Sweating as a large person is a totally different social narrative.
I’ve always been fat, and I’ve always been a sweaty person, and as you can imagine this was a great source of embarrassment for me.
I think a big part of that embarrassment came from my own internalized fatphobia.
Fortunately, I’ve worked through that inner shame and realized that we all sweat!
But I know that not every overweight person can claim the same thing and many of you might be asking:
Why do fat people sweat more?
There are people genetically predisposed to sweat more, but since plus-size people have to carry more weight their body generates more heat and produces more sweat to cool down a larger surface. Additionally, your age, gender, and certain foods can make you sweat more.
So, let’s take a closer look at whether fat people actually sweat more and why, as well as some possible tips on how to deal with sweating and destroy the sweat stigma while we’re at it!
How Does Sweating Works?
Before we get into our main subject, we need to understand the sweating prosses.
Sweat according to Medline Plus, is a liquid that is 99% made from water and 1% salt (sodium) and fat. That 1% also contains essential minerals that are known as electrolytes.
Our body uses sweat glands to release the sweat and we are equipped with an average of three million eccrine and apocrine sweat glands.
The eccrine sweat glands produce an odorless sweat and they are located all over our body, while the apocrine sweat glands can be found in the hair follicles of our scalp, armpits, and groin.
As you can imagine the apocrine sweat glands are the ones producing sweat that does have a distinct odor, but it only becomes smelly after mixing together with the bacteria on our skin.
The truth is, for the most part, we don’t have any real control over this process, and it all comes down to our nervous system.
When our body temperature rises either because of our environment, we’re hot with fever or because we were exercising then our nervous system is triggered, and it sends a signal to the sweat glands to produce sweat.
As we begin to sweat the moisture begins to spread on our skin and as it evaporates it cools us down.
The same process can actually happen for emotional reasons like if you’re very nervous you might get sweaty in certain areas like your palms.
Do Fat People Actually Sweat More Than Others?
Sweating is different for everyone, and there are multiple factors that can affect how much an individual is sweating.
Of course, your body size does have an impact. As large folks, we have to carry more weight and that means we will usually generate more heat and require more perspiration.
Having a larger body also means that there is just more surface that needs to be cooled down and our body will sweat more so we don’t overheat.
Bodybuilders or folk that work out to build large muscle and weigh the same as an overweight person can actually produce more heat and in turn, might sweat more.
Regular people that work out will also sweat more on a daily basis, but if you’re not fit and you try to work out with an active individual then you will most likely produce more sweat because you’ll need to spend more energy than the already fit person.
So, what I’m trying to say is that while fat people can sweat more, there are many variables to consider than just size.
Why Do Fat People Sweat More?
While it’s true that fat people can sweat more than the average person, there is more to this topic than meets the eye and we need to take a closer look at the reasons that this might be happening to you.
Reason 1: A Genetic Predisposition
When it comes to excessive sweating specifically the one that is caused by a condition known as primary focal hyperhidrosis, the Mayo Clinic states that “it may have a hereditary component, because it sometimes runs in families.”
So, if you’re sweating profusely even when you’re not working out or during hot weather, then it might be in your DNA.
Any person can be born with this genetic disposition to hyperhidrosis regardless of their weight. But excessive perspiration can be easier to spot on larger individuals.
Reason 2: Distribution Of Sweat Glands
Every person can have a different number of sweat glands, usually, humans have 2-4 million sweat glands.
When it comes to plus-size folks our sweat glands are usually more spread out since they have to cool down a larger area. So, it might seem like you sweat more because a broader area is producing sweat.
Similarly, bodybuilders and people with large muscular bodies will have larger sweat glands and it will look like they sweat more.
In reality, both fat people and bodybuilders will sweat more than smaller-sized people, because of our size we also have more blood, and we also need more water to keep ourselves hydrated.
Reason 3: Age
While older women will most likely experience hot flushes during menopause, as we all age some of us might notice that we sweat less.
As an overweight older person, you may experience a decrease in perspiration, but you may still produce more than leaner old people.
But once again this is speculation, and we can’t be sure how much aging will affect each plus-size person.
Reason 4: Gender
Plus size women and large men will also produce different amounts of sweat. According to a 2010 study, women don’t sweat as much as men, and fit women compared to fit men were also less effective at sweating.
Only when fit women were compared to unfit men did they score higher, and still the perspiration difference wasn’t as significant.
Reason 5: Hormonal Imbalance
Hormones according to MedlinePlus are your body’s chemical messengers and they affect different processes.
Even slight changes can influence how our body works and as we age the number of hormones produced may also change.
As we’ve already established, women sweat less than men, but as a plus size woman, you might experience excessive perspiration because of hormonal imbalances.
According to WebMD, you may experience night sweats because of low levels of estrogen.
During your menopause hot flashes can also increase your sweating or trigger it even when you’re not working out and regardless of the outside temperature.
Anxiety can also trigger your sweat glands and if you’re someone who suffers from excessive sweating then you could actually develop anxiety instead.
Reason 6: Body Mass
Being large can cause our bodies to sweat more because there’s just a bigger area that needs to be cooled down.
Basically, we can sweat in accordance to our size, and while some studies have claimed that fat generates more heat according to more recent research it’s unrelated to fat.
Instead, it’s the additional energetic cost of carrying a much greater body mass that causes the body to produce more sweat.
I also want to add that when I say bigger people I don’t necessarily mean fat. A bodybuilder can have a large body mass and they will produce more heat and more sweat than an average-sized individual.
Knowing this has actually made me appreciate my body more, because if I wasn’t sweating more than a leaner person then I would get much hotter and take much longer to cool down.
Reason 7: Temperature Acclimatization
Anytime the temperature around us changes our body works hard to adjust itself accordingly so we feel as comfortable as possible.
During the hot months, or whenever we’re in a room where the heating is too much for our body we will sweat to cool ourselves down.
The worst sweating happens if it’s hot and humid, that’s when our sweat can’t actually evaporate, and instead it sticks to our body creating this unpleasant feeling.
Marny Benjamin, MD, explains that “As a result, our bodies continue to sweat and sweat—but feel no relief. Ultimately, high humidity throws the body into overdrive to cool itself. And with all that extra work, body temperature can rise.”
So, if you’re plus size and you happen to live in a country or area with high percentages of humidity, then this could explain your excessive sweating.
If that’s the case, make sure that you drink lots of water and stay in a cool, air-conditioned space, preferably with a humidifier, because you run the risk of overheating yourself which can cause a heat-related illness.
Also, be more careful when choosing the hours you want to work out, and avoid the intense sun.
Reason 8: Diet
As crazy as it may sound to some, the type of food you’re consuming can also have an impact on how much perspiration you produce.
For example spicy food like peppers “have a chemical called capsaicin that triggers the nerves that make your body feel warmer, so you sweat to cool it back down,” suggests Stephanie S. Gardner, MD.
Acidic ingredients like vinegar can increase sweating which can also be a reaction to high-sugar meals for some.
Certain foods that have garlic and onions will affect the smell of your sweat instead and you may feel more stinky after consuming them.
Meat sweats are also a thing!
Keya Mukherjee, a biochemistry graduate, states that “if you’re eating a lot of protein in your diet and you’re not eating much of anything else, your body will be producing a lot of energy and a lot of heat. Of course, this could result in sweating.”
Additionally, alcohol can increase your heart rate and widen the blood vessels in your skin which can cause extra perspiration.
Smoking might not be food, but it’s still something you might be consuming on a daily basis and it can increase your sweating.
According to Charles Patrick Davis, MD, Ph.D., “when you smoke, the nicotine releases acetylcholine, a chemical that leads to sweaty episodes.” Quitting smoking can also cause you to sweat more.
I also want to mention that sweating while eating could be due to a medical condition known as gustatory sweating or Frey syndrome.
This can affect people who have had head and neck surgery and as Healthline states “if nerves to your parotid glands are damaged, you may start sweating instead of salivating due to your body’s “mixed signals.”
Reason 9: Physical Activity
Being active is one of the main reasons a person regardless of their weight will sweat more than usual.
That’s because when you work out the temperature of your body rises and sweating regulates and keeps your temperature at a comfortable level.
As we’ve already established, carrying more weight as a large-bodied person requires more energy and produces more heat which leads to more sweating.
Studies have shown that fit people will usually produce more sweat because their bodies are better at adjusting their temperature.
However, if a fit person and a lees-fit person try to perform the same activity as running on a treadmill then the less fit person will have to expend more energy and subsequently will sweat more.
So, if you’re an overweight active individual then you may experience excess perspiration because your body has to sweat even more to cool itself down but also because it’s trained to do it efficiently and fast.
If you’re not fit but you’re trying to keep up with someone who is you’ll also produce more perspiration to keep yourself from overheating.
Reason 10: Hyperhidrosis
While sweating is a normal bodily function, if you experience excessive sweating regardless of the environmental and emotional circumstances then you might have a condition known as hyperhidrosis.
The Mayo Clinic explains that “you may sweat so much that it soaks through your clothes or drips off your hands. Besides disrupting normal daily activities, this type of heavy sweating can cause social anxiety and embarrassment.”
This condition can affect certain areas or your whole body and as the HSE states “it could be because of another condition you may have or as a side effect of a medicine you’re taking.”
According to The Cleveland Clinic, “between 2% and 5% of people in the U.S. have hyperhidrosis.”
There are two types of hyperhidrosis. The most common is the focal or primary hyperhidrosis a chronic skin disorder it can be passed down in your family.
General hyperhidrosis on the other hand can cause excessive sweating because of other medical conditions like diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
If you think you’re suffering from hyperhidrosis then you should talk to your personal doctor and see what treatments they will recommend for you.
How To Manage Extreme Sweating As An Overweight Person?
Naturally, dealing with sweating as an overweight person may seem like an uphill battle, but this doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it.
Choose The Right Clothing
You can’t escape sweat, nonetheless, one of the easiest adjustments that I had to do in my life to manage my sweating was to change my wardrobe, especially in the summer.
Clothing can actually affect how much perspiration you produce and even our smell. I find that synthetic tops produce more heat, they easily get sticky and unpleasant to the touch.
Natural fabrics on the other hand are usually lightweight, breathable, and quite absorbent. Linen for instance allows heat to escape from the body, it absorbs moisture and dries pretty quickly.
The only downside of linen clothing is how wrinkled it can get, but for me, it’s a fair price to pay for reducing my sweating.
Cotton, according to The Mayo Clinic, “is the best fabric to protect against sweat because it helps keep your body cool.”
So, by choosing loose linen, cotton, silk, and wool shirts and pants you can keep your body feeling breezy and manage your sweating all year round.
If you’re looking for breathable pants that don’t wrinkle as much as linen then cotton is a great option that should keep your behind as sweat-free as possible.
Light-colored clothes are also a great summer option because they will absorb less heat than dark-colored clothing. And if you want to protect your clothes from sweat stains then you could find armpit or sweat shields helpful.
That being said, synthetic fabrics that offer sweat control are a great option for active plus size people who want to hit the gym and keep their sweating at a minimum.
Try Different Antiperspirants
If your struggle is ultra-sweaty and smelly armpits, then loose clothing can do as much and you also need to rely on deodorants.
Unfortunately, mainstream deodorants, especially women’s deodorants barely reduce anything.
Sometimes you’ll get great sweat control, but the deodorant won’t do anything about the odor or the other way around. Some will be successful at both but only for a very short period of time.
I’ve been on the hunt for an effective deodorant literally my whole life and I believe I found the holy grail of antiperspirants!
Certain Dri has a line of super-strong, all-day lasting deodorants that you can find on Amazon by clicking here.
I use the Everyday strength which needs to be applied at night and the next morning I’m usually good to go, but if you’re unsure then you can reapply in the morning and enjoy sweat-less armpits for the whole day!
Of course, deodorants can be a very personal product, and what works for me may not work for every plus-size individual. But a high-quality antiperspirant can truly change your day-to-day life.
As fat people, we tend to sweat more, especially during workouts and high temperatures.
That’s why we need to make sure we’re hydrating our bodies.
I know this might sound counterintuitive to some. You might think that the less water you consume the less water your body will produce, but that’s not true, you’ll simply be at a higher risk for heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Reduce Your Stress
I know it’s easier said than done, but for those of you who are nervous sweaters, learning a few relaxation techniques to help you manage your emotions during stressful situations could reduce some of the sweating.
According to research, “apocrine glands often respond to emotional stimuli including anxiety and fear under these circumstances, sweating is often observed in the armpits, palms, and soles of the feet.”
I’ve found yoga a great place to practice such techniques that include deep and slow breathing.
Change Your Nutrition
I’m not going to tell you to lose weight if you want to sweat less, I’m also not here to tell you how much to eat, this is not that kind of space.
But as we’ve established certain foods can affect how much you sweat, spicy food being at the top of this list, overconsumption of meat, and high sugar meals.
Of course, these foods might affect certain people more than others, so, if you’ve noticed that you tend to sweat more when eating specific dishes or ingredients then you could simply reduce your daily intake or take them out of your daily meals completely.
Try Sweat Controlling Supplements
If you want to take your excessive sweating into your own hands then you could try sweat-controlling supplements.
Of course, these supplements won’t eliminate your sweat completely, but they can help reduce the volume and odor.
According to EverydayHealth “natural treatments include herbal supplements like sage, chamomile, and St. John’s wort.”
But if you’re thinking of trying herbal supplements you should consult your doctor first, especially if you are on other prescription medications, and if you suffer from allergies.
Armpit Botox Injections
This might sound like a strange procedure, but according to the Cleveland Clinic botox “decreases underarm moisture by 82% to 87%. Dryness typically lasts between three to 12 months.”
It also reduces odor but depending on how well Botox works for each individual and their sweating, so you might still need to wear some deodorant.
The clinic also states that “Botox is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) of the underarms. Doctors also use it for other abnormally sweaty areas of the body.”
They also suggest that reducing sweating in a few small areas won’t affect how well your body can cool down itself.
This procedure as you can imagine is quite expensive and you need to make sure that you go to a board-certified dermatologist who can safely perform these injections.
Check In With Your Doctor
There are sweat controlling supplements and invasive and non-invasive procedures out there that can help you reduce your sweating, but before you decide to take action you need to consult your personal doctor.
Your safety is more important than how much you sweat, and we need to keep in mind that some of us have certain allergies and we can’t be sure how our bodies can react.
So, please talk to your doctor, choose certified specialists and listen to your body!
Why Sweating Is A Good Thing For All Body Types?
Sweating might be an unpleasant bodily function for most of us, but we should look past the stink and concentrate on the important role sweating plays in our lives.
Sweating is a natural process and most importantly it’s a healthy one. According to Stephanie S. Gardner, MD, “perspiration helps your body cool itself. If you didn’t sweat, you’d overheat.”
I do however want to bust a myth when it comes to sweating and that’s the belief that we can sweat out toxins from our bodies.
Sweat mainly consists of water and while there can be minimal traces of other chemicals in it, our kidneys and liver do all the work in getting rid of the toxins from our body.
That being said, sweating is a healthy process for all body types and sizes!
I think it’s about time that large folks stopped feeling ashamed for something as natural as sweat.
Sure, we can try to minimize it by wearing natural fibers, looking for an antiperspirant that can help us feel fresh, and we can try being as Zen as possible, but the truth is we’re still going to sweat.
In fact, all bodies sweat, some more than others and I’m thankful that my large body can produce enough sweat to keep me safe from overheating.
Most importantly, we need to change the narrative that slim bodies sweat because they’re working hard, and large bodies sweat because they’re fat.
So, my last tip for you is don’t sweat it and live life big instead!