We get this question a lot...can you lose weight in a sauna? Let's take a look at what the research shows and see if we can answer that question definitively.
Now we all know that using a sauna can provide some real benefits to your health. The most obvious one is relieving stress and anxiety, as the sauna provides a relaxing, soothing environment.
It has been part Finnish culture for centuries and is becoming more and more popular around the world simply due to its therapeutic abilities. In the United States and elsewhere, sauna rooms are a staple in high end gyms, and most people use it after a workout to relax and decompress.
What about other health benefits? There are plenty. The sauna improves circulation as the blood vessels are dilated, helps remove toxins through sweating, and warms the muscles to help you recover from an intense workout.
A recent study even showed that sauna may lower your risk of sudden cardiac death and fatal heart disease.
But the question remains...can you lose weight in a sauna too?
When you sit in a sauna, especially for an extended period of time and at higher temperatures, the body heats up and you will sweat profusely. Any weight loss you achieve is simply this loss of water and nothing else.
That's why you see boxers in special sweat suits before a fight. Typically they are trying to lose as much weight as possible in the quickest amount of time so they can make weight for the fight.
Unless they are also training while wearing the sweat suit, they aren't burning an extensive amount of calories or fat...they are simply losing water mass through sweating.
Oftentimes, they will weigh themselves over and over until they reach their desired weight. Then, once they are weighed in, they immediately rehydrate themselves, because being dehydrated can negatively influence their fight results.
The same holds true for sauna weight loss. If you are simply sitting in a sauna, you are certainly burning calories, just as you would sitting at your desk.
An average, 175 lb. person burns about 40-50 calories just by sitting anywhere for half an hour....at your desk, in front of the TV, in church, anywhere.
In the heated environment of the sauna, where the body's temperature is raised and its working to cool off your organs, the amount of calories burned is roughly 1.5 to 2 times greater. So you're talking about at most, about 100 calories...and even that is a stretch.
So in a half hour, you're losing about 4 carrots worth of calories at most! And 1/2 hour is a very long time to be in a sauna. Most people do about 15 minutes tops, or 2 carrots worth of calories.
Now ask yourself...can you lose weight in a sauna? Not really. You'll lose about a pint of water, and tops 100 calories in a half hour's time.
If you actually want to lose weight in the sauna, you'll have to work out while you're in there. But keep in mind that can be very dangerous. Even sitting in a sauna for extended periods of time can make some people dizzy or woozy. Working out will compound that effect.
Still, if you in good health are able to tolerate the heat of a sauna, you can do some of your aerobic and anaerobic activity inside. You can do body movements or dumbbell work.
But again, make sure you are up to the task. Start off slow to see what you can tolerate and work your way up. Working out in the sauna can definitely help you lose weight just like it would if you were working out outside the sauna environment.
So can you lose weight in a sauna? Only if you're moving around while you are in there, doing some kind of activity. If you're just sitting there, you're only losing water weight and a few calories. If you want to burn a few more, stand up the whole time rather than sit.
The best way to lose weight will always be a sensible diet and regular exercise. There is no safe quick fix.