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Do Saunas Help You Lose Weight? Wonders Behind Sauna Doors
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Do Saunas Help You Lose Weight? Wonders Behind Sauna Doors

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on September 7, 2022
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6 min

Learn about the benefits of sauna bathing and how it can help you lose weight faster. Saunas can do wonders for your body and mental health, and you’ll be surprised to know how.

do saunas help you lose weight

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When you are trying to lose weight, a sauna session may be something you should consider to reach your weight loss goals faster.

Saunas are rooms heated to 158–212°F, and they come in different types. In a traditional Finnish sauna, the air is usually dry, and the humidity hovers between 10–20%. A popular Turkish sauna, the so-called hammam, is more humid. An infrared sauna uses special lamps to heat just your body instead of the whole room but still makes you sweat just like other saunas.

Although sitting in a sauna won’t melt away your unwanted pounds, it will facilitate weight loss and provide many health benefits.

In this article, you will find out how saunas can help you lose weight, how to pick a sauna that is right for you, and what you should know before you step into a hot room.

Do Saunas Burn Calories?

A sauna session will help you burn calories to a certain extent by increasing your body temperature but not to the extent that it affects your extra weight.

Burning calories requires physical activity. Moreover, you need to cut your daily calorie intake by 500 calories to make your body burn fat. So merely visiting a sitting in a hot room from time to time will not make you burn enough calories to lose weight.

Your body will burn more calories when you are exposed to high temperatures than when you are sitting at home. However, only your body type and the temperature of the sauna will determine precisely how many calories you burn.

How many calories do you burn in a sauna?

Rumor has it that people burn 1.5 to 2 times as many calories in a sauna as they would in a normal temperature room, but hard proof is lacking.

When you use a sauna, your skin temperature can reach 104°F. With a high skin temperature comes heavy sweating because your body tries to cool down. This, in turn, causes your heart rate to increase, which requires extra energy or, in other words, some calories.

If these estimations are true, in a sauna, a 155 lbs woman would burn up to 70 calories every 30 minutes, while burning a pound of fat takes about 3,500 calories. Nevertheless, saunas work wonders for your heart, lung, and skin health.

Do Saunas Help You Lose Weight?

A sauna session will help you burn calories to a certain extent by increasing your body temperature but not to the extent that it affects your extra weight.

Burning calories requires physical activity. Moreover, you need to cut your daily calorie intake by 500 calories to make your body burn fat. So merely visiting a sitting in a hot room from time to time will not make you burn enough calories to lose weight.

Your body will burn more calories when you are exposed to high temperatures than when you are sitting at home. However, only your body type and the temperature of the sauna will determine precisely how many calories you burn.

Can You Sweat Off Weight?

Sweating on its own cannot affect your weight or induce calorie deficit, so don’t associate sweating with weight loss.

There is a widespread belief that saunas help you lose weight because they help you sweat away excess water weight. Even if you lose some weight, it isn’t quite what it seems.

Heavy sweating causes severe dehydration, which hinders your ability to perform exercises or think clearly. More than 5% body water loss can cause serious health problems, whereas greater than 8–10% body water loss can be fatal.

The truth is, if you sweat heavily in intense heat, you must compensate for the loss by drinking plenty of water. Remember that proper hydration keeps your body working well and helps you lose weight.

What Are the Health Benefits of Sauna?

There is no doubt that saunas can help you lose weight, but not everyone is aware of how.  Below are the most prominent benefits that are closely related to weight loss.

#1 Better sleep

For your weight loss journey to be successful, you need to get enough sleep. Needless to say, quality of sleep affects the quality of life, your eating habits and motivation to exercise. It is, therefore, crucial to relax your body to enjoy a better night’s sleep.

Entering a steam room makes you feel relaxed because heat is absorbed throughout your entire body. In addition to improving your physical well-being, you also enjoy a good night’s sleep, which will do wonders for your mental health. 

#2 Improved heart health

The Finnish sauna is great for heart health and is relaxing too. It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular and neurocognitive problems, as well as pulmonary and nonvascular conditions, like arthritis, headaches, and flu.

A study showed exercising and sauna use lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension. In fact, visiting a sauna helps you relax blood vessels, improve your blow flow, and lower your blood pressure, even if you can’t do aerobic exercise.

#3 Helps ease pain

If you get sore muscles and pain from workout, which makes you not want to exercise, try sitting in a sauna. It will relieve minor aches and pains and make you feel better.

A dry sauna helps reduce pain and improve the quality of life for patients with low back pain. This was demonstrated in a study where participants received dry sauna therapy twice a day for 5 consecutive days within 1 week, for a total of 10 sessions at 194°F, each lasting 15 minutes.

Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and spondylitis can benefit greatly from using an infrared sauna without having an adverse impact on their disease.

#4 Relieves symptoms of asthma

If you are looking for a way to treat asthma, you might as well consider going for a Finnish sauna session. Studies demonstrate that people with respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis can improve their breathing capacity through sauna use.

With asthma, the muscles in the respiratory tract tense up, making it more difficult to relax. Stepping into a room with hot, dry air helps relax them again.

#5 Detoxifies your body

If you want to detox your body from heavy metals, you must visit an infrared sauna. Infrared waves penetrate deep into the body and help break up excess fat cells and sweat away toxins from fat layers and other tissue.

It has been shown that infrared saunas also relieve muscle pain, reduce stress levels, and enhance skin texture. They also boost your immune system, enhancing your resistance to diseases as well as defending you against them.

Best Way to Lose Weight

Weight loss is made up of 80% healthy eating and 20% exercise. The best way to lose weight is through a step-by-step strategy built around a healthy diet and workout routine. Unfortunately, without a professional dietitian and trainer, universal advice found on the internet may not help.

How great would it be to have a guide that is tailored specifically to you? You’ll need to sit back, relax, and answer some questions about yourself, and here you have it.

The weight loss and wellness book Beyond Body is designed especially for you based on your personal needs, preferences, and medical history. This book provides professional weight loss advice and a meal plan with recipes tailored to your taste.

You can also get a customized workout plan along with your assistant app in order to boost your weight loss efforts. Just make sure to include an exercise section in your book if you want.

With this book, you won’t be disappointed, you won’t waste money, and you won’t waste time. Upon completing a questionnaire about your preferences and needs, you will receive this book in 2 hours, complete with meal plans to help you lose weight (and a grocery list).

Having an all-inclusive package that includes dietary recommendations, workout suggestions, and a personal assistant will definitely maximize your weight loss benefits.

A Word From RD

Sauna bathing is a form of thermotherapy that has numerous health benefits other than weight loss. A higher metabolism, lymphatic system, and improved mental health are just a few examples.

When visiting a sauna, however, you must adhere to certain safety precautions to make the most of it.

Sauna sessions should not last longer than 30 minutes for advanced sauna users and even less for beginners. You can start from 5–10 minutes and gradually increase the duration of sessions. In this time, you will reap all the benefits of sauna use.

You should rest after you have been in the sauna so your body can slowly cool down. It’s best to drink 2–4 glasses of cold water after each session to avoid dehydration.

You should avoid saunas if you have drunk alcohol, take medications that do not let you sweat or cause overheating, or if you are sick. It is also a good idea not to avoid drinking alcohol for a few hours after you have visited a sauna.

It is also advisable not to go to the sauna when pregnant in order to prevent birth defects in the fetus.

Conclusion

Making the sauna part of your weight loss routine is a great idea. In combination with a healthy diet and moderate physical activity, it will not only help drop water weight but will also increase calories burned and make you lose weight by burning fat. Moreover, visiting a sauna helps keep you in shape after you have lost weight.

For those who don’t like sitting in hot rooms, infrared saunas are ideal, while for those who enjoy dry heat, Finnish saunas are a perfect choice. Meanwhile, wet saunas, like hammams, may not be as effective as dry ones.

You may not be able to sweat away your excess weight, but you will certainly feel better after a sauna session. Better sleep, improved heart rate, pain relief, asthma treatment, and body detox are some of the benefits.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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