You see them at the gym and on the running paths: people wearing garbage bags, layers of clothing, plastic sweatsuits and sweat belts all in hopes of making themselves thinner faster. Does intentionally making yourself sweat more really help you lose weight?
The cons of sweating it out
When making yourself sweat off the pounds, the weight bounces right back. You’re simply creating water loss, nothing more. “It’s not to going to lead to real pounds lost,” says Jessica Bixenmann, health coach and behavior change expert for Sharp Health Plan’s Best Health Team. “Those liquid pounds come back when you rehydrate.”
It can also lead to more severe problems. “Working out in any form of ‘sweatsuit’ does dehydrate you more than a regular exercise session,” says Bixenmann. When you wrap your body in plastic or wear heavy clothes, your body will lose its ability to properly cool itself. Sweat can’t evaporate like it should and the result can be dangerous. It can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even cardiac arrest. Above all, you create pointless brutality on the body. “It sounds miserable for the exerciser,” says Bixenmann. If you keep putting your body under extra, unnecessary stress, you’ll burn out quicker and can lose interest in exercise.
The pros of sweatsuits
You can drop weight fast. Wrestlers and bodybuilders who need to make a certain weight can quickly drop pounds by purposefully sweating. This is still not a healthy weight loss and should be conducted only with supervision from a medical professional.
What you should be doing
You should wear an SPF of at least 30 sunscreen and the right workout clothes. Follow these tips:
- When exercising outside, wear white or other light colors.
- Look for moisture-wicking material. It absorbs and removes moisture to keep your body temperature regulated.
- Stay away from 100 percent cotton. The sweat will stick to you and could even give you chills.
- Wearing less clothes works for you. Not only does it help save you from the hazards of overheating, it allows you to better watch your form when weightlifting and gives you more freedom in movement.
Drink water before, during and after your workout. The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking 15 to 20 ounces of water before your workout, 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout, and 8 ounces within 30 minutes after you’ve finished.
The sweatsuit bottom line: is it worth it?
No. The risks outweigh its little rewards. Not only are you making your workouts unnecessarily cruel, you’re not going to lose more weight in the long-term.