Does Sweating Burn Calories?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

The ancient Romans already used the word calor, which means warmth. The word "calories" is derived from Latin. So you can already tell from the meaning of the word that calories have something to do with burning.

Sweating is also a process that relates to warmth. We sweat for different reasons:

  • Fear
  • Heat
  • Physical exercise

These things have something in common. Warmth. Even if you don't notice. When we are in fear or embarrassed, it gets hot, we are in a situation where action is demanded. Sometimes, we even blush, which is a sign of our body telling its brain to take all the blood and get active: "Think of something!", it says.

When it's just hot outside, sweating is a means to reduce the body's temperature. The sweat evaporates, an energetic process that costs the body warmth. It cools off a little.

Physical exercise goes into the same direction. Here, it's not the outside temperature that is too high, it's the body that is producing too much heat with muslce movements. Sweating is again used to cool the body.

So does sweating actually burn calories?

I want to ask you a different question? Does sleeping burn calories? Does breathing burn calories?

Yes! Every process of the body to maintain itself costs energy. The mere process of staying alive, in all its different forms, is a process of using up energy. Every heartbeat burns energy.

The real question is how much sweating burns as compared to other things. What you can safely say is: Sweating is a more intense effort of the body to maintain itself than sitting on a couch at room temperature.

Whatever the reason for sweating is, your body has to change its own temperature because of something that heats it up. Your body has to work against the heat! Therefore, sweating does burn energy and calories.

How do people use sweating to lose weight?

My guess is you have come here because you are interested in sweating for weight loss, and not just because of scientific curiousity.

As I already mentioned, sweating costs energy, but it depends on the relation of things. Here is an example of what I mean:

  • Sitting on the couch, not sweating - very low calory consumption
  • Sitting in a sauna, sweating heavily - moderate calory consumption
  • Running a marathon, sweating heavily - high calory consumption

This should be a clear no brainer. The more effort is involved, the more you can burn. The reason why people think about sweating only, and not sweating as a by-product of physical activity, is because sweating alone is easier.

What I can tell you is this: If you go to a sauna, it's going to be good for your emotional state, it's going to be good for how relaxed your body feels, and it's going to do a little for you diet. It may not be much, but you are still doing yourself a favor.

The other thing that's important is that there are other ways to lose weight that you should combine with sweating, if you decide that sweating is a good way for you (for example if you have a sauna in your house).

I don't recommend sports acivities to people because I believe that those who like sports will engage in these activities regardless of the advice of other people. And those who don't like exercising will not want to train. And I think that's okay because weight loss does not primarily depend on physical activity.

Interested in finding out more? I believe this might be for you: How to lose weight without exercising.

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