Can Sauna Sessions Help You Lose Weight?

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Sauna sessions can provide multiple health benefits for most individuals. Is weight loss also one of these health benefits?

All over the world, you can find these small rooms with high temperatures. There are multiple reasons to do a sauna session: relaxing, health benefits and some people even claim it helps you lose weight.

Weight loss versus fat loss

If you ever went on a weight loss journey and weighed yourself regularly you know that weight loss is not always fat loss. In the end, it is mostly fat loss you want.

The sauna will certainly help you lose weight because of all the sweating you will do. The question is whether a part of this weight loss is also fat loss.

4 ways sauna sessions may help weight loss

A sauna session causes many changes in your body. Some of these changes are more clearly related to weight loss than others.

1. Elevated heartbeat

The first way the sauna can help you burn some extra calories is by increasing your heart rate.

Your heart is a muscle. To move muscles your body uses energy measured in calories. It’s hard to measure exactly how many calories.

In most situations where someone has an elevated heart rate, it’s because of something like exercise. When exercising you also move other muscles that require energy.

On top of that, the change in heart rate will be different for different people.

For those reasons, it’s hard to make an estimation on just how many extra calories you can expect to burn with your sauna session. It will most likely not come down to 100’s of calories a day.

2. Sweating

The sweating process itself doesn’t burn any calories. However, sweating does help you remove toxic substances from your body (1).

It’s not entirely clear how these toxic substances influence the number of calories you burn. Until there is more clarity about this you can’t count on sweating alone to help you lose weight.

woman sweating in the sauna possibly for weight loss

3. Reduction in inflammation

Sauna sessions can help reduce the amount of inflammation in your body (2).

It’s not entirely clear just how much impact inflammation has on the amount of energy you use. Chances are that reduced inflammation at least won’t hurt your weight loss efforts. Until there is more clarity on this you can’t trust on it burning any extra calories.

4. Improving muscle repair and preservation

The sauna may also benefit muscle repair and preservation (3, 4, 5).

Muscle mass is extremely helpful for losing weight. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn with everything you do.

Will the sauna help you lose that much weight?

While the sauna does offer many health benefits, there are many other habits that will help you lose more weight.

If you are looking to lose weight and you have to choose between 20 minutes of sauna or 20 minutes of running every day, the running will most likely help more.

On the other hand, sitting in a sauna for 20 minutes will most likely benefit your weight loss more than sitting on the couch for 20 minutes.

The exact amount of calories you can burn with a sauna session is hard to estimate but it will likely not hurt your weight loss efforts. It won’t be that much so you don’t have to go out of your way to get in more sauna sessions if your only goal is to lose weight.

Do sauna suits help you lose weight?

A sauna suit is basically a suit that tries to mimic sauna conditions.

The same as a regular sauna applies to sauna suits. Most of the weight loss will come from losing water weight. They might help you burn a few extra calories but most likely no amount that makes it worth considering.

These suits have the potential to lead to dehydration and excessive loss of electrolytes. The small amount of extra calorie burning is most likely not worth the potential downsides.

Tips to keep your sauna session safe

Sitting in a hot room can provide many health benefits but it can also do the opposite if you don’t do it right.

First of all, pregnant women, children, people with cardiovascular problems, and just people with illnesses in general, should seek medical advice before using the sauna.

Secondly, because you are sweating a lot it is required to drink enough water and possibly replenish electrolytes, mainly sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium in smaller amounts (6).

Different types of saunas

There are Finnish-style saunas with relatively low amounts of humidity. These are the saunas where you pour water over hot stones. You also have Turkish-style steam baths and infra-red saunas that use light waves to heat your body instead of warming up the room around you.

The exact differences in terms of health between these different types of saunas are not clear yet. If you plan on regularly having a sauna session you might want to pick the one you enjoy most.

How long should you stay in a sauna at what temperature?

A dry sauna session of 15-20 minutes at temperatures ranging from 150 to 195°F (66 to 91°C) is common.

For a steam room, the sessions are generally up to 15 minutes and at temperatures of around 100 to 110°F (38 to 43°C).

It’s always important to listen to your body when it comes to duration and temperature guidelines. Also make sure you cool down enough between sauna sessions if you decide to have multiple.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.