In the struggle to lose weight, people have sought many strategies and measures to achieve their ultimate body shape and size. Besides the diets and exercises, people are starting to frequent saunas as one of the avenues for burning fat. But is the sauna effective for weight loss?
In this article, I will be answering the question “is the sauna effective for weight loss?”, the health benefits of saunas, the risks associated with saunas, and the tips on how you can get the best out of your sauna sessions for weight loss.
To start with;
What are saunas?
A sauna is simply a small room designed for people to experience dry or wet heat sessions. The steam and high heat make the bathers give out sweat through the pores of the skin. Saunas have different types as we shall see in the coming sections of this article.
Saunas are believed to have originated from Finland where pits were dug in the ground and stones were heated on a fireplace to a high temperature. Water was then thrown on the hot stones to produce steam and to give a sensation of increased heat and these were used as dwellings in winter.
With the Industrial Revolution, saunas have evolved and now people use metal woodstoves, electric sauna stoves, and more.
Is the sauna effective for weight loss?
The sweating and heat in saunas can help weight loss in several ways and these include;
1. Sauna Can help you lose water weight.
Many people might have water weight that makes them look puffy and swollen even when they have lost weight.
While you can spend over a week to lose water weight on a restricted diet and exercises, spending time in a sauna can help you sweat and lose water weight. You will be able to lose excess water through heavy sweating.
From a single sauna session, you can lose up to 5 pounds of water weight. This is the reason why athletes who need to meet a certain weight use sauna. They can give fast results in a few days.
2. It can increase the metabolic rate.
Saunas can increase your heart rate to about 30%, the same way exercise does. This can increase the number of calories you burn compared to those you would have burned while at rest or just sitting there.
This is so because the body works harder to stabilize the high temperatures thus increasing metabolism in the process.
3. Saunas can reduce stress.
Stress, depression, and anxiety are known causes of weight gain. Spending time in a sauna can help reduce stress as it is described as the most relaxing bath. Although this may not directly cause weight loss, reducing stress can help you lose weight in the long run.
Saunas through sweating can help flush out toxins and impurities such as lead, zinc, copper, nickel, and mercury. When these metals are present in the body, they hinder the effective burning of fat by the body.
Spending time in the sauna can help detoxify the body to help it effectively burn fat, give it more energy for exercises, and speed up weight loss.
5. Better sleep.
To people who have a hard time falling asleep, relaxing in the sauna can help your body fall asleep much faster and peacefully. Although this doesn’t directly burn calories, there are many health benefits associated with proper sleep.
Quality sleep time can enhance physical activity, increase resting metabolism, fight cravings, and decrease your appetite.
Want to learn more about sleep for weight loss? Here is a detailed article about How to lose weight by sleeping rightly (Includes tips)
6. Saunas can enhance physical performance.
Sauna is used by many athletes to relax the body and enhance physical performance. Saunas aid muscle recovery from workouts, help body stress and reduce fatigue. Increased physical performance means that one can work harder and longer to burn more calories.
Additionally, a sauna can increase blood flow, reduce the effects of respiratory problems, flush out toxins, and ease the body from pain. This can help enhance exercise capacity and increase physical performance as well.
Increased physical performance means that more calories can be burned through physical activity and exercises.
How many calories can you burn in a Sauna?
It is estimated that a person burns on average around 1.5 times more calories than when he or she is at rest.
Depending on the amount of time spent in the sauna and the weight of a person, you can calculate the number of calories burned.
For example, a person that weighs 150 pounds burns approximately 56 calories. However, the same person sitting in a sauna for the same amount of time will burn 84 calories instead. That’s 1.5 times more calories burned.
How long should you stay in a sauna to lose weight?
Time spent in the sauna can vary depending on your experience with saunas and activities done before sauna time.
For beginners, start slow with 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
It is recommended to use the sauna for about 15 to 20 minutes at maximum. Overstaying in the sauna can increase the risk of dehydration and might cause fainting too. If you feel hot enough, it’s high time you left the sauna.
For weight loss, the sauna can be done two to three times a week.
Important note: After workouts, wait for at least 10 minutes before you can enter the sauna.
Which sauna is better for weight loss?
Before you choose the best, you should know all your options. We shall be looking at the different types of saunas.
1. Steam bath
The steam bath has temperatures of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit and is built with tiles, glass, or acrylic inside of a sealed space.
The humidity in steam baths is at 100% and a low temperature. The humidity makes you feel hotter than the actual temperature present in the room.
2. Infrared sauna.
This uses light waves to heat the body without warming the room. It simply heats your body without warming the air around you.
3. Electrically heated sauna.
This type of sauna uses an electric heater that is mounted in the room to heat it. The temperatures are high and humidity is low.
4. Dry sauna.
The dry sauna uses heated rocks to heat the room. Unlike the traditional Finnish sauna that has water poured onto heated rocks, the dry sauna doesn’t use water only heated rocks.
5. Traditional Finnish sauna.
It uses heated rocks where water is poured water to form steam that circulates around the room to heat it.
So, which is the best sauna for weight loss? The infrared sauna is the best for weight loss since it focuses all its energy on the body and non is lost in the air.
Tips on the safe use of the sauna for weight loss.
The sauna can pose health risks if used improperly. Follow these tips to get the best out of the sauna.
1. Stay hydrated.
Since a lot of water is lost through sweat while in the sauna, drink a lot of water to replace it. Don’t worry you will not put-on water weight again as drinking water will help you lose water weight instead.
For a detailed look at Water weight and how to get rid of it, read the article here.
2. Use the sauna after workouts and not before.
The use of a sauna after workouts can help increase the effects of the workouts and also help ease muscle soreness. However, going to the sauna before a workout will reduce effectiveness and also cause dehydration much faster.
3. Start slow.
A 5-minute session might be enough for a beginner and gradually increase as you get used to the sauna. Avoid going long periods in the sauna when you aren’t used as this might increase health risks and chances of injury.
4. Have someone present in the sauna with you.
Don’t make the mistake of going into the sauna without anybody knowing.
5. Shower first.
A quick shower before the sauna will make your body ready and it will decrease the chances of injury.
What are the health risks of the sauna?
The moderate use of a sauna is safe for most people. However, when it is overdone, the sauna can pose health risks such as;
Due to excessive sweating, the sauna may cause dehydration if you aren’t hydrating. Dehydration can cause dryness in the mouth, extreme thirst, headache, and lightheadedness.
Blood pressure risk.
Switching from high temperatures to cold temperatures can increase the risk of blood pressure. The sauna may also lower one’s blood pressure and thus the sauna may not be advisable to be used by people with blood pressure problems.
- The sauna can also cause dizziness and nausea especially due to overstaying.
- Reproductive issues especially to men who spend a lot of time in the sauna. They tend to have troubles with sperm count and may find it hard to make a woman pregnant.
The bottom line.
To lose weight, one should be in a calorie deficit and that simply means that he /she is burning more calories than consumed. There is no cheat code for that but rather a proper diet and exercise.
Sauna should not be taken as a serious weight loss strategy but rather an additional strategy that will help you achieve weight loss. Since sauna doesn’t make you burn more calories than you consume, it cannot be effective for weight loss.
Sauna is only effective at helping you lose water weight rather than fat weight. Confused between water and fat weight? Read the article about water weight and I guess you have heard of fat weight or the daily weight most people long to lose.