Health Myths Debunked: The More You Sweat, The More You Burn

by | Nov 8, 2017 | Last updated Mar 29, 2023

If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough, right? At least that’s what pop culture would have you believe. But does more sweat really mean more calories burned? Let’s find out.

The Myth

The more you sweat, the more you burn.

The Background

Pop culture would have us believe if we’re not dripping with sweat, we’re simply not working hard enough. From this, many of us have learned to equate sweat with calorie burn.

The Facts

While sweat can be a good measure of exercise intensity, it’s not directly related to calorie burn. There are many determinants of how much you sweat, including individual factors such as age, gender, genetics, hydration, and fitness level, as well as environmental factors such as ambient temperature, type of activity, and amount/type of clothing worn. While you may notice the scale drop significantly more after a sweaty workout, this isn’t a result of true weight loss, but water weight loss.

In general, the biggest determinants of how many calories you burn during a given workout include:

  • Weight: Your calorie burn doing the same activity at the same intensity for the same time will decrease at a lower weight. For example, a 150 lb female will burn about 340 calories during a 30-minute 10 minute mile run, whereas a 130 lb female will only burn 295 calories.
  • Exercise type: Different types of exercise have different calorie burns. Typically, cardiovascular exercises (like HIIT, running, dancing, jump rope, plyometrics, and more) and strength-based exercises that engage more muscle groups (like squats, deadlifts, planks, and more) will result in a greater burn on a minute to minute basis.
  • Exercise intensity: The more intense you perform a given exercise, the more calories you’ll burn. A good gauge of exercise intensity is what’s known as the “talk test”. If you’re exercising at a moderate intensity (think: brisk walking, water aerobics, or a leisurely bike ride), you should be able to speak in full sentences. If you want to take your calorie burn up a notch, aim to not be able to say more than a few words without pausing to catch a breath (think: jogging, aerobics, or a difficult hike).
  • Exercise duration: Intuitively, the longer you exercise and the less you rest in a given session, the more calories you’ll burn. But remember — more isn’t always more. There comes a point where you become fatigued and your exercise intensity suffers, at which point you’re burning fewer calories per minute.

The Bottom Line

The more you sweat, the more you… sweat. If you’re looking to get an idea of how many calories you burn being active, Noom’s helpful exercise logging feature is the best place to start.

Looking to bust some more myths? Sign up for a 2-week free trial of your customized weight loss course today!