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Exploring the real link between sweating and weight loss

Will sweating buckets during a workout burn more calories and ultimately burn fat like crazy?

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
January 16, 2024
min read
Exploring the real link between sweating and weight loss
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Does sweating burn fat? Does sweating burn calories? These are really common questions you might be asking yourself (or Google) when kicking off your weight loss journey.

So, will sweating buckets during a workout burn more calories and ultimately burn fat like crazy? Not exactly.

The link between sweating and weight loss is a myth that has been around for quite some time and might come from the fact that most exercise is a tool for burning fat and typically, you're left sweaty after a good workout.

Ready to dig into the science behind sweat and burning fat? Let's do this.

What exactly is sweat and why do we do it?

Sweat is your body's way of cooling you down. As soon as you begin to overheat, you'll start to sweat to regulate your body temperature. Sweat is 99% water and 1% salt and fat.

We have 2 types of glands that produce sweat. These are:

  • The Errcine sweat glands: They're located all over your body but mainly around your hands, the soles of your feet, and your forehead. Their primary function is thermoregulation. These sweat glands tend to produce light and odourless sweat.
  • The Apocrine sweat glands: Found in the armpits, groin and scalp these glands produce more concentrated secretions of sweat. This is the type of sweat most frequently associated with body odour.

Can you sweat too much or too little?

Sweating too much or too little are both 2 very different conditions. Excessive sweating is known as hyperhidrosis and sweating too little is known as hypohidrosis. Both of these conditions can impact your body temperature.

Let's dive deeper into what you need to know:

  • Hyperhidrosis (a.k.a sweating too much): Excessive or uncontrollable sweating is known as hyperhidrosis and doesn't often have an exact cause [1]. This condition can develop at any time during your life and affect any part of the body. Some known causes can include weight gain, an overactive thyroid gland or taking new medication.
  • Hypohidrosis (a.k.a sweating too little): Hypohidrosis or partial loss of sweating can occur for a number of reasons including skin disorders, dehydration or an underactive thyroid [2]. A lack of sweating may cause temperature regulation issues which could be detrimental to your health long term.

The benefits of sweating

So, why does your body sweat in the first place? Here are some of the key benefits and reasons why the body sweats.

Increased circulation throughout the body

Proper circulation is key for maintaining optimal health [3]. A healthy circulatory system ensures both blood and oxygen continually flow, allowing every organ to function properly. Increased circulation will help heal wounds faster, and keep your mind sharp and your heart healthy.

A performance indicator

When you exercise, the body breaks down fat and carbs to give you energy. This process is how we expend energy and in turn, this burns calories. If the workout is more intense, a higher amount of energy is expended by the body during the movement [4].

Movement results in the production of heat and as it accumulates, the core body temperature increases. The more energy being exerted, the more heat the body will generate. Sweating is simply a result of the body regulating temperature — as sweat evaporates you will cool down. The internal cooling process is also a good sign you're burning calories.

So yes, sweat is a good performance indicator for those who do high-intensity workouts, it's part of our cooling process.

Better skin

Sweating opens your pores allowing them to purge out dirt, dead skin cells and other bacteria. Sweat isn't only water, but includes a component called "urea" which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and can rehydrate dry skin. Sweating will also improve circulation giving your skin a healthy glow, too.

Rids the body of toxins

One of the most effective ways to aid in detoxifying the body is sweating. A 2011 study found that many toxic elements in the body can be excreted through sweat [6]. Whether it's through a good workout or regular sweat-filled activities, working up a sweat can act as a full body cleanse.

Sauna therapy is another popular way to get sweaty without raising your blood pressure. It has been proven to rid the body of toxins and is a safe way to lower blood pressure and overall improve cardiovascular health [5]. Drinking enough water will also assist the body in naturally cleansing toxins daily. Increased water intake will also help keep your kidneys healthy.

How does your body burn fat?

While sweating alone doesn't necessarily maximise your fat burn, it is a sign that you're heading in the right direction.

The body will burn fat through a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is achieved when you eat less and expend more energy. This means the body will use energy from stored fat cells to survive [7].

A healthy diet composed of whole foods, having a rough idea about how many calories you consume in a day and being conscious about what you choose to snack on will all help burn fat faster than relying solely on intense workouts.

Not all movement has to be a super sweaty workout in order to aid the body in burning fat. Something as simple as increasing your steps during the day through incidental exercise is enough to put you in a calorie deficit. Walking could be a better workout for you in the long run, and of course, eating the same amount of food every day.

The body will go on to excrete fat cells through either carbon dioxide or urine.

Do you lose weight when you sweat from exercise?

Are you wondering, "does sweating burn fat?". While sweating can be a sign that you're burning fat, it isn't the only way to lose weight.

One of the biggest misconceptions in the weight loss industry is that more sweat during a workout amounts to losing fat. However, sweating doesn't burn any measurable amount of calories, other than loss of water weight. If you jump on the scales, technically you'd weigh less but this is only a temporary loss.

If you look at the reason you're breaking a sweat like taking part in a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class, then yes this style of exercise can promote the body to burn fat at a higher rate purely by getting your heart rate up. This very action will also cause your internal body temperature to rise which will get you sweaty.

For example, someone with more body mass is also more likely to sweat easier, as fat retains more heat than muscle and somebody with a lower fitness level might break a sweat from a lower-intensity style workout.

In short, while sweating is beneficial for the body and releases endorphins and feel-good hormones, you're more likely to be losing water weight than achieving fat loss (or burning calories). This could also lead to severe dehydration if you're not focusing on your water intake and hydration. Sports drinks are often recommended to replace lost electrolytes.

Healthy ways to sustainably lose weight

Losing weight is a process that more often than not leaves a lot of people feeling defeated when they don't see instant results. For this very reason, Pilot has come up with long-term solutions that help support sustainable weight loss. These are the Pilot Metabolic Reset Program and our Weight Reset Shakes.

Weight loss ultimately comes down to energy in vs energy out, so it has a lot to do with diet and the different types of foods you consume.

If you're looking for a straightforward way to kick-start your weight loss journey, our Weight Reset Shakes are specifically designed to take care of your dietary needs. These meal replacement shakes contain high-quality ingredients and will keep you satiated meaning you're less likely to over-eat.

In fact, a study from 2018 showed a 4% weight loss with one meal replacement shake per day, over a 3-month period [8].

Plus, Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program is clinically proven and harnesses an evidence-based medication to kick-start your weight loss journey. Paired with ongoing health coaching and lifestyle changes, this program is designed to get the root cause of weight gain and help you keep the weight off for good.

For many men, weight loss can be difficult and sometimes the body can resist losing fat when shocked by a dramatic change in diet. That's why our Metabolic Reset Program uses practitioner-prescribed hunger-regulating medications in combination with support from a health coach so you can make sustainable lifestyle changes that you can stick to for the long term.

When it comes to understanding the link between sweating and fat burn, it's important to remember that sweat doesn't actually indicate fat loss. While boosting your activity levels and getting your heart rate up is helpful, it's more important to focus on making holistic lifestyle changes that will help you burn calories and hit your weight loss goals.

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