published Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Ask a doctor

Q: If I’m sweating more while exercising or sitting in the sauna, am I losing weight faster?

A: This is a common misconception. Losing water and electrolytes from the body might allow you to weigh slightly less after exercise than before, but it is certainly not the same as losing fat weight, which is usually the goal. Wearing clothing to make you sweat more might make you feel like you’re working harder, but you’re not necessarily burning more calories than you take in daily, which is ultimately the only way to lose weight. In fact, making yourself sweat more while you exercise will cause you to get dehydrated faster and decrease your body’s ability to keep up the exercise, so you’ll burn fewer calories because you got exhausted quickly. Instead, stay well-hydrated and exercise to your individual healthy limits, burning as many calories as you can, which will allow your body to use up those fat stores as an energy source.

— Dr. Bryan R. Mayol, University Health Services; medical director Erlanger Sports Medicine; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit an obesity-related question for a medical doctor, e-mail it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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