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Does Sweating More Mean You Are Burning More Calories?

Posted by Carmen Chu

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When I first started working out, you would have never found a drop of sweat on my body.  To be honest though, I was one of “those” women frolicking on the elliptical with my earphones plugged in to my favourite TV show thinking that 30 minutes was good enough for the day.  Although it was relaxing, I never really felt that I worked out and as I amped my exercise intensity, I started sweating and feeling fatigued afterwards.

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As exercising got increasingly obsessive and I was drenched with sweat after my run, I used the amount of perspiration generated as a basis of how hard my workout was.  Given, I was on that bloody treadmill for 2 hours a day so obviously, I was bound to sweat!  But do you ever notice that there are lot of people at the gym who looked like they were killing themselves but didn’t jump off the machine or put down those weights drenched in their sweat?  Does it mean that you burned more calories than them?

I had this question come up as I finished my workout today half soaked than I typically would be.  This is because after my injuries a few days ago, I’ve really been trying to take it easy on my body.  Anyways, so I did some research and wanted to see if there was a positive correlation between sweat and calories burned.

Verdict?

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The reason why people sweat is because your body wants to cool off when the temperature reaches too high.  As such, this biological reaction does not actually indicate that you are burning more calories.  The general range of sweat glands one has is between 2 – 4 million and therefore, the more sweat glands you have, the more sweat you produce.  Moreover, women typically have more sweat glands than men but men’s glands are more active and that is why they seem to sweat easier.

Other factors that may cause more/less sweat are the types of clothes you are wearing as synthetic fabrics trap more heat and what you’ve eaten or drank during the day as alcohol and caffeine can increase perspiration.  If one has more fat, this would act as an insulator so you would more often than not see a larger person sweat more during the same exercise with a lower weight person.

Essentially, the number of calories burned all comes down to how intense you’ve worked out during the duration of the exercise.  You could have dropped a few pounds after the buckets of sweat but this is only water weight.  As soon as you re-hydrate yourself, the chances are that those pounds will come right back on.

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What you can do to track your calories is to get a heart rate monitor as this can track how fast your heart is beating.  The more intense you work out, the faster your heart rate should be and this can give you a more accurate picture of how many calories are burned.   Don’t use the amount of sweat as an indicator – see how you feel after 30 minutes of a light jog vs. 30 min of a high intensity interval training and you can guess which one has burned more calories.