Are Saunas Effective in Aiding Weight Loss?

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Sauna use is associated with many health benefits. Included among these benefits is weight loss. There has been a rising trend in the use of saunas, particularly for weight loss.

This article will cover everything you need to know about weight loss in a sauna and whether or not you can burn calories in one. Read on to understand how weight loss is calculated in a sauna and how many calories you can burn per session.

Weight Loss In a Sauna

Even before saunas became a trend historically, they have always been used as a relaxation and wellness space.

Now that they have gained worldwide popularity, the most common question on the mind of health enthusiasts is whether the benefits, such as sauna-related weight loss, have any scientific basis or is it just a myth.

Research points towards heat therapies such as saunas in aiding weight loss. It has been proven that infrared sauna sessions shower many health benefits, including assisting its users with their weight loss goals.

One particular research indicates that a sauna session is comparable to a moderate-intensity workout. When exposed to sauna heat, your heart rate and body temperature rise. This results in sweating which leads to a higher metabolism. The end result is you burn some calories.

Besides assisting in weight loss, saunas also help you detoxify, reduce stress, improve stamina, enhance muscle recovery, boost heart function, etc.

Are Saunas a Good Way to Lose Weight?

When it comes to leading a healthy life, the medical community consistently stresses the necessity of regular cardio activity.

Saunas assist you in losing weight by getting rid of toxins, lowering high blood pressure and inflammation, reducing stress, and relaxing the muscles.

In a sauna, your heart rate and body temperature get elevated. This results in a healthy sweating session that increases metabolism. When the metabolic rate is raised, calories get burned. This result in weight loss.

These claims are backed by data in scientific journals. One such data indicates that you can burn up to 200 calories in a single sauna session, which is a high count for low-impact cardio activity.

Can You Burn Calories in a Sauna?

In short, it is possible for sauna sessions to burn calories. However, this process is rather indirect.

Saunas are hot. They raise internal body temperature and bring forth similar effects as cardiovascular exercise. In this way, they have an indirect role in calorie burn.

Sweating makes use of calories. So when you are in a heated environment, there is a higher likelihood of burning fat as you sweat. However, sweating is not considered the core weight loss contributor by the medical community.

In response to a raised heart rate, the body kicks off its internal regulatory system—it sweats to regulate body temperature. Sweating helps the body cool off.

It is important to sketch out the details of sauna sweating and fat release from vital cell membranes and highlight their correlation to weight loss.

Cardio activity increases when the internal body temperature rises. This gives a turbo kick to the immune and lymphatic systems. As a result, the body sweats and fat gets released. This detox is what aids in weight loss, in addition to regular exercise and a healthy diet.

All weight loss is not equal. Sweating can also result in water weight loss. The loss in weight does not necessarily mean it is fat loss.

When more calories are burned than consumed, fat loss is achievable. It is unlikely that there is a significant impact on fat loss in the sauna through the metabolic and caloric increase caused by how long you stay in the sauna.

How Long Do You Need to Stay in Sauna for Effective Weight Loss?

We know how long one is required to stay in an infrared sauna before the benefits start to kick in—about 15 to 20 minutes.

So, exactly how long do you need to stay in a sauna to kickstart the weight loss process?

Ideally, 25 to 45 minutes in the sauna are a safe estimate for burning off a sufficient amount of calories without suffering from any ill effects of the session, such as lightheadedness and dehydration.

You can stay inside longer, provided you are very well hydrated and have no prior health conditions. Beginners cannot start with sessions of a long duration. They require a steady increase in time for their bodies to get used to the sessions.

Most sauna facilities have a time limit of 30 minutes per session. However, those who are in top-notch physical condition can last in the sauna anywhere up to 60 minutes.

If one plans to spend over 45 minutes in a sauna, it is important to maintain a certain level of hydration before entering the room. Additionally, the duration of recovery between each session should be sufficiently spaced.

How long one is able to stay in a sauna session is decided on the condition of one’s overall health. In case of prior health concerns, it is highly advised to seek the instructions of a medical professional before the sauna exposure.

How Is Weight Loss Calculated in a Sauna?

There is a specific formula that helps calculate how many calories are burned in a sauna. This number depends on the age, height, weight, and gender of the person in question.

In order to figure out the number of calories that you can expect to burn during a sauna session, you have to find out the baseline caloric burn. This is an estimate of how many calories an individual is able to burn during inactivity. Take this number and multiply it by 1.5.

For instance, if you weigh 132 pounds and have a baseline caloric burn of 30 calories, then you can expect to burn 45 to 90 calories during a 30-minute sauna session.

In reality, using sauna sessions specifically for weight loss is not helpful. Any immediate weight loss will be a loss of water weight. You will regain this weight once you rehydrate.

However, it is not all in vain. You are more likely to burn 50% more calories sweating it out in a sauna than by simply sitting and scrolling through your phone.

Burning Calories in a Sauna by Minutes

Burning calories in the sauna is not a magical process. Despite assisting in weight loss, it all depends on how long you can tolerate the sauna and health factors such as weight.

So, how many calories would you burn in sauna sessions of 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes? Let’s find out!

How Many Calories Do You Burn in a 15-Minute Sauna Session

Your heart rate only starts increasing around the 15-minute mark in a sauna session. Therefore, a 15-minute session is not likely to have a significant impact on caloric burn since the heart rate is not necessarily high enough.

On average, when at rest, men burn around 2,000 calories, whereas women burn 1,800 calories in a day. If we were to assume an average of 1,500 calories in a day, then we get approximately one calorie per minute.

Therefore, in a 15-minute sauna session, with an elevated heart rate, you can expect to burn approximately 23 calories. If you were at rest (not in the sauna), you would burn 16 calories.

Over the course of a month, frequent sauna use would result in a caloric burn of 186.

How Many Calories Do You Burn in a 30-Minute Sauna Session

Spending 30 minutes inside a sauna is equivalent to elevating your heart rate during a brisk walk. On average, you can expect to experience a caloric burn of 50 during your 30-minute sauna session.

Though the number of calories burned may not seem significant, they are definitely an improvement over 23 calories. Even if you have sauna sessions five days every week for a month, you can expect to burn off nearly 400 calories.

How Many Calories Do You Burn in a 45-Minute Sauna Session

It takes a while for the body to be able to tolerate 45-minute sauna sessions. Once you are able to withstand such lengthy sessions, you will begin to see major improvements.

If you spend 45 minutes inside a sauna, on average, you can burn around 70 calories. However, it is important to keep these sessions spread across the week. Such lengthy sauna sessions require a good amount of recovery time. Keep to three sessions a week. Based on this, in a month you would burn about 300 calories.

How Many Calories Do You Burn in a 60-Minute Sauna Session

An hour-long sauna session is not something everyone can handle. It is for hardcore sauna enthusiasts who are well-prepared for the long heated session. If you are attempting a 60-minute session, make sure you are well-hydrated.

You can expect to burn off nearly 100 calories in an hour-long sauna session. As with the previous session, you have to spread 60-minute sauna sessions across the week. Keep the maximum to three times a week.

The Bottom Line

Saunas can provide something comparable to a moderately-intense workout session. They are a great way to eliminate stress, detoxify, and in the process, lose some weight. For optimum results, one should incorporate other forms of exercise and a healthy diet.

On average, you can expect to shave off additional 50% calories in a sauna compared to what you would if you were at rest. This equates to burning off nearly 23 calories in a 15-minute session, 50 calories in a half-hour session, 70 calories in 45 minutes, and 100 calories in an hour-long session.


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