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Can Saunas Help with Weight Loss and Other Health Issues?

Hiral Patel

August 7, 2023

Saunas are one of the most prominent therapies prevalent since historical times across the globe. The first saunas, found approximately around 2000 BC, were caves with a fire burning inside beneath a pile of stones.

The modern sauna uses superior technology with regulated temperature and humidity control. All you do in a sauna is sit and allow your body to sweat.

Stepping in the sauna can have several health benefits, from the skin to the heart. A person may encounter a jump in the heart rate and can even lose nearly a pint of sweat. Interestingly, it can also enable you to lose weight.

However, it is very important to follow the procedure properly before walking into a sauna, as it can lead to potential health risks. 

There are numerous types of saunas depending on how the room is heated. It can be by burning wood, steam, infrared rays or electricity. However, the most impudent question is: Is it logical to lose weight in a sauna? Let’s find out. 

An Overview of Saunas

A sauna or steam bath can enable you to shed inches off your waist. Sauna for weight loss is a thriving trend. 

Research shows that conventional baths at 150-195° F are verified to aid weight loss. Furthermore,  research indicates that you can compare a sauna to a moderate-intensity exercise. It gives you the benefits of a workout without moving an inch.

Read on to understand how sauna aids weight loss, how many calories can sauna help burn per round, and what safeguards to take.

The amount of calories you can burn is using this formula: Calories burned in a sauna equal the number of calories burned in thirty minutes of sitting or resting.

For example, you are one hundred and thirty-two pounds and burn thirty calories in thirty minutes of sitting or resting. Multiply it by 1.5 and 2. So, you can burn around 45 – 90 calories.But does this imply you can be in the sauna for twenty-four hours and come out slimmed down? Before your imagination runs crazy, you need to know how to make it work for you.

Sauna is a beneficial weight-loss procedure. However, it’s not magic. You must plan your sauna sessions depending on your current body weight and the weight you want to achieve. Generally, getting a sauna bath 2-3 times a week for two weeks will kick-start your weight loss.

After two weeks, you will begin to feel refreshed and energetic. Then, you must include moderate-intensity exercise in your everyday routine.

Take a sauna bath two times a week for the next three weeks. After that, add strength training and cardio to your workout session and take a sauna bath to relax and rebuild your muscles.

Before you schedule your appointment, you must understand several sauna types. Here are the types, what they seem like, and how they function.

Different Types of Saunas

Steam Rooms

Also recognised as Turkish baths, these rooms are humid and steamy. High in temperature and humidity, steam rooms with steam generators go through a warm-up process. Studies also indicate its benefits to the cardiovascular system.

Infrared

Here, light waves heat your body rapidly and generate sweat. In these kinds of saunas, the room does not warm up. Instead, special infrared lights heat a person’s body. As a result, the temperature is generally lower than in other saunas. Still, the person sweats similarly, getting heated rather than the other way around.

Wood Burning

The mechanism is that of a traditional Finnish sauna, and the room temperature is humid and high. They are generally high in temperature and low in humidity. In these saunas, wood warms up the sauna room and sauna rocks.

Electrical Sauna

Instead of wood, the room warms up using electricity. Electrically heated saunas are the same as wood-burning saunas. However, these saunas have less humidity and elevated temperatures. Also, the room warms up by an electrical heater, usually connected to the floor.

Saunas and Weight Loss: The Relationship

Simply sitting in a sauna can enable you to decrease excess fat is not a reality. A sauna does not allow you to lose weight; it temporarily eliminates quickly replaceable water from the body. In addition, excessive heat makes your body sweat and sweating can make you lose fluid in the form of water.

In other words, you are dehydrating your body by sitting in a sauna or steam room. Therefore, you are not creating any muscles by sitting in the hot chamber and are not burning your fats. If you do not hydrate yourself after walking out of a sauna, the water loss may give an illusion of losing weight. However, it can affect your health as it is significant to stay hydrated to shed pounds.

Severe heat makes your body sweat. When you sweat, you lose water. If you lose more water than what you are taking in, you can become thirsty. Therefore, there is a danger of getting dehydrated from being in a sauna. According to Harvard Medical School, the average person loses about one pint of fluid during a quick time in the sauna.

Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. It is crucial to pay attention to your body and drink enough water if you use a sauna. Be conscious of these indications of mild to moderate dehydration:

  • Dryness in the mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Not urinating as often as normal

People with chronic conditions such as that of kidney or heart, or those who are pregnant or diabetic are at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated.

Summary 

While people do lose weight through sauna it’s mostly water weight that can quickly come back once the body is hydrated. Furthermore, there are various risks associated with losing weight through sauna as it can lead to dehydration and cause severe health issues. Thus it is highly recommended that one drinks enough water before and after the sauna.It is important to remember that saunas are not a short cut to weight loss. They, however, can be a part of one’s weight loss journey.  

Is It Good To Lose Weight Through Sauna? 

The weight you lose from sitting in a sauna is water weight, which is not suitable. Being chronically dehydrated is not a favourable state for the body, so you want to be sure to replace this lost fluid weight as soon as possible. But being in high heat does result in your heart rate going up slightly. So it may make you able to lose more calories sitting in a steam room than you would sit at rest in normal temperatures. However, this impact is minimal. 

Doctors stress balance when it arrives to weight loss programs. Sauna use independently won’t help you lose weight, but it might be beneficial when used as part of a healthy weight loss program. 

Other Benefits Of Sauna

Detoxification

Sweating enables the flushing of toxins and adulterations from your body. But, for most people, our daily activities don’t produce enough sweat to purge these harmful substances. Sweating also enables flushing out heavy metals such as zinc, lead, mercury, copper, and nickel one consumes through foods or environmental components. 

Detoxification clears the lymphatic system and enables your body to burn fat more effectively. In addition, it provides you with more energy for workouts and speeds up weight loss. 

Increased Metabolism

When you expose yourself to severe heat or cold, your body has to work harder, and your heart rate will heighten by up to 30%. Research indicates that it benefits your metabolism and enables you to burn more calories. 

According to expert calculations, the high heat in a sauna, which is around one hundred and fifty degrees, will increase your metabolic rate by roughly 20%. This impact will last while you are in the sauna or steam room and for a couple of hours afterwards. To save the fat-burning consequences, try to work up to a 15-20 minutes of sauna, but restricted to 2-3 times a week. 

Stress Reduction

Stress is a general cause of weight gain and an obstacle to weight loss. Stress boosts the production of cortisol, which makes your body yearn for calories and makes it difficult to shed pounds. According to research, sauna reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels in the body. 

Enjoying a sauna enables you to get into a meditative state, reduce stress, and release endorphins. The happy hormones counteract cortisol. Those with lower stress degrees are less likely to overeat and are more inclined to engage in healthy activities.

Increased Exercise Capacity

One of the obstacles to beneficial exercise is your breathing capacity. Sauna can help boost respiratory function. Vasodilators enlarge blood vessels which increases blood flow. It can enhance your exercise capacity meaning you can work out more intensely or for extended periods, which, naturally, leads to improved weight loss.

Improved Heart Health

The elevated heat levels in a sauna push cause your blood vessels to open up. When blood vessels expand, your circulation enhances, and your blood pressure lowers.

People with high blood pressure can schedule saunas. Still, the American Heart Association (AHA) cautions against moving between severe cold and hot temperatures to increase your blood pressure. Also, those on heart treatments should check with their healthcare provider before sitting in a sauna.

Summary

Reduction in water weight is one of the immediate benefits of saunas. While better metabolism and exercise capacity caused by sauna have a direct link with weight loss other benefits like detoxification and stress reduction are indirectly connected to better weight management. Saunas are also known to improve blood circulation. However, people with heart conditions should consult a medical professional before signing up for a sauna session. 

Precautions

Saunas may sound fun and an exciting way to lose weight, but here is what you must keep in mind while using a sauna or steam room for weight loss.

Sauna enables you to burn fat but does nothing about the muscles. You must slowly incorporate strength training into your daily workout to tone the muscles and not let them sag. Since saunas or steam rooms will help boost your stamina, strength training or cardio will not affect as much exertion as it would have without the sauna.

Hydration is an important element of weight loss. It would help if you kept yourself hydrated. Unfortunately, sauna causes dehydration, which may impede weight loss. Therefore, add a dash of salt to your drinking water before or after your sauna or steam bath to rebalance the electrolytes.

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Ensure that you are well-hydrated before starting your sauna journey. Drink water before and after your sessions. And remember not to bank on saunas as your weight loss method. Add a good amount of strength training to make your sauna sessions truly effective.

Conclusion

If you have a sauna or plan to purchase one, you can also get weight loss benefits. Using a sauna independently won’t generate dramatic weight loss outcomes. However, as a part of a healthy lifestyle can improve the impacts of diet and exercise.

Certainly, saunas offer a broad array of health advantages. Still, they should not replace a regular workout routine in any case. Apart from this, you should not step into a sauna if you are suffering from heart disease and blood pressure without checking with your medical practitioner. Also, children below 16 years and pregnant women should not use a sauna.

Sauna is an incredible choice when you are just beginning to lose weight. It will not only boost weight loss but also impart other health advantages. But it would help if you ate healthily and gradually introduced your body to strength training and cardio to look strong and toned up.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.1. Does a sauna help lose belly fat?

A. It is a myth that sitting in a sauna can help you decrease additional fat. But it is not valid. A sauna does not enable you to lose weight; it temporarily eliminates quickly replaceable water from the body. In addition, high heat makes your body sweat and sweating can make you lose water weight with a temporary notion of weight loss.  

Q.2. What’s better for a weight loss sauna or steam room?

A. Steam rooms have all the same health advantages as saunas because the impacts of heat are the same, whether it’s moist heat or dry heat. It implies you’ll still get some cardio benefits and lessened stiffness and pain. 

Q.3. Is sauna good for skin?

A. The heat in saunas and steam baths enhances collagen generation, rejuvenating and strengthening the tone. The heat also enables the skin to get rid of dead skin cells, facilitating the development of newer and healthier ones.

Q.4. Does a sauna burn calories?

A. The sauna may be proficient at helping you burn some additional calories, but don’t bank on sweat schedules alone to lose weight. It isn’t a helpful tool for actual weight loss. However, since your body is operating to elicit sweat during your sauna session, you will burn calories. 

Q.5. Is a sauna good after a workout?

A. You can obtain the advantages of a sauna anytime. But while, some people like to pregame their exercise by heating their muscles in a sauna. It helps you loosen up but shouldn’t replace your regular warm-up. However, when you are still a little dehydrated, using the sauna after your workout may negatively impact and cause dehydration unless you hydrate well. Therefore, you must have a drink that balances electrolytes and enjoy the feeling of loosening muscles and reducing exercise-related pain post a workout session.  

Q.6. How long do you have to sit in a sauna to detox your body?

A. The quantity of time spent in a sauna detox may fluctuate depending upon your body and daily activity level. To get your body familiarised with infrared therapy, start with ten to fifteen-minute sessions once or twice a week. Then, slowly increase towards 15 minutes sessions in the optimal temperature span. However, if you feel you are not comfortable even after five minutes, quickly abort the session.  

Q.7. Is the sauna good for your hair?

A. According to Harvard Health, saunas promote blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles. The greater the blood flow, the more adequate will be the hair growth. In addition, blood effectively transmits all the necessary oxygen and nutrients to every part of our body. The outcome is quite apparent in terms of hair growth. 

Q.8. Should you moisturise after a sauna?

A. It is significant to take care of your skin properly after using the sauna, particularly after using the shower and your skin is still moist. Whether you have dry or oily skin, moisturising as the final step will enable hydrating your skin. 

Q.9. Can I take my phone to the sauna?

A. You should not bring a phone into a steam room or sauna because they often surpass the approved maximum operating temperature of 113°F or 45°C. It could encounter permanent damage in those situations.

Reference Sources 

  1. Sauna-induced body mass loss in young sedentary women and men: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25614882/
  1. The effect of sauna bathing on lipid profile in young, physically active, male subjects: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25001587/
  1. A comparison of whole body vibration and moist heat on lower extremity skin temperature and skin blood flow in healthy older individuals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3560772/
  1. Sauna Health Benefits: Are saunas healthy or harmful?: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/saunas-and-your-health
  1. Energy metabolism, fuel selection and body weight regulation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897177/
  1. Getting Active to Control High Blood Pressure: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/getting-active-to-control-high-blood-pressure

About the Author

According to Hiral, “Striving to be better than yesterday, is the key to achieving any goal that is ahead of you”. As a diet and lifestyle consultant, Hiral intends to help her clients inculcate habits such as healthy eating and regular exercise to improve their lifestyle holistically for a better tomorrow. She also aims to make her clients feel good from the inside-out and bring about a positive change to their overall life.


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