A few weeks ago I was changing in the gym locker room and was privy to a conversation between two women. One of the women was applying a thermogenic accelerating sweat cream to her skin. “You put it on before you work out and it makes you sweat more so you burn more calories.” All my instincts as to why this was a not-so-great idea surged to the surface. I couldn’t help but insert myself in their conversation. “Why don’t you just go sit in the steam room for ten minutes and sweat more that way?” I asked. “Oh. I never thought of that. I guess I could do that,” she said. “It’s the more natural way to sweat. And that way, you’re not interfering with your body’s innate sweating mechanisms,” I explained. I was shocked when I actually saw her in the steam room the next day. Most of the time, people don’t so readily take my suggestions.
Do I know for sure these types of sweat creams are bad for you? No, not at all. And my research really hasn’t verified much of anything. But you pick up good instincts when you work as a health and wellness writer for over a decade. You learn things, like leave your body alone. Let it do its thing. Taking laxatives does long-term damage and ultimately messes up your digestive system by creating physical dependency… Stuff like that. I’ve been a dancer all my life. A yogini. A fitness queen. I like to move my body. I like to sweat, and do so without any help from creams or sprays. My size/ weight hasn’t fluctuated much since I was 16 years old… give or take some muscle mass.
I’ve always had good nutrition and fitness habits, and because of my devotion to health, I’ve never had to worry about weight or calories burned. I work out to feel good and keep my muscles strong, including my heart. This isn’t because I am simply lucky or blessed with great genetics — all the members of my family are overweight — it’s because I’ve always practiced healthy lifestyle habits. So products like diet pills and sweat creams are among the many weight loss marketing ploys that make me go…hmmmm…
Apply it pre-workout to “problem” areas you wish to target, and apparently it enhances your body’s thermogenic action (the ability of the body to generate and release heat). As you work out, you sweat more, your circulation increases, you burn more calories and fat, and (hopefully) lose a few pounds in the process. Sweet Sweat Workout Enhancer also purports to help alleviate muscle fatigue during exercise. Does it work? Reviews are mainly mixed. And I have no desire to test it out myself.
There are no clinical studies to confirm the positive benefits, but the company has released thermographic images that show increased circulation on the side of the body to which the cream was applied. Consumer reviews range from “love” to “absolute waste of money.” Some reviewer’s attest to the extra sweating and muscle balm effects, while others claim it doesn’t do anything. I say, why spend your money when you can just sweat the old-fashioned way? With high-energy, high-intensity exercise!
Unless you have a genetic disorder or health condition that prevents you from sweating, or are on medications that impair sweating as a side effect (and if that’s the case please check with your doctor before using any sweat creams), then your body is perfectly capable of sweating to the necessary degree without any extra assistance from you. When your core temperature elevates, such as during a workout, your body perspires. The sweat quickly evaporates, cooling you down in the process. Some people sweat a river, while others just glisten. If you’re a glistener, you needn’t be jealous of those drenched in sweat. Sure, when you sweat, you lose some weight, but it’s water weight, and you’re just going to regain it as soon as you rehydrate. The real weight/ fat-loss impact occurs from the exercise you do… not from how much you sweat. We have between 2 and 4 million sweat glands. Women have more sweat glands, but men’s are more active, which is why they are sweatier beasts! How much you sweat depends on your number of glands, your gender, how hot it is, how energetically you’re working out, or how stressed or anxious you feel.
Caffeine, alcohol, and smoking can all make you sweat more. The fitter you are, the more efficiently you sweat, so make fitness your goal and the sweat should take care of itself. Start listening to what your sweat is telling you, because it may be giving off some very big signals. Sweating a lot could be an indication that something is going on with your endocrine system, which is where your hormone-producing glands reside. If you’re sweatier than normal, you could be pregnant or on the heels of menopause, but if you’re messing around with sweat-enhancing creams, you’re less likely to catch these signals as they arise. Sweating can also be a sign that stress is running your system, heat stroke is imminent, or that your blood sugar is much too low. Allowing yourself to sweat as your body intended helps keep you more sensitive to these signs.
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