Can you lose weight by sweating? Trying to shed pounds by sweating them off has always been a popular method of losing weight. It’s very common to see people working out in a rubber sweat suit or wearing extra clothes to work up a good sweat. Other people head to dry saunas where they sit in a warm environment to sweat off the pounds. Once they emerge, they’re pleased to find they weigh less. But can you really lose weight by sweating?
Sweating and Weight Loss
It’s not uncommon to weigh a few pounds lighter after sweating in a dry sauna. Unfortunately, it’s not body fat you’re shedding in these hot environments but fluid and electrolytes. Some people look at the scale and believe they’ve found a fast way to slip into a smaller pair of jeans. But once they replace the lost fluids, the number on the scale returns to its previous value.
What about athletes who wear sweat suits while exercising? Some athletes do this to sweat off a few pounds of water weight so they can meet a certain weight class for a competitive event. Other athletes use them to become acclimated to working out in high temperatures. After working out in one of these suits, they’ll almost surely be lighter in weight because of water loss, but the effects will be short-lived. As soon as they replace lost fluids, they’re back where they started from a weight standpoint.
Sweating to Lose Weight Isn’t a Good Idea
Working out in a hot environment or wearing a sweat suit while exercising can dehydrate you quickly as the humidity levels rise. Not only do you lose fluids, but you deplete electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium that are important for muscle function. A decrease in electrolytes can cause an irregular heartbeat, drop in blood pressure, fainting, seizures or even death.
There’s really very little benefit to subjecting yourself to hot temperatures to lose weight. There are cases where athletes have died after working out in a sweatsuit without adequately replacing the fluids they lost through sweating. Dry saunas and steam rooms can be especially dangerous for people with heart disease, high blood pressure or other medical conditions.
Sweating and Weight Loss: Lose Weight the Right Way
There’s no quick and easy path to weight loss. Sweating is a good thing when you’re doing it because you’re exercising hard, but it’s important to stay hydrated. Working out in a rubber suit or sitting in a sauna doesn’t have any fat loss benefits. It only gives you temporary water weight loss. Focus on working up a sweat the right way by doing cardiovascular and resistance training rather than sitting in a sauna. It’ll pay off with weight loss that’s more than just fluid.
Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.