If you’re hoping to burn more calories, here’s why working out in a thick sweater might not be the solution…

Swap your sweater for the best workout clothes

Go to your local gym and you’re likely to see a number of people pounding away on the treadmills in more layers than a lasagne. The idea seems to make sense: wearing more clothes (or in, some extreme cases, a bin bag) will make you sweat more and help you lose weight in the process. But is there actually any truth in it?

Does working out in a sweater burn more calories?

The short answer: no. The longer answer is more like not enough to make it worth doing. It’s all because of a simple equation: more sweat loss doesn’t equal more calories burned. Wearing a sweater, bin bag or full-on winter coat will provide more insulation, causing your body to heat up. To counter that, and keep its internal temperature at the desired 37°C, the brain will tell your heart to beat faster to circulate blood more quickly in an attempt to cool you down. It will also send your sweat glands into overdrive to counter the rise in skin temperature.

What it won’t do is dramatically increase the amount of effort required to perform the exercise. That’s the key factor when it comes to burning calories and reducing fat stores. So, whether you’re wearing 3-inch running shorts and a vest or full-on Arctic-approved hiking gear, the energy stores used are going to be roughly the same. What’s more, your body is good at adapting. Which is why, over time, it will get used to working out in colder or warmer climates – so any initial benefits will soon be negated.

That’s not to say that togging up won’t impact what you see on the scales. There might be a reduction in overall mass after a sweaty workout. However, it’s important to point out that only reflects the water lost through sweat, which is temporary.

Finally, it’s important to consider what working out in a sweater will do to your motivation. Sure, it’s nice to feel the burn. But if every workout makes you feel like you’re literally burning up, you’re less likely to want to do it. That’s going to reduce the one thing that will truly help you burn more calories long-term – consistency.