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Do You Lose Weight When You Sweat?

Sweating is the body’s natural cooling method during exercise or exposure to high temperatures. While it is true that a person’s body weight can drop a number of pounds following a vigorous exercise or sweating session, that weight is quickly recovered by drinking water. Contrary to the claims of saunas and other heated-room therapies, sweating is not an adequate technique for weight loss.

Sweating and Weight Loss

According to the Scientific American website, a 300-lb. football player loses an average of 3 percent of his body weight during a football game. This results in a loss of 1.08 gallons of fluid. While it may appear that the sweating caused a significant weight loss, the water weight that you lose during exercise is immediately returned afterward when you rehydrate.

The Anatomy of Sweating

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According to the University of Michigan Health System, approximately 60 percent of the human body is made up of water. The natural processes of organ cleansing, nutrient assimilation and mucus creation constantly use up your body’s water level along with sweating. As your activity and environment raise the temperature of your body, some of your water reserves are directed to the skin, where it regulates your heat by evaporating outside your pores. Heavy sweating causes a state of dehydration that requires drinking water to replace, none of which can be considered weight loss.

Sweating Methods For Weight Loss

A number of sweating devices such as sauna belts claim to increase the number of calories that you burn. These claims are generally based on the assumption that the added heat increases your body’s metabolic rate, resulting in an overall acceleration of the number of calories your body burns in a natural state. These claims are largely untested, however, and have not been proven in peer-reviewed studies.

The Dangers of Over-Sweating

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According to the Military Fitness Center, excessive sweating has no useful purpose in weight loss. It may also lead to a number of health problems such as heatstroke, extreme loss of electrolytes, kidney damage and cardiovascular-related emergencies. You should always hydrate yourself before and after any vigorous exercise, and should maintain a healthy level of electrolytes by consuming healthy amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.