SAUNA AND WEIGHT LOSS EXPLAINED: DOES A SAUNA BURN FAT?
Among the multitude of benefits a sauna offers, using sauna to burn fat is one of the most popular reasons why people adore saunas. But does a sauna burn fat, or is it just another groundless fad? We’re here to find out!
First, let’s talk about what a sauna is and what it does.
A sauna is a heating system designed to induce profuse sweating. Currently, there are two main types of sauna: traditional and infrared. A traditional sauna generates heat by pouring water on heated stones to create steam and heat up the air. Meanwhile, an infrared sauna uses carbon heaters to transmit infrared light waves that directly penetrate and heat the body. Either way, both types of sauna make you shed calories through sweating. This leads to the belief that constant sauna use results in fat loss — but just how true is this?
Does a Sauna Burn Fat?
Can a sauna really burn fat? It turns out, yes, it does. A scientific study has revealed that subjecting the body to extreme heat (heat stress) causes the metabolism to rise, ultimately resulting in fat loss. Here’s how:
As humans, we get our energy from the food and drinks we consume. Metabolism is the process in which our body converts food into energy and uses it to maintain normal body functions. The energy sources the body uses to power itself are from carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates and protein are our body’s go-to sources of energy since they are easily converted into glucose – the body’s main energy source.
However, when we eat excessively, we also end up getting excess energy that the body stores as fat. It is reported that about 80-85% of a healthy adult body’s energy is reserved as stored fat.
So how does heat stress affect the body’s metabolism? To put it simply, the heat produced by sauna serves as a mild environmental stressor to the body, which in turn protects itself by using up more of its energy reserves, a.k.a fats, to maintain normal body functions. Naturally, this leads to faster calorie and fat burn. What’s more, various experiments have shown that repeated sauna baths increase the body’s metabolic rate (the speed at which our body burns calories) by 25 - 33%. Isn’t that impressive?
Other Ways Sauna Helps With Weight Loss
Other than increasing the fat burn rate, sauna helps with weight loss by:
Regulating hormones. Detoxification through sweating allows the elimination of toxins via the largest organ of the body — the skin. Studies have found that among the 3 body fluids (sweat, blood and urine) that the body uses to excrete waste, a significantly higher amount of heavy metals such as aluminum, lead and cadmium were found present in sweat than in urine. These heavy metals have been linked to causing an imbalance in the adrenal gland, which regulates hormone production. An imbalanced adrenal may produce excess cortisol, a stress hormone, which causes weight gain and retention.
Eliminating water weight. Water weight gain happens when excess water is stored in the tissue and blood vessel – making the body feel and appear bloated. This happens for a number of reasons, including consuming food with high sodium/salt content, hormonal imbalance, and kidney dysfunction. Using the sauna opens the sweat glands and helps the body eliminate excess water faster.
Is an Infrared Sauna a Better Option for Weight Loss?
In essence, since traditional and infrared saunas both do the same thing – to make you sweat profusely, that is – they are equally effective in burning fat. Choosing between them is only really a matter of personal preference. However, infrared saunas offer a few advantages over traditional saunas, making them a better home sauna option for weight loss. Here are some of them:
Infrared saunas emit less heat. Since it uses infrared lightwaves that directly penetrate the body and warm it from the inside out, it causes less discomfort. This makes them a better choice for people who cannot tolerate the heat and heavy air that go with traditional steam saunas.
Infrared saunas release phytoncide. Whenever infrared light waves penetrate the softwood that lines the infrared sauna panel, it releases phytoncide – an organic compound that is naturally produced by plants. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal properties, which also help improve the respiratory system and protect the body from cancer and viruses.
Infrared saunas are more practical for home use. They are easier to install and cost relatively less than their traditional counterpart. All you need to do is simply plug it in and turn it on. The best examples of this are the portable Health Mate Essential Lounge Infrared Sauna and Health Mate Essential Comfort Infrared Sauna.
If these reasons are not enough to convince you that investing in an indoor infrared sauna is worth every penny, here are other amazing health benefits a personal indoor sauna gives you:
Improves cardiovascular health. Studies show that sauna use increases cardiac output, lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Rejuvenates the skin and body. Heat exposure in a sauna triggers a stress response in the body called hormesis. Hormesis is proven to induce cellular repair and regeneration. This is the reason behind that beautiful after-sauna glow.
Supports brain and mental health. Studies conclude that frequent sauna use reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, psychotic disorders and lessens the symptoms of depression.
Relaxes and improves the mood. Sitting comfortably in your personal sauna, like the beautifully-designed Almost Heaven Radiant 2 to 3 Person Infrared Sauna, will immediately transport you to a meditative state. A meditative state encourages the production of happy hormones called endorphins. Better yet, since you have the luxury of having a relaxing space to yourself, feel free to incorporate some of these hot yoga tips that will surely elevate your personal indoor sauna experience to another level.
How to Safely Use a Sauna for Weight Loss
The safest and healthiest way to lose weight is always in a holistic manner. Health and wellness is a lifestyle. Therefore, it needs to be practiced with consistency and balance. To reap the full benefits of weight loss through your indoor infrared sauna, you have to make sure that you incorporate a healthy diet, adequate physical and mental rest, and daily exercise into your weight loss routine.
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Additionally, keep these few tips in mind to ensure a safe and relaxing time in your indoor infrared sauna:
1. Do not drink alcohol before or during sauna use.
There have been reports that alcohol use during and before sauna may lead to adverse side effects and even death.
2. Do not use the sauna before exercising.
Sauna use can dehydrate you, and working out while dehydrated imposes many health risks, including fainting. Also, quite the contrary, using the sauna as a post-workout relaxation soothes sore muscles and increases recovery.
3. Keep hydrated.
With sweating, the body gets rid of toxins but also important minerals. Therefore, it is advisable to drink lots of water before hitting the sauna to prevent dehydration. In addition, sports drinks that replenish electrolyte levels are highly recommended.
4. Pay attention to your body.
Most people tolerate heat very well. However, there are some who suffer from heat sensitivity and claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces). If you begin to experience any unpleasant feelings, especially lightheadedness, please listen to your body and exit the sauna immediately.
5. Build tolerance gradually.
Attempting to run without knowing how to walk is foolish and dangerous. Since each person’s tolerance level is different, it is crucial to identify your comfort level first and gradually increase to longer and hotter sessions.
Concluding the Question: Does a Sauna Burn Fat?
Various scientific studies support that saunas really do burn fat. Therefore, both traditional and infrared saunas can help with weight loss, but the choice between which one is better really only depends on one’s personal preference.
An indoor infrared sauna can be a great way to promote weight loss and overall health. However, it has proved to have few advantages over traditional saunas, mainly due to their practicality and easy-to-use features. By increasing your metabolism and helping you burn calories, it can help you lose weight and burn fat more effectively. However, it's important to note that using an infrared sauna alone is not likely to result in significant weight loss. To see real results, you'll need to combine regular use of an infrared sauna with a healthy diet, adequate rest and regular exercise.
Check out our wide selection of infrared saunas at My Sauna World today to help kickstart your weight loss journey!