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Does Sweating Help You Lose Weight?

8 min read
a woman is covered in sweat after a workout, does sweating help you lose weight
David J. Sautter post Reviewer David J. Sautter post Reviewer
Verified by David J. Sautter
NASM Personal Trainer, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ACE Sports Conditioning Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist

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Have you ever wondered, amid your intense workouts and dripping sweat, ‘Does sweating help you lose weight?’ 

This burning question has sparked endless debates and discussions in the fitness world. 

We’ve crafted an enlightening guide that not only tackles this question head-on but also demystifies the intricate relationship between sweating and shedding those extra pounds.

Does Sweating Help You Lose Weight?

The idea that sweating is good for weight loss has been around for a long time and largely stems from the fact that we do, indeed, lose scale weight by sweating. 

If someone sweats a lot during exercise, they are likely to weigh less on the scale than before their workout.

However, does that mean anything? Well, not really.

Sweating is simply a way for your body to regulate its core temperature and keep you from overheating, which can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. [1] 

The idea of ‘sweating fat’ holds no scientific ground. Sweating doesn’t burn calories and doesn’t impact your body composition.

So, while sweating can help you lose weight, it doesn’t actually result in losing body fat and achieving the lean physique you’re after. 

It only indicates that you’re losing fluids and electrolytes (e.g., potassium and sodium), which you must replace during and after training to avoid dehydration and muscle cramps. [2] [3]

One exception is when someone retains more water due to a medical condition (i.e., hypothyroidism) or a high-sodium diet (exceeding 3,000 mg daily). [4] 

In such cases, sudden and large water losses can occur, leading to a drastic reduction in scale weight.

However, it’s worth noting that this results from fluid loss, not fat burning.

Is Sweating Good For Weight Loss?

As discussed, sweating doesn’t burn calories and doesn’t help you lose actual fat. In other words, it’s not good or bad; it’s simply not related to genuine weight loss.

To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn, also known as being in a calorie deficit. [5]

Doing so forces your body to break down fat and lean tissue (e.g., muscle) to get the extra energy it needs to sustain itself. As a result, you lose weight and gradually become smaller. 

When paired with a high-protein diet (at least 0.7-0.8 grams per pound) and some resistance training, you can lose primarily fat and hold onto more muscle. [6]

Benefits of Sweating

While it can’t influence true weight loss, here are some of the benefits of sweating:

Temperature Regulation

One of the most notable benefits of sweating is regulating core body temperature. [7] 

The way this process works is quite neat:

As sweat covers your body, it takes energy in the form of heat to turn the liquid into vapor. So, the more you sweat, the more energy your body needs to use, causing your core body temperature to go down.


One drawback of sweating is that you lose electrolytes–more on that in a moment. However, along with these charged molecules, you also lose toxins that can otherwise promote inflammation and increase the risk of health issues.

Some toxins lost through sweat include lead, mercury, and ​​arsenic.

Interestingly, research suggests that sweating during exercise causes you to lose more heavy metals than sweating through more passive means, such as sitting in a sauna. [8]

Detoxification is one reason why some people enjoy using a sauna.

Stress Relief

It’s not sweating itself that relieves stress, but various activities that lead to sweating–for example, physical activity and using a sauna. 

Both have been shown to trigger a release of endorphins that relieve stress and improve our mood. [9] [10]

Skin Health

Sweating opens up skin pores and can help clear out dirt and oils that can otherwise increase the risk of acne and skin infections. 

Additionally, sweat contains a peptide called dermcidin, which can neutralize harmful bacteria and fungi. [11]

Risks of Sweating

On the flip side, here are some of the risks of sweating too much:


The primary risk of excessive sweating is dehydration, which can affect energy levels, mood, and overall health.

So, to answer the question, ‘Does sweating help you lose weight?’, it does. 

But it’s mostly because you lose fluids, which causes you to weigh less when you step on a scale. 

At the same time, you have to replace the electrolytes and the fluids you sweat out. Otherwise, you risk dehydration.

Electrolyte Imbalance

As we sweat, we lose toxins that can harm our health. However, we also lose electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. [2] 

These are crucial in numerous bodily functions, including breathing, heartbeat, and muscle contractions. [12]

For this reason, sweating for weight loss may not be the best strategy as it can cause an electrolyte balance. 

That can limit your workout performance and cause you to burn fewer calories at the gym or on the track.

Muscle Cramping

Losing significant amounts of the electrolytes potassium, calcium, and magnesium can affect muscle function and increase the risk of painful cramps. [13]

It’s important to note that sweating does not directly lead to muscle cramps. 

It simply leads to electrolyte loss, which can increase the risk of this unpleasant and sometimes quite painful sensation.

Sweating and Exercise Intensity

Some trainers, gurus, and fitness ‘experts’ sometimes use sweating to indicate exercise intensity and exertion level. The general consensus is that if someone sweats a lot during training, they are being productive and bound to see good results. 

In contrast, not sweating or sweating too little means the person is not working hard and won’t see good results.

But is this way of thinking good?

There is undoubtedly a link between sweating and physical exertion. People who work hard typically see an increase in core body temperature and sweat more to cool down.

However, sweating is highly individual, with some people sweating profusely and others rarely breaking a sweat, even when doing manual labor, running, lifting weights, or moving furniture. 

Because of that, there are far better metrics for tracking intensity. 

One fantastic option is to use a heart rate monitor, preferably a chest-strapped one, as they appear more accurate. [14]

Heart rate is tightly correlated to intensity, and tracking it can provide valuable information on how hard you’re training and if you’re making progress. 

For instance, if a specific workout caused your heart rate to shoot up to 160 before but now increases to 140 or 145, it likely means your cardiovascular capacity has improved.


Does Sweating Burn Belly Fat?

It’s a common belief that sweating signifies fat loss, which isn’t the case. Sweating is simply your body’s way of regulating its core body temperature and keeping you from overheating.

Also, it’s impossible to preferentially burn belly fat through sweating or with specific exercises, such as crunches. Your body decides where to burn fat from. So long as you’re in a calorie deficit, you will gradually lose body fat and get leaner. [5]

Does Fat Burn In The Form Of Sweat?

No, fat loss doesn’t occur in the form of sweating. In other words, sweating isn’t body fat melting off your body. Sweat primarily consists of water and electrolytes (e.g., sodium and potassium). 

Does Fat Come Out In Sweat?

Fat loss occurs in a calorie deficit, and the process is called lipolysis. During the breakdown, fat is converted to carbon dioxide, which you exhale. The rest is converted to water, which your body needs to stay hydrated and carry out its processes.

You lose water while sweating, but that happens even if you’re not losing body fat, so it’s technically incorrect to say that body fat gets converted to water, which you then sweat out.

Does Sweating At Night Help Lose Weight?

Sweating at night, such as during hot summer nights, can result in fluid loss and cause you to weigh less in the morning. However, that doesn’t mean you’re losing actual body fat.

If anything, you may be dehydrated and should start drinking water when you wake up to feel better and avoid nagging headaches.

Bottom Line

Here are some key takeaways from the article:

  • Does sweating burn fat? No, sweating is a way for your body to control its core body temperature and keep you from overheating.
  • Do you need to sweat to lose weight? While sweating can indicate that you’re exercising hard (which can burn calories), it’s not essential for you to lose weight, as that primarily comes down to creating and sustaining a calorie deficit.
  • Do you lose weight when you sweat from exercise? Yes, but that is because you lose fluids, not because you are burning more body fat.
  • Is there a link between sweating and weight loss? The only link between the two is that sweating causes you to lose fluids, which reduces your scale weight. However, it doesn’t mean you’re losing body fat.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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