A popular question among many people in the health community is whether or not a sauna can help you lose weight.
Some say no and others say it is beneficial for certain aspects of weight loss. I think the key word is "help" and can assist you in your weight loss mission.
Let's take a look at some of the key features of how a sauna can help out with weight loss and the added benefits that go along with them when you use one.
Saunas can be a complimenting factor when trying to lose weight but is not a very effective tool alone for this. Add it to your current exercise and eating plan(s) for better results.
A lot of what you burn off while in a sauna is mostly water weight, as far as pounds lost are concerned. If you were to weigh yourself before a sauna session and then weigh yourself again after you got out of the sauna you would probably noticed a slight decrease in your overall weight and this is due to the water you lost while being inside.
This is probably one of the most common arguments about weight loss and saunas and if you are looking to drop a little bit of the excess water weight on your body for a photo shoot, competitive weigh-in or something to that effect it can be really effective for those types of things but will not work for long-term weight loss goals.
Just be sure to re-hydrate after a sauna session in order to replenish all of the electrolytes and water you lost to prevent any bodily damage from occurring.
There are wide ranges in the number of calories you can burn in a sauna session, depending on which source you choose to look at. Most sauna manufacturers will claim higher numbers of calories burned, which isn't hard to believe, seeing how they want to sell more saunas. You can burn about 300 calories in a thirty minute sauna session (160 lb. individual) according to Livestrong.com.
Fitnessblender.com published an article that has (what I would consider) a pretty good indicator of how many calories you can burn in a sauna. They take an average male that weighs 185 pounds and figures that they would burn roughly 42 calories for a 30 minute sitting session.
So they figure that if you multiply that number by 1.5 and 2 (42 cal. x 1.5 = 63cal. | 42 cal. x 2 = 84cal.) to get an average of how many calories you would burn in a 30 minute sauna session.
If you weigh 150 pounds then you would burn roughly 68 cal per hour. A "conservative" estimate for calories burned in a sauna would be 1.5 to 2 times as much as this.
So you would burn anywhere from 63 - 84 calories in that sauna session, according to their calculations. Much different than Livestrong.com's findings!
The point of the matter is that the amount of calories burned in a sauna can arrange and really depends on your current weight, gender, BMI and many other things but overall you are not going to burn a ton of calories so it is not a viable method alone but will complement diet and exercise nicely.
When cardiovascular exercise is being performed it increases our metabolisms and is our body's own natural fat burning mechanism.
Any type of cardiovascular exercise such as running, walking and many other activities that make us sweat and raise our heart rate is considered cardiovascular exercises and sitting in a sauna also increases our body temperature and affects our heart rate which also counts as a type of cardiovascular exercise, in a sense.
The major benefit of increasing your metabolism, as you may know is the fact that your body will continue to burn calories long after you're done with any type of activity that raises your metabolism, this includes a sauna session!
The indirect effects that a sauna can have for weight loss are really beneficial and something that most people don't really think about but well worth mentioning...
Increasing Exercise Capacity: Saunas have many benefits when it comes to muscle soreness and recovery time, which makes it possible to work out harder and longer with less of a chance of injuring yourself in the process. They won't create miracles but they can help to soothe sore muscles after an intense workout session and help you to recover much more quickly.
If this is the case, then it will give you more opportunities to work out harder which burns more calories such as a high intensity training routine. This is one of those indirect effects that a sauna can have on weight loss in general.
Stress Reducer: I had to mention stress because it is tied to so many negative things in our life and one of those big things is weight gain. Having increased amounts of stress will increase the probability of you gaining weight exponentially.
Saunas are definitely proven to help reduce stress which can eliminate a lot of those stressful thoughts, which in turn flows into helping you achieve your weight loss goals if you happen to have any.
Stress contributes to so many things in our lives and weight gain is a big one. Reducing the amount of stress in your life can produce significant results when it comes to weight loss.
I think that stress is definitely overlooked as being one of the major contributors to weight gain nowadays, especially in the United States and I believe that a sauna is a perfect tool to manage some of that stress.
If you add an exercise regime and healthy eating plan to that equation, you will feel a whole heck of a lot better and chances are that your stress levels will be at an all-time low as well!