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Alcohol and Fitness
No matter how hard we train and how well we eat at some point, most of us are going to face the question of alcohol. Unlike food which we can somehow excuse if it’s not quite ultra-healthy, alcohol is one of those socially acceptable extras that we know we shouldn’t indulge in but which most of us do.

Well, we can shelve the guilt and the anxiety about having derailed our fitness plan because, really, alcohol is not quite as bad as it is made out to be. Like most solids and liquids which we can safely ingest it plays a role in our dietary health, it helps balance some of our nutrition thanks to the bioflavonoids it contains and it can even protect our cardiovascular health.

Alcohol Calories – A Double-Edged Sword

What everyone asks when it comes to alcohol is do liquid calories count? The reason there is such confusion in alcohol calories lies in the fact that heavy drinkers as well as alcoholics do not appear to put on weight even when they drink an equal amount of calories that they get from food. Now, alcohol (which is essentially ethanol - two carbon molecules bonded to six hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule) is a paradox in the way it is processed by our bodies because the body essentially treats it as a neurotoxin and tries to get rid of it rather than digest it.

But now let's look at the science behind it all. Alcohol is not digested like other foods. Once alcohol is swallowed, it travels down the esophagus into the stomach and the small intestine. It avoids the normal digestive process and goes right into the bloodstream. About 20 percent of the alcohol consumed is absorbed in the stomach, and about 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestine. Because it is metabolized by the liver it can actually leave the body within a few hours (depending on the amount of alcohol you have drunk) plus its effects depend upon the blood volume ratio, so a taller man, for instance, will need more alcohol to begin to feel its effects than a smaller one who simply has not got the same volume of fluid in his body.

Because the body has no way of storing alcohol and an increasing accumulation of it is dangerous, it has to be metabolized. That’s a job that falls entirely to the liver. When the amount of alcohol in our bloodstream keeps on increasing because we are, let’s say, at a party and the shots keep coming, it finds its way to the brain where it breaches the blood/brain barrier and begins to affect the motorcoordination centers and the reasoning parts of the brain. That is the point where we actually begin to feel the effects of drunkenness (slurred speech and poor coordination as well as bad decisions).

If we are not heavy drinkers or if we are slowly sipping a glass or two of wine with a meal the calories contained in alcohol are indeed processed by the body and count in our total calorie intake from food and its consumption goes into the production of cellular processes and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which our bodies use as energy. If however we drink considerable amounts of alcohol or if we are heavy drinkers in the sense that we drink a few glasses of wine daily the liver has a way of dealing with it through the microsomal ethanol oxidizing system. This, in effect converts alcohol into heat that is either used by the body to maintain its temperature or simply dissipated as heat.

The microsomal ethanol oxidizing system makes sure that the calories from alcohol do not count. Great as this may sound there is a serious downside to it. When the liver is super-optimized like this to deal with a heavy alcohol intake, its chemical compounds are not being used to deal with other toxins in the body which slowly accumulate. Furthermore, the high concentration of microsomal compounds react with other environmental and food intake substances to produce toxic compounds that attack the liver causing cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious medical condition with life-shortening implications, so deciding that drinking a lot, regularly is a cool thing because the alcohol calories do not count is definitely not a good idea.

In addition the calories derived from each type of alcoholic drink are different. A glass of dry wine, for instance, will contain a lot fewer calories (though the same alcohol content) as a glass of sweet wine. The sweet wine is further fortified with sugars that increase its caloric content. A similar difference applies to, let’s say, malt whisky and a liquor cocktail with the latter being a lot sweeter.

A Little Alcohol is Good

As is often the case moderation is actually more than just a good idea. There are studies that show that specific types of alcohol, like red wine, for instance, drunk with food, have a beneficial effect on the body's cardiovascular health due to its strong anti-oxidant action and the high concentration of phenols (which help guard the health of major arteries). Other studies have also shown that other forms of alcohol (and beer is included in this) are actually good for the reduction of something called metabolic syndrome which contributes to the development of diabetes type 2 in adults, heart disease and hypertension.

There are even studies that show low-alcohol drinks like beer when drunk after a heavy training session are a great way to replenish electrolytes. The finding, which comes from a study at Granada University in Spain, suggests that the sugars, salts and bubbles in a pint may help people absorb fluids more quickly.

Past studies have shown that sensible drinking of one or two units a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, dementia, diabetes and Parkinson's disease, while the ingredients of beer - which include malted barley, hops and yeast - are rich sources of vitamins and minerals.

A Lot of Alcohol is Harmful

If we drink a lot of alcohol on a regular basis however, drink-binge or get blind drunk on the weekends, for example, we begin to affect the digestive ecosystem of the mouth (it can lead to mouth cancer), the functioning of the liver (which can fail) and the kidneys (which can also fail). The impaired function of the liver leads to the build-up of toxins in the bloodstream that affect cell function so that our bodies can no longer burn fuel effectively.

Summing up

Moderation is key when it comes to including alcohol in your diet. You needn't be overly anxious about a few drinks with friends on a night out or at a party and even a post-workout drink may be perfectly OK from time to time, but regular drinking or the odd heavy drinking are definitely a bad habit you need to try and change.

A glass of beer after a heavy training session can actually rehydrate you faster, especially in hot weather.
Drinking lightly with a meal or drinking occasionally is beneficial to overall cardiovascular health but the calories from the alcohol actually do count.
Heavy drinkers process alcohol differently than the rest of us but end up dying young from a whole lot of other health complications associated with rising toxins in the body and impaired cellular and liver function, amongst other endocrinal system problems.


Metabolic Syndrome
Pint of beer good after a workout
Why the Body May Waste the Calories From Alcohol
Nutrition and alcohol
Perspectives: Do Alcohol Calories Count? (pdf)
The Neurotoxicity of Alcohol (pdf)
A Glass Of Wine A Day May Help Control Type 2 Diabetes
Health benefits of red wine (pdf)
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Hunger and Overeating
Everyone feels hungry. A lot of us try to keep fit and keep an eye on our nutrition. In a perfect world our bodies would be finely-tuned machines that would let us know it’s time to eat as we begin to run low on energy and would then tell us to stop when their ‘tank’ was full. 

Unfortunately, this is not how hunger and food works. Our relationship with food is really complicated and the only way we really have of making to work for us is to understand it better.  

Why Do We Get Hungry?
We get hungry when our brain receives chemical messages from our digestive tract and our bloodstream that tell it that we are running low on resources. Two of these chemical messengers are the peptides GLP-1 and PYY which signal the brain that we are full and can now stop eating. Two more peptides play a critical role in our eating. 

One is called ghrelin (pronounced "GREL-in") and it is popularly known as “the hunger hormone” and the other is called leptin. These work in exact opposite fashion. When the stomach is empty ghrelin is produced to make us feel hungry and seek out food. When the stomach is full, leptin is produced to stop us from eating any further. 

Now all of this sounds like the machinery that starts us eating and stops us from overeating is fully in place but that is actually far from the truth. 

Why Do We Overeat?
Although we are neurochemically wired to know when we need to eat and know when to stop, we overeat because that wiring is far from perfect and there are no failsafes. Some individuals, for instance, produce a lot lower levels of the peptides GLP-1 and PYY and in some others the production process of these peptides is slower than it should be which frequently leads to our continuing to eat past the point when we should have stopped.

The type of foods we eat also play a role. Foods rich in fat or high in sugar content, for instance, contain a lot more energy per gram than foods which are not as processed. Because the physiology of our bodies is ancient while our modern diet is very new, the body measures quantity rather than quality. If, for instance, it requires 250gr of grain to feel full (which contains, on average 278 Calories) it continues to need 250gr of steak which has a higher fat percentage and almost three times the number of calories, in order to feel full.

This tends to trick us into eating more calories than we need which are then stored by the body as fat to be used in case of emergency. The thing is that the moment our bodyfat reserves rise the body does not distinguish between them and muscle. It sees everything as “bodymass” that needs to be maintained.  So as our body weight rises so do the body’s responses change, it becomes faster to cry “hungry” and slower to tell us “you are full” because it tries to get more energy to maintain its mass. 

Studies have shown that people who become overweight also have greater resistance to leptin which means that their bodies continue to tell them they are hungry long after they have become full. 

All of this becomes even more complicated by the types of foods we have access to. Our modern diets are rich in sugar and fats, both of which are relatively new to us which means our bodies have not yet adapted to them. We also tend to eat a lot of processed foods that are easy to digest, this means a lot less energy is consumed by the body as it processes them and a lot more energy is released in our system, when we eat them. 

The combination of a fat-rich diet, easy access to sugar and foods that are highly processed and low in fiber affects our bodies chemically, frequently affecting leptin production and making us overeat without even realizing it. Someone, for instance, who is easting a bowl of brown rice or a plate of cooked spinach will feel full a lot faster than someone who has just had a high-fat beef burger and is now busy working through a pile of donuts. 

While logically we would expect our body to tell us when it has had enough energy from each food  source, this doesn’t happen because the programming necessary for it is still a work in progress. 

How Can We Be Smarter With Our Eating?
Knowing how our bodies work with food allows us to be smarter in the way we use it. Instead of getting into diets and cycles of denial and binging it makes a lot more sense to do the clever thing and portion control foods that we know our body is not very good at dealing with. 

Tubs of ice cream, piles of donuts and pancakes and massive chocolate cakes are easy examples of what not to do when indulging in sweets or enjoying foods that we know to be high in sugar and high in calories. Adding some fiber to the diet is not just good for the digestive tract but it also helps us control our appetite better. 

If you want to have a smart eating strategy that really works for you consider the following: 

- Do not combine high-sugar and high-fat foods, they short-circuit leptin production in your body and make you overeat.
- Eat any sweets or fatty foods you like as long as you do not make it a constant and remember to eat smaller portions of those.
- Eat more slowly, it allows your body time to produce the peptides that tell it when it is full.
- Add fiber to your diet, vegetables and fruit are great examples.
- Try and eat some foods that have low glycaemic index (GI) – nuts, vegetables and beans are good examples.
- If possible choose foods that are not as refined, such as brown bread and brown rice, as opposed to white alternatives.
- Pick the times you eat: it is better to eat a large meal when you have time to burn it off than to eat it at the end of the day when you will not be as active.
- Do not use food to improve your mood. Stress eating and comfort eating are the two easiest ways to short-circuit the hunger response and simply pile on weight.
- Avoid diets – they really do not help in the long term. They only lock your body in cycles of deprivation and binging.
- Try and earn your food. If you have a donut as a treat, try and walk an extra three or four miles, or spend an extra 20 minutes exercising. 

With almost two billion people on the planet suffering from being overweight it is clear that the greatest weapon we have in staying trim and keeping in shape is our brain. 


Gut Hormones and Appetite Control 
A leptin dose-response study 
The Role of Dietary Components in Leptin Resistance 
Gastrointestinal satiety signals in humans 
Gut Hormones Trick Your Brain Into Feeling Full 
Reduce Food Intake and Modulate Brain Activity

#darebee   #fitness   #nutrition   #overeating  
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The Myth of Body Types
There are still many forums, websites and even fitness instructors who use the convenience of the endo, meso, ecto classification for body types, perpetuating a myth that has no foundation in science. Our bodies are the instruments we use to connect to the world and the places we all live in so it’s worth taking a little time to unpack this a little and understand where the myth ends and the science begins.

The theory behind somatotypes (the scientific term for body types) came in the 1940s from the American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon, who used visual examination to classify the human physique according to the relative contribution of three fundamental elements named after the three germ layers of embryonic development: the endoderm, (develops into the digestive tract), the mesoderm, (becomes muscle, heart and blood vessels), and the ectoderm (forms the skin and nervous system).

In the 1940s there was a strong social movement in the US that leaned towards Eugenics and Sheldon's Endo-Meso-Ecto classification fed directly and very conveniently into that. Despite the physical aspect of Sheldon’s theory his real aim was to tie his observations into psychological observations about the psychological makeup of people and associate that with each body type creating the theory of Constitutional Psychology.

Sheldon used subjective classification techniques based upon his visual appraisal of his subjects’ physiques. His theory of Constitutional Psychology has since been discredited. Unfortunately the fallacy of the physical classifications persists to this day but it's a very poor way of looking at how the human body works or how it can put on muscle. In the early days of the Darebee project we tried using the classifications as a guide to the level of difficulty of our workouts and they were so restrictive and out of touch (as we found out once we started to test them with volunteer groups) that we abandoned them. The reason the fallacy persists to this day is because his original research assistant Barbara Heath, and later Lindsay Carter developed it further and popularized it in the 60s creating a convenient way for many fitness professionals to work with.

Anthropometric Measurements and Your Body

Science and our knowledge of how the body works has developed incredibly since the 60s and it’s time we started to retire the endo-meso-ecto classification for the myth it is. First of all there is no single person who is adequately described by one of these classifications which means that at best they are an approximation and at worst flat-out wrong and you don’t want to base your training nutrition on something that is ‘almost right’.

Second, each person’s body is the result of a mix of characteristics that are traditionally ascribed to one of the Heath-Carter ‘body types’. So, in reality the visual elements that make a person fit into one or the other are actually wrong and likely to lead to more problems than solutions.

The only area where somatotypes come into play in sports science and biology is when we need to take anthropometric factors into account to determine physical fitness and physical performance. Anthropometric factors include body breadth and length, body weight, bone density and even the ratio of the bones of the legs and arms in relation to the torso. There are a number of factors influencing anthropometric measurements: genetics, nutrition, environmental and cultural factors and, obviously, the sex of the person. A study carried out by researchers at the University of Madrid showed that anthropometric measurements can determine physical performance in a subject which then can conveniently be classified into one of the commonly used somatotypes.

There are four key things to remember:

1. Every person is a combination of all three somatotypes based upon the complexities of their anthropometric make up. Someone can be tall, heavy and still relatively lightly muscled for their size. Someone else could be short, light and yet heavily muscled (throwing up an out of kilter BMI Index). You cannot base any training or nutrition plan just on the visual aspect of how you look or how heavy you are (case in point Bruce Lee who built himself up with a proper training and nutrition program).

2. Physical performance has nothing to do with somatotypes and everything to do with physical strength, endurance, coordination and the ability of the body to successfully coordinate muscle groups during ballistic exertion involving concentric and eccentric muscle movements.

3. Physical fitness is independent of somatotype. It refers to the ability of muscles to do specific work within a certain context and recover in a sufficiently short space of time to do it all over again (consider that both a heavyweight boxer and a marathon runner are very fit but visually look very different).

4. The popular link between body type and metabolism is false. While there are differences in the Base Metabolic Rate (MBR) which measures the amount of calories a body burns at rest for each body type, they are the result of muscles and musculature and the individual level of activity that each person engages in, rather than the body type itself.

So What Determines How You Put on Muscle?

The question then remains, if body type is not really indicative of how easily or quickly we can put on muscle, what is?

Muscles only grow as strong and powerful as the anchoring points allow them to and those anchoring points are tendons and bones. Strong tendons and strong bones make for strong, powerful muscles. Because bones and tendons get stronger through physical activity which exercises the muscles this is a little bit of a catch-22.

At this point nutrition comes in. Bones require calcium and calcium has to be present in the diet. A combination of enough calcium and sufficient high-impact exercise to frequently generate 4G forces (about four times the weight of your own body applied to your muscles and bones) begins to affect the density of the bones. As bones get denser they can support greater exertion from the muscles more easily, so muscles can now begin to grow faster.

The recipe for building muscles then is what it has always been and it’s the same for everyone:

- Good nutrition
- Regular exercise that challenges the muscle groups you want to get stronger
- Sufficient sleep (for the body to restore muscle fiber damage and build new muscle)

People with bones that are already dense because of their lifestyle, will find it easier to put on muscle at any rate. Women, whose bones are generally not as dense as men’s will have to work a lot harder to see results.

How much each person burns at their base metabolic rate (BMR) will depend on their weight, muscle-to-fat ratio, physical and mental activity levels (the brain requires 20% of the blood’s total blood supply), their height, the type of foods we generally eat (i.e. fast-release carbohydrates like sugars or slow-release carbohydrates like unprocessed rice and brown pasta, etc).

This means that with the proper combination of training and nutrition anyone can put on muscle regardless of their size, but not everyone can put on the same amount of muscle, at the same speed. The formula for losing or gaining weight is the same for everyone regardless: eat more than you burn to put weight on and eat less than you burn to lose weight. You can’t escape basic science, it seems.


Eugenics in the United States
Exercise's Effects on Bones and Muscles
Effect of two jumping programs on hip bone mineral density in premenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial.
Why High-Impact Exercise Is Good for Your Bones
Exercise and bone mass in adults
The Best Exercises for Healthy Bones
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RPG Fitness Helps You Get Past Every Obstacle to a Better You
We train for many reasons. Some of want to look better. Some of us want to be stronger. Others want to feel better or be able to do more. And some just want to be able to have better control of our bodies. Although there are as many reason to train as there are people training what unites us is the fact that training is difficult to sustain. 

Life always gets in the way. Job, bills, career, family, kids, the world. As a matter of fact while getting fitter is a single goal that’s easy to put in place between it and us there are usually countless obstacles we need to get out of the way: equipment, gym membership, gyms, money, time, the weather, our frame of mind and all the myriad life issues we already know come up.

That’s where RPG fitness is different. When you play a role you are more than just yourself. Whatever worries you might face, whatever issues might come up well now they’re no longer your concern. You’re the hero in Hero’s Journey making choices that will affect your journey into peril. You’re the lone fighter in Avatar Upgrade each day helping you forge a new you, each victory (or loss) affecting your armor, speed, endurance, flexibility and combat skills. 

You are the nameless hero in the Age of Pandora exploring a post-apocalyptic landscape, trying desperately to remember who you are as you’re learning to survive in the hope that you might reclaim a lost world. 

In those scenarios the pressures are real, immediate, pressing. With life-and-death choices to make and the fate of worlds hanging in the balance, determined by your actions and choices there is no time to think of all the self-doubts, all the obstacles that stop us from training. We are geared to overcome the things that try to stop us from becoming a better version of ourselves. The reasons we don’t always succeed is because we are also responsible people. We feel that worrying about the bills is more important than spending time training, for example and focusing on our jobs should come first and above learning how to kick like a ninja. 

But health is also important. Our quality of life is key to actually feeling that we enjoy living. When other things take priority, consistently, over this then, at some point we end up unfit, unhealthy, inwardly wishing we could change and unsure how to best go about it. 

RPG fitness is a mind trick we use to force our brains to shut up long enough for us to get fitter and healthier. They are a clever way of using our hardwiring to take control of our mind, first and our body, next. By making it a mission to do something that is important in a context (unite opposing camps, fight the monsters, face the next Boss) and by slipping into the hero’s role in that journey, we become responsible for others through the actions we take. 

Fitness then becomes easier, personal improvement goals become important and the obstacles that stop us from becoming as fit and healthy as we want to be tend to fade into the background. They will still be there when we emerge of course, but by then we will have worked out, be fitter, stronger and a little bit more heroic.

#fitness   #rpgfitnes   #motivation   #darebee  
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Guide to kicks
There is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ in the choices you make when you kick. The choice each time depends upon your ability, the particular martial art you are trained in and, obviously, what is required by the situation. 

Although we will look at six fundamental types of kicks, essentially there are only two types of basic kicks they all spring from: Push kicks and arc kicks. 

Push kicks, as the name suggests, utilize the strong leg muscles, bunching them up like a spring and then releasing them in a straight line, to the target. Push kicks have an immediate, powerful effect and are hard to block against. They are fast kicks that generate a lot of power which even if blocked, creates an impact so they can never be ignored. Because they are fast and travel the shortest distance to a target they are also hard to evade. 

Arc kicks, as the name suggests, take the leg through a curved trajectory that is necessary for power to be developed. Arc kicks are great for fighting in unorthodox positions (i.e. not facing forward), dealing with multiple opponents at once (when the traditional coiling and uncoiling action of a push kick takes too much time to execute more than a couple of times) or for generating power that is disproportionate in size to the strength of the muscles involved (proving that even physically smaller or weaker opponents can generate powerful kicks).  

If you watch a Van Damme film or have ever seen Joe Lewis fight, you’ll see that they are both primary proponents of push kicks. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li on the other hand use mostly arc kicks. Modern cinema will use arc kicks or jumping push kicks because they are visually more pleasing plus they are a little harder to execute correctly which is why they are more prevalent in popular culture. From a purely practical point of view push kicks tend to be more effective in most unarmed combat situations. 

Side Kick
Easily one of the fastest and most powerful push kicks you can perform, a side kick can be thrown from either the back or the front leg, used as a checking kick or an attacking one. 

Gets its power from: quads (for a fast checking kick with minimal body movement), quads, glutes and obliques (for a side kick where the supporting leg, spins on the ball of the foot to bring the whole body to bear).

Great for: Checking an opponent’s attack. Launching a quick attack. Launching a powerful, deep attack (when launched from the back leg with maximum bodyweight behind it). 

Striking area: Usually the edge of the foot (called footsword), or occasionally, the flat of the foot. 

Turning Kick
Also known as roundhouse kick. It can be a defensive or attacking technique and can be thrown by the front or back leg. It is an arc kick that performs the leg equivalent of a slap, although a very powerful one. 

Gets its power from: Quads (for a front leg kick), quads, glutes and lower back muscles for a kick that utilizes the whole body weight to maximize impact. 

Great for: Probing an opponent’s guard for weaknesses. It can be used as an attacking kick and it is perfect for setting up an opponent for multiple strikes with the same leg, often at different heights. 

Striking area: The instep or top of the foot. The ball of the foot (if you bend your toes back and shape your foot to a 90 degree angle). The shin (a favored Muay Thai kick).    

Hook Kick
This is a kick that uses the eccentric motion of the muscles to deliver an unexpected blow that comes in from the blind side (usually). This is usually a kick that’s used to attack, rather than defend. 

Gets its power from: Quads (for a front leg kick), quads, glutes, lower back muscles and front hip flexors for a kick that utilizes the whole body weight to maximize impact. 

Great for: Delivering a kick on an opponent’s blind side. 

Striking area: The heel or the flat of the foot (for a kick aimed at just delivering sparring points). 

Front Kick
The most straightforward of push kicks. It uses the leg’s basic mechanical movement to deliver a powerful blow in the shortest line possible, between two targets. 

Gets its power from: Quads (primarily), glutes, front hip flexors and lower abs. The hip muscles and glutes if it is executed from a back leg position. 

Great for: Delivering a kick in the shortest possible time, when fighting in a forward facing position. 

Striking area: The ball of the foot. 

Push Kick
Although from a biomechanical action point of view a side kick, front kick and back kick are all push kicks, there is a kick that specifically coils the body’s primary muscle groups to utilize the force generated and push through a defense or push an opponent away. The push kick generates the maximum amount of power possible from the coiling of the body’s muscles and throwing of a kick in a forward facing position. 

Gets its power from: Quads, glutes, abs, hip flexors and lower back muscles. 

Great for: Pushing an opponent away, breaking through an opponent’s guard, kicking down a door (the action is identical).  

Striking area: The flat of the foot. 

Axe Kick
An axe kick is an arc king in the sense that the leg undergoes a trajectory in order to generate the power it needs and strike a target. In keeping with the purpose of arc kicks, it can generate a disproportionate amount of power for the muscle groups it uses.

Gets its power from: Front hip flexors, pelvic muscle and lower abs. 

Great for: Striking a target with a vertical top-down motion.   

Striking area: The heel of the foot. 

Permalink + Video Examples:
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Sweat and Fitness
Sweat is one of the most misunderstood concepts of exercise and fitness and “Does sweating help you lose weight?” is one of the most frequently asked questions not just to trainers and fitness forums but also on Google search.

Before we answer that we will look at what sweating really does for us. Sweat is composed primarily of three ingredients: water, lactate and urea. The last of these ingredients is also present in the bladder. Amino acids are used by the body to create protein, which helps build muscle through a metabolic process that also produces ammonia as a byproduct. Ammonia is toxic to the body and urea helps bind it and safely remove it. In addition sweat has an antimicrobial action which researchers at Eberhard-Karls University in Tübingen, Germany found could kill microbes such as E.coli and the yeast, Candida Albicans. The primary action of sweat however is to cool the body down and prevent loss of performance due to heat stress. To do that the body uses two different types of sweat glands: eccrine, found all over the body and apocrine that are found primarily in the armpits, head and groin area. 

The process of cooling through sweat is called perspiration and, in the whole of the animal kingdom, we are unique in the number and distribution of sweat glands on our bodies. Because of that distribution we are actually champion sweaters. We can thermoregulate our bodies far better than any other mammal on the planet which makes us capable of tremendous feats of endurance, like running marathons or working all day even in hot environments. 

In fact, we are so good at sweating that a study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research showed that there is little difference in the ability as we age and not much separates, in that respect, children, seasoned athletes and older people. 

Sweat and Weight Loss
Because sweat is 99% water and we can lose quite a lot of it during exercise in hot weather our bodies do get lighter. However this is not real weightloss. The weight comes back on the moment we drink some water to replenish the fluids we have lost and rehydrate. Classic examples of this are boxing matches where boxers frequently need to make the weight for their division and go for lengthy runs wearing a sweatsuit or sit in a sauna to help reduce the body’s content of water. 

Dehydration however seriously impairs physical performance. As little as 2% of body weight loss in water is enough to affect the way the muscles work and losses in excess of 5% of body weight can, according to scientific studies, decrease the capacity for work by about 30%. Boxers return to their normal weight immediately after the weigh in as they rehydrate for up to twenty-four hours before their fight. 

Rehydration after exercise not just important but also critical to our wellness which is after prolonged, heavy exercise and a lot of sweating studies have confirmed that the best way to rehydrate is through a sports drink rich in electrolytes rather than just plain water or a diet cola. Spending time in a sauna, hoping that by sweating we can achieve weight loss, or running swathed in plastic, is not only useless but it can also be dangerous to our health. 

Men Sweat More than Women
A study conducted by the Laboratory for Human Performance Research, Osaka International University, found that men, generally, sweat more than women and the harder the intensity of the exercise the more pronounced is the difference. The theory is that as women’s bodies, generally, contain less fluid, this is an adaptation strategy for long-term survival and it may be linked to testosterone production.  

Both sexes however, benefit equally by judging their fluid intake during exercise. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Sports Science  found that “The amounts of water, carbohydrate and salt that athletes are advised to ingest during exercise are based upon their effectiveness in attenuating both fatigue as well as illness due to hyperthermia, dehydration or hyperhydration.” In other words, if the weather is hot and we’re exercising, or if we are going to spend hours pushing our body hard, how much water we drink before and during exercise affects how quickly our muscles will get tired. 

Sweat and Exercise
Because we don’t start to sweat until our body temperature begins to rise, sweating is a good indicator of the intensity of our exercise. A massive study involving 200,000 Australians, published in the prestigious JAMA Internal Medicine Journal, found that there is a direct link between high intensity activity, done frequently and a long and healthy life. 

So, walking and gentle exercise may be OK to get things moving for us but until we feel those droplets of sweat breaking through the hairline we’re not really working hard enough to really make a long-term difference to our quality of life. HIIT and the short, sharp bursts of activity that we promote at Darebee can deliver results to match almost any fitness goal. Women, the studies show, need to work harder than men to break a sweat and feel the benefits. 

The Bottom Line
Sweating helps us cool down so our muscles can function properly. It has no effect on weight loss so by increasing the rate at which we sweat (by using a sweatsuit, for example or even a plastic bin liner) we only increase the rate at which our body dehydrates. 

Dehydration is responsible for:

• Reduction in blood volume
• Decreased skin blood flow
• Decreased sweat rate
• Decreased heat dissipation
• Increased core temperature
• Increased rate of muscle glycogen use
• Reduction of our aerobic fitness
All of these are bad for us. They tire us out faster and impeded our performance. Staying hydrated by drinking enough fluids before and during training is key to maintaining our performance. Being in the ‘sweat zone’ is a great indicator of the intensity of our training. 


Araki T, Matsushita K, Umeno K, Tsujino A & Toda Y (1981). Effect of physical training on exercise-induced sweating in women. J Applied Physiology 51, 1526–1532. 

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Godek, Sandra Fowkes., Bartolozzi, Arthur R., Burkholder, Richard, Sugarman, Eric, & Dorshimer, Gary. (2006). Core temperature and percentage of dehydration in professional Linemen and backs during preseason practice. Journal of Athletic Training, 41(1)8-17.

Judelson, Daniel, A., Maresh, Carl M., Farrell, Mark J., Yamamoto, Linda M., Armstrong, Lawrence E., Kraemer, William J., Volek, Jeff S., Spiering, Barry A., Casa, Douglas J., & Anderson, Jeffery M. (2007). Effect of hydration state on strength, power, and resistance exercise performance. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

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