Are Meat Sweats A Thing?
Have you ever awakened from a food coma, only to find yourself sitting in a pool of sweat? Or maybe you've felt pit stains beginning to form midway through a plate of barbeque brisket.
If so, you've fallen victim to the meat sweats: a mysterious and largely controversial theory that posits that protein-rich meals cause your body temperature to rise, thus inducing perspiration.
So, are meat sweats a real thing? And if they are, how can you stay dry at the dinner table? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's start with the basics.
What Are Meat Sweats?
Meat sweats refers to the phenomenon of excessive sweating during or after meat consumption. The origin of the term dates back to a 2001 episode of Friends in which Joey Tribbiani consumes a hefty serving of turkey at Thanksgiving. Since then, meat sweats have been firmly established in the DUDE lexicon.
Take 13-time Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Champion Joey Chestnut, for example. After devouring 69 (nice) hot dogs, he told TMZ he had a major case of the meat sweats after the big event—so much so he smelled like "a big piece of meat."
We've all experienced anecdotal evidence of meat sweats. But the question remains, are they a scientifically valid phenomenon?
Are Meat Sweats Backed by Science?
It shouldn't come as a shock that there are no scientific studies devoted to whether you can blame a bacon cheeseburger for your sweat stains. But there is a biological concept that gives meat sweats some credence.
It's called the thermic effect of food (or feeding), also called TEF. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition defines TEF as "the increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal." This basically means your body temperature rises after you eat food because of your body's work to digest it. However, not all foods create the same TEF.
Scientists studying the thermogenic effect of food have noticed a phenomenon called "protein-induced thermogenesis"—a significant increase in the metabolic rate of people who consistently eat a high-protein diet. This can be attributed to the fact that protein (particularly red meat) is the hardest macronutrient for your body to break down. In fact, your body uses 20-30% more energy to break down protein than carbohydrates. Another study showed that post-meal metabolic rates increased 100 percent when subjects were on a high-protein diet compared to a diet high in carbs.
Bottom line: if you're indulging in a bacon-wrapped filet, it stands to reason that your core temperature will rise enough to induce sweating. Just imagine what competitive eaters have to endure.
How to Handle Meat Sweats
Whether you're on a high-protein diet or planning a career in competitive eating, here are a few tips for keeping meat sweats to a minimum.
1. Eat Fatty Cuts of Meat
You didn't read that wrong—we're telling you to eat more fat. But don't take our word for it. Some studies show leaner cuts of meat produce a higher TEF than fattier cuts. Translation: fatty meat is easier to digest.
If you think about it, this makes sense. The more protein in a cut of meat, the more work your body has to do to break it down. With a fattier cut, there's less protein for your body to metabolize.
2. Eat Less Meat
We know—it's exactly what you didn't want to hear. But we're not blowing smoke. This is the cold, unforgiving truth of meat sweats. Instead of inhaling a second rack of ribs or a fourth hot dog at the ball game, mix it up with different foods that won't trigger a sweat storm.
Now, if you're hitting up a BBQ joint with your bros and a plate full of veggies is out of the question, here are a few hacks to keep meat sweats at bay.
3. Try an After-Dinner Digestif
Order fernet, grappa, or the cultish-among-chefs Underberg post-meal. Any standard digestif will do the job of greasing the wheels of the digestive process. If you're about to indulge in a particularly meaty meal, some chefs even recommend sipping a pre-meal digestif, so your gut is primed for the hellish job you're about to give it.
4. Take a Post-Meal Walk
It sounds very European, but it works. A 10-20 minute walk after a large meal aids digestion and keeps you from sitting in a pool of your own sweat. Go outside and air it out, buddy.
5. Freshen Up with Body Wipes
When meat sweats are inevitable, pack some DUDE Face + Body Wipes or a DUDE Shower to soak up the sweat and stay fresh. If you're a messy eater, use them to wipe yourself down, so you're not walking around with a layer of barbeque sauce on your face the rest of the night.
6. Don't Forget Deodorant
Meaty meals are notorious for opening the floodgates in your armpits. If you want to keep protein-based perspiration under control, grab a stick of DUDE Natural Deodorant. It'll keep you fresh without any harsh chemicals you can't pronounce.
Sweating is inevitable for every dude, but it shouldn't ruin what's arguably life's greatest pleasure: stuffing your face with copious amounts of meaty goodness. We both know you're not going vegan, so at least be considerate and don't stink up the next steakhouse you visit.