fitness level. Breaking a sweat during a workout is a clear sign that you’re challenging yourself appropriately. However, you shouldn’t push yourself to the point of being in pain or feeling lightheaded.
When you work out to the point of sweating, you also increase blood circulation in your entire body. As a result, nutrients and oxygen reach and nourish your skin cells, which leaves you with healthier and happier skin.
Does Sweating Help You Lose Weight?
The act of sweating itself doesn’t burn calories – at least, not an amount that’s measurable. With that said, sweating can help you shed water weight. Since sweat is mostly water, you’re losing water in the very act of sweating. However, water weight isn’t a true measure of weight loss – once you drink water or eat after sweating, you’ll regain any of that lost weight.
Some people equate sweat to weight loss because of workout programs that claim to help you lose a certain amount of calories. In one study, women burned 330 calories in a Bikram yoga class, while men burned 460 calories. While that’s a great calorie burn, it doesn’t live up to what some people claim is possible: 1,000 calorie burn per hour. In fact, you could burn the same amount of calories in the same time period as the study participants just by going for a brisk walk.
In other words, sweating and weight loss are not necessarily linked. The sweatier the exercise does not mean more calories burned. So, does sweating help you lose weight? Not directly. To truly lose weight, you must lose fat.
Does Sweating Burn Fat?
Does the act of sweating burn fat? Unfortunately, no. However, sweating could be a good indicator of fat loss and calorie burn. When you sweat during exercise, it’s typically because you’ve engaged your metabolism. That kicks it into gear so that it begins burning fat.
In a roundabout way, sweat could be a sign of weight loss. During an intense workout, sweating can signal that your metabolism is burning fat, which, in turn, burns calories. When you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight.
Doesn’t sweating Mean a Better Workout?
We’ve all heard workout instructors say things like, “Push yourself to the next level!” “Sweat it out!” and “If it’s burning, it’s working!” So, it would be natural to think that physical signs – like sweating, burning, and even pain – equal a “good” workout.
Yet sweating doesn’t necessarily mean your workout is any better or worse. Intense workouts will make you sweat more than low-intensity ones, but all it really means is that you’re experiencing fluid loss, which is only a temporary loss.
Plus, how much you sweat can also depend on your environment and how acclimated you are to heat. For example, if you’re working out in a humid environment, your sweat won’t be able to evaporate because the air is already saturated with moisture. That can make you feel like you’re sweating more. If you’re used to working out in a hot environment, your body regulates your temperature faster than someone who usually works out in cool environments.
Can You Sweat Too Much or Too Little?
Sweat is all about fluids, and since the human body is made up of 60% to 75% water, keeping a good balance of hydration is key for overall health. Sweating too much or too little is not necessarily dangerous, but when coupled with other factors, it can be.
Excessive sweating, in combination with inadequate water intake, can lead to dehydration. Severe dehydration can lead to:
- Drop in endurance and strength
- Heatstroke or overheating
- Extreme loss of electrolytes
- Kidney damage
- Cardiovascular emergency
You should hydrate throughout a workout and throughout your day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Signs of dehydration include exhaustion, confusion, dizziness, weak or rapid pulse, and a lack of urination for eight hours. If you experience these symptoms, you should contact your doctor right away.
Everyone’s Body Is Different
We all sweat differently. In fact, some people may have more sweat glands, and some may have fewer sweat glands. Those with more sweat glands tend to sweat more than people with fewer. You probably know someone who produces more sweat than you. This is because there are so many factors that contribute to how our bodies work.
How much you sweat varies depending on your genetics, age, weight, fitness level, and environmental factors. Although all of these factors play a role, your fitness level and weight will have the most impact. It might seem counterintuitive, but people who are in better shape actually sweat more quickly. This is because the body becomes attuned to regulating temperature as your fitness improves, and the faster you sweat, the faster you cool down. Plus, the faster you cool down, the more you can work out.
When you weigh more, your body uses more energy to function. Not only is there more body mass to cool down, but it also requires more energy for you to move around and exercise. As a result, you might experience excessive sweat. It’s also worth noting that some people have hyperhidrosis, which is a disorder that makes you sweat regardless of increased body temperature or exercise.
Apart from how your body naturally sweats, what you eat can also have an impact. For example, spicy foods and alcohol can make you sweat. Garlic and onions can worsen body odor and the scent of your sweat. Interestingly, if you eat a low sodium diet, you actually may have sweatier salt.
How to Effectively Lose Weight
So, does sweating help you lose weight? Not necessarily – but that’s not a bad thing. You can burn calories and lose weight without sweating. For example, swimming is great for burning calories, but you don’t sweat while in the water. You might not sweat during every strength training session.
Ultimately, losing weight comes down to calories in and calories out. The only thing that can make you lose weight is eating fewer calories than you burn. Alternatively, when you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. For weight loss, you must be in a calorie deficit. You can either choose to eat fewer calories than you naturally burn or ramp up activity to burn calories and create a deficit that way.
For most people, focusing on eating a healthy diet is easier than trying to outrun poor nutrition. Most adult women need 1,600 to 2,200 calories, while adult men need 2,200 to 3,000. These calories are vital for your everyday life – from basic functions like breathing to more complex ones, like carrying your child.
To determine your own calorie deficit, you’ll need to learn how many calories you eat on average and your calorie expenditure or how many you burn. Start by tracking what you eat via a calorie tracker for a week to determine a baseline of what you’re consuming. Then, use an online calculator to help you determine how many calories you burn each day based on your age, weight, and activity level. From there, you can start with small calorie deficits to begin losing weight. If you don’t see results within a couple of weeks, you can lower your calorie intake more.
This is an incredibly simplified explanation of weight loss. The types of food you eat, your activity levels, and your sleep all play a role in weight loss. If you want to be sure that you’re dieting correctly, Center for Wellbeing’s doctor-developed Metabolic Reset Weight Loss Program can ensure that you get the results you desire. With the reset, you’ll learn to approach weight loss in a mindful way to reach your optimal healthy weight.
Does sweating help you lose weight? No – but we can. Reach out to us today!