Can Sauna Aid Weight Loss? How Does It Work?

Well, looks like you can get in shape by relaxing in this "steamy" room!

Medically reviewed by Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN Alexandra Dusenberry Alexandra DusenberryMS, RDN twitter_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Health & Wellness Writer Charushila Biswas Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 6 years
Edited by , Senior Editor Ravi Teja Tadimalla Senior Editor Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , Senior Health & Wellness Writer Payal Karnik Senior Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 2.5 years
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Sauna (sow-nah) or steam bath can help you shed inches off your waist. Sauna for weight loss is a growing trend. This traditional Finnish bath at 150-195° F is proven to aid weight loss (1). Research shows that a sauna can be directly compared to a moderate-intensity workout (2). This means you will work out without moving an inch, relax, and enjoy a beautifying bath. Is not that the dream? Read on to know how sauna aids weight loss, how many calories can sauna burn per session, and precautions to take. Read on to get all the details. Scroll down!

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Traditional Finnish saunas typically involve brief exposures of 5 to 20 minutes at temperatures ranging between 80°C–100°C with dry air (10% to 20% humidity), which are alternated with brief periods of exposure to increased humidity. The rise in humidity level is generated by throwing water on heated rocks.

Can Sauna Help With Weight Loss?

Sauna for weight loss
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Many people use a sweat room as part of their weight loss regimen, but does the sauna help you lose weight? While there is no quick fix for losing belly fat, some people believe that this practice may help. So, the question on everyone’s minds is, “Is a sauna good for losing belly fat?” Strictly speaking, yes, it may help you lose weight. Read on to know how.

  • Acts As A Detoxifier

The heat of the sauna aids detoxification by making you sweat more, which helps you get rid of toxins easily (3). This is healthy, especially if you do not workout regularly (or at all!) or stay indoors all day long in low-temperature conditioned air.

Sweating will also help flush out heavy metals like nickel, mercury, copper, and zinc that are absorbed via the foods you eat. (4). As a result, you will start losing weight by burning the fat effectively.

Tanya, a blogger, started taking infrared sauna sessions. Beyond her initial reluctance, she discovered unexpected joys in them, noting, “I learned to enjoy my time in the infrared sauna which is huge for a type of personality who doesn’t like to sit still or sweat (i).”

  • Helps Lose Water Weight

Water weight can contribute up to 5 pounds of your total weight. And it takes about seven days to lose the water weight with a restricted diet and a mixed workout routine.

Sauna, on the other hand, will help expel the excess water by inducing heavy sweating. It is extremely helpful in dropping a few pounds in just a day or two.

Amid her steady weight loss journey, Tanya embarked on a month-long experiment with infrared sauna and witnessed remarkable results. In one of her blog posts, she reveals: “The 30 days I used the infrared sauna, I lost 6 pounds! Yes, I lost two additional pounds last month using the sauna (ii).” Delving into the potential calorie burn, she speculated, “Each sauna session burns an additional 500 calories,” hinting at a significant impact on her overall calorie expenditure during the 30-day period.

  • Reduces Stress

A sauna can be described as the most relaxing bath. It helps reduce stress and lowers the cortisol levelsi  XCortisol regulates your mood, sleep cycle and blood sugar. Higher levels can cause rapid weight gain, muscle weakness and diabetes. in the body (5).

protip_icon Did You Know?
There are built-in saunas in all households in Finland.

When you relax by taking a bath in the sauna, the cortisol levels drop, and so do inflammation and the harmful free oxygen levels. This reduces the chances of inflammation-induced weight gain. Thus, it resolves the common question, “Do saunas help you lose weight?”
  • Aids Muscle Recovery

Many athletes rely on sauna to help their muscles recover from a strenuous workout or exertion. A study confirms that sauna before exercise helps improve muscle function and reduces sensory impairment (6).

  • Improves Stamina

Ever felt out of breath too soon while working out or even climbing up the stairs? Well, the sauna can help tackle that problem. It improves your breathing capacity, increases respiratory function and production of the vasodilator nitric oxidei  XAs a vasodilator, nitric oxide relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels and promotes circulation by allowing them to open wider. , and reduces respiratory problems.

A study found that sauna bathing helped runners improve running time (endurance or stamina) by 32% (7).

  • Boosts Metabolic Rate

You must have wondered – does a sauna help you lose weight? While the answer is inconclusive, it might definitely help with other health parameters. Reduced stress, inflammation, and toxins help improve your metabolic rate (8), (9). After a couple of hours out of the bath, your metabolism will be up and running at a higher rate. This is how you can lose weight in a sauna.

  • Improves Heart Function And Circulation

The high temperatures in the sauna allow your heart rate to increase. This, in turn, improves blood circulation, skin health, sleep, and immunity (5).

  • Lowers Blood Pressure
Sauna health benefits
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Sauna also helps lower hypertension or high blood pressure (10). But people with low BP and arrhythmiai  XAn irregular, abnormally rapid, or slow heartbeat that occurs when the electrical impulses in the heart don't function properly. should avoid sauna bathing.

Main Idea: Sauna aids weight loss by eliminating toxins, lowering inflammation and high BP, relaxing the muscles, and reducing stress.

“Does sauna help you lose weight?” Possibly, by contributing to temporary weight loss through water loss. Now, the main question is, how many calories can you really expect to burn? Find out in the next section.

How Many Calories Can You Burn In A Sauna?

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The calorie burning calculation can be done by using this formula:

Calories burned in a sauna = Number of calories burned in 30 min of sitting or resting * 1.5 (and 2)

Say, you are 132 pounds and burn 30 calories in 30 minutes of sitting or resting. Multiply it by 1.5 and 2. So, you may burn somewhere around 45 – 90 calories. Just by sitting in the sauna!

But, does this mean you can be in the sauna for 24 hours and come out slimmed down? Before your imagination runs wild, let me tell you how to make it work for you.

How To Make Sauna Work For Weight Loss?

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Sauna is an effective weight loss method. However, it’s not magic.

You must schedule your sauna visits depending on your current body weight and target weight.

Typically, getting a sauna bath two-three times a week for two weeks will help kick-start your weight loss.

After two weeks, you will start to feel energetic and refreshed. Then, you must include light exercise in your daily routine.

For the next three weeks, take a sauna bath twice a week. After that, include strength training and cardio in your workout routine and take a sauna bath to relax and rejuvenate your muscles.

Main Idea: Schedule your sauna bath appointments twice or thrice a week. Start moderate intensity workouts in the second week. Add strength training to your routine to lose weight and tone up.

Before you book your appointment, you must know that there are different types of saunas. Here’s what they are called, how they appear, and how they work.

Common Types Of Sauna For Weight Loss 

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  • Steam Rooms – Also known as Turkish baths, these rooms are steamy (no pun intended!) and humid.
  • Infrared – Not the conventional sauna, but the acting principle is the same. Light waves are used to heat your body directly and produce sweat.
  • Wood Burning – Sauna rocks are heated by lighting up wood. This is a typical traditional Finnish sauna, and the room temperature is high and is humid.
  • Electrical Sauna – Instead of wood, the room is heated up using electricity.

Saunas are a great source of relaxation and may sound fun and a great way to lose weight, but here’s what you must keep in mind while using a sauna for weight loss.

Precautions

  • Sauna helps in fat burning but does nothing about the muscles. To tone the muscles and prevent sagging, you must gradually incorporate strength training into your workout routine. Since saunas help improve stamina, cardio or strength training will not cause as much exertion as it would have without the sauna.
  • You must keep yourself hydrated. Sauna causes too much dehydration, which may inhibit weight loss.
  • Add a pinch of salt to your drinking water before or after your sauna bath to rebalance the electrolytes (11).

Infographic: 5 Ways Sauna Helps You Lose Weight

Who knew a relaxing steam bath could offer so many health benefits like a mild heat therapy? This ancient Finnish practice may play a key role in shedding those extra pounds without any effort. To help you out, we have listed the five ways a sauna can help you shed those stubborn pounds and aid in weight management. Check out the infographic below to find out more.

5 ways sauna helps you lose weight (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Sauna is essentially a type of steam bath directed towards fitness for a healthy living and optimal lifestyle. It can be compared to a moderately intense exercise session that improves your overall wellness. Many individuals opt to take a sauna for weight loss as it works effectively to detoxify the body, promote body cleansing, eliminate stress, and facilitate the loss of water weight. In addition, regular sauna sessions can help to reduce inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure and relax the muscles. You can lose around 1.5 times the calories your body burns at rest when you take a sauna bath. However, it can cause dehydration and does not help tone the muscles, so limit sauna baths to thrice a week and incorporate light exercise including strength training for optimum results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much weight do you lose in a sauna?

You can lose anywhere between 2-5 pounds, depending on your age, height, weight, sauna duration, etc.

How often should I use the sauna to lose weight?

You may use it twice every week for 15-20 weeks to lose weight.

How long to sit in sauna to lose weight?

About 15-20 minutes in sauna will give you good results.

How much water weight can you lose in a sauna?

You can lose about 2 pounds of water weight in sauna.

Is a sauna good for losing weight?

Yes, it is good for weight loss, but you must eat healthily and exercise to make it work.

Is it healthy to have a sauna every day?

Avoid going to the sauna every day. You can go for it once in every two days initially and then reduce the visits to twice or once a week.

How long is it safe to sit in a sauna?

15-20 minutes.

How much weight can you lose in one day?

You will not lose weight in a single day.

Do saunas help you detox?

Yes, sauna is a great way to detox and feel refreshed.

Does a sauna help lose belly fat?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a sauna may help you lose water weight around the abdominal region. However, more research is warranted. It is only with regular exercise and a balanced diet that one can lose weight properly.

Key Takeaways

  • Saunas make you sweat and increase your metabolism. This can aid weight loss.
  • The heat from the sauna improves blood circulation and can help lower blood pressure.
  • Avoid completely relying on a sauna for weight loss. Combine your sauna experience with regular exercise and a healthy diet for achieving desired results.
  • Keep yourself hydrated while using a sauna to prevent your body from overheating.

Discover the incredible benefits of using a sauna every day! Check out this video to learn what happens to your body and how it can benefit your health.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Sauna-induced body mass loss in young sedentary women and men.” TheScientificWorldJournal, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  2. The effect of sauna bathing on lipid profile in young, physically active, male subjects.” International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  3. Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements.” Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  4. The excretion of trace metals in human sweat.” Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  5. Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  6. Prophylactic Effects of Sauna on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness of the Wrist Extensors” Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  7. Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport/Sports Medicine Australia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  8. Sauna bathing and systemic inflammation.” European Journal of Epidemiology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  9. Obesity and inflammation: the effects of weight loss.” Nutrition Research Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  10. Benefits and risks of sauna bathing.” The American Journal of Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  11. Fluid and electrolyte supplementation for exercise heat stress” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition.
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