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  • Bryan Bacaoat

Sweating, Am I really losing weight?

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Lately, I’ve had gym-goers say to me “that was a good class because I sweated a lot. I know I’ve worked hard and burn fat” (for context, I work at a health and fitness club where I need to run group classes. I don’t mind it, but I know it’s not the best way to lose fat and get fit, anyways…). The past few sessions have been harder, so naturally, the participants work harder and sweat more. That’s what lead to the comment above. Depending on how I feel, I either just nod my head, respond with a smart-ass comment, or try to educate them on the myth of sweating=fat loss.

What happens when we sweat?

Our skin is covered in sweat glands. These sweat glands excrete water and electrolytes. When you exercise or perform tasks that are physically demanding, our bodies sweat more to help keep our bodies cool and to regulate body temperature. You do lose body weight due to our bodies using more water to help regulate our temperature. However, do not mistake this for fat loss. Once you rehydrate, through drinking water or other water-based drinks, your weight will go back to its average weight.

Why do some people sweat a lot more than others?

There are many reasons for this. Some of these factors include:

- Gender (men tend to sweat more than women)

- Age (younger people tend to sweat more than older people)

- Bodyweight

- Genetics

- Weather

- Type of exercise you do

- Your level of hydration. If you are dehydrated, then you won’t sweat as much.

A significant factor is the type of workouts you are doing. If you are performing cardio-based exercises at a high intensity, like skipping, burpees, high knees and so on, then you are going to sweat more to help cool your body, as opposed to strength-based workout.

Summary

In the short term, you do lose weight by sweating more. However, once you consume water-based fluid, then your weight will go back to normal. It isn’t an accurate indicator of fat loss, which is not the same as weight loss (a topic for another day).

Just because you sweat a lot more, does not mean you will burn more fat. Same goes for not sweating much, or at all. Just because you don’t sweat much or at all, does not mean the workout you performed is not effective in helping you lose body fat.

If you perform harder workouts and sweat more, you might burn more calories. Sweating, however, doesn’t mean you are losing body fat. To lose body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit.

The only people who benefit from losing water weight are athletes and individuals who have to be a certain weight to compete. These types of sports include powerlifting, weightlifting, combat sports and so on.

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