Saunas have been a traditional Scandinavian tradition that many people use as a great way to both socialize and destress after work. A trip to the sauna usually involves 30 minutes. Although they are a little less common in North America, finding them at your local gym or community center, but do saunas help you lose weight?
What Are Saunas?
While there are different types of saunas, they are generally heated rooms kept at roughly 65-90 degrees Celsius. Many saunas from Scandinavia are known as ‘dry’ saunas, while Turkish saunas focus on steam. The four main types of saunas are:
Wood Burning Saunas
Wood is used to light a fire to heat the sauna rocks. In these saunas, it usually remains very hot and dry.
Electrically Heated Sauna
This sauna uses an electric heater attached to the sauna’s walls to heat the room. Like wood-burning saunas, these keep the temperature high and the humidity low.
Steam Room Saunas
Also known as Turkish bathhouses, steam rooms are usually kept at relatively low temperatures with high humidity.
An infrared sauna uses light waves and infrared heat to heat your body without warming the room. The benefits are like more conventional saunas. Infrared sauna therapy works differently but offers the same benefits as other sauna therapy options.
Do Saunas Help You Lose Weight?
Along with some of the other benefits saunas provide, such as distressing and detoxing, it is, in fact, possible for saunas to play a huge role in helping you lose weight. It should be noted that some sources do exaggerate just how much weight you can lose in a sauna, and it is not a substitute for healthy dieting and good exercise.
However, if you combine your sauna sessions with a healthy diet and exercise, then they can play a role in helping you reach your new weight goals.
Here are five ways saunas can help you lose weight:
1. Water Weight
The clearest and most direct way saunas help you lose weight is by helping you sweat out any residual water weight. If you are trying to drop a few pounds very quickly, one standard 30-minute sauna session can help you lose up to 5 pounds.
This kind of sauna weight loss can be helpful for any sort of weigh-in you may need for a job or athletic competition where you want to just temporarily drop some weight. However, the problem is that the weight almost always comes back after you rehydrate and stop sweating, so it is not a long-term strategy.
One of the primary benefits of sauna sessions is how it uses sweat to rid your body of any toxins ruminating in your body. Some of these toxins include heavy metals like lead, zinc, copper, nickel, and mercury that enter our bodies via our food or the air we breathe. Although we sweat throughout the day, most of us do not sweat nearly enough to properly eradicate these impurities.
This can help with weight loss not only by ridding us of excess water weight but through the ways in which it purges our lymphatic system. Many scientists believe that this allows you to burn fat quicker and gives you more energy for your workouts.
3. Higher Metabolism
Whenever your body is exposed to either very hot or very cold temperatures, your heart rate increases by about 30%, this can help increase your metabolism, burning calories quicker. Most experts say that the heat of a sauna can even increase your metabolic rate by up to 20%.
However, these effects will wear off a couple of hours after you finish your sauna bathing session. It would be necessary to go to the sauna for 30 minutes every day to increase your metabolism long-term.
4. Stress Reduction
It has been proven repeatedly that stress is one of the biggest causes of weight issues. When your body is tense and stressed, it induces a fear response that increases cortisol production, making your body crave calories even more. It can also raise your blood pressure.
A simple 30-minute sauna therapy session can be a very calming experience that can release stress and endorphins that brighten your state of mind. Also, you are more likely to make healthier decisions when your stress levels and blood pressure are low, which can positively affect your weight loss goals.
5. More Energy
A final way saunas can help you lose weight is by increasing your energy and breathing abilities. Many people struggle with breathing during their exercises which can be a massive barrier when trying to lose weight.
If you regularly go to the sauna, many studies show that you can decrease your risk of respiratory illness and even increase your breathing functionality by producing vasodilator nitric oxide.
Vasodilators oversee the dilation of your blood vessels, which is key to keep blood flowing throughout your body while you move. As such, your increased breathing capabilities will give you the energy to exercise more intensely and for longer periods of time, which will, in turn, help you meet your weight goals.
Frankly, sauna sessions should not be considered as a primary mode of weight loss. You should also include regular exercise in your routine. A regular sauna and its benefits usually involve the loss of water weight which returns as soon as you eventually rehydrate.
However, the benefits saunas provide for your health will indirectly benefit your weight loss goals, and it is worth looking into sauna options available in your area. It is also possible to purchase personal sauna systems online.