Ahhh, the age old question. Do you actually burn calories in a sauna? Can you really lose weight?
Weight loss is somewhat of a touchy subject, partly due to the fact it is attached to the biggest con-artist industry across the world. Every 5 minutes it seems there is some new ‘magic pill’ that helps us shed 5 kilos overnight. It’s also partly because well, most of us are overweight and don’t know what to do about it. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2012 62.8% of Australians were considered overweight. To learn more on what lifestyle choices lead to weight loss, click here.
Our clients typically come to us with three main problems, they’re in pain, they feel flat and you guessed it, they’re overweight. So can an infrared sauna help us lose weight? Let’s find out.
To really understand if the answer is yes, one needs to understand how an infrared sauna actually works. Infrared saunas work by emitting a specific band of far infrared light (which is also emitted by the sun). This wavelength of light interacts with the body directly, heating us 4 – 5cm into the skin, creating a heat response in the body. Our circulation increases as our body works to cool itself, and after a few minutes, we begin to sweat. This is no different to the type of heat response our body activates when we are walking, running, swimming, or conducting any form of exercise. The only difference from a heat response perspective, is that in the sauna we are not using our muscular system like we do when we are exercising.
What you find after 30 minutes in a sauna, is that you’re actually in a cardiovascular workout, especially if you have the sauna a little hotter than your normal session to work the body a little harder. The key here is that the body is working naturally to cool down and it does this by sweating. When we are sweating we are also burning calories. This alone may result in weight loss however isn’t the only mechanism at play when we are in an infrared sauna.
Are we just losing water weight? Well no! Remember when we are in an iHealth Sauna our body is working naturally to cool itself, so a lot of the body’s processes are heightened and working hard. This means processes like fat assimilation are also working at an increased rate to what they normally do. We also sweat out toxins whilst we are in an infrared sauna due to the depth of heat that sauna provides, inducing a deeper sweat. If you have a sauna and use a white towel to wipe down your sweat, it’s pretty clear that the brown sludge left on the towel after 30 minutes isn’t all just water.
Here’s what I recommend when using a sauna for weight loss:
- Don’t just use the sauna by itself. Try and integrate it with other forms of movement such as a brisk walk beforehand. We talk more about a morning weight loss routine here. Exercising to break a sweat before your sauna session will mean you’re maximising every minute you are in the sauna, and not spending time waiting for your body to activate a heat response.
- Find a baseline sauna temperature and length of session you are comfortable with, and then increase the temp by 5 degrees and decrease the time by 10 minutes. This will overwork the body and really get things working. Make sure you are hydrated and always listen to your body. If you feel like it’s too hot and you can’t last, hop out.
- Jump out into a cold shower to activate heat shock proteins in the body, which may also help assimilate fat.
The important thing to note is that using a sauna for weight loss is just like changing any part of your lifestyle in order to lose weight. A diet may help you lose weight, however if you don’t stick to that diet, then you may put the weight back on. If you go to the gym once a week, that is great yet the body needs more of a change to show you a result and therefore if you use the sauna once a week for weight loss, one can’t expect many results.
For optimum change whether it be weight loss, reduced pain, increased energy or detoxification, I recommend using the sauna 3 times a week.
If you’re thinking well damn it i want to try one, click below.