Can sauna help you lose weight?

can sauna help you lose weight?

Can Sauna Help You Lose Weight?

I believe, this topic is sensitive to most of the women and not just to them. Sometimes it seems that nowadays instead of asking ourselves “what is the meaning of life” we ask “what should I do to lose weight”. There is a widely known saying that not the appearance makes us sexy but the confidence. However, good looks help us be those confident people. Even if probably we should better ask ourselves “what other things would make me love myself more”, we keep looking for ways to lose weight. I must say that this question, can sauna help you lose weight, has crossed my mind before as well, so I did a research on this topic.

Sauna does help to loose weight but just slightly. Since you can stay in sauna max 15 min, it goes that in one session you can burn around 30-40 calories. However, what your body loses is basically water. If you refill yourself with water, the weight comes back. And it is more than important to drink water all the time when you are bathing in a sauna in order to not dehydrate.

I have tried many ways to lose weight. To refuse sweets, potatoes, flour, to do sports, go to dancing classes, do running, not eat after 6 PM and so on. Sometimes it did work out, sometimes it didn’t. Eventually I changed my thinking. I started to worry more about my health than about my weight. Well, and the weight now seems to be okay, even if I am not that thin. I think this is the right way to think about saunas – their purpose is to improve our health, not to better the shape. However, I will present more details about this matter.

Does sauna burn fat?

I am talking that health is more important than the weight, also that I have tried many ways to loose weight but I too have dreamed how I loose weight maybe while sleeping – with no suffering from hunger or losing breath from running. If you believe that sauna helps to burn fat, it sounds like a some kind of salvation, a paradise on Earth. However, not everything is that perfect.

can sauna help you lose weight?
can sauna help you lose weight?

Probably you can guess the hint (and remember what was said before) that sauna does not help to lose fat. The only “leaking” thing out of you is the water which comes out with the sweat.

It is widely accepted that spending time in a sauna you make yourself sweat and that is how the body gets rid of the toxins. But it would be naive to believe that calories run after the toxins like some little ducklings swim after their mother duck.

A stereotype exists that a person sitting in a sauna room loses from 300 to 1000 calories. But in fact a grown up man (84 kg) will burn roughly from 60 to 85 calories in 30 minutes. To stay in a sauna room for 30 min is not allowed but the calculation is made considering how many calories a grown up man burns in 30 minutes sitting in a normal room. And it is 42. So this number you multiply 1.5 or 2 times and you get such an answer. Since you can stay in sauna max 15 min, it goes that in one session you can burn around 30-40 calories. This way doesn’t ensure you a fixed weight loss and it is only water you lose. You don’t build your muscles. The high temperature makes your heart rate increase in a similar way when you are doing exercises but one fact remains the same – you are still doing the sitting and that does not make the calories burn faster.

What are the ways to increase calorie burn in sauna?

However, let’s say you still insist on losing weight in sauna. You feel that it is worth to spend more time but put less efforts. You want to enjoy the process of losing weight and the fact that it is just water that you are losing doesn’t bother you. Or maybe you are starting to lose weight and before getting rid of the fat you want some easy two kilos loss. All is fair, all is your choice and we can talk about that. We can talk how sauna could help you burn more calories.

One of the best ways to accelerate a weight loss in sauna is to use sauna suits. You can read more about sauna suits here: best sauna suits for weight loss

So if we are using sauna for losing weight, we are aiming to a short term water weight loss. There are several ways to reach this result like reducing sodium intake, carbohydrate intake, increasing water intake and the way which we are concerned about now is sweating. That is where sauna comes to the rescue.

There are two types of saunas: wet saunas and dry saunas. Wet sauna is heated with steam and the usual dry ones are infrared sauna and the other one heated with an electric stove. Both kinds – wet and dry – can help you lose weight. However, infrared sauna gives a more gradual calorie burn.

The more you stay inside a sauna, the more calories you burn (you can use the calculation system mentioned above). Your time in sauna in one session is limited so you couldn’t instantly burn a lot of calories but you can do it gradually, going to several sessions. The maximum number of sessions per day is 3, however, then the duration of one session should be shorter.    

And finally sauna goes the best with some exercises – then the result is the most effective. I will mention some information about the relation between sauna and workouts later in this article.

How does sauna help to lose weight?

Apart from water weight loss, sauna has some other advantages in losing calories which might be not directly related but they sum up when you look from the general perspective.

One of the most famous sauna’s qualities is detoxification. When you sweat, your body is getting rid of all the toxins and heavy metals such as lead, zinc, copper, nickel and mercury that we daily absorb from our environment and food. Usually the amount of sweat we emit doing our daily activities is not enough to clean our body properly. And when it is detoxified, doing sports becomes easier and losing weight – more effective.

Secondly, sauna increases our metabolism. Because of the heat our body needs to produce more energy to keep its right temperature and the heart rate increases. That is how you burn more calories, too.

Most often what prevents us from eating healthy or having a daily regime of sport activities is stress. When we stress, we do everything chaotically and don’t really care what will be the consequences of our present way of living. That is where sauna can help. More than for its detoxifying qualities sauna is known as a mean to release stress. Sauna relaxes, makes us calm, meditative and can release endorphins. In this way I bet a lot more of motivation appears to take up things which are usually hard to start like sports or reject bad habits like unhealthy eating.

And the last but not the least, sauna not just increases the motivation but also the physical capacity to do sports. As the time goes by, having sauna sessions would help you breath more easily and would better the blood flow. This is one of the main problems of the people who have just started doing sports – they lose their breath or their heart doesn’t get used to new physical activity.

So as we have seen, sauna’s direct effect on losing weight is not so visible. We do not lose weight just by going into sauna and sitting there for hours. But sauna is a good mean to help us reach other goals as start doing sports, eat healthier, feel better. It is just one more prove that everything in life is connected.

Is sauna good after a workout?

As I have been talking a lot about how important sauna is for people who want to take up sports and as I have promised to talk about it, I will shortly present what are the advantages of sauna together with a workout.

If you are wondering if sauna is better before or after a workout, you can read my blog post about this topic here.

In several articles it is written that if anyone wants to lose weight, the best effect can be reached doing exercises and going to sauna. Usually sauna is the best way to relax after some good session of exercises but also it is said that alongside a healthy diet and exercise plan sauna can be of some help in the process of losing weight.

Overall, the benefits of going to sauna after a workout are these: sauna heat helps the blood to carry the oxygen to the muscles and in this way the muscle pain is released more easily, it helps to relax, detoxification improves your general condition and the way you feel.

To conclude this section, it seems that if you are having hard times in turning your body accustomed to sports or even if you are an old veteran in the gym, sauna should make miracles after the workout. Saunas in the gyms are not without a reason.

What are the dangers of trying to lose weight in sauna?

I remember somebody poetically saying or maybe I have read it somewhere that the moon has its dark side. So does the matter about saunas. We have just talked over how helpful spending some time in a sauna can be. But there is a whole different side of it which must be discussed.

It is not likely that you will die trying to lose weight in a sauna. Unless you have some particular health problems which don’t correlate well with sauna, you should be fine. But as we talked over in some sections above, an important thing which mustn’t be left out, is how much water one loses when he goes into sauna. So maybe when you are trying to lose weight and read some article that once you go out from the sauna and drink the same amount of water which you sweated out, then all the kilos will be back, you start thinking so what is the point. I can imagine that it might be frustrating. But more than this frustration it is important to get over it and go to drink some water before sauna, during sauna and after sauna. Because there is a danger of dehydration.

Even if you are not sure whether you are dehydrated, it is still good to drink some water all the time. Here I will give some signs of dehydration: dryness in the mouth, extreme thirst, headache, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, not urinating as frequently as normal.

These are signs of a mild moderate dehydration and any graver problems should be taken care of the doctors. Old people, pregnant women, people with heart diseases have more risk to be dehydrated.

There might be a trouble to carry a bottle of water with yourself when you neither have pockets, nor a bag, nor a wish to think about anything what isn’t related to what are the best ways to enjoy sauna experience but there won’t be any better ways if we don’t take care of ourselves.


In the end I would like shortly to come back to the beginning and give you the answer. Can sauna help you lose weight? Yes, but it should not be the only and most important focus. Sauna can be only as a “supplement” in addition to exercise and healthy nutrition.

I think the majority will agree that we do things in order to be happy and feel good. That is how sauna works, that is how life works. So I wish you all to enjoy your time in sauna!

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