In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the research on saunas and weight loss to see if there is any evidence that they help people lose weight. We’ll also discuss some of the possible benefits of using a sauna.
Check out this post to learn more about saunas and weight loss!
What is a Sauna? Can sauna help you lose weight?
A sauna is a small room that can be heated to extremely high temperatures, usually by heating rocks or other materials. The heat may come from the sun, an electric heater, wood-burning stove, or another source.
When we enter the sauna our skin temperature rises, our heartbeat increases, and blood vessels become more dilated to cope with the sudden temperature change.
Additional to that, we will sweat more and lose water together with electrolytes (sodium and potassium) through this process . In moderate use, all this leads to certain health benefits including and the one of losing weight.
What Happens to Our Bodies When We Use a Sauna?
When we sit in a sauna, our bodies will initially begin to sweat as soon as the temperature reaches skin temperature (98.6F or 37C).
As the heat continues to increase, your body will continue to sweat until the air temperature reaches 107-110F (41-43C) because, at that point, it becomes physically impossible for us to sweat anymore.
At this point, our core body temperature increases, and our cooling system begins to fail; this makes us feel so overheated during saunas.
However, if you exit before reaching these temperatures, you may still reap the benefits of a sauna without feeling too hot!
What Are Some Benefits of Using a Sauna?
A study found that using a sauna helped lower blood pressure . Saunas also seem to reduce stress, as one study showed that people who used a sauna had lower cortisol levels (the main stress hormone) after their sessions were over .
In addition, regular use of a sauna over time has been shown to improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and increasing heart rate variability (HRV) [7,8]. HRV refers to the beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate.
A higher variance indicates a healthier nervous system and a greater ability to handle stressors. In fact, one study showed that sitting in a sauna for 15 minutes increased HRV more than 30 minutes of moderate exercise did!
This is really interesting because it shows that you can get the same cardiovascular benefits in much less time with a sauna than you can with exercise .
Some more benefits of using a Sauna
Whether or not you reach high temperatures, using a sauna will lead to increased cardiovascular output (volume of blood pumped by the heart per minute) because your heart rate will increase .
This will lead to improved cardiovascular health down the line. Using a sauna also increases serotonin levels in our bodies, elevating mood and decreasing anxiety .
In addition, using a sauna has improved musculoskeletal health and physical function .
How Does a Sauna Help You Lose Weight?
A sauna helps you to lose weight in these ways:
1) It increases your overall calorie expenditure and makes you sweat out water weight.
When the air temperature is hot enough, our bodies must work harder to maintain a stable internal temperature .
This means that our cardiovascular system has to work harder to ensure that blood flow is adequate for oxygen transport throughout the body.
The increased cardiac output leads to greater caloric expenditure at rest , and the more calories we burn each day, the more likely we are to experience weight loss.
And that’s a really nice and easy addition of extra calories burned to your diet or workout regime supporting your weight loss journey.
2) Improved sleep.
The use of a sauna leads to reduced stress and cortisol levels  which drastically improves your sleep.
Improved sleep will lead to fewer cravings for high-carb and calorie-dense foods, elevated dopamine and serotonin levels, and more energy throughout the day.
Meaning you can exercise more, be more active during the daytime and burn even more calories which supports your weight loss goals.
3) Sauna assists in recovery, muscle growth, and fat burning.
The heat shock effect of sitting in a sauna leads to spikes in human growth hormone (HGH) .
Additional to promoting fat loss, human growth hormone (HGH) plays a crucial part in muscle recovery and growth.
4) Your metabolic rate is faster while in the sauna.
Our bodies, when exposed to extreme heat or cold, work harder to maintain our baseline body temperatures.
Experts estimate that increased heart rate while sauna bathing boosts our metabolism by roughly 20%.
Meaning you burn calories at increased rate and will shed pounds only by sitting and enjoying your time in the sauna.
Are There Any Negative effects Of Using a Sauna?
There don’t seem to be any negative effects associated with using a sauna (at least at normal temperatures). However, some people may experience mild rashes or skin irritation when they first begin using a sauna.
These symptoms go away over time as your body gets used to the heat. Some people may also feel light-headed or even pass out; this can happen because our bodies become dehydrated since we lose water weight in our bodies by sweating .
Besides these concerns, you shouldn’t experience any negative effects from regular sauna use.
How Can I Prepare for My Sauna Session?
Before you even enter a sauna, your body must be prepared for this type of heat exposure. Ensure that you hydrate well, at least 2-3 hours before sitting in a sauna.
Drinking cold water during your sauna session is also one of the ways people make their sauna sessions more comfortable. It’s not advisable to enter the sauna while intoxicated.
Also, avoid eating a large meal before using the sauna, as this can cause discomfort and/or put you at risk for dehydration or getting light-headed.
How often should you use a sauna for weight loss?
To get the best benefit of the sauna you should start by doing 15-20 minutes sessions couple times a week. As various studies point out, daily use of sauna is also a good idea, to reap more of the weight loss benefits it offers.
Sauna right after working out
Research has shown that when our bodies are exposed to intense heat, our blood vessels expand and blood circulation is is increased.
That leads to muscle and joint pain relief, faster recovery and reduced fatigue. Additional to burning calories at a higher rate we will also recover faster while in sauna.
You may also experience other health benefits of regular sauna sessions which will be individual for you, like: better mood, extra energy, improved heart health and others.
Regular use of sauna to lose weight seems like an effective tool which can be combined with your existing diet and exercise protocol.
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