Now that working from home is the new norm, more “offices” are just a few steps from the kitchen. This close proximity to the fridge has led to the dreaded “Covid-19-lb” weight gain. You’ve probably heard the sauna weight loss claim: “Sit in a sauna for 30 minutes and burn 600 calories.” This sounds like the sauna is a “miracle” tool for weight loss when in actuality, science shows incorporating sauna use into your health regimen will not only contribute to weight loss, but have many other health benefits as well.
Raising Core Body Temperature
An infrared sauna session directly heats your body by raising your core temperature as you absorb the infrared heat. This boosts your cardiovascular, lymphatic and immune systems creating a fat-based sweat that helps your body detox and eliminate toxins in a safe, comfortable way. Far infrared heat has been found to slightly increase human growth hormone production (HGH) and lower cortisol levels which also aids in greater weight loss and overall better health.
Boosted Calorie Burn
Increased heat results in increased metabolic rate which results in increased calorie burn. While the exact number of calories burned varies depending on several factors, you’ll definitely experience a boost to your regular sedentary calorie burn on a similar level to a moderate workout. Sauna use also increases heart rate by at least 100%, which requires more energy and burns more calories.
The boost is especially beneficial if using a sauna after working out, as it prolongs the benefits of exercise even after your workout ends. The increase in metabolic rate lasts for a few hours after the sauna session, giving you an extra calorie burn boost throughout the day.
Muscle and Joint Pain Relief
Exercise is one of the largest factors in getting in shape and losing weight. Experiencing any discomfort in your joints or muscles is a deterrent to getting active, and it’s easy to use minor aches and pains as an excuse to not get motivated. You can reduce and sometimes even eliminate aches and pains by using an infrared sauna.
Infrared heat penetrates deep into muscles and tendons to release tension. The heat alerts the body to a “false fever” that results in a higher production of white blood cells to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Increased blood flow also promotes faster healing of muscles. With less tension, improved mobility, and more efficient healing, getting active for weight loss is more plausible and enjoyable.
Lipids, namely fat and cholesterol, can be improved by using a sauna. Infrared therapy has been shown to penetrate deep into fat cells to increase blood flow to the area and promote detoxification. This is seen mostly in the reduction and appearance of cellulite, where fat cells bulge near the surface of the skin. While cellulite is not an indicator of weight, reducing and smoothing the fat cells is a nice perk.
Studies show that those using a sauna are more likely to see a significant decrease in LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol) and slight increase in HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol). These results are consistent with the positive cholesterol effects of moderate-intensity physical exercise. Lower levels of bad cholesterol are a great sign of weight loss and improved health.
Better Sleep and Relaxation
Sleep might not seem like an important element of weight loss, but sleep plays a large role in making sure you mentally stay on the right track. A lack of sleep can lead to impaired judgement in dietary choices causing you to crave indulgent foods or seek out unnecessary food for more energy. Less sleep can also increase stress and anxiety, which can be triggers for unhealthy eating.
Using a sauna affects the autonomic nervous system to put you in the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state, which helps you unwind and get a great night’s rest. With a sharp mind you’re more likely to be motivated and ready to pursue and be committed to all your weight loss goals.
Safe Sauna Weight Loss Tips
Using a sauna to help with your weight loss journey is a simple and straightforward process, but requires a few precautions to ensure you’re losing weight in a safe and healthy manner. For best results, follow these sauna tips:
- Stay hydrated! Drink extra beginning 2 hours prior to your sauna session.
- For best results, sauna after your workout rather than before.
- Start off slowly and work your way up to longer times in the sauna. If you suffer from lightheadedness or are sensitive to heat, try a 10-15 minute session first and gradually increase your time to adjust your body to the experience.
Although it’s possible to lose weight through sauna use alone, to get the best experience of your sauna to achieve your weight loss goals, combine infrared sauna therapy with a healthy diet, regular exercise and good sleep. A hot combination!