Should you shed tears or sweat to lose weight?

Emeh Joy
By Emeh Joy

Basic medical scientist, health research writer with experience writing for health brands like Dentistry Brands LLC and KompleteCare.

Shedding tears can make you burn calories, aiding weight loss, according to new research. The question is, "is shedding tears an effective weight loss strategy?" Would you rather shed tears to lose weight instead of sweating it out in the gym?

Crying can cause weight loss. Is shedding tears an effective weight loss strategy?

Weight loss is now a popular topic that cuts across different genders, age groups, generations and races. Fatphobia (the fear and dislike of obesity and or obese people) has become a thing. 

We are at a time when fatness is equated with ugliness, and fat people see themselves as inferior to others. Nobody wants to be called 'fat'; that word holds a complicated place in our society today.

People would rather prefer to use adjectives like, 'bold', 'plump' or 'fluffy". But does using these words to describe an individual take away the fact that the person has more body fat than is healthy?

Perhaps using other words instead of the word 'fat' to describe a person is to avoid making the person feel bad or feel insulted.

It is not surprising that nowadays, men prefer to be seen out with slim-looking women than those with more pounds of flesh. Even those that prefer dating plumpy women are often shy to say it or prefer keeping their ladies indoors instead of going out with them and showing them off.

Fat people go through a lot of stigmatisation in society such that it is very easy to slip into depression or low-self esteem. It is also easy for some of them to wet their pillows with tears because they tend to hate themselves and feel helpless about it.

Most fat people want to lose weight (and it is advisable to, considering that overweight and obesity have been linked to some health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes). However, they are either too lazy to do the needful, don’t know how to go about it, or have tried and failed to see desired results.

It is wrong to discriminate against fat people, talk down at them or give unsolicited weight loss advice. Doing such breeds inferiority complex and can easily bring them to tears.

But will tears solve the problem? If you read this article further, you might be shocked to find out that tears may help solve the problem of overweight and obesity.

Obesity goes beyond a cosmetic issue

Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash

If you think the only reason you should keep fit and maintain the right body size is so that you can look peng while sitting on the front seat of your boyfriend’s car or so you can be called ‘a handsome macho man’, then you got it wrong.

Appearance may be one of the reasons to maintain the right body weight but having a generally appealing physique is not all that is to fitness.

Obesity is unhealthy. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, obesity can be linked to mental health problems like diabetes.6

Compared to those with a normal weight, overweight or obese people have a higher risk of developing severe diseases and medical conditions such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnoea and breathing problems
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Different types of cancer2

Recent reports have also shown that people with obesity are more vulnerable to COVID-19. They also have a higher risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms and COVID-19 mortality.7

So when you are on a fitness program, you should know you are also doing it for your health.

Crying can aid weight loss, new research says

Who would have thought that sobbing with tears running down the cheeks and mascara (if there is one) smudged all over the face can cause the body to lose some pounds of flesh?

But, it is not just a myth. Research has shown that emotional crying can help reduce body weight.5

Reports have shown that it is best to allow people to cry when they are down. Researchers have suggested that releasing emotions by crying helps keep mental health intact.

This means that crying is not always bad. It can be healthy as it can make an individual feel better and relaxed.

How does crying aid weight loss?

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Crying is a natural way of expressing emotions like pain, sadness, stress and even happiness. There are different types of tears, such as reflex, basal and psychic tears.

Just like the name depicts, reflex tears are tears triggered by irritants or environmental stressors. They occur like a reflex action. Basal tears perform the basic function of keeping the eyes moist, while psychic tears are associated with feelings and emotions. 

According to the study, it is emotional crying that can help with weight loss. Emotional crying can aid weight loss because it is linked to hormones that increase the level of cortisol.

Cortisol is also known as a stress hormone. It also regulates other body processes such as metabolism and alertness.

Stress and weight gain

When the body is stressed, cortisol hormones are released, and high cortisol levels can cause the body to store fat, leading to weight gain. Bottled up emotions induce stress, which can cause the cortisol hormone to be on a high level.

However, when you let go of the bottled up emotions, releasing them (for instance, by crying), the body gets de-stressed and relaxed. The cortisol level also reduces, causing the body not to store more fat. 

This is in line with the biochemist William Frey’s study which found that stress-induced tears can remove toxic substances from the body. According to his research, crying is an excretory process that helps remove toxic substances that build up in the body during times of emotional stress. 

When is the best time to cry?

Aside from having a specific kind of tear that helps with weight loss, the research also stated that there is an ideal time to cry for optimal results.

The best time to cry is in the evening around 7 PM to 10 PM. Having a crying session around this time may make you lose some fat!

The research didn't clearly state why this is the best time to cry, however, the speculation is that 7-10 pm is the best time to cry without disturbance.

Crying may not cause significant weight loss

Crying does burn calories but it may not cause significant weight loss. One great benefit of crying is that it relieves you of stress, however, if you are out to really lose weight, crying won’t be the best weight loss strategy to use.

There are high chances that the weight loss experienced when people cry is because of depression and loss of appetite. 

Crying is believed to burn almost the same amount of calories as laughing and this is about 1.3 calories per minute.1 

This means for every 30 minutes crying session, you are burning additional 39 calories than you would have burned if you didn’t cry. Losing 39 calories after 30 minutes of intense shedding of tears isn’t a lot.

Exercising gives a better weight-loss result

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Crying might seem like an easy way to weight loss, but is it? How long would you want to cry to lose 200 calories which you can lose with just 30 minutes of brisk walking or jogging?3

So, if you are wondering whether you should ditch exercise for crying in order to lose weight, you should think twice. 

Numerous studies have shown that exercising is a safe and effective way to lose weight. There are different types of exercises, each causing you to burn different amounts of calories. 

Aerobic exercise (also called cardio) is one of the most popular types of exercise that works for weight loss. Examples of aerobic exercise include running, walking, swimming and cycling.

Brisk walking, biking and dancing can cause a person to lose about 370 to 460 calories per hour while exercises like playing football and jogging may cause an individual to burn as much as 730 calories per hour.4

Instead of sitting on your couch crying with the hope of burning a significant amount of calories, it would be best if you get your gyming gear ready and go sweat out those unwanted fats!


Crying when you are stressed or emotionally down is good. In fact, it is best to let out the pent up emotions by crying instead of having them all bottled up. 

Research has shown that crying may help people recover from grief, trigger metabolism and help balance hormones. It may also help burn some calories, however, it is not the best weight loss strategy. Exercise and dietary changes remain the best and most effective weight loss strategies.


  1. Buchowski, M. S., Majchrzak, K. M., Blomquist, K., Chen, K. Y., Byrne, D. W., & Bachorowski, J. A. (2007). Energy expenditure of genuine laughter. International journal of obesity (2005), 31(1), 131–137. 
  2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, September 17). The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity. 
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, March 8). Calories Burned in 30 Minutes For People of Different Weights. 
  4. Kerr, Michael. (2017, July 8) Exercise and Weight Loss. Healthline. 
  5. Khan, Sieeka. (2019, October 15). You Can Lose Weight By Crying? Let the Experts Explain. The Science Times. 
  6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). (2018 February). Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity. 
  7. Wadman, Meredith. (2020, September 8). Why COVID-19 Is More Deadly In People With Obesity - Even If They Are Young. ScienceInsider.