We’ve all heard the stories of boxers trying to make weight or pro athletes coming to camp out of shape—they have to lose some weight in a hurry, so they put on a sweat suit or plastic trash bags and start running. But is it true that exercising in hotter temperatures will help you lose more weight? It may certainly feel like you’re sweating enough that you should be losing weight, but that’s not always a great indicator of a successful workout. So what’s the deal with exercising in the heat?
The way your body burns calories depends on a number of different variables, but it is true that working out in the heat is different from working out when it’s cold or mild outside.
- You will actually burn more calories if you work out in the heat rather than in cold weather. That’s because your body is working extra hard to keep itself cool, and it needs more energy to do that. However, this doesn’t mean that running in the hottest temperature possible, or putting on a trash bag will actually give you the weight loss you’re looking for. That’s because when your body is pushed hard in the extreme temperatures, you’re burning more carbohydrates than fat.
- In fact, it appears that moderate to warm temperatures are best to work out in if you want to lose weight. The reason being that you can actually sustain a longer workout under those conditions. Yes, you might be sweating buckets and feel like you put in a ton of work when it’s extremely hot out, but that’s mainly due to the fact that your body is working so hard to pump blood to the skin and help you sweat. Working out in moderate temperatures means you can keep your body in a fat burning state for a longer amount of time.
- Running or working out in more moderate temperatures also lessens the likelihood of overheating or dehydration—two things that will stop any workout in its tracks, as well as put you in danger. Even the weight you lose while working out in the heat is probably not going to stay off very long. That’s because you’ve most likely lost a lot of water, not fat. If the scale reads that you’ve lost a pound after a workout in the heat, remember that you’ve been sweating, and that you would have to burn 3,500 calories to actually lose a pound during a workout.
Simply put, there isn’t an easy way to lose those pounds—it all comes down to regular exercise and your diet. The only thing you’ll be losing in an extreme-heat workout is fluid, which can be dangerous.
So stick with your normal workout regimen, go for runs in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, and make sure you always refuel your body with the water and protein it needs after a hard workout.