Are Meat Sweats Real?

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Summer is here and it’s time to fire up the grill for a good old-fashioned barbecue. Chicken, sausage, steak and burgers are a staple of backyard grilling. But if you find yourself over-indulging and your heartbeat rapidly increasing, you could have a case of the meat sweats.

What are meat sweats?

The meat sweats is the unscientific, and not medically supported term for when a person eats a large portion of meat and suddenly develops a severe amount of protein-based perspiration. While many have reported experiencing this phenomenon, we still don’t know what the true cause of it is.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses the thermic effect of food, which is the most widely accepted theory for meat sweats. The thermic effect of food is defined as “the increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal.” Basically, your body releases energy in the form of heat to break down recently-ingested food, and when your internal body temperature increases, your body sweats to cool it down.

So why does this happen with meat and not other types of foods?

Different foods are broken down differently. Carbohydrates are broken down quickly and with little effort while proteins are more complex and take about 15 to 25 percent more energy to break down. Therefore, an excess of ingested food, especially protein, increases the energy your body uses and your internal body temperature, and ultimately perspiration.

While the composition of the food is the main cause for the increased energy required, it could also be attributed to the texture of meat.

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Should I be worried?

If you find yourself with the meat sweats, the perspiration usually doesn’t last long. The meat sweats are nothing to worry about unless there are other symptoms as well. While the easy fix is to simply eat less meat, we all enjoy a good steak occasionally. However, experts say to be cautious as the term “meat sweats” first entered popular culture due to competitive eating and therefore is not a healthy thing to experience or strive for on a regular basis.

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