Overweight --> Warm --> More Sweat?
November 21, 2008 4:25 PM   Subscribe

I will losing weight and getting healthy make me sweat less? Details inside.

Background About Me:

I am a mid-20s male on the border between 'normal' and 'overweight' according to BMI (recently leaning more on the overweight side). I feel reasonable healthy but I do have a small gut. I run 1-2 times a week for 3 miles and eat semi-healthy (not great, but no fast food).

The Problem:

I sweat... alot. Even a semi-brisk walk turns my t-shirt into a damp towel. My oversweating is a major annoyance in my life and makes getting dressed up (which for men means wearing warmer clothes) a major hassle. I have to change my bed sheets every week because I sweat in the night.

My SO always mentions how warm I am all the time and I wonder if it is all related: Overweight --> Warm --> More Sweat.

If I lost weight, would I sweat less? I HATE my sweating problem and if losing weight meant I would sweat less, I would start this instant.
posted by Spurious to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It hasn't made a difference for me, fwiw.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:40 PM on November 21, 2008

Yes, getting more fit will help you sweat less, until you take it to the other extreme of fitness.

Yup to a ridiculously far away point, your body will indeed sweat less as you lose weight and become generally fitter. Your body will have to strain less to complete day-to-day tasks, and thus will have to rely on its cooling mechanism less and less, and so you'll sweat less.

On the other side of the curve, if you happen to become an elite endurance athlete (which I wouldn't necessarily recommend, unless you absolutely have your heart set on endurance exercise), your body starts sweating all the time again. After enough push-the-envelope training (the sort that it takes to compete on the national level), even a short walk will make your body go "oh, shit. here we go again ..." and you'll wind up drenched. I experienced this in a past life. It was really annoying. I couldn't find the scientific literature I'd seen about this before, but if you're really interested, I could probably put in some more effort and find it.

For what it's worth, if you're only interested in getting generally fitter, I'd say dump the running and start lifting heavy stuff. It has much more effect, and faster, that running does, while having a lower risk of injury and still having a surprisingly good cardiovascular effect. If you're interested, check out The New Rules of Lifting or Starting Strength, two of the best out there for beginners. If you're dead-set on running, try running short interval repeats (run fast, stop; run fast, stop; etc.) instead of long and slow.
posted by oostevo at 4:51 PM on November 21, 2008

I'm sure you've looked into it, but there are several aluminum based compounds that will inhibit sweat production. Here's a link to HowStuffWorks.
posted by AaRdVarK at 4:51 PM on November 21, 2008

Hmm, I should have added: It's not specifically losing weight that'll make you sweat less (discounting the effect of fat-as-insulator, but that's a pretty negligible effect).

What matters is adapting your body to increased work loads.

And FWIW, a warm body probably means you have a fairly fast metabolism (body temperature can be used for a very back-of-the-envelope resting metabolic rate estimation). This is good. Hit the weights and your metabolism will get even better.

It's also worth noting that while I do science for a living, I only keep up with this field for fun, and I have absolutely no professional qualifications in this area.
posted by oostevo at 4:56 PM on November 21, 2008

I dropped 80lbs and sweat significantly less.
posted by glip at 5:02 PM on November 21, 2008

I echo your comments Spuriou, as well as those of glip. I lost ~70lbs and sweated considerably less, but its probably due to oostevo's explanation.
posted by SirStan at 5:55 PM on November 21, 2008

When I gained 20lbs (stupid desk job) I noticed two big changes: I sweat much more and my balance was messed up. So: probably.
posted by rokusan at 6:25 PM on November 21, 2008

Looks like I have a really good reason to start hitting the gym. Thanks all.
posted by Spurious at 6:34 PM on November 21, 2008

Okay, different experience here (and female, so YMMV), but - when I *lost* weight (40ish pounds) I went from always cold to always warm. And yeah, *more* sweat.
posted by chez shoes at 7:34 PM on November 21, 2008

Similar to chez shoes, I am fitter than I've ever been (but by no means am I a hard core endurance athlete), and I now sweat at the drop of a hat. Within 5 minutes of the start of a workout I'm drenched in sweat even if I'm not breathing very hard. I'm female.
posted by peep at 8:18 PM on November 21, 2008

I can only speak to experience, but yeah, it has made me sweat less. It's very strange preparing for a sweat-a-thon and coming out relatively dry. And by strange I mean awesome.
posted by spiderskull at 12:58 AM on November 22, 2008

Completely anecdotal, but I started cycling to work about a month back and even in that short time have noticed that I'm sweating less, both after exercise and generally.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:26 AM on November 22, 2008

Take it easy, Mo. Jeez. If the sweat is excessive and the OP is fed up with it, he can buy aerosol antiperspirant and very quickly and cleanly apply a thin layer to his torso. If OTC antiperspirant is not effective, Spurious, you can get a prescription for Drysol, which is amazing stuff.
posted by HotPatatta at 5:47 AM on November 22, 2008

I sweat far more being fit than not, and I think this is pretty common (if you believe about.com, here's a link), but this mostly affects me when I am working out. But if you simply lose weight, it will take you less energy to do things like walk around and you will probably sweat less doing those things. Just don't expect it to help when you decide to go for a run. Workout clothes made from modern fibers are your friend!
posted by ch1x0r at 8:42 AM on November 22, 2008

Often over eating on a given day results in more sweating. You body modulates your weight to a certain degree. When you eat too little your body conserves energy by cooling down (you'll feel cold, many dieters find this out quickly). When you overeat your body will try to burn off some of the extra calories simply by raising your body temperature.

Beyond that, a larger body is (1) better insulated and slower to change temperatures (or reach normal/resting temperature) depending on your size - think body mass vs. surface area. And (2) requires more energy (and thus more resulting body heat) to move around.

I've lost 50 pounds over the last year using www.thedailyplate.com (which I think was recently purchased by livestrong.com). I've noticed a big different in how much I sweat after losing the weight and on those days when I overate. And extra 500 calories (a big slice of cake or a few beers) was easily enough to make me sweat a lot more on a given day.

Good luck - you're into it and you'll put in the effort to find a solution that works for you, then you'll tell all your friends mefi saved your life and mefi will be the ultimate source of all knowledge for generations to come. Yeah.
posted by unclezeb at 9:09 AM on November 22, 2008

Many years ago I adopted a heavy exercise regime for about two years. I was maybe 20 pounds or so overweight, and had always been one to perspire as soon as the temperature elevated a bit. When I excercised, I still sweat like crazy. Part of my routine was to walk a mile at lunch time during work (I could later eat at my desk while working), and even when I lost 30 lbs. and regular clothes were hanging off of me, I still had to go into the ladies room after my walk and take a modified "shower" in the sink. However, what did change was that I no longer perspired in non-exercise situations, say, around my neck when I wore a blouse with a snug collar, or a T-shirt that was tight under my arms. I no longer developed a red ring on my torso where the waistband of my pantyhose used to make me sweat.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:22 AM on November 22, 2008

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