Perspiration is not a good measure of how many calories you burn or how much weight you lose.
You’ve probably seen the saying, written on a T-shirt or a poster: “Sweat is just fat crying.” And, yeah, we know how good it feels to step on the scale after a particularly drenching run, ride, sauna trip, or workout and see how many pounds have melted away in just one session.
But, well, with apologies to Annie Lennox, sweat dreams are made of this.
Sweating is not the way to measure the intensity of your workout or your potential for muscle gain or weight loss.
“It may be an indication of an intense fat-burning workout,” says Dr. Kenneth Barnes, sports medicine expert at the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute, “or it could just simply be the reaction to heat, especially on a hot, humid day.”
And those pounds that seemed to have soaked into your lululemons and drained out onto the gym floor? The scale’s not lying, is it?
Well, no. It’s not. But that’s just water weight, which is exactly what it sounds like. Those missing pounds equal the water that left while you were sweating. But as soon as you rehydrate properly with a few glasses of water (And, yes, you have to. Or very, very bad things will happen.) those pounds will just magically reappear.
Lots of factors figure into how sweaty you get — and how stinky, too, but that’s another story.
- Gender — Men tend to sweat more than women.
- Age — Younger folks sweat more than older ones.
- Weight — Larger people’s bodies create more heat.
- Fitness level — Believe it or not, fitter folks tend to sweat sooner and more.
- Genetics — Blame mom and dad. Like always.
“The bottom line is sweat regulates your body temperature,” says Dr. Barnes. “So, if your internal temperature is high, you’re going to sweat a lot more. And, obviously if it’s hot outside, you’re going to sweat more. Everybody has different set points.”
Which is why, if you stop sweating, you need to seek medical attention immediately, he says. Immediately!
Weight, weight, don’t tell me.
The big takeaway:
When it comes to losing weight, there’s bound to be some sweating involved. But, Dr. Barnes says, there’s really no lose-it-fast formula for weight loss.
“At the end of the day, there’s no shortcuts. You’ve just got to eat right and exercise.”
Carlos Harrison is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News. He is a former national and international television correspondent, as well as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor.
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