The sauna, an ancient practice originating from Finland, has gained popularity worldwide due to its potential health benefits. Many people use the sauna not just for relaxation and wellbeing, but also in the hope of losing weight. But does the sauna actually help with weight loss? In this article, we’ll try to answer that question.
How does the sauna affect weight loss?
The sauna works by heating the body, leading to intense sweating. As a result of exposure to high temperatures, body temperature rises and the heart starts beating faster. This phenomenon is similar to what happens during physical exercise.
Sweating is a natural process of body temperature regulation. When we sweat, our body loses water, and along with it – electrolytes and a small amount of fat. That’s why after a sauna session we may notice a temporary weight loss. However, most of this lost mass is water, which we typically quickly regain by hydrating the body.
Weight loss and impact on metabolism
The role of the sauna in the weight loss process is complex and multi-dimensional. While it’s not a magic weight loss solution, regular sauna use can support this process in several ways.
- Firstly, during a sauna session, our heart beats faster, which can lead to burning additional calories. Studies show that a 30-minute sauna session can burn between 300 to 800 calories, depending on the intensity of sweating and individual metabolism.
- Secondly, the sauna can speed up our metabolism. Under the influence of heat, our body works more intensely – heart rate accelerates, circulation improves, leading to an increase in metabolism. Research suggests that regular sauna use may contribute to improving our “resting metabolic rate” – the number of calories we burn when we’re inactive.
- The sauna can also enhance our endurance and stamina, which translates into better results during physical exercise. A study published in the “Journal of Human Kinetics” in 2018 showed that regular sauna use can improve aerobic capacity, which translates into better endurance during exercise.
However, it’s important to remember that the primary weight loss in the sauna is due to fluid loss, not fat. The water lost during sweating is usually quickly regained after rehydration, meaning weight loss is usually temporary.
The sauna should not be used as the sole method of weight loss, but as part of a balanced plan that includes a healthy diet and regular physical activity. It’s always advisable to consult with a doctor or dietitian before starting a new weight loss program.
Other benefits of sauna use
The sauna has many health benefits that go beyond potential support for the weight loss process.
Firstly, sauna use is known for improving circulation. The heat causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow to the skin and muscles. This can help alleviate muscle and joint pain, as well as improve overall wellbeing.
The sauna is also an excellent means of skin cleansing. Intense sweating helps cleanse the pores and remove impurities, which can lead to healthier and brighter skin.
Another benefit is stress reduction. The sauna is a place of relaxation, and the heat helps relax muscles and the mind. Regular sauna use may help lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone, contributing to improved overall wellbeing.
Although the sauna may support weight loss by increasing metabolism and burning calories, it is not an effective weight loss method in itself. The weight loss observed after a sauna session is primarily due to water loss, not fat, and is usually temporary.
The sauna can be a valuable tool in supporting a healthy lifestyle and overall weight loss efforts, but should not be used as the sole method for weight loss. The most effective approach to weight loss is a balanced diet and regular physical activity.
It’s always advisable to consult with a doctor or dietitian before starting a new weight loss program. This will help ensure that your approach to weight loss is healthy and balanced, and that the sauna is used in an appropriate and safe manner.