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I’m fat. I jiggle a bit when I walk, I breath heavy when I go up (and down) stairs, and I don’t fit in regular chairs very well. All of these things don’t bother me personally, but I really don’t enjoy the stares and looks my size earns me from passers-by. So why, in heavens name, do I also have to be dripping in sweat all the time? Sure, people will always stare, but I don’t need them starting at my armpit sweat, my forehead sweat, my arm sweat, my bald-head sweat, etc. If my teeth could figure out how to do it, I’m sure they’d be sweating too.
Which makes me wonder (angrily) why do fat people sweat more than everyone else? Or, do fat people sweat more for real? Maybe I’m just an anomaly.
In general, fat people tend to sweat more than people with a BMI within the normal range. There are many reasons for this including the insulating properties of fat, genetic predisposition, and hormone levels. The increased sweating can typically be reduced through diet and supplementation but there are medical interventions possible.
Now, if you’re reading this, you’re probably fat too. And I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you sweat (almost) as much as I do. Well, let’s take a journey and figure out why the heck our bodies do that to us, and what we can do to fight back the sweat!
Why do fat people sweat more?
While everyone is obviously different, overweight people do tend to sweat more. This is for many reasons, some of which are controllable and some of which are not. The main reason fat people sweat more is obvious, it’s because of the fat.
Fat people sweat more because of the greater insulating tendencies of fat. Because heat has a harder time getting out of your muscles and organs, your body must find a different way to cool off. Sweat is that way.
In addition to being overweight, there are 4 reasons why fat people tend to sweat more than their stick-figure counterparts:
- Genetic Predisposition. Your DNA makeup probably explains a good portion of why you sweat so much. Some people are born with a much greater propensity for squeezing ou droplets of sweat. This has very little to do with being fat but being fat can add fuel to the fire.
- Sweat Gland Distribution. Some people have sweat dripping down their faces, others have sweat dripping from the armpit while their face is dry. Everyone has a different distribution of type or location of sweat glands. If you have lots of glands in an obvious place, you will appear to be a sweatier person.
- Gender. In general, guys sweat more than girls. So if you’re a plus size girl struggling with sweat issues, just be glad you’re not a guy!
- Hormones. Hormones have the ability, when released, to raise your body temperature. This explains why two people can be sitting next to each other in a room, one sweating like crazy, the other as cool as s cucumber.
- Lots of insulation. Even though we mentioned it above, I have to include fat on the list again. The more fat you have, the more effectively your body will hold on to heat. Which, unfortunately, means it will have to find ways to cool itself.
If you read the above and are in dismay because nearly all of the reasons for sweating are out of your control, take heart. There are a few things we can do to sweat less, and several things we can do to control sweat and keep it from ruining our social lives and clothes.
But hold on, sweat is gross…why do you even do it?
Can’t I just take a drug that stops my body from sweating? Or just plug up all my pores and stop them from excreting? Well yes, yes you could. However, your body has put in the effort to build somewhere between 2 and 4 million sweater glands spread out over your body. There must be a reason…
Sweating is your body’s natural method of releasing heat. In short, you body works in the same way a swamp cooler does. Your body releases sweat onto the surface of your skin, the sweat evaporates and takes some heat with it.
While everyone sweats at different levels, fat people tend to have more heat built up and so their bodies are working (sweating) much harder to release it. So do we have to sweat? Yes. Unless you are going to sit sedentary in a temperature-controlled building for the rest of your life, your body will need to keep sweating to keep itself at a good operating temperature.
How can you control (lower) your sweat levels?
There are several methods that anyone can use to lower the amount they sweat. Or, at least, to make it look like they are sweating less. If soaking through your clothes and having sweat drip off your chin is uncomfy, give these interventions a whirl:
Dress for Success
One of the main culprits of sweat is your clothing. But please, leave it on. The problem is, many overweight people (myself included), dress in several layers or in thick clothing to smooth out rolls and bulges. These types of clothing tend to hold in the heat and make the sweat problem worse. So what’s the best clothing for sweat-reduction?
Lightweight, loose-fitting, polyester or nylon clothing typically hold the least heat. This, in turn, means that you sweat less when wearing it. However, I’m not planning on giving up my cardigans anytime soon, and my job won’t allow me to give up my suit coat. Luckily there is a solution, check it out:
The Sweat Proof Under-shirt
The first time I gave a work presentation I wore a light blue shirt. Amateur mistake, right? I had armpit sweat soaked through my shirt down to my belt. Luckily I have since remedied this issue by using a sweat-proof under-shirt from Thompson. Not only does it stop the sweat from soaking my shirt, it actually makes me sweat less because of it’s innovative fabric and design. If you sweat through your shirts, these can help!
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Keep Your Cool Through Diet
Just like nutrition, you are what you eat. If you eat sweat-inducing foods you are literally turning on the sweat faucet. While triggers may be different for different people, there are a handful of foods that are common culprits. In addition to increasing the amount that you sweat, several of these foods also increase the stink-factor. So if we’ve got a sweat issue on the table, better leave these items in the fridge:
- Red Meat. Yes, the “meat sweats” are a real thing. Because meat is difficult for your body to digest it ramps up your metabolism which results in your getting hot and, if you’re predisposed, sweating. Because amino acids literally rot in your intestines it can also cause your sweat to stink.
- Sulfur-Containing Veggies. Vegetables that contain sulfur (garlic is the main culprit) can both cause you to sweat, and make you notice your sweat way more when you do because it will STINK!
- Spicy Foods. Spicy options are kind of the worst. Not only do they ramp up your metabolism and cause you to sweat way more, but they often contain sulfur which means that your extra sweat will also stink.
- Processed and Junk Foods. The main problem with junk food is not that it causes you to sink in and of itself, it’s that it doesn’t contain nature’s great deodorizer: chlorophyll. Chlorophyllin (found in whole plant foods so eat your salad) might not do much to slow down the tide of sweat, but it does deodorize your bowls which can make your whole body less smelly.
- Alcohol. Your body typically only takes care of 90% (or so) of the alcohol that you consume. The rest? Yeah, it’s squeezed out of your skin. Even if you enjoy the taste of your drink, do you want to bathe in it?
- Eggs, Fish, and other Choline Rich Foods. Choline may be great for your liver and brain but it comes with a trade-off. It can make you smell fishy. So if people are regularly mistaking you for a swimming area, you might want to rethink your lunch.
While these are not the only foods that affect how much you sweat, the combination of them may very well be one of the reasons that fat people sweat more. Eat more? Sweat more.
The one area of your diet that can be a huge help in making sure you are well hydrated. Many big people avoid drinking water because they think they’ll sweat less but the opposite is actually true. Being well hydrated will actually keep your body much cooler, meaning less sweat for everyone!
Use Sweat Controlling Supplements
If you’re a sweater, odds are you’re more than willing to try a vitamin pill or two if it will help you control your condition. While there isn’t a magical pill, there are a few things that you can try which just might make you sweat less (or at least less stinky)
B-vitamins: B Vits are one of the most commonly used vitamins for energy and stress. Stress-sweat (particularly the fishy-stinky-stress-sweat) is a real thing and going to the source of the problem can reduce the amount that you sweat.
Topical Zinc: Out of balance skin flora (bacteria) can be a major contributing cause of stinky sweat. While this has been tested most thoroughly on feet, it may also be helpful at controlling other body odors.
Chlorophyllin: Actually supplementing with chlorophyllin in 1-200mg doses per day can make your fecal matter less stinky which can reduce the bacteria flora on the rest of your body. (Gross, right? Well sweat is really just peeing through your skin anyway)
Extreme Interventions for Extreme Sweating
If you’re tired of being fat and sweaty, there are many more significant interventions that do yield promising results. Well, there are three options. Here’s what we’ve got:
- Use a super deodorant. You’ll notice that I’m recommending deodorants here and not an antiperspirant. Let’s have a quick lesson: deodorants let you sweat but antiperspirants stop you from sweating. The problem is, they stop sweat by using aluminum (which is toxic) to clog up your pores so sweat can’t get out. Sound healthy? Your best alternative option is to find a safe natural deodorant that lets you sweat normally and will return your armpit bacteria to a healthier and less stinky state. (I recommend using Myro Natural Deodorant. You can find it on Amazon in both Men’s and Women’s scents)
- Have your armpits Botox-ed. Botox is not only useful for wrinkles, but armpit injection can drastically reduce the amount you sweat for 6 months to a year or more (then you’ll need to repeat the procedure).
- Miradry. Miradry is an FDA approved procedure that literally uses “heat and thermal energy” to destroy the sweat glands under your arms (and probably anywhere else it’s pointed). Apparently, this can reduce sweating up to 85% and you still have enough sweat glands that you’ll cool off just fine!
Apart from those options, talking to you doctor is an obvious step. There are prescription deodorants you can get (although I have no experience with them) that are supposed to make a world of difference.
The health benefits of sweating for fat people
Another way of dealing with your sweat is to reframe your perception of it. Maybe it’s your super-power?? Joking aside, sweating is an amazing ability that comes with a whole host of health benefits including:
- Increased Immunity: The peptides that your body releases onto your skin with sweat actually as antibiotics to defend you from invaders.
- Clearer Skin: The larger the river of sweat is that you have running through your pores, the less likely they are to get gummed up with stuff!
- Body Detoxification: Sweat is another avenue that your body uses to rid itself of toxins. This is one of the reasons that I don’t use an antiperspirant but prefer to just get a sweat-proof shirt.
- Sex Appeal: Yes, sweat is sexy. But you already knew that. Researchers at the University of California have been sniffing lots of sweat and they found that when women smell the chemicals in a man’s sweat, it increases the release of sex hormones! The same can’t be said for B.O.
So when it comes down to it, yes, fat people really do sweat more. But, does it really matter? Sweat is a natural and normal thing with positive health benefits that shouldn’t be considered gross or strange. I will keep using my sweat-proof shirt because it protects my clothes from stains (and protects me from ridicule at work) but when I’m at home or around town, sweat on!
Hopefully, this article was helpful in building your understanding of the reasons why fat people sweat more. If you enjoyed it (or learned something), stick around and check out a few of our other articles!