Does Sweating Help You Lose Weight?

Sweating is a natural process that occurs in the body to regulate its core temperature¹. This is done by sweat glands releasing water, salt, and other ions like calcium and potassium onto the skin surface, which then evaporate to help keep your body cool. Sweat is hypotonic, mainly consisting of water, and can play other interesting roles like skin friction, moisturization, and potential antibacterial properties² ³ ⁴.

More than half of your total body weight is water. When you sweat, it affects your water weight. This water loss is temporary as 50% of fluid lost in sweat is restored by rehydration through drinking water or eating⁵ ⁶.

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Does sweating burn calories?

The idea that sweating burns calories is a myth. Most people have this misconception because they believe that the amount of sweat produced is an indicator of exercise intensity, and therefore, the amount of calories burned. In fact, sweat loss reduces both water volume and the electrolyte content in the body⁷ ⁸.

How much someone sweats is often related to the intensity of the exercise, but also strongly depends on the person and the environment, such as the surrounding temperature and humidity. Individual differences in the amount of sweat produced are related to a range of factors like genetics, age, gender, weight, fitness level, and even alcohol and caffeine consumption⁹ ¹⁰.

For example, overweight or obese people tend to sweat more due to excess fat deposits acting as insulators, which raises body temperature. Therefore, the process of sweating is in high demand to regulate the high core body temperature. On the other hand, those who are more fit will have a more efficient body cooling process and will dissipate heat from their body more quickly. Young people sweat more due to their body being more metabolically active, which raises their core body temperature.

The benefits of sweating

A key benefit of sweating is healthy skin. Its moisturizing effects may help with hydrating and replenishing skin cells. Sweat resulting from intense exercise and workouts pumps blood throughout your body, allowing essential nutrients and oxygen to circulate and nourish your skin.

The risks of sweating

On the other hand, there are some risks you need to know, the biggest being related to dehydration.


Working out in hot and humid weather conditions can increase the amount of sweat you generate. One study showed that a person’s sweat rate can amount to approximately three to four liters per hour or even up to ten liters a day when exercising during exercise in hot conditions¹³.

Dehydration is a common symptom observed during physical activity, as most people rarely drink enough water to replace their sweat loss¹¹.

Severe dehydration

Excessive sweating can cause severe dehydration and symptoms like extreme exhaustion, confusion, dizziness, and even seizures or loss of consciousness. In particular, it can often lead to hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature) by impairing the body’s ability to lose heat¹². This is why drinking water while you are working out is important.

Excessive sweating

It is worth mentioning that some people can be diagnosed with hyperhidrosis, also known as excessive sweating¹⁴. Symptoms other than excessive sweating include fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, and a rapid heart rate. If you experience these symptoms, talk with your doctor to discuss different options for managing them.

The lowdown

The amount you sweat cannot be used as a reliable indicator of calories burned. Rather, sweating during physical exercise represents fluid or water weight loss rather than fat or calorie loss. The amount of sweat produced differs from person to person, depending on a range of factors such as age, gender, genetics, and fitness level.

Trying to sweat as much as possible to lose weight is not sustainable for most people. Increased sweating also poses some dangerous health risks like dehydration, which can lead to other health risks like hyperthermia and extreme exhaustion.

If you have any concerns about sweating or questions about how to lose weight more sustainably and effectively, talk to your doctor for safe and manageable options.

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