Yes, Meat Sweats Are A Real Thing
To all our vegetarian and vegan readers out there, we want you to know that we love and appreciate you. It’s for that very reason that we’re warning you that this article may be a bit much for you, as it’s some of our meatiest content ever. Because as much as we love you, we love hamburgers, steaks, ribs and all other manner of BBQ items just that much more. It may not be good for us, but dang it, it’s so tasty.
Just let us live a little, even though consuming too much of these carnivorous creations will ultimately lead to us living a little less. It’s a risk we’re willing to take. But how bad is meat for us? While it tastes good, it can do some strange, funky things to our bodies. One phenomenon is so bizarre that many think it’s a myth. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s real, and we have the science to back it up…
You’re at an outdoor BBQ, eating all the meat that you can handle, when suddenly… it happens.
Sweat droplets begin to form on your forehead, under your armpit and even begin to roll down your back. What’s going on?
Is it the outside temperature? Are you seated too close to the grill? Are you nervous that some friends or even a bear is gonna come by and swipe your meat treat? No, it isn’t a coincidence. You’ve got the meat sweats, and it’s totally a real thing.
It sounds like a joke, especially since Joey from Friends hilariously announced he was getting them while eating.
“It’s a physical reaction that happens when you eat large amounts of protein. Talk to anyone who’s had them and they’ll say, ‘Hell yeah, they’re real.'”
Mental Vs. Physical
And it isn’t just medical professionals that attest to the realness of the meat sweats.
Meat experts themselves also believe in this carnivorous reaction. Adam Perry Lang, a bestselling barbecue cookbook author who recently opened the meat palace APL Restaurant in Los Angeles, concurs, saying that it may be a mix of physical and mental components.
“Maybe on a psychological level, it’s primal. There’s a lot of adrenaline going, and you’re excited when you tear into something. And then afterwards, it comes from heavy digestion.”
We’ve heard from someone who knows medicine and someone who knows meat, but who’s more of an expert on meat sweats than a competitive eater.
Crazy Legs Conti (yes, that is his actual, real and legal name) is a legendary competitive eater currently ranked 30th in the country by Major League Eating.
He’s been in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest more than 10 times, so he’s not only seen but also experienced a heroic amount of meat sweating. What’s his take on the matter?
He likens eating meat to an exercise, saying, “There’s some sweating that happens from the aerobic activity.
[Competitive eater] Joey Chestnut looks like Trombone Shorty playing the trumpet ― a lot of up and down movements ― and you’re going to get some sweating.
“The meat sweats are less about traditional Kevin Garnett athletic-type sweating and more about, ‘I am purifying my stomach and soul and the conduit is the Nathan’s hot dog.’ And the more you eat, the more that comes out of you, leaving you drenched.”
Okay, so competitors in hot dog eating contests are obviously skilled athletes (no sarcasm for once from us. That is super impressive).
So it makes sense that they would profusely sweat while engaged in their sport. But what about the rest of us?
It doesn’t always take 30-40 hot dogs. The average person can get sweaty after eating a few bites of a brisket. So what exactly is making us so damp while binging on beef and savoring some steak?
It helps to examine what type of sweat it is we experience when getting the meat sweats.
Perry Lang, who is not a competitive eater but who does consume meat almost every day as part of his restaurant work and BBQ expertise, perfectly described the meat sweats.
“It’s a whole body experience, and not one particular area. You just feel full. It’s a whole body thing.”
So when eating meat, you tend to glisten all over, as opposed to exercise where it forms in different areas.
Lang goes on to describe the meat sweats as a personal experience that should be cherished.
“The meat sweats are a very personal thing. The effect is based on [the type of] meat and the eater themselves. For me, it’s an all-body [thing] ― it’s a journey into the psychedelic experience.
You’re out there and you can’t really tell where the sweating is happening, but you know it’s happening. It’s armpits and behind the knees. When your elbow is dripping sweat, that’s when you know you’ve reached the nirvana of meat sweats.”
The Real Reason
We’ve seen some very personal hot takes on feeling hot after eating hot meats so far.
Some feel that it’s an exertion akin to athletes plying their craft at the absolute highest level and a testament to their ability and their level of exertion.
Others feel it’s almost like a religious experience and it’s just another layer to enjoying the meal. But we mentioned that we had science to back it up, so let’s circle back around to the real reason we get the meat sweats.
Dr. Nazario offered a medical explanation of what’s going on, saying, “When you go to the gym, you’re burning calories, and when you eat meat you can burn calories as well.
That’s what’s happening with the meat sweats. Some foods burn more calories than others.”
Wow… who would have thought that eating something so heavy and fatty could actually burn calories? Competitive eaters really are athletes (see, we told you)! Forget the treadmill, when you need exercise, get yourself a T-Bone!
Like The Gym
We’re obviously joking when we say that you should just eat meat instead of exercising, so don’t cancel your gym memberships just yet.
But we weren’t exaggerating at how much work your body goes through when eating meat. Dr. Nazario explained,
“To digest and process protein, your body will have to burn a lot more calories compared to, say, carbs or fat. And when you consume large amounts of protein, you can get this meat sweat. You’re burning calories almost like you were at the gym.”
Nazario said that nutritional guidelines recommend that only 10% to 35% of your daily calories come from protein.
She also pointed out that one serving size of protein should be the size of the palm of your hand.
Think of the size of your hand, and think of how much meat you usually eat in one sitting. When you over indulge, your body experiences dietary thermogenesis, which literally heats you up to break down all that protein. In short: it’s sweaty work.
Now that we understand meat sweats, you can actually use them to your benefit and increase your health.
Studies show the thermogenic effect from consuming a high-protein diet while also restricting your overall caloric intake could help you increase weight loss and fat loss as well.
However, one of those studies, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, notes that “rigorous longer-term studies are needed to investigate the effects of high protein diets on weight loss and weight maintenance.” So don’t cut everything but meat from your diet in an attempt to lose weight just yet.
Reducing Meat Sweats
However, if you’re in a position where you don’t want to get sweaty while eating meat (like this guy who likely doesn’t want to dampen his nice suit), it’s easy.
Simply limit the amount of protein you consume in one sitting. We’re not saying you can’t have any, just space it out.
And if you still sweat from even a tiny amount of meat, it may be a warning sign from your body. “If it happens to you, you might want to participate in a little more exercise and boost your cardiovascular fitness,” Dr. Nazario said.
Mind Over Meat Matter
You could also just try to will yourself to not sweat. Crazy Legs Conti gets philosophical with the meat sweats, saying,
“The body is an amazing instrument of human consciousness, and our stomach can fill up, but our mind never can.
The mental game in overcoming the meat sweats will be held somewhere between the frontal lobe and the hypothalamus, and not between the esophagus and the lower intestine.”
It doesn’t sound very scientific, but hey, who are we to question a man whose legal name is Crazy Legs?