We frequently seek to find the calorie content of many foods we eat, but what about substances naturally produced by our bodies? What about sweat? Does sweat contain calories?
Sweat does not contain calories that are measurable, because sweat consists of about 99% water and mostly salt with some electrolytes as well.
Let’s explore this some more.
Does Sweat Contain Calories?
Sweat is made up of mostly water, with small amounts of salt, minerals, and electrolytes. While sweat itself doesn’t have any calories, the body can burn calories to produce sweat.
You are burning calories when you sweat if you are exerting yourself through movement. Simply sweating is not going to burn any amount of calories that are meaningful.
Sure, some energy is required in the process of our body sweating, but not enough to make a drastic difference in how much weight you lose.
The number of calories burned varies depending on how much you’re sweating and how active you are.
For example, if you’re power walking you have the ability to burn 300-600 calories per hour.
Simply standing in one location sweating will not burn anywhere near this amount. You will only be burning calories based on your body’s BMR or basal metabolic rate.
How Sweat is Made
Sweat is produced by the eccrine and apocrine glands in the body.
The apocrine sweat glands of the body are located in the armpits and a few other areas and work to produce an oily, opaque secretion.
This is the sweat known to cause body odor. This is due to bacterial decomposition.
The eccrine glands are located over the rest of the body’s surface and is responsible for the perspiration produced in those areas.
The main purpose of sweat is to cool the body down. After the sweat is produced, it will evaporate; lowering body temperature.
Types of Sweat
There are two different types of sweat:
Sensible sweat is sweat that is on the skin’s surface in the form of fluid.
Insensible sweat is sweat in the form of vapor.
This is a very interesting topic, and there are actually sweat monitoring devices in development to measure the physiologic aspects of sweat.
These are known as Wearable sweat loss measuring devices, or SLMDs.
There are many ways that studying sweat can aid researchers in finding out about various diseases and illnesses.
For example the main test to diagnose cystic fibrosis is the sweat test, which aims to find high levels of salt in sweat.
How Many Calories Can I Burn Sweating in an Hour?
Sweating by itself actually does not burn calories. Sweating is a result of our body trying to maintain it’s body temperature.
When the body gets too warm, the brain signals the sweat glands to produce sweat.
As the sweat evaporates, it helps to cool the body down. Sweating can also occur in response to emotional stressors, such as fear or anxiety.
In these cases, sweat glands are stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the body’s fight or flight response.
So while you may burn 300-400 calories jogging for an hour, you may only burn about 50 calories in an hour just sweating. This is due to the fact that our body burns calories just standing in one place, but not as many as when we are exerting ourselves through meaningful exercise.
Does Walking Without Sweating Burn Calories?
Yes, you will burn calories when walking even though you are not sweating.
This seems to be a confusing topic to many, as they feel if they are not sweating when they are exercising, they are not burning calories. This is not true at all.
Simply walking by itself does not stimulate sweating.
In all actuality, exercising causes an increase in your body’s temperature, which will then cause you to sweat in an effort to bring your body temperature down.
Is Exercise a Waste of Time if I Don’t Sweat?
No, exercise is never a waste of time. You can still reap the benefits of exercise even if you are not sweating, because you are still burning calories.
If you do want to feel like you are having an effective workout by getting your sweat on, all you have to do is push yourself a little bit harder by increasing the difficulty.
You can increase the amount you sweat during exercise by:
- Doing high intensity intervals
- Increasing speed
- Increasing incline or walking up hills
These are a few easy examples of ways you can make exercising harder.
If you feel you want to sweat more when exercising, simply adding one or two of these ideas to your plan will definitely make you sweat more, because they are more taxing.
Does Sweating at Night Burn Calories?
Sweating at night will not burn any calories worth calculating. This is because sweating is a natural bodily process.
It is common for some people to sweat when they sleep, but all this means is that your body is trying to cool itself down.
Yes, it is true that your body will burn calories in the natural process of trying to cool itself down, but these calories are not going to cause any drastic noticeable difference.
It is paramount that you track calories in and out through diet and exercise to see any meaningful weight loss.
Simply relying on how much you sweat is not going to be of any benefit.
Let’s take a look at this example. Tim’s basal metabolic rate is about 2800 calories per day. This means he has to consume 2800 calories every day to maintain his current body weight.
Tim chooses to consume around 3500 calories per day. This means he is in a calorie surplus, which means he is likely going to gain weight over time.
If Tim only relies on how much he sweats at night or even during the day as a gauge of weight loss, he is going to be in for a big surprise.
This is because there is no way to out perform a bad diet by sweating. Tim is never going to reach an optimal calorie deficit by sweating or possibly even by exercising if he is consuming 700 calories over his maintenance level.
He must make sure he is in a calorie deficit, and this starts with his diet.
Burning more calories than you consume over a long term course is the only way for the body to burn fat.
Can you Lose Weight by Sweating in the Sun?
You will not lose weight or burn fat by lose weight by sweating in the sun.
We know how much we can sweat by sitting in the sun. Just being outside on a hot day can cause us to sweat by not even doing anything productive.
Unfortunately, simply sweating in the sun does not mean you are burning a ton of calories or body fat.
We need to exert ourselves to burn calories effectively through exercise. We need to move, or exercise. While it may feel like you are burning calories because you are hot, you actually are not. There is no scientific evidence to back this up at all.
However, you will lose water weight by sweating. This can cause a negative fluid balance.
This is not a smart idea because it is very easy to become dehydrated. It is important to stay hydrated and maintain electrolytes when out in the sun.
There are many dangers that being dehydrated can spark, so ALWAYS make sure you protect yourself when out in the sun, and do not try to lose weight by overheating.
Does Sweating Make You Lose Muscle?
No, sweating does not cause muscle loss. In fact, sweating is actually beneficial for muscle.
Sweating helps to remove toxins from the body and improve circulation. More blood to a muscle means more growth.
It is important to stay hydrated when working out and sweating. When we sweat, we have the ability to lose fluid and electrolytes.
Losing too many electrolytes such as sodium and potassium can cause muscle cramping, but not muscle wasting.
It is vital to replace the electrolytes lost. Many sports drinks contain these important electrolytes right inside, so be sure to replace them.
Sweat does not contain calories, but you will burn calories the move you move.
Exercise can be a great way to burn excess calories to help you reach your weight loss goals faster, while also being a great outlet to improve cardiovascular health.
Just because you do not sweat when you exercise, does not mean it is not effective.
Don’t get too hung up on the amount you sweat, as it is not a good indicator of calorie burn.
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