You’ve just finished an intense workout sesh. You’re dripping in sweat and can’t help feeling proud of yourself. You think to yourself “All this sweating means I’ve definitely burned a lot of fat!”
But does more sweat equal more weight loss and more calories burned?
In this blog, we’ll uncover the real truth behind sweating and weight loss and answer this burning question – “Do you lose weight when you sweat from exercise?”.
Why do you sweat?
Sweating is primarily triggered by the following factors:
- A rise in your body temperature
- Physical exertion
- Stress or anxiety
When your body’s internal temperature rises, your body’s sweat glands are turned on and it releases water, salt, and ions such as potassium onto your skin surface. As this sweat evaporates from your skin, heat is dissipated thus cooling down your body.
Factors that affect sweat rate
The amount of sweat you produce depends on various factors including
- Fitness level
- Environmental conditions
- Alcohol/caffeine consumption
For instance, since overweight people have excess fat deposits (acting as insulators) that spike their body temperature, they have to sweat more to cool their bodies down. Leaner and fitter people, on the other hand, sweat more efficiently as their bodies can cool down much faster.
Men tend to sweat more than women as they have more active sweat glands.
Do You Lose Weight When You Sweat From Exercise?
The short answer to the question “Do you lose weight when you sweat from exercise?” is NO.
Most weight-loss-inducing activities such as HIIT and other forms of cardio cause people to sweat more which leads people to believe that sweating causes weight loss. But there is no direct link between sweating and weight loss or fat loss, rather.
If you’ve ever found yourself weighing a few grams lighter after a sweaty workout session, it is most likely only water weight loss (since more than 50% of your body weight is water!). This is just a temporary weight loss and you’ll gain that right back by rehydrating yourself.
Thus, sweating for weight loss – i.e. trying to lose weight by sweating as much as possible isn’t sustainable or safe. In fact, increased sweating can cause serious harm including dehydration, extreme exhaustion, and more.
Does sweating burn calories?
Here’s what you need to understand.
It’s not the sweat itself that causes the calorie burn. Rather the process of sweating can be triggered by activities that do burn calories, such as physical exercise.
However, this does not mean that you’ll burn a large number of calories only if you engage in high-intensity, sweat-producing activities.
For instance, for a sweat-filled activity such as hot yoga, the calorie burn is around 330 calories in women and 460 calories in men (for a 90-minute hot yoga class).
Compare that to swimming (a non-sweat activity) where you can burn anywhere between 300 to 600 calories per hour (on average).
So clearly, the amount of sweat you produce has nothing to do with the number of calories you burn. But having said that, sweating is a great sign that you’re working out hard enough to kickstart the calorie-burning process in your body.
Benefits of sweating
1. Great for your skin
Sweating has a host of positive effects on the skin. It…
- Improves your blood circulation and delivers nutrients and oxygen to your skin cells
- Unclogs your pores by flushing out oil, and dirt that can prevent acne breakouts
- Kills bacteria on your skin’s surface thus preventing skin infections
2. Detoxifies your body
Sweating helps to eliminate various toxins from your body including small amounts of heavy metals such as mercury and lead and even alcohol.
3. Boosts your mood
Any exercise that triggers sweating can give you an instant mood lift as it stimulates your endorphins a.k.a. happy hormones.
Drawbacks of sweating
When you sweat profusely, you lose both water and essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in your body can lead to various issues such as muscle cramps, severe exhaustion, confusion, dizziness, weak pulse, seizure, not urinating for several hours, etc.
Thus it is important to keep yourself hydrated throughout your workouts by drinking water and other electrolyte drinks.
2. Skin irritation
When sweat mixes with the bacteria naturally present on our skin, it can cause skin infections and rashes, particularly in areas such as your underarms, groin, and inner thighs. Wearing appropriate workout clothing (dry fit t-shirts), and taking regular showers can help counteract this problem.
3. Body odor
This one’s probably the most annoying side effect of sweating. When sweat comes into contact with the bacteria on your skin, it can produce body odor that is unpleasant both for you and those around you. So keep the BO at bay by using antiperspirants or deodorants.
We hope this article removed all your misconceptions about sweating and weight loss and answered the question “Do you lose weight when you sweat from exercise?”.