Does taking a sauna help you lose weight?

Does taking a sauna help you lose weight?
Sauna sessions are a great way to relax and sweat, but can they help with weight loss? 


For hundreds of years, Scandinavians have used saunas for their purported benefits of cleansing, relaxation, and weight loss. In Finland, for example, there are about 2 million saunas for the country's 5.2 million inhabitants. Sauna use in Scandinavian countries begins in early childhood.


Thanks to the Finns, saunas are often thought of as a weight-loss tool. 


First things first, what is a Sauna? 

Couple in Traditional Sauna


Saunas are small rooms heated to temperatures between 150°F and 195°F (65°C to 90°C). They are often furnished with unpainted wood and have temperature controls. Saunas may also contain stones (as part of the heating element) that absorb and release heat. Water can be poured onto these stones to create steam.


When you enter a sauna, your skin temperature increases, pulse increases, and blood vessels dilate. This happens because your heart starts pumping more blood. Of course, you also begin to sweat.


So can you sweat away those extra pounds?

While you are in the sauna, you will lose a little bit of weight. This is because you are sweating out water weight. As soon as you start drinking again, the water weight increases again.


What Is Water Weight, Anyway?

How to Accumulate Water Weight Infographic


If you keep track of your weight, you may find that you fluctuate a few pounds every day, regardless of your personal habits. First of all, know that this experience is entirely normal and that the weight you keep seeing disappear is probably water weight.


Gaining water weight is our body's way of protecting itself from dehydration because our bodies can only survive a few days without water. In short, water weight is a survival tactic - you need it to stay alive. It is not something you should lose.


You cannot rely on only using a sauna to lose weight. This is because all the weight you lose by sitting in a sauna is water weight. The heat makes you sweat and release extra water that is stored in your body.


You can lose about 5 pounds with one sauna session, but when you start drinking fluids again, you'll gain the weight back. 


If you want to maintain your weight, though, you'll need to combine your sauna sessions with exercise.


The high temperature of the sauna causes your heart rate to increase in a similar way to exercise. However, this increase only results in a slightly higher calorie burn than sitting at rest.


The sauna may help you burn a few extra calories, but do not rely on sweating alone to drop the pounds. The sauna alone is not an effective tool for proper weight loss, but it can help you in your journey to lose weight. Let us break down how.


Three Sauna Weight Loss Tips

Woman sweating on sauna closeup


Sweating helps flush toxins and impurities from your body. However, most people do not sweat enough to flush out these unhealthy substances during their daily activities. Sweating also helps flush out heavy metals such as lead, zinc, copper, nickel, and mercury that can be absorbed through food or environmental factors. Detoxification cleanses the lymphatic system, helps your body burn fat more effectively, gives you more energy for exercise, and speeds up weight loss.


Himalayan Salt Sauna

Increased metabolism

When you are exposed to intense heat or cold, your body has to work harder, and your heart rate increases by up to 30%. This boosts your metabolism - the rate at which you burn calories. Experts estimate that high heat (about 150 degrees) increases your metabolic rate by about 20%. This effect lasts while you are in the sauna and for a few hours afterward. To keep up the fat burning, try to go to the sauna for 30 minutes every day.


Guy sitting in a sauna after workout

Increased physical performance

One of the barriers to effective exerciseis your breathing capacity. Going to the sauna can help reduce the effects of breathing problems, improve respiratory function, and increase the production of vasodilator nitric oxide. Vasodilators dilate blood vessels, which increases blood flow. This can improve your physical performance, which means you can exercise more intensely or for longer, naturally leading to increased weight loss.


How to use a sauna

Barrel Sauna with lake view

Prepare your body

Drink several glasses of water before going into the sauna. Otherwise, you run the risk of dehydration. Take off any jewelry to avoid burns. Take a clean towel to sit on, cover yourself, or wipe off sweat. Be sure to read all the health risks listed in the instructions to ensure you are in the proper condition to use a sauna.


Monitor your sauna session

Use your sauna at your discretion. It is good to set yourself a time limit to not stay in the sauna longer than you should. If this is your first time in the sauna, try a short session. Leave the sauna immediately if you experience drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, or an accelerated heart rate.


Take your time when you leave the sauna

Maybe sit down for a few minutes and drink a glass or two of water. Your body needs time to rejuvenate after a sauna session, so do not move too quickly or start a new activity right away. Do not jump into the cold shower or pool afterward, as this can send your body into shock.


Make sure you are hydrated

Again, a lot of the water you lose in the sauna is water. You can burn off a little more of it if you drink cold water before going to the sauna. Your body then has to use extra energy to regulate your temperature.


You lose electrolytes from all the sweating you do in the sauna. If you do not drink enough fluids, you can suffer from heatstroke.


Do not use the sauna before your workout

When you go to the sauna, you should do so after you have finished your workout for the day. This way, you will get more out of it because the sauna will enhance the effects of your training.


If you go to the sauna beforehand, you will not get the same results. You will also dehydrate faster, which can lead to heatstroke.


Start slowly

In the beginning, you should not stay in the sauna for too long. You might get dizzy and pass out. Do a session of about 5 minutes the first time and increase from there.


Never stay in the sauna for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you feel dizzy, leave the sauna ASAP.


To get the most out of sauna benefits for weight loss, start with 15- to 20-minute sauna sessions several times a week and progress to daily sessions. The easiest way to do this is to invest in a sauna for your home. That way, you can head to the sauna first thing in the morning after a stressful day to flush out toxins before you start your day or anytime you want to sweat, re-energize, and improve your health and mood. 


How to choose a home sauna


When it comes to a home sauna, there are no wrong choices. Just like decorating your home, it comes down to personal preference.


Sometimes the choice is simple. For example, if you live in an apartment, you'll need to build your sauna indoors or opt for a portable sauna (also known as a modular sauna). An outdoor sauna, on the other hand, can sometimes offer a more authentic sauna experience. 


In we can help you choose the perfect home sauna. 


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