The fitness industry is filled with lots of simple questions and yet there is never a simple answer. This is because our bodies are complex and most health and fitness question’s can’t be answered with a one size fits all response. Over the next few weeks posts, we will be looking at some of the most popular perplexing questions popped and feeding your curious minds with myth busting knowledge you can impress even your PT with. This weeks topic is sweat.
Gone are the days of sweat being an embarrassing occurrence that meant you’d be keeping your arms firmly down all day so not to reveal the sweat patches powering their way through your grey t-shirt with nothing but a look of regret on your face. Now, it seems we’re all desperate to get sweaty, from #sweatyselfie’s to sweatbands for your head, legs, stomach and wrists to saunas and even Bikram yoga. But why?
The theory: “Sweat is fat crying”
The theory is that the more you sweat the more fat your burn, but if this were true, surely we’d all lose weight every time the weather perks up? Sweating is our means of thermoregulation. It is a physiological reaction to heat, caused as your body works towards cooling you down.
When your muscles heat up as you’re training, your body works to cool you down which is why you sweat. The reason you may then experience a shift in weight is due to water loss, which needs to be replenished for your body to remain hydrated and avoid cramps and headaches. So sweat is simply just lost water, which in a hot climate can be as much as 3 litres an hour! Obviously this kind of water loss is going to increase your weight loss, but it’s important to remember it’s just water weight, it needs to be replenished to keep healthy and the weight will soon return to normal. No sweaty shortcuts.
If I sweat more does that mean I am unfit?
We are born with between two and four million sweat glands, the amount is determined by genetics and therefore, some people are destined to sweat more.Women have more sweat glands than men, but men’s sweat glands are naturally more active and so typically women sweat less. So if you’re the person in Spin class drenched with sweat, whilst everyone else seems to have no more than a healthy glow– don’t worry – they may not be fitter than you – you might just have a million more active sweat glands!
The more I sweat the harder I’ve worked?
Not necessarily. As we’ve learned sweat is a natural response to cool the body down and if it’s cold you could be training as hard as you possibly can and still not sweat at all. So sweat is not a measure of effort or calorie expenditure.
So whilst yes, it’s great to get super sweaty exercising and no we shouldn’t be embarrassed (providing you haven’t forgotten deodorant), the bottom line is sweating doesn’t burn more fat or calories.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but in humans call curiosity killed is ignorance. So ask away. Get in touch with your ‘Fitness Fact or Fiction’ questions for us to investigate. Next week’s question: If women lift heavy weights will they look bulky and manly?