Saunas have been around since ancient times as a therapy used across the globe for their numerous health benefits for both skin and heart.
But there’s more!
Spending 10 to 30 minutes in a sauna can help you burn a lot of calories. If you tried weighing yourself before and after stepping into the sauna, you probably noticed that there’s a slight difference. But although the sauna can make you weigh less, this isn’t necessarily a long-term effect.
The real question is: does a sauna help weight loss goals and slim down your waist?
Do Saunas Burn Calories?
Yes, sitting inside the sauna or steam room helps burn calories. The heated environment relaxes your body, stimulates your metabolism, and improves your blood flow, heart, and cardiovascular system.
Many claim getting into regular sauna sessions can burn calories enough to help you lose weight. Wouldn’t it be nice to go in the sauna and burn some excess calories while relaxing?
But while there is some truth to sauna burning calories, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to losing weight, such as health, fitness, and nutrition. Plus, sweating itself doesn’t burn a significant number of calories, so you can’t really call that weight loss.
Does Sitting in the Sauna Burn Fat?
The same way sitting in the sauna burns calories, sitting inside the sauna can also help burn fat. But the fat-burning capacity of a sauna depends on what type of sauna you are using.
For instance, a traditional wood-burning sauna or a Turkish bathhouse or steam room heats up the cabin. Although these can help burn excess fat, they might not be as effective since the heat doesn’t go skin-deep.
On the other hand, an infrared sauna doesn’t heat up the cabin. Instead, it focuses the infrared light on heating your body. This means an infrared sauna can penetrate the skin, breaking down fat stored in subdermal tissues, making infrared saunas more effective for fat burning.
How Do Saunas Burn Calories?
So, calorie-burning does happen in the sauna. But before you start counting how many calories you can burn per sauna session, you must first understand how stepping inside a sauna can burn calories at all.
It’s remarkably simple – getting in a sauna means you’re exposing your body to a higher temperature, triggering a sweating response. As your body attempts to regulate the rise in temperature, it uses calories.
The calorie-burning process of the sauna is a bit like how exercising burns calories. It heats up your body and increases the heart rate to help keep it cool, thus burning calories in the process.
The other explanation, which addresses the long-term weight-loss benefits, is that exposing your body to intense heat in the sauna, increasing your heart rate, and pushing your body to work harder all boosts your metabolism in the process. With a higher metabolic rate, your body burns calories faster, which helps with weight loss in the long run.
Sauna Weight Loss Calculator – How Many Calories Do You Burn in a Sauna?
It’s not too difficult to determine how many calories you burned while sitting and relaxing inside the sauna. You can quickly estimate the number of calories you shed for each session, depending on how long that session is.
As the accepted rule: on average, you burn 1.5 times more calories inside the sauna compared to the base rate or the number of calories you burn when sitting on a couch outside the sauna.
In short, you can almost double the calories you burn inside the sauna without doing any physical activity. For instance, if you can burn around 50 calories by sitting, doing nothing, stepping inside the sauna will help you burn 75 calories.
But these numbers only represent a standard range. How many calories you burn during a sauna session depends on several factors, like your:
After all, different people have different metabolic rates and different levels of baseline caloric needs.
So, Can You Lose Weight in the Sauna?
Here’s the thing – you burn calories in the sauna, but the number of calories you burn isn’t significant enough to help with weight loss. Not to mention, stepping inside the sauna only really results in the loss of water weight. In short, the sweltering temperature in the sauna only helps you shed water through sweating, dehydrating your body.
The amount of weight you lose in the sauna is purely water and some salt. In fact, staying in the sauna for 30 minutes can help you shed two liters of water, but don’t be fooled – this weight loss is only temporary. What that means is, once you hydrate or drink a couple of glasses of water after your sauna session, you’re most likely going to “gain” that weight back.
But, Be Careful Trying to Lose Weight in the Sauna
You can lose weight in the sauna, but probably not as much as you expect or would like to. It can sometimes be tempting to stay in the sauna for much longer than you should to help burn as many calories as possible. But you must be careful when trying to shed calories in the sauna for a lot of reasons.
Keep in mind that extreme heat in the cabin can cause excessive sweating. While the sauna is usually harmless, staying too long will result in your body losing a lot of fluid. You will end up dehydrated after, or even during, the session. Besides extreme thirst and dryness in the mouth, you may also experience headaches and dizziness.
How Long Is It Safe to Stay in the Sauna?
The longer you stay inside the sauna, the more you risk getting dehydrated. So, as a general rule, if you are going into the sauna for the first time, spend 10 to 15 minutes there. Build your tolerance to heat first.
But even if you are an experienced sauna user, it is best to limit your sessions to 20 minutes. The max amount you can spend in the sauna is between 30 to 45 minutes but consider lowering the time per session in case of health issues like high blood pressure.