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A Hot Topic: Does Sweating Make You Lose Weight?

Working up a sweat when you’re doing any sort of exercise – whether weight training, running, or practicing yoga – feels fulfilling as it is a testament to your hard work.

In addition to sweating while working out, it is also something you do every day without thinking about.

There are, however, some myths surrounding how sweating can aid weight loss and how one could “sweat out their fat”. But can you really lose weight when you sweat? Is it true or just a myth?

What is sweat and why do we sweat?

Sweat is the clear liquid that glands in your skin produce when you sweat. Sweating is the body’s natural way of regulating body temperature and it’s the way your body cools itself down1. The body cools down as sweat evaporates.

How much you sweat is based on a variety of factors which include:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors
  • Age
  • Fitness level
  • Weight

Of these factors, your weight and fitness level will most influence how much you sweat during exercise. Your body needs to use more energy to function at a higher weight. This results in more sweat because there’s more body mass to cool down.

The better shape you are in, the quicker you’ll sweat. That’s because the body becomes more efficient at regulating temperature. Sweating earlier means your body can cool down faster. This allows you to work out for a longer time at a more rigorous pace.

Do You Lose Weight When You Sweat?

Sweating a lot may help you lose the water weight from your body, but that weight loss does not last long and is difficult to sustain. Most people tend to regain that weight quickly when they drink water after an intense exercise session1.

Additionally, keeping yourself hydrated after a workout is absolutely necessary because a long, intensive workout also leads to the loss of electrolytes and minerals from the body along with salt and water. After you consume food and drink, you quickly replenish any temporary water weight lost from sweating.

Does More Sweat Mean a Better Workout?

While the high intensity and lengthy workout regimens do tend to make you sweat a lot, sweating is not necessarily an indicator of a better workout. Our bodies sweat as a way to cool down, so if anything, it’s an indicator of how hot your body temperature is. People can sweat regardless of whether they are having a good workout or not, as other factors also come into play.

Among the important factors that affect your level of sweating is the environment in which you’re exercising. For example, if you’re doing jumping jacks outdoors in a humid environment, it will be more difficult for your sweat to evaporate.

As a result, more sweat will accumulate on your towel and clothes. If you do the same kind of workout in a dryer environment or indoors in an air-conditioned space, you will find yourself sweating much less, even if you exerted the same amount of effort.

While sweating is not a reliable indicator of your workout’s efficiency or how many calories you have lost, exercising in a relatively hotter environment can definitely increase the effectiveness of your workout regime.

Why all the hype about Hot Yoga and Saunas?

Saunas

In Finland, the sauna is almost an institution3. During the last few years, many of us in Singapore have also come to enjoy the sauna experience despite the heat. Many believe the sauna is useful for weight loss, but there has been no evidence to support this theory.

The body loses fluid after a sauna, after which the weight is quickly replenished by consuming fluid. Although studies have found that sauna use causes rapid fluid loss, it has not been disclosed in medical literature as an effective way to lose weight4.

Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga

For the uninitiated, hot yoga is exactly what it sounds like. In this type of yoga, you practice in a room with temperatures ranging from 27°C to 37°C. The temperature increases to around 42°C for Bikram Yoga at 40% humidity5.

Yoga generally burns fewer calories than other forms of exercise, such as swimming (about 180 calories every 30 minutes) or sprinting (up to 500 calories every 30 minutes). However, with the extreme conditions of hot yoga, and especially Bikram yoga, are practiced under challenge the body more, causing it to work harder, thus influencing more weight loss.

In fact, a 135 lb person can burn over 600 calories during 90 minutes Bikram yoga session6.

Sweating off inches – Body Wraps

Body wraps are a good example of products that rely on the idea that sweating helps burn fat. Body wraps are one of the most traditional methods of non-invasive treatments that have been touted for a variety of health, beauty, and weight loss benefits.

Classic wraps are supposed to aid weight loss by making you sweat off inches. They typically involve applying a body mask or cream and then covering the area with fabric or plastic saran wrap. This is supposed to burn fat while giving you perfectly taut skin.

Unsurprisingly, there has been no evidence that a body wrap will help you lose weight. The majority of evidence that exists comes directly from the companies that market these wraps. There is very little – if any – unbiased research or studies regarding the effectiveness of body wraps for weight loss.

You may be down a few pounds after a session, but this is mainly due to water loss. As soon as you hydrate and eat, the number on the scale will go back up. Your skin might also have a tighter appearance after the wrap is taken off. This can also be one of the reasons why people think that body wraps work for weight loss. Unfortunately, this side effect is often temporary.

It may be true that fat is sensitive to temperature, but if you’re looking for more sustainable methods for fat loss, we might have the solutions for you.

Alternative Non-invasive Fat Removal Treatments

While it may be true that fat is temperature-sensitive, non-invasive fat removal treatments like CoolSculpting and SculpSure might be more effective at targeting the root problem, as opposed to simply sweating it out.

CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved non-invasive fat removal treatment that uses a procedure known as Cryolipolysis to target stubborn fat cells. Also known as fat freezing, the uses vacuum cup applicators to induce sub-zero temperatures in the targeted area. The fat cells in the region then freeze and are eliminated from the body naturally over the course of 12 weeks.

SculpSure is another FDA-approved non-invasive fat removal treatment. Unlike fat freezing, this treatment uses laser-induced heat to effectively target stubborn fat cells. Also known as laser thermolysis, it penetrates deep into the layers of the skin to destroy the fat cells. The targeted fat cells then break down and are expelled from the body naturally as well.

Unlike other non-invasive treatments that involve sweating off inches, clinical studies have proven the efficacy of cryolipolysis and laser thermolysis for fat reduction8

Conclusion

Embarking on a weight loss journey is not an easy task, but it’s not impossible when you’re well-informed. When choosing the right treatments, it is important to not only take into consideration their effectiveness but also if it is sustainable for your lifestyle.

To find out more about how you can choose the right treatment, schedule an appointment with us today.