Do saunas help you lose weight?

To those wanting to have a good sweat, saunas can be the best place. However, it may not be the perfect one for people who think a combination of hot temperatures and lost fluid could lead to weight loss. 

Many people believe that spending 15 to 30 minutes in a sauna, at temperatures reaching as high as 195 degrees Fahrenheit could help shed some pounds. Because many exercise tips floating online suggest that when you break a sweat, your body is also losing fats. 

But for fitness experts, saunas can do little to help you in weight loss. Sweating while sitting in a room for a few minutes only cuts water weight.

That means you only lose water from your body and not burn fats. In saunas, you do not burn good amounts of calories, and you are not building muscles. 

In addition, it is easy to regain lost water weight by simply drinking again. Advocates said that high temperatures in saunas could increase heart rate just like during physical exercise. 

That is true. However, that increase burns calories slightly higher than sitting at rest and far from strenuous physical activities. 

Sauna and weight loss

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could step into a 150-degree sauna, spend half an hour relaxing, and burn several hundred calories in the process? (Oh, and why not throw in some extra energy and a youthful glow while you’re at it?) Celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio and Michelle Williams have become fans of infrared saunas, which supposedly come with the aforementioned promised benefits, according to a recent article from The Cut. Infrared light is impossible for the eye to see, says The Cut, and infrared saunas aren’t as hot as regular ones, which can get up to over 200 degrees. “There is evidence that infrared saunas, because of their ability to penetrate the skin more deeply, increase metabolic rate and can help the body burn off anywhere from 200 to 600 calories in a half-hour session,” Frank Lipman, M.D., told The Cut.

It is believed that sitting in a sauna can help you reduce excess fat. If you also believe in this, then you are absolutely incorrect.

A sauna does not help you to lose weight; it temporarily removes easily replaceable water from the body. Excessive heat makes your body sweat, and sweating can make you lose fluid.

If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is, says Jessica Schnur, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital. Even when running on a treadmill, you have to work hard to burn hundreds of calories, and she tells SELF. So the calorie hype surrounding infrared saunas is “hard to believe,” says Schnur, adding that the lack of explanation for where this evidence came from is suspect.

If you do lose any weight from sauna sessions, it’s likely just water weight from all that sweating, which will return when your fluid levels are back to normal, Schnur says. (Lipman also says as much in his interview with The Cut.) “Based on physiology, it doesn’t make sense that people would have sustained weight loss just from [some time] in the sauna,” Schnur explains.

In other words, it can be said that you are severely dehydrating your body by sitting in a sauna. You are not building any muscles by sitting in the heated chamber and are definitely not burning your calories. If you do not hydrate yourself after stepping out of a sauna, then you are actually making it difficult to lose weight, as it is important to stay hydrated to shed kilos.

How does a sauna help to lose weight?

If you have a sauna or are considering purchasing one, in addition to the overall health benefits of basking in the heat, you can also enjoy weight loss benefits. Using a sauna alone won’t produce dramatic weight loss results but, as part of a healthy lifestyle, can enhance the effects of diet and exercise. Today we’ll explore five ways you can use a sauna to lose weight and when you’re ready to purchase a sauna for your home or upgrade to a new infrared model, contact Black Pine Spas to see our array of stylish and affordable saunas for your home.

Water Weight

The most immediate benefit of a sauna is water weight loss. Because the intense heat makes you sweat, you’ll lose excess water stored in your body. You can lose up to five pounds in a single session but, as you rehydrate, most of the weight will come back. However, if you need to shed a couple of pounds quickly, a sauna can help. For instance, if you need to drop a couple of pounds for a job, insurance or sports weigh-in or if you need to fit into a snug dress for an event, a sauna offers a quick trim down.

Just to be clear, saunas will only help you lose water weight—not body fat. “They are valuable to one’s weight loss plan by enabling the person to relax and recover, and to establish a more conscientious and healthy relationship with their body,” says Hokemeyer.

The most common myth found on the Internet surrounding heat therapy and weight loss is that you only lose ‘water’ weight and that you will gain it back after the sweating has stopped. This myth is unfounded in the biological function of perspiration.

Infrared sauna therapy will stoke the sweat glands of the body to release lots of water as a means of detoxifying the body. What the proponents of the myth as mentioned above do not understand is that the act of perspiration burns calories, that detoxification of the body enables better functioning kidneys, and alleviates stress on the endocrine system, all of which will assist you in reaching your weight goals.

As the internal temperature of the body rises, the regulatory thermostat inside the physiological network will immediately kick in to reduce the temperature. The human body is unique in its ability to self-regulate temperature through perspiration. The higher the internal temperature, the more the body will sweat.

The act of enlisting the sweat glands of the body, the associated increased heart rate burns calories and puts the body into the same state of cardiovascular exertion as if you were exercising, without actually moving.

The skin is the largest organ in the body, by capitalising on the sweat glands as a means for detoxification, stress on the kidneys and liver are minimalised. When the internal organs of the body are functioning in a healthy efficient way, your metabolism will also regulate itself.

Toxic pollutants in the body create an atmosphere of the elongated stress response; this overtaxes the endocrine system. If there is adrenal burnout or a low functioning thyroid gland, there will also be excess weight.

Through active sweating in an infrared sauna, you will burn calories and detoxify the body, thereby freeing it of harmful pollutants that stress the physiological system. Remember, states of prolonged stress response in the body will eventually cause you to hold on to excess weight.


Detoxification is essential for revitalising the body. There are many different basic phases of detoxification, and one of them is to promote heat within the body with a view to liberating lipophilic toxins (in this case fat-soluble toxic substances) from the fat cells present in our body. This process is also called ‘heat depuration’, denoting removal of a toxin or purifying the body using heat. When the fat cells are free of the toxic substances, which are stored inside the fat cells, due to application of heat, they go to our bloodstream, and from there they are removed from our body through sweating, urination, bile as well as in the form of other different fluids.

It is important to note that all detoxification methods are neither available nor suitable for everyone. Moreover, medical supervision is essential for some people when they undergo detoxification. On the other hand, some people may even undertake detoxification methods in the comforts of their home. In fact, it is very important for people who are excessively burdened with toxic substances to undertake detoxification programs under the supervision of medical experts. In addition, it is important to ensure that the pace of the detoxification process is slow enough to enable the body’s detoxification methods to deal with the augmented burden and also make sure that you do not damage any organ during the process.

People say that a sauna can actually rid your body of toxins in your blood. When you sit in a sauna, you increase the rate of circulation in your body. You also sweat and remove salt from your cells through this. Detoxifying does work to kick-start the weight loss process when you are in a rut. However, you do need to have a healthy diet as well as a good workout routine to make the most of this jump start.

If you are trying to lose weight, detoxification seems like a natural first step. What better way to start your health journey than ridding your body of toxic substances and jump-starting your metabolism?

In an infrared sauna, your body is being heated directly, which instantly raises your core body temperature. From there, your cardiovascular, lymphatic, and immune systems get an instant boost which helps to detoxify your body and push out sweat. An infrared sauna is both the easiest and safest way for you to energise your body. In addition to these weight loss benefits, in some people, they may also notice their human growth hormone production (HGH) increase slightly and cortisol levels to lower. The potential for saunas to be used as a weight-loss weapon is very real. For anyone suffering from a debilitating illness and who is unable to do much physical exercise, jumping into a sauna is their best bet to slim down.

Saunas have been determined to be a good detox method because of the sweat you release while sitting in a sauna. However, as you sweat out the toxins retained in your body’s fat cells and intercellular fluid, you are also losing weight and increasing your metabolism. 

Initially, the weight you lose is from the water weight shed from sweating. This weight loss is not permanent, but the sauna does more than just make you sweat.

To help you lose weight permanently, the sauna raises your body heat, driving your body to increase its metabolic rate by 20%. This increase in body temperature makes you burn more calories. But the real beauty in using a sauna for weight loss is that your body keeps burning calories longer – up to several hours after leaving the sauna.

Sweating helps flush the toxins and impurities from your body. But, for most people, our everyday activities don’t generate enough sweat to purge out these unhealthy substances seriously. Sweating also helps flush out heavy metals such as lead, zinc, copper, nickel and mercury that can be absorbed through foods or environmental factors. Detoxification clears out the lymphatic system and helps your body burn fat more effectively, gives you more energy for exercise and can speed up weight loss.

Increased Metabolism

When you’re exposed to intense heat or cold, your body has to work harder, and your heart rate will increase by up to 30%. This boosts your metabolism – the rate at which you burn calories. Experts estimate that the high heat of a sauna (around 150 degrees) will boost your metabolic rate by roughly 20%. This effect will last while you are in the sauna and for a couple of hours afterwards. To keep the fat burning effects going, try to work up to a 30-minute sauna every day.

Stress Reduction

Stress is a known cause of weight gain and a barrier to weight loss. Tension not only encourages you to eat but increases the production of cortisol which makes your body crave calories and makes it tougher to shed pounds. Basking in a sauna helps you get into a meditative state, reduce stress and can release endorphins – the happy hormones that counteract cortisol. Those with lower stress levels are less likely to overeat and more likely to engage in healthy activities.

Surprisingly, the inability to find relaxation may be keeping excess weight on your body. Imagine that through relaxation, you could find your ideal body weight. This seems to run counter to everything we have ever been told about weight loss, and yet biomedical research can now demonstrate that staying in stress response will cause you to hold on to fatty tissue.

Encompassed within the physiological network of the body is the autonomic nervous system: Sympathetic dominance reflects states of stress in the body; this is usually expressed during emergencies where survival is of the essence. Parasympathetic dominance, however, represents states of relaxation, where cellular healing and regeneration occur.

In our modern world, the body will perceive an imminent threat to survival from a variety of stresses, including driving, exposure to electromagnetic fields, an alarm clock, and pressured time restraints in short normal daily activities and experiences. As cortisol and adrenaline are released in response to perceived stress, the body enters into a sympathetic dominance. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to exit from stress response back into states of relaxation on your own.

Staying in stress response for extended periods of time will not allow the body to begin cellular regeneration and also the conversion of energy internally loses efficiency. Without efficient cellular activity, the body will not convert food to energy effectively. This will cause the body to begin to store fat rather than converting the energy to enhance cellular regeneration and rejuvenation.

Infrared sauna sessions will help you lose weight by gently coaxing the body out of stress response back into states of relaxation. As relaxation takes hold of the body, the redirection of energy back into the internal cellular structure will enhance energy conversion, and you will no longer store unprocessed calories as fat.

So yes, as you sit back and bask in the inviting, warm hues of the infrared light spectrum, you will be signalling the body to efficiently convert energy and release the need to store excess fatty tissue in the body.

Increased Exercise Capacity

Part of losing weight is exercising regularly. Even the most minor aches and pains can destroy your motivation to go to the gym, though. Unfortunately, you’re going to feel pain after you exercise.

You can cut down on some of it by heading to the sauna after a heavy workout. The heat will cause your body to think you have a fever. This will make it go into red alert and create more white blood cells.

The white blood cells will reduce any inflammation in your muscles, ease tension and heal them faster. If you get into an infrared sauna, it can go even further by penetrating into your muscles to get rid of tension, and it’s safer than regular saunas.

One of the barriers to effective exercise is your breathing capacity. Time spent in the sauna can help reduce the effects of respiratory problems, increase respiratory function and can increase the production of the vasodilator nitric oxide. Vasodilators dilate blood vessels which increases blood flow. This can improve your exercise capacity, meaning you can work out more intensely or for longer, which, naturally, leads to increased weight loss.

To make the most of the weight loss benefits associated with a sauna, you should start with 15 to 20-minute sessions a couple of times a week and build up to daily sessions. The easiest way to do this is to invest in a sauna for your home. That way you can bask after a stressful day, first thing in the morning to purge toxins before you start your day or any time you want to flush out some sweat, recharge your batteries and boost your health and mood.

You’ll Have a Better Night’s Sleep.

If you don’t get enough sleep at night, then you’ll reach for unhealthy options to give you a temporary boost of energy. While coffee and energy drinks can help you get through your morning, they contain high amounts of sugar which will make you gain more weight.

When you don’t sleep, you also get stressed. Stress and anxiety can cloud your judgment and cause you to reach for food choices that you wouldn’t normally reach for. You’ll crave much fatter foods.

Using a sauna after a tough workout relaxes your mind and puts you in a state of rest. You’ll be able to fall asleep much faster and actually stay asleep through the night.

Tips for Burning Weight Safety

There is no point in using the sauna after a workout if you hurt yourself in an accident. You can avoid injury by taking a few safety precautions before you hop in the sauna.

Make Sure You’re Hydrated

Again, a lot of the water that you lose in the sauna is water weight. You can burn a little bit more of this weight by drinking cold water before you get in. Your body will have to burn up extra energy to regulate your temperature.

All the sweating that you do in the sauna will cause you to lose electrolytes. If you don’t stay hydrated, then you may suffer from a heatstroke.

Don’t Use the Sauna Before Your Workout.

If you’re going to go into a sauna, you need to do it after you’re done exercising for the day. You’ll get more out of it this way because the sauna increases the effects that your workout had.

If you go before you aren’t able to reap the same rewards, you’ll also dehydrate faster, which will result in heatstroke.

Start Off Slow

Starting out, you shouldn’t stay too long in the sauna. You may get lightheaded and pass out. Do a session of 5 minutes or so the first time and work your way up from there.

Never stay in the sauna for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you do start feeling lightheaded at all, exit the sauna ASAP.

Can Your Sauna Help You Burn Calories?

People who use the sauna to try and lose weight say that your passive calorie-burning abilities improve when you sit in a sauna. This is true. When you sit in a sauna, your body begins to overheat, forcing you to sweat in an attempt to stay cool. All this activity increases the amount of energy expended in your body, which is a direct result of burning more calories.

This energy is sent to your sweat glands, causing them to release more sweat to your skin. Your heart rate also increases in the sauna. The problem is that you only burn calories with your heart because of the heart muscle. If you were to exercise for that half-hour of sitting down, you’d burn a lot more calories.

Bad Effect Of Saunas

Experts warned that exposure to extreme heat could lead to dehydration. It happens when you lose more fluids than what you should maintain. 

It is important to drink enough water before, during and after a sauna session. That should help you replace fluids lost by sweating.

To those who really want to break a sweat and lose weight at the same time, there are other activities that have both effects. During exercise, like HIIT and strength training, your body increases metabolism, makes your muscles more active and increases your heart rate, which could help burn more calories.

Undoubtedly, saunas offer a wide array of health benefits, but in any case, it should not replace a regular exercise routine. Apart from this, if you are suffering from the problem of blood pressure and heart disease, then you should not step into a sauna. Also, pregnant women and children below 16 years should be prohibited from using a sauna.

As you embark on your journey through infrared sauna therapy with the intention of losing weight, you will notice that a cascade of health benefits occurs. From radiant and glowing skin to musculoskeletal transformation to elevated moods and clarity of thought, you will begin to feel like the best version of yourself.

Please keep in mind that, like regular exercise and a healthy diet, to maintain ideal weight through infrared sauna therapy, it should become a regular practice. For best results, use your infrared sauna 4-7 times per week. Be sure to drink plenty of quality water to stay well hydrated.

Scroll to Top