With all the new “hot” yoga and other “hot” group fitness classes popping up, I thought it was time to put the truth out there about the sauna and weight loss. Does working out in a hot room or sitting in a sauna before of after your workouts actually help you lose more weight? Does it increase metabolism and help you burn more calories? What are some benefits/risks of using this method?
Either working out in a hot room or just sitting in a sauna will lead to weight loss; however, this weight loss is due to water loss from excessive sweating. It is important to re-hydrate after any and every sauna session and once you re-hydrate you will gain back the “water weight” that was lost. When it comes to fat loss, you will not decrease body fat from sitting in a sauna (unless you are possibly strength training in an sauna), as a decrease in body fat percentage is achieved by increasing lean muscle mass.
Will you increase calories burned while sitting in a sauna? Yes, because increased heat will require your heart to work harder to regulate body temperature and you definitely burn more calories sitting in a sauna than sitting on the couch watching tv. This being said, you will burn more calories doing a strength training workout in the gym for 30 minutes that you would sitting in a sauna for 30 minutes. When it comes to working out in a sauna or hot room? I found a great quote from Jillian Michaels Website that explains this perfectly:
“The key to weight loss is to heat the body from the inside out, not the outside in. Sweating caused by your body exerting a lot of energy versus sweating caused by a hot temperature outside are two very different things. When it comes to exercise, you want to heat your body from the inside out by exercising at a high intensity and working out at your maximum heart rate. Adding heat from the environment offers no benefits to your body.”
With all of the above being said the sauna can help with weight loss in a few other ways indirectly. Getting sweaty in a hot room can help detoxify and increase circulation in your body. Excess sweating can help remove excess salt and give the body a kickstart if you have reaches a weight loss plateau. Just remember that the sauna will not help you lose weight all by itself in this manner, but adding it to a healthy diet and exercise program can be beneficial.
We all know that increased stress can lead to increased weight loss due to “stress eating”, hormonal imbalance, and poor sleep patters; however, spending some time in the heat can be very relaxing and decrease stress leading to weight loss.
If you find yourself avoiding workouts because of stiff and sore muscles, heading into a sauna to stretch post-workout will speed up recovery time allow you to workout again sooner. This can lead to increased weight loss because you will not have to skip workouts!
It’s time to put an end to the thought that their is always an “easy way out” when it comes to weight loss. If you take anything from this article, just remember to heat your body from the inside out by working hard as apposed to heating it from the outside in by sitting in a hot room. While the sauna has many benefits, adding it into a healthy lifestyle of a healthy balanced diet combined with plenty of exercise will give you the most benefit.