The More You Sweat, the More You Lose Weight?

Some people still believe that the more you sweat, the more you lose weight. However, the amount of sweat isn't related to the calories you burn. Read on to find out why.
The More You Sweat, the More You Lose Weight?

Last update: 04 May, 2022

It’s believed that the more you sweat, the more you lose weight. However, this is not true. In reality, the calories burned have little to do with perspiration. If this were the case, those who don’t sweat wouldn’t lose a single gram.

Let’s take a look at what happens in a gym for a moment. When the class or routine ends, some people will have sweated a lot, so much so that they have to use a towel or change clothes.

Others, on the other hand, are dry, as if they hadn’t done a thing. Will the former lose more weight than the latter? That’s the popular belief, but what everyone thinks isn’t always true.

To answer this question, let’s take a look at what happens in the body when you exercise. In this article, we’ll explain a few points to demonstrate that the idea that “the more you sweat, the more you lose weight” is a myth.

Exercise and perspiration

In order to cool down when the temperature rises too high, the body has a mechanism called sweating or perspiration. When perspiring, water is excreted by the sweat glands located in the skin, and with this liquid, the body’s temperature reduces by a few degrees. This is evidenced by a study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science.

However, the number of these glands is determined by genetics; the average is between 2 and 4 million throughout the body. Studies have revealed that the more sweat glands, the more sweat. Although this doesn’t work the same way in all humans.

A woman drinking.
During exercise, the body loses fluids and electrolytes through sweat. It is, therefore, essential to rehydrate it.

Who sweats more?

Women tend to have more glands than men, but male glands are up to 50% more active. Also, body composition is different; men have more water in their bodies, and perspiration is more acidic. But if we talk about hormonal differences, it’s women who come out on top.

Female athletes, for example, start sweating at a higher temperature and from deeper tissues. At the same load and heat, men will sweat more. Women, on the other hand, have different mechanisms that help dissipate heat (especially circulatory).

This is why in a gym you’re more likely to see men sweating, and women with reddened skin (especially in the face). This happens because the blood capillaries in the dermis vasodilate and expel the heat to the surroundings.

The amount of perspiration can also be affected by other factors. There are many of these factors, but the following can be highlighted:

  • Tobacco consumption
  • Alcohol or coffee consumption
  • Exercise intensity
  • Weight or amount of accumulated fat
  • Hot and humid weather causes increased sweating
  • What you have eaten (spicy foods and spices increase body temperature)

It should be noted that there’s evidence that shows that some individuals may develop an allergy to sweat, as the immune system identifies some of its compounds as harmful. There are few cases, but they condition life habits.

So, if I sweat, do I lose weight?

It has been proven that overweight people perspire more than thin people. Excess body fat increases basal temperature because it serves as a “protection”. When exerting effort or moving, the body sweats to lose heat.

It’s true that when you sweat you lose weight, but those grams are composed of water and minerals. In other words, sweating doesn’t burn calories or eliminate fat through the sweat glands. Losing weight is more related to other factors, such as increasing muscle mass and reducing accumulated fat.

Everything we lose in weight after we’ve exercised we’ll recover when we drink water or drinks with mineral salts. We shouldn’t stop hydrating before, during, and after exercise.

The risk of sweating excessively to lose weight

Despite what we’ve said, the idea persists that, the more you sweat, the more you lose weight. And for this very reason, some people take action or measures to sweat excessively, believing that they’ll lose weight or fat.

For example, they dress in extremely tight clothes, often made of synthetic fabrics, in order to sweat profusely. Others wear girdles or wrap their abdomens in plastic.

The only thing this can lead to is dehydration. In less severe cases, you’ll be very thirsty, as well as fatigued. But, when dehydration is intense, the effects can range from dizziness, headache, and blurred vision to fainting or blackouts.

Find out more here: How to Control Heavy Sweating

Exercise and weight loss

People running.

Sweating doesn’t cause an increase in caloric expenditure

So why does exercise cause weight loss? An aerobic workout or routine can help us lose weight, but not because of the amount of perspiration. Weight loss is attributed to the intensity of the exercise you carry out.

For example, running for 30 minutes helps burn 300 calories, regardless of the amount of sweat on your shirt. Don’t forget that sweating is the body’s way of maintaining a stable body temperature. That’s its function, not to help us lose weight.

If we could just lose weight by sweating, then we’d only need to sit in front of a heater, go to the sauna or lie in the sun at noon. We could also just wear fleeces in the middle of summer! And, of course, that’s not the case.

What exercises help you lose fat?

We have already debunked the idea that the more you sweat the more you lose weight. We’ve also said that to lose weight we need to choose high or moderate-intensity exercises. We’re sure you’d like to know what they are!

  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Boxing
  • Skiing
  • Cycling
  • Brisk walking
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Practicing martial arts

While we practice these activities, the muscles get gtheir energy from our fat reserves, thus helping to deplete them. And together with a proper diet, you can get the results you’re looking for. But remember, it doesn’t matter how much you sweat, but how hard you work.

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  • Hendricks AJ., Vaughn AR., Clark AK., Yosipovitch G., et al., Sweat mechanisms and dysfunctions in atopic dermatitis. J Dermatol Sci, 2018. 89 (2): 105-111.
  • Hodge BD., Sanvictores T., Brodell RT., Anatomy, skin sweat glands. StatPearls, 2020.
  • Takahagi S., Tanaka A., Hide M., Sweat allergy. Allergol Int, 2018. 67 (4): 435-441.