We all know that sweating your ass off is the best way to lose weight, right? We think that just because we are sweating like crazy we are burning 100’s of calories. We sweat, we burn calories, we lose weight.
That’s just science, right? Well, not exactly.
We sweat when we exercise because our body temperature increases. Sweating or perspiring is the thermoregulation process by which we dissipate, or get rid of excess body heat. As the body gets warmer, receptors in the skin send information to the hypothalamus in the brain which then activates our sweat glands. The sweat glands produce fluid, mainly water and some dissolved solids, that appears on the skin. This fluid then evaporates taking away some heat as it does, creating a cooling effect on body.
But when I sweat I’m losing weight, right?
A person can lose approximately 1L of sweat per hour of moderate exercise. A liter of water weighs approx. 2.2lbs, therefore it is possible to lose 2.2 lbs of weight per hour. The caveat is a vast majority of this is water weight, which will be quickly gained back once the person rehydrates after exercise.
Ok, but sweating burns calories, right?
Sweating and burning calories don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Sure, when you exercise you generally sweat and you burn additional calories. But what if you are lying on the beach on a hot day not lifting a finger. You’re sweating, but are you burning more calories?
Sweating can also be induced by nausea, fever and nervousness. So what if you just watched a bunch of scary movies or asked your boss for a raise or asked that cute girl out on a date. If sweating meant more calories burned, wouldn’t all these be great weight loss tactics?
People have tried all kinds of wacky and extreme ways to “sweat the weight off.” Most are pretty dumb, some are downright dangerous but none work.
A number of sports such as wrestling and boxing have used extreme sweating as a way to “make weight” for competition. This is usually done for the weight-in a day or so before a bout. Fighters have been known to drop as much as 10lbs in a day. Then they show up the next day to the bout after gaining all this weight right back from food and liquid. This type of severe weight fluctuation can be potentially dangerous and even fatal.
Saunas and steam rooms gained popularity in gym facilities and spas in the 1980’s. This led to the thinking that you could amazingly shed pounds just lounging in the hot box. But all you’re really doing is sitting around in pools of your own, and other people’s sweat.
PVC sweat suits were another popular weight loss fad for the late 90’s that gained a certain degree of prominence in some jogging circles. Thankfully this trend has mostly subsided, although you will still see the odd disillusioned sole plodding along in their rubber sweat-suit, garbage bag or cling wrap versions.
Bikram yoga, a specific style of yoga practiced in a room heated to 105ºF has recently become extremely fashionable. Although it is claimed that performing bikram yoga in this heated environment has many benefits, it is probably safe to say one of the main reasons for it’s rise in popularity is due to the fact that many practitioners believe they are losing weight during the class because they are sweating.
In all these cases any weight lost from sweat is just water weight that is gained right back once you rehydrate.
If you are exercising you will burn additional calories regardless if you sweat a lot or a little. The amount you sweat during exercise is not a good indication of exactly how many calories you burn. It is purely an indication of how hot you have gotten during that bout of exercise.
Just because you are not drenched in sweat it does not mean you burned a truckload more calories. Conversely you don’t have to have turned into some sweaty monster to perform a hard workout.
In fact excessive sweating can be a potentially dangerous situation, especially if left untreated. The loss of a lot of fluid due to profuse sweating can lead to dehydration, dizziness, heat stroke and even certain cardiovascular conditions. Along with the water loss there is also a loss of certain electrolytes which, if excessive can lead to kidney damage. Every year there are a few isolated cases of fatalities due massive water loss from sweating.
Also it has been shown that even moderate dehydration slows the use of fat as a fuel and inhibits weight loss. So sweating can actually be working against you losing body fat.
So now you know what to say when someone else asks you if sweating burns calories.
Sweating aside, burning calories through exercise is what we all want. Try incorporating the following calorie blasting workout into your daily fitness routine.
Burpee Pull-ups with Hyper Vest Pro
5 sets of 5 burpee pull-ups with the Hyper Vest Pro (10lbs or more) on.
– In between sets rest 1 minute –
Hyperwear Director of Education