Does Pre-Workout Make You Sweat More? (9 Reasons)

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For some people, excessive sweating at the gym is a point of embarrassment. Others love the feeling of being soaked with sweat. 

As both a supplement store manager and personal trainer for the past decade, I have the responsibility of matching what a client wants with their pre-workout and their goals – even if that includes sweating more or less. 

So, does pre-workout make you sweat? Those who take pre-workout do claim that the supplement makes them sweat more than they typically would. However, it is unclear if the ingredients in pre-workout are triggering a sweat response themselves or if the increase in sweat is simply a result of working harder in the gym.

Whether you want to prevent sweating or encourage it, choosing a pre-workout with the wrong ingredients could have a negative impact on your goals. 

Key Takeaways

  • There are a few key ingredients found in pre-workouts (i.e. pepper extracts) that have been reported to increase sweat production even though scientific evidence is lacking.
  • You likely sweat more while taking pre-workout because you are working out longer or at higher intensities due to the performance-enhancing benefits of pre-workout.
  • Whether you are looking to sweat more or less during your workout, there are some pre-workout options for you (discussed below).

9 Reasons Why Pre-Workout Could Make You Sweat More

9 reasons why pre workout could make you sweat more

I’ve got to be honest here.

I had a much different view of what this article would look like when I started writing (which is why it’s important as a writer to be aware of your bias).

I thought I was going to write you an article featuring over a dozen ingredients, why they’re in your pre-workout, and how they cause you to sweat, but as I was searching for peer-reviewed articles to support these claims, I realized the research simply didn’t exist.  

While there are a few key ingredients that might cause you to sweat more, the majority of ingredients in pre-workout have no evidence supporting those effects

Despite the lack of scientific evidence that certain ingredients increase sweat production, there have been many reports that certain ingredients do seem to make you sweat more.

The ingredients with the most anecdotal evidence for increased sweat production are:

1. Caffeine

I wanted to address this ingredient right off the top because it’s mentioned as the leading culprit in many of the articles that I found that discussed pre-workout and increased sweating.

The thing is, though, that the research doesn’t really support caffeine as being a cause for increased sweating. 

A few studies have evaluated caffeine’s effect on an athlete’s body temperature and sweat rate. They found that caffeine didn’t cause hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature) when compared with a placebo, and consuming caffeine didn’t increase sweat rate

If you feel like you sweat more when taking caffeine pre-workout, it’s likely because you are working out longer and/or harder.

If you are part of the population who experiences side effects like anxiety and jitteriness from caffeine, then it is possible that caffeine could cause a small increase in sweat rate, which will likely be mitigated by taking a smaller dose. 

2. Pepper Extracts (piperine, capsicum, cayenne)

Pepper extracts are the most likely ingredients contributing to increased sweating from pre-workout supplements. You can find them in a variety of forms including piperine, capsicum, and cayenne. 

Piperine is one ingredient commonly found in pre-workouts. You may see it listed under its patented name, BioPerine®

In clinical trials, BioPerine was found to increase nutrient absorption by up to 30%. It is an addition to a lot of pre-workout supplements for that exact reason – so that you can better absorb the ingredients in your pre-workout. 

Piperine has also been shown in a few studies to increase thermogenesis (the production of body heat). Many of the initial studies on BioPerine alone were done on rats, with subsequent studies using a blend of BioPerine, caffeine, and capsaicin.  

Capsicum and cayenne are occasionally added to pre-workout supplements. Capsicum (Red bell peppers/chili peppers) and cayenne (hot chili pepper) both contain a compound called capsaicin

Capsaicin has been shown to increase the release of calcium in muscle fibers, which allows for greater force production in the muscle cells. 

More simply put, having capsaicin in a pre-workout can result in more power output, which can result in better strength and performance. 

Capsaicin can also trigger the nerves that make your body feel warmer. When this happens, your body will sweat more in order to cool you down. (Remember the whole reason for the body sweating is to cool itself down). 

3. L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is another ingredient commonly advertised as causing an increase in sweat rate, but I couldn’t find any solid evidence linking L-Carnitine with thermogenesis or sweat rate. 

It does have minimal evidence supporting fat loss in humans, but none of that correlated with increased sweating. 

Gamma-butyrobetaine (GBB) is another more recent addition to thermogenic pre-workout supplements (supplements that are said to increase body temperature and encourage fat burning). 

GBB is converted to L-carnitine in the body and has a lot of very enthusiastic anecdotes about how it is a sweat-inducing ingredient. 

Even a site that I came across that was actively trying to sell multiple forms of GBB stated:

“Note, however, that we’ve seen no direct science on why this may occur, but for some individuals, it’s incredibly effective at doing so…. to the point of some users being annoyed by it. We can not find any real science on why this is occurring.” 

So the moral of the story here is that while some users claim that using supplements with GBB causes them to sweat more, there is no scientific basis for it and no scientific evidence that it’s true. 

4. Yohimbe

Yohimbe is a tree native to Africa, from which we get the alkaloid called Yohimbine. While typically marketed as an ingredient to help with erectile dysfunction, it also shows potential for increasing fat loss and improving athletic performance.

Yohimbine, which is banned in many countries but is legal in the United States, can be anxiogenic (meaning it causes anxiety). Anxiety can trigger a chain reaction in the body resulting in increased sweating

5. Nitric Oxide Boosters (citrulline, arginine)

While there isn’t any research that definitively links nitric oxide boosters to increased sweating, there is some preliminary research looking into it as well as some support for the inverse. 

That is to say, some research has been done showing that nitric oxide inhibitors decrease sweat rate. So even though increased sweating isn’t listed as a direct side effect of nitric oxide boosters, there is a potential link between the two. 

With the lack of research supporting the link between nitric oxide boosters and increased sweat rate, this is another instance where sweating more could be the result of working out harder rather than a direct result of the ingredient itself. 

6. Citrus Aurantium (bitter orange)

Citrus Aurantium, also known as bitter orange extract contains an ingredient known as synephrine. It is a central nervous system stimulant banned by the NCAA but found in some pre-workouts due to its potential to increase fat oxidation (fat burning) and exercise performance.

Though it is often added to pre-workouts and fat loss products, there is currently no definitive evidence that synephrine alone increases thermogenesis (body heat).

Nevertheless, as a stimulant that can increase anxiety, as well as a potential thermogenic, it is possible that synephrine in a pre-workout could cause you to sweat more.

7. Zinc

Zinc is found in some pre-workout supplements, like Transparent Labs BULK, usually in doses close to 30 mg.

Health authorities have set a safe upper daily limit of zinc to 40mg per day for adults

Evidence shows that high levels of zinc supplementation are associated with increased sweating, but this was mostly found in metalworking professions with individuals who had been inhaling too much zinc through dust and fumes. 

It is unlikely that the amount of zinc found in your pre-workout will cause you to sweat more unless you are supplementing with additional zinc above the RDA’s 40mg recommendation. 

8. Grain Of Paradise Extract

Grains of paradise is a plant related to ginger. As a spice, when it is taken in concentrated doses it could have a thermogenic effect, increasing core temperature. 

Similar to capsaicin, this increase in core temperature means the body will sweat more to cool itself down. 

This particular ingredient isn’t a popular addition to most pre-workouts, but you might find it in pre-workouts that are advertised to be thermogenic or fat burning, like GAT Sport Nitraflex Burn

9. You’re Working Out Harder

It’s not the most exciting answer, but it’s an honest one. The most likely reason that you are sweating more after taking a pre-workout is that you are working out harder. 

Certain ingredients in pre-workout can help with blood flow, strength, and power output meaning you can work out longer, lift heavier weights, or do more reps. 

This increased work output means a warmer core temperature for you, causing extra sweat as your body tries to cool itself off. 

Does Sweating More Mean That The Pre-Workout Is “Better”? 

No, sweating more is not an indication that a pre-workout is better, and it’s not an indication that your workout was more effective either. 

Aside from the factors mentioned above, there are many other things that can affect how much you sweat. This includes things like your clothing choices, the climate, and how hydrated (or not) you are. 

While it is true that you might be sweating more because you are working out harder, you might simply have taken a pre-workout with a few pepper extracts which will make you warm but won’t necessarily impact exercise performance. 

The key takeaway is that sweating is the result of several factors, and is not an accurate indicator of how good a pre-workout is. 

Are There Risks of Taking Pre-Workout That Makes You Sweat?

More research is needed to evaluate the long-term (greater than 8 weeks) effects of pre-workout, but as of now, there are no serious risks associated with taking pre-workouts, even those which make you sweat a lot. 

However, this is assuming you are following the recommended dosing guidelines and staying under the FDA’s limit of 400mg of caffeine daily. 

That said, there are some minor short-term risks associated with increased sweating. Losing as little as 2% of your body weight due to water loss during exercise is associated with decreases in performance.

To avoid the risk of dehydration, the American Council on Exercise recommends the following:

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.

Because electrolytes are lost when we sweat, it stands to reason that if you sweat more, you will lose more electrolytes during exercise. As a result, you may also be at an increased risk for muscle cramping. 

If muscle cramping becomes an issue, you can replenish your electrolyte stores with a carbohydrate and electrolyte beverage, like Allmax Carbion or Gatorade, during and after exercise.

“My Sweat Smells After Taking Pre-Workout” – Is This Fact or Fiction?

If you’ve heard that taking pre-workout can make your sweat smell like fish, it’s not necessarily a lie, but it is probably not something you have to worry about. 

Three key ingredients have been shown to cause consumers to have “fishy smelling” sweat: betaine, l-carnitine, and choline. 

Betaine, which is also called trimethylglycine (TMG), is the key culprit here. There is a rare disease called trimethylaminuria which is where the body cannot properly break down trimethylglycine. As a result, this build-up of TMG causes sweat to have a fish-like odor. 

L-carnitine and choline are both broken down into TMG in the gut, which is how they can also contribute to the odor. 

This condition however is extremely rare, with only about 100 total cases reported in medical literature, and shouldn’t prevent you from trying some sweat-inducing pre-workouts. 

Reducing How Much You Sweat From Pre-Workout (4 Tips)

Reducing how much you sweat from pre-workout (4 tips)

Dress For It (moisture-wicking fabrics, breathable fabrics)

Choose to wear clothing that will help keep the body cool, like clothes that are moisture-wicking (where the fabric resists absorbing sweat) versus clothes that are absorptive (become heavy and wet easily). 

Good fabrics to look for to keep the body cool include polyester, nylon, bamboo, and mesh

Fabrics to avoid include wool and cotton. 

Drink Plenty Of Water

This one might sound counterintuitive, but if you drink cold water, you can cool the body down, thereby reducing the amount of sweating required to cool you off. 

Dermatologist and founder of SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care, Tsippora Shainhouse, MD says: 

“Drinking water can help cool the body and reduce sweating. There’s a simple way to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day. Divide your weight (in pounds) in half – that’s how many ounces of water you need.”

So, if you weigh 160 lbs, you should aim for 80 ounces (or 10 cups/2.36L) of water per day. 

Avoid Pepper Extracts In Your Pre-Workout

Because pepper extracts are the most likely ingredients to increase sweating, choose a simple formula that doesn’t include BioPerine, piperine, capsicum, or cayenne like Beyond Yourself SuperSet Stim-Free.

Choose A Stimulant-Free Formula

If you find that products that typically contain caffeine such as coffee or energy drinks tend to give you anxiety which contributes to increases in sweating, then you might want to opt for a stimulant-free pre-workout. 

Watch out for extra stimulants that aren’t caffeine, such as bitter orange, synephrine, DMAA, and yohimbine. 

Pre-Workouts That Make You Sweat More

GAT Sport Nitraflex Burn

GAT Sport Nitraflex burn contains caffeine as well as a patented form of Grains of Paradise extract – two key ingredients which have been reported to increase sweat rate.

It also contains L-Carnitine which also doesn’t have published research confirming that it causes you to sweat more, but many supplement companies and consumers claim that in their experience, it definitely does.

Because of the high caffeine content (325mg), this product should only be used a maximum of once daily, by experienced pre-workout users who don’t mind sweating.

C4 Ultimate Shred

Packed with caffeine, cayenne, ginger, and bioperine, this blend of stimulants and pepper extracts is almost guaranteed to get you warmed up from the inside out and increase sweat production.

At 300mg of caffeine per serving, and clinically dosed with 6g of citrulline and 3.2g of beta-alanine, this is an all-around performance blend. However, I recommend that users start with a half serving to assess their caffeine tolerance first.

Pre-Workouts That Make You Sweat Less 

Beyond Yourself Superset Stim Free

Beyond Yourself knocked it out of the park with this stimulant-free pre-workout, which is clinically dosed with citrulline and beta-alanine to help with pump and endurance, as well as taurine and tyrosine for mental focus

Because this product is free of caffeine, stimulants, pepper extracts, and l-carnitine, the only way this product would make you sweat more is if it helps you workout at a higher intensity. 

Other Possible Reasons You’re Sweating More That Have Nothing To Do With Pre Workout

Hydration Status 

While extreme dehydration can cause you to stop sweating entirely, if you don’t adequately hydrate during your workout, you could be sweating more. 

This sounds counterintuitive, but if you are not properly hydrating, then your body is having to work harder to cool itself off. As a result, the sweat rate will be increased. 

Climate & Environment

A warmer climate will make you sweat more. This could be palpable changes in outdoor climate (like a heat wave), or smaller fluctuations at your gym or fitness center. 

Increases in temperature could also be caused by a larger number of people in the gym. If you workout at a time when the gym is very busy (with more bodies giving off heat) versus when the gym is empty, you might end up sweating more. 

Clothing

Wearing tight clothes, as well as clothes made from wool or cotton could cause you to sweat more. 

Choosing light, breathable fabrics like polyester or bamboo, and shorts and short-sleeved tops to keep you cool. 

Females: Where You Are In Your Cycle

Depending on where you are in your cycle, you may experience significant shifts in body temperature. 

As you get closer to your period, you may find that you sweat more (especially at night)

Age

As we age, our sweat glands (especially in the armpits) shrink and become less sensitive. This results in less sweat production. 

The inverse then is that younger populations will have larger sweat glands which will be working more efficiently, resulting in increased sweat production. 

Fitness Level

Most people assume that the less fit you are, the more you’ll sweat but it’s actually the opposite. The more fit you are, the greater potential you have to produce sweat.

Higher fitness levels are correlated with higher sweat rates because as you get fitter, you are able to work out at higher intensities and your body has to work harder to cool itself. 

Something You Ate

Spicy foods, foods that contain vinegar, and meals that are high in sugar can all result in increased sweat production. 

Recall that pepper extracts in pre-workout supplements correlate with higher body temperature and increased sweating. The same goes for the spicy foods themselves. 

Genetics

Your increased sweat production could also be related to your genetics. There is a condition called hyperhidrosis in which a person sweats excessively. 

This condition often doesn’t have a clear cause and can have varying treatments from trying specific antiperspirants, altering clothing choices, or more invasive treatments like botox injections or surgery.

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About The Author

Jennifer Vibert
Jennifer Vibert

Jennifer Vibert is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Nutrition Coach, and supplement store manager. She has a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a major in Fitness and Lifestyle and a minor in Psychology from the University of Regina. She is a Certified Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition, with a passion for helping clients learn the fundamentals of nutrition and supplementation in order to build healthy, sustainable habits.