Sauna and Weight Loss: Does Sauna Burn Calories?

Saunas have become extremely popular over the past few years.

With all the craze, come a lot of myths. Some claim it has cleared their acne, increased their performance in the gym, and even helped them reach a healthy weight.

Is it actually possible to simply lose body fat by sitting in a sauna? Does sauna burn calories? Sounds too good to be true …

Well- spoiler alert. Saunas do burn calories. But, before you quit the gym and decide that regular sauna sessions are your new workout, continue reading to find out how many calories saunas burn, how you can use the sauna effectively, and how exactly all of this works.

Let’s get to it!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Saunas can help burn an extra 150-300 calories per 30-minute session, supporting weight loss efforts when combined with diet and exercise.
  • Saunas provide health benefits like reduced inflammation and soreness, but aren't a miracle solution for weight loss alone.
  • Sauna use boosts heart rate, circulation and metabolism up to 30%, aiding calorie deficit for weight loss.

How Many Calories Does a Sauna Burn?

Using a sauna can definitely help you burn extra calories, but it won’t miraculously melt pounds of fat.

In a typical 30-minute sauna session, with a basal metabolic rate (how many calories your body needs to stay alive as if you were in a coma) of 2000 calories, you will burn 150-300 calories in a traditional sauna by sweating out water weight.

But an infrared sauna use is a little bit different.

Infrared saunas saunas heat the air around your body rather than the traditional sauna method.

Traditional saunas heat the air heat the whole room rather than just the body.

An article published in 2017 suggests that this infrared heat can help burn around 400-  600 calories in a half-hour. More conservative estimates show burning 130-160 calories in an infrared sauna in just 10-20 minutes.

The exact number of calories you burn depends on factors like your body composition, basal metabolic rate, sauna type and temperature, and time in the sauna.

While using a sauna alone won’t lead to huge fat loss, it can increase calorie burn by up to 30% when paired with diet and exercise for weight loss goals.

Andrew Huberman recommends 57 minutes of sitting in the sauna (3×4 sessions) per week plus 11 minutes per week of cold exposure to effectively increase brown fat and fat loss potential.

Besides helping in aiding a caloric deficit, it has plenty of other health benefits which I’m going to share with you as well (can also indirectly help you achieve your wellness goals).

BONUS: Sauna Calorie Calculator

You can use this sauna calorie calculator to get an estimate of how many calories you burn in a sauna. 

Calculate Here

How Do Saunas Help You Lose Weight?

Saunas can aid in weight loss in a few key ways.

First, as we’ve already covered, the sweating you do in the intense heat of a sauna session helps eliminate toxins and increase calorie burn.

150-300 calories in a half-hour session can definitely aid in calorie deficit.

Second, the sauna heats up your core temperature, causing a boost in heart rate, circulation, and metabolism. Some studies show sauna use may increase metabolism by up to 30%!

Finally, saunas lead to a quick loss of water weight as you sweat out hydration that will return once you rehydrate post-session.

While sauna time alone won’t shed pounds long-term, utilizing it along with diet and exercise can provide an extra calorie burn and detoxification boost to your regimen.

Just don’t rely solely on saunas for dramatic fat loss – it’s most effective when paired with other healthy lifestyle (perhaps using sauna after a workout) choices to meet your weight goals through comprehensive body transformation.

Possible Risks of Saunas For Weight Loss

Inside of a sauna

While saunas can provide some health benefits when used appropriately, there are also potential risks to be aware of.

  • Dehydration: You can lose a lot of fluid during even a short sauna session. To avoid this, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after using the sauna.
  • Heart Health: Although it has been shown saunas can help improve cardiovascular health, it depends on the person. Saunas also place added strain on the cardiovascular system by raising your heart rate for an extended period. So, those with heart conditions or on blood pressure medications should talk to their doctor before frequent sauna use.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should use caution as well.
  • Skin health:Due to dehydration and sweating in a sauna, your skin can suffer. Either being dry or causing breakouts. Then again, it clears some people’s acne and pores. Just be sure to monitor how the sauna is impacting your skin and proceed accordingly.

For everyone, it’s best not to stay in the sauna longer than 30 minutes at one time. Moderation is key to gaining the rewards of sauna therapy while minimizing any possible risks.

As with any new health practice, check with your physician before adding saunas to your routine, especially if you have any medical concerns.

Other Benefits of A Sauna: Why Use a Sauna Anyways

Outside of a sauna while it's snowing outside

Beyond potential calories you can burn and weight loss support, regular sauna use has been shown to provide a ton of other health advantages.

Studies demonstrate sauna bathing can help eliminate toxins, reduce inflammation, promote heart health, and decrease the risk of respiratory issues like pneumonia.

Sauna sessions may also ease sore muscles after workouts, aiding workout recovery. The heat therapy has been found to address pain and fatigue for those with chronic conditions such as arthritis. Saunas can also reduce stress hormone levels and benefit skin health through induced sweating.

While sauna companies often exaggerate potential weight loss effects, saunas can still provide whole-body wellness benefits when used properly. Here are some of the top perks:

  • Detoxification through sweating
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Sauna increases cardiovascular health
  • Decreased muscle soreness and faster workout recovery
  • Pain and fatigue relief for chronic conditions like arthritis
  • Lower stress hormone levels
  • Healthier skin

As with any new health practice, talk with your doctor before adding sauna use to your routine, especially if you have any medical concerns. Be sure to stay hydrated and listen to your body’s limits when enjoying sauna benefits.

Does Sauna Burn Calories: Long Story Short

So in summary, saunas aren’t gonna be your magic ticket to easy weight loss.

But hey, sitting in some relaxing heat and sweating it out can still help burn more calories when you’re trying to lose weight as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Used properly and in moderation, saunas can be a nice addition to your routine if you’re looking for small ways to burn more calories through increased circulation and sweating. Just don’t overdo it! Be smart, stay hydrated, and talk to your doctor if you have health issues.

When combined with eating well, cold therapy, staying active, and all those other good habits, saunas can be one more tool to support your weight loss goals through comprehensive body transformation.

But don’t forget – the real work comes from your nutrition and fitness routine. Saunas are just a bonus helper, not a weight loss miracle. 

Sauna Use and Weight Loss: FAQ

Do saunas burn calories in the same way as exercise?

Saunas do not burn calories in the same way as exercise. Exercise involves physical movement and raises your heart rate, which leads to a higher calorie burn. Saunas, on the other hand, primarily increase your heart rate (similarly to cardio) and promote sweating, resulting in a modest calorie burn. Sauna use should not be viewed as a replacement for exercise.

Do different types of saunas work differently for calorie burn?

Yes, different types of saunas can work differently when it comes to calorie burn. Traditional dry saunas, steam rooms, and infrared saunas are the most common types. Using an infrared sauna (especially far infrared) is believed to penetrate deeper into the body and potentially increase calorie burn. However, more research is needed to understand the exact differences in calorie burn between sauna types.

Is it better to use a sauna or a steam room for calorie burn?

Either a sauna or steam room can contribute to a modest calorie burn, but the choice ultimately depends on personal preference. Saunas provide a dry heat environment, while steam rooms offer a more humid atmosphere. Some people find saunas more relaxing, while others prefer the steamy environment of a steam room. The amount of calories you burn in the sauna is tied more to the temperature and time you spend in the sauna.

Can saunas help you lose a significant amount of weight?

Using a sauna for weight loss alone may lead to disappointment, they should not be relied upon as the sole method for significant weight loss. The majority of weight lost in a sauna session is due losing water weight, which is quickly regained after rehydration. If you’re trying to lose a significant amount of weight, it’s important to focus on a comprehensive approach that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices.

How does sweating in a sauna contribute to calorie burn?

Sweating in a sauna is your body’s way of cooling down and regulating its temperature. This process requires energy, resulting in the burning of calories. When you sweat in a sauna, you are also losing water weight temporarily, which can contribute to a slight decrease in overall body weight.

About the Author, Sophia Victoria
About the Author, Sophia Victoria

Sophi is a health, wellness, and lifestyle blogger who uses, research, and tests products and theories to help others improve their mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. With her own eating disorder journey, regulating her hormones, and working with 10+ nutritionists, she deeply understands the health and wellness. Sophi is also well-knowledged in self-development and committed to sharing her knowledge, experience, and expertise with her readers.

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