What your sweat is trying to tell you

Like it or not, sweating is good for you. Sure, it can smell at times, and it’s the culprit of the yellow pit stains on your favorite white tee, but sweating is a basic body function we need to survive. We spoke with father-son pair Dr. Michael Munger, family medicine physician at Saint Luke’s, and Dr. Kevin Munger, sports medicine physician at Saint Luke’s, to determine fact versus fiction when it comes to sweat.

Sweating: fact or fiction?

Humans can sweat out a liter of water a day.-FACT

You’re sweating all the time. Even when you sit at your desk all day in a 74-degree office, your body releases sweat through millions of glands. Be sure you’re replacing at least one liter of the water you’re losing by hydrating all day, every day.

The more I sweat, the more calories I burn. -FICTION

An increase in sweat does not equate to an increase in calories burned. And what the scale says immediately after a drenched workout isn’t necessarily correct. “The weight loss that you see is from the pure volume of sweat that you lose,” Kevin Munger says. “When you rehydrate, you’ll notice that your weight is back to where you were before you started [exercising].”

Yellow sweat stains are normal.-FACT

“The yellow is caused by electrolytes,” Michael Munger says. “It’s also part of the fat that comes through — that has sort of a color.” The ingredients in deodorant can also play a part in sweat stains on underarms of T-shirts.

I should wear fabric marketed as “sweat-proof.”-FICTION

Sweat is your body’s way of cooling itself, so you want to keep the moisture there. “Cotton fabrics and moisture-wicking ones work really well,” Kevin Munger says. “That allows you to transfer heat from your body to sweat.”

Not sweating during a workout is a sign of a heat-related illness.-FACT

When your body starts to run out of water, it’ll stop sweating. Other symptoms of heat-related illness include dizziness, fatigue, cramping, nausea, vomiting and mind alteration. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be confusion — it can be a complete change in personality,” Kevin Munger says.

If I’m going on a long run in the heat tomorrow, I need to hydrate all day today.-FICTION

“Unfortunately, we’re not camels and we can’t really store it like that,” Michael Munger says. “With normal-functioning kidneys, our body will get rid of excess fluid.” He suggests hydrating an hour or two before an intense workout and replenishing throughout with water and electrolytes.


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