Saunas are not a new invention and have been used for thousands of years by different cultures around the world. One of the main reasons why saunas became so popular is because they offered a great way to relax as you interact and make friends with those around you.
You can reap all the benefits by installing a home sauna. One question that often arises is does sauna burn calories and promote sauna weight loss? That’s what we are here to find out but first let’s understand the workings of a sauna.
How saunas function
Saunas are basically rooms that have been heated to reach an internal temperature of between 150 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Some saunas such as the Turkish sauna have more humidity while the Finish saunas produce dry heat.
Saunas and losing weight
There are some advantages and disadvantages of saunas and unfortunately the fitness industry is still plagued with a lot of wrong and easily misinterpreted information. There are sources that claim that you can indeed burn off a lot of calories by spending time at the sauna.
In fact, some say that you could burn between 300-1000 calories after spending around 30 minutes at the sauna.
The idea is certainly pleasant when you think that all you will have to do is to sit back and relax while your body burns off the excess fat.
However, the rate of burning calories is simply exaggerated. Even with strenuous physical exercises, such a rate for burning calories is often unsustainable.
The reasoning behind losing weight in a sauna is that due to the high temperatures, the body will struggle to bring back its core temperature down again which boosts metabolism causing the body to consume more energy.
Can you actually lose weight?
While you will not lose weight at the rate of 300-1000 calories burnt in 30 minutes, spending time at the sauna can in fact help you burn calories and slowly shed off some weight.
1. Detoxifying the body
Due the high temperatures in the sauna, your body sweats more which flushes out toxins from the skin. This is an effective and easy way to detoxify especially for people who do not regularly go to the gym.
In the process of sweating, metals such as nickel, mercury, zinc and copper are expelled from the skin. If you are wondering how this relates to losing weight, then you should know that since the lymphatic system, which forms the sweat is now clear, your body is able to burn fat more efficiently.
2. Higher metabolism rate
The high temperatures in the sauna causes your heart rate to rise. This in turn results in an increased metabolism up to 20%.
With a higher metabolic rate, you burn calories faster than normal. And your heightened metabolism will still be maintained for a couple of more hours after you leave the sauna.
3. Losing water weight
The water retained in your body’s cells can be up to 5 pounds in weight. If you were to use diet and follow a workout regimen, it would take up to a week to shed off this weight.
How long you spend at the sauna on the other hand will determine the rate at which you shed off the weight. You might find that you will drop the weight in just a couple of days.
4. Reduced stress
Stress is caused when our brains release the stress hormone known as cortisol. High levels of this hormone are known to cause free oxygen radicals which damage body cells and also increases inflammation in our bodies.
By spending time at the sauna, your body is able to relax and replace the cortisol with endorphins which are the feel-good hormones. Low stress levels prevent our bodies from gaining inflammation induced weight.
5. More stamina
If you feel out of breath after working out for just a few minutes, this could mean that you have low stamina. Boosting respiratory function, improving your breathing, increasing the levels of nitric oxide in the body as well as reducing other respiratory problems are just some of the amazing sauna health benefits. It also results in improved stamina.
This means that you can workout for longer and lift heavier objects which in turns helps you burn fat at a much higher rate.
6. Higher rate of muscle recovery
You may want to relax in a sauna after a strenuous workout. This is one of the best ways to help get rid of the excess lactic acid in the muscles and to help them recover faster.
Healthy muscles results in a higher metabolism which means more energy consumption and ultimately weight loss.
How much weight you can burn in a sauna
It is possible to burn calories by simply siting at the sauna. Think of an average sized person. His body will likely burn around 42 calories after sitting down for 30 minutes.
With the heightened metabolism due to sitting in a sauna you can multiply this number by 2. That means that you will burn around 84 calories after a 30-minute sauna session.
By just sitting in a sauna most of the weight that you are going to shed is water. However, you need to find the right balance between sweating and rehydrating as losing water could make it harder to shed weight.
Staying hydrated is therefore an important aspect to losing weight. In fact, there are a few dangers of being too dehydrated. If you notice that you have a dry mouth, feeling extremely thirsty, having headaches, not urinating as often as you used to and feeling light headed and dizzy, then these are all signs of dehydration.
People who have kidney problems, suffer from diabetes and are older are more likely to become dehydrated faster than normal after going to the sauna.
While it is possible to lose weight gradually due to the other effects of being in a sauna that we looked at above, this will be slow and gradual. If you want fast results, then doing exercises and maintaining proper diet is the way to go.
When doing hot yoga in a sauna, it is always advisable to have someone with you. This is because hot yoga is highly strenuous and it is not uncommon for people to faint in the sauna due to the combination of heat and the physical strain.
Hot yoga, also known as bikram yoga, constitutes 26 poses. Performing hot yoga for 30 minutes has indeed been shown to burn upwards of 300 calories.
The benefit of doing yoga in a sauna is that unlike sitting down for 30 minutes and shedding water weight, hot yoga actually burns fat and is an excellent reason to go to the sauna if you are looking to lose weight.
Making it part of your workout
The best way to lose weight is to do physical exercises as we saw above. The sauna can be a great part of your workout regimen. After spending time at the gym, heading to the sauna helps your muscles relax and recover faster ready for your next workout.
What’s more, your metabolism remains high due to the combined actions of hitting the gym and the high temperatures in the sauna resulting in more calories burnt. Over time you will notice your weight begin to come down.
Infrared saunas and lipids
Getting rid of fats and lipids is the biggest challenge in sauna weight loss. With infrared saunas, heat penetrates to the fat cells boosting blood circulation to these cells. This in turns helps reduce the appearance of the fat cells.
Another benefit of infrared saunas is that they reduce the bad cholesterol LDL while simultaneously increasing the good cholesterol HDL. This results a reduction in weight and an improved cardiovascular system.
Joint pain relief
It is not possible to maintain your training goals when your joints are aching. Infrared saunas allow heat to penetrate deep into the joint tissues allowing them to relax and release the tension.
This process is also known as thermotherapy and its main benefit is in the triggering of the heat shock proteins. These boost the bodies ability to repair itself. After the pain is gone, you can go back to doing your training which will in turn help you lose weight.
Many people can attest to eating unhealthy foods in greater quantity when then are stressed or when they have low energy levels. When you have rested well, you feel better about yourself and you are far more likely to make better dietary choices that will help you lose weight.
Saunas especially the infrared variety puts your body in a state of parasympathetic. This allows your body to rest better and digest food more efficiently.
When you finally get, up you will be feeling energized enabling you to maintain your workout routine.
Weight loss in a steam room
We saw that shedding water weight is one of the best ways to lose weight on a sauna. Things are taken a notch higher in a steam room where the humidity is higher. This makes your skin sweat more which means that the rate of losing the water weight is even higher.
How to lose weight at the sauna
In order to see progress for your sauna weight loss goals, the first step that you will need to make is to weigh yourself. By doing this you create a baseline from where you will monitor your progress.
The next step is to enter the sauna stay there for 20 to 30 minutes and let your body sweat profusely. Make sure you are in touch with how your body feels. If you notice that you are becoming dizzy, this is often a sign of dehydration. Leave the sauna immediately and allow your body to recover while drinking plenty of fluid.
The third step is to weigh yourself after leaving the sauna and check to see if you have shed any water weight. If after 30 minutes of sweating you still haven’t lost any weight, you can go back and sit inside the sauna for another 15 minutes.
For any visible and significant drop in weight, you should visit the sauna 3 times each week.
Tips for Losing weight
If you want to increase the rate and the effectiveness of losing weight at the sauna, lest consider a few tips.
When you start using the sauna remember that you are not used to the heat and the intense sweating. It is therefore important to condition your body to be able to deal with the intense temperature at the sauna. Start by spending no more than two sessions of 30 minutes twice a week.
If you are using your own private sauna, and it features a thermo regulator, set the temperature to 1500F. This temperature will provide the best benefits. You will not have to worry about temperature regulation in a public sauna as they are often managed by professionals.
The intense heat will cause your skin to start sweating profusely. While there are many benefits of this, you can also have an electrolyte imbalance if you are too dehydrated. Always make sure you have sufficient water with you to drink during and after your sauna session.
Many people worry that they will recover the water weight that they sweat off at the sauna by drinking too much water. However, your metabolism will still be high after a few hours of leaving the sauna which means that you will still be losing weight.
Check your diet. It will be of no use to sweat off that water weight in the sauna only to go home and eat junk food. Eat less fatty foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meat and whole grains.
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It is possible to lose weight in a sauna as long as you approach it the right way. For the best results, you can combine a sauna session with your workout. By helping your muscles recover quicker, the sauna can help you maintain your workout and reach your fitness goals.