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There's an old episode of "Friends" where Joey eats an entire Thanksgiving turkey in a single sitting. "Whoof," Joey groans as he pushes the bare bird carcass away from his bloated person. "Here come the meat sweats." Perhaps you know what Joey is talking about. Perhaps you've eaten one too many burgers at a summer barbecue, or taken one too many servings of ham at the holiday table, and then suddenly needed to change into drier clothes. Or perhaps you've just watched the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship on TV and marveled at the profuse amounts of perspiration steaming off the contestants' faces as they shoved dog after dog into their herculean mouths. As silly as they sound, "meat sweats" - the phenomenon of intense sweating that can follow an excessively meaty meal - sure seem real to those who've experienced them. But is there any science to back them up? Are meat sweats a real biological condition - and, if so, what makes meat so messy? While you won't find "meat sweats" mentioned in any medical dictionaries, you can find plenty of literature on the digestive mechanisms that make them possible. According to Keya Mukherjee, a biochemistry graduate student at Texas A&M University who specializes in carbohydrate metabolism, it all has to do with how your body breaks down protein. "Proteins are extremely complex molecules and require a lot more energy than fats or carbohydrates to metabolize," or break down, Mukherjee told Live Science. "If you're eating a lot-of protein in your diet and you're not-eating much of anything else, your body will be producing a lot of energy and a lot-of-heat. Of course, this could result in sweating." Metabolizing any type of food takes energy; one 2009 review of medical studies found that the body's energy use ratchets up by about 25 percent when digesting a big meal. As with exercise, that extra energy expenditure takes the form of heat. Expend enough energy digesting, and that heat can actually raise your core body temperature a bit. This is known as the "thermic effect of food," and it kicks in every time you digest.
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