Carnivores say too much protein makes them perspire. Scientists say that’s doubtful.
Chris Pinto from South Philadelphia says he gets ‘meat sweats’ when he’s eaten one too many burgers at a family picnic.
“You are sweating, your skin is flushed, you’re sort of delirious, not sure what day or time it is. That’s the meat sweats,” he says.
Conor Corcoran in Los Angeles even lightens up his food order sometimes to avoid the meat sweats. He was visiting a favorite restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard recently, and he thought he’d picked wisely.
“I didn’t order the steak. I couldn’t order the steak — I knew what would happen if I ordered the steak!” he says.
Instead, he got the veal Milanese, a thinly pounded piece of meat that comes with a slice of lemon.
“It’s so thin and pretty they call it ‘the veal George Clooney,’ but I still got the sweats,” he says.
Some people swear it’s a thing. But nutritionist Britney Kennedy from OnPoint Nutrition says there’s no science to back up that claim.
Kennedy says that, once you understand how digestion works, the meat sweats myth falls apart.
“Digestion starts in your mouth actually,” she says.
Say you’ve just eaten a 15-ounce steak.
“So you know as you’re chewing the steak and the saliva is breaking it all down. Then it ends up coming to your stomach. So protein itself is very tightly bound. Protein is made up of a ton of amino acids that are linked together kind of like a chain, or almost like a chain link fence. And your body has to work really hard to break those apart.”
It can take six to eight hours to break down that food.
So if meat sweats aren’t backed by science, then why do some people sweat after eating, say, six chicken breasts, or a whole roast?
“Your body is working really hard to break all of this down, and that’s where that thermogenic effect comes into play, because your body uses I’d say 30 percent of the energy that you’re eating from meat to actually break it down,” Kennedy says.
“So that increased blood flow causes your metabolism to start increasing. It’s breaking down all of that protein, which then could in turn increase your internal temperature, which may cause you to sweat.”
Competitive eater Bob Shoudt, from Royersford, Pennsylvania, goes by the moniker “Notorious B.O.B.”
His specialty is downing “volume food” like grits and baked beans. He just finished a contest that involved a 55-ounce hamburger.
He knows what it’s like to eat a lot of meat, and he often sweats profusely while he’s doing it. But he does not believe in the meat sweats.
“I don’t think it really has anything to do with the meat. I think it just has to do with, you’re out in the sun, and when you’re in a contest you have adrenaline going. So you’re pumped up and your body’s — you’re pushing your body to the limit,” he says.
According to Shoudt, you could be packing away five pounds of asparagus and still break out in a sweat during a summertime eating contest.
He’s the reigning champ of Wing Bowl, an eating competition held in Philadelphia each year just before the Super Bowl.
He ate 409 wings, and, as the first-place winner, he took home nearly $50,000 in cash and prizes.
And the second-place eater? Zero dollars.
Shoudt has two teenage daughters — both vegetarians— that he needs to send to college soon. He has a day job, but competitive eating helps his family stay flush.
Shoudt says that’s the kind of pressure that makes him sweat.