Dog Days of Summer: Fat Burning or Just Water Loss?

outdoor-exercise-sweat-heatIt doesn’t take much to break a sweat these days.  Heck, just step out of the car, stand there, and voila!  Add a workout, and the sweats gates flow.

So, here’s the question: Am I burning more fat by sweating so much? Do I lose more weight during these super sweaty workouts?  Or, do the LB’s drop just because of so much sweating? We should give ourselves credit where credit is due, right?

Coming from a fitness background, I suspected I already knew the answer.  What I blissfully forgot is how complicated it is to figure out a simple answer to the body’s complex energy systems. I did not see a super straight forward chart, formula or explanation (for the bullet point junkies like myself), but here are a few of the highlights.

Short workouts in higher temperatures have little effect on our metabolic rate.  Translation- exercising in the heat does not increase our metabolism.  Bummer.  (Trent Jones & The American Dietetic Association have way more scientific information on if you are interested.)hydration_fluid_recovery_training_exercise_sports_chiropractic_chiropractor_running_rehabilitation

2) Prolonged workouts in the heat will increase our core body temperature which will raise our metabolism.  The body is working twofold here.  It is trying to cool itself (expending energy) AND it is trying to complete the workout (expending more energy).  Translation- prolonged exercise in the heat does increase our metabolism.  Yeah!  BUT, increasing our core temperature is harmful to our organs, etc, Darn.Increasing the internal temperature by 3 degrees Fahrenheit increases our base metabolic rate by more than 20%…like having a fever. (Trent Jones Article on

Exercising in the heat is more taxing to the body because of the added effort to cool itself.  Exercising in the heat increases the use of carbohydrates and stored muscle fuel and decreases the fat burning (because of the higher intensity).  (Sweat Science from Double darn.

So, where does this leave us?  Slower, Fatter and Sweatier?  Maybe not. Here are some tips to deal with the heat.

Woman is engaged aqua aerobics in water

1. Drink water before, during & after you workout.  Mitigate dehydration so your weigh-ins are accurate.

2. Acclimate & take breaks.  Your body can get used to the heat but, give it time.  Start with short workouts. Take breaks.

3. Let Mother Nature help out.  Exercise in  the morning.  Find shade.

4. Take a page from the gardeners and campers handbooks.  Wear protective clothing. Use sunscreen.  Hats do help and, so do cooling bandannas.

5. Take a page from the triathletes handbook.  Try a water workout.

Beat the heat & Burn the fat! and, HAVE FUN.

Joan holds a Masters Degree in Biomechanics and Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science.  Prior to her career in Real Estate, Joan spent many years as a fitness professional.


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