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Can Infrared Saunas Help You Lose Weight?

T he discovery of infrared waves gave the world a makeover. Suddenly, we were able to control things from the distance, see through materials, and build alternative heating sources, while processes that before took months or years were able to be carried through in just a few minutes and with minimal damage (artifact thermo-scanning). Moreover, if its benefits were first used only in the scientific and industrial field, this technology had slowly found its way into our homes in the past years, showing up in grills, ovens, door sensors, or infrared saunas.

The idea of using an infrared element to produce heat and make you sweat is excellent, as this method is both convenient and cost-effective. But will it help you lose weight in the long run? And can it do it better than a traditional wood-burning sauna? Let’s find out.

Going to a SPA for relaxation is a comfortable option. But what if you could get even more comfort by enjoying the sweating sessions in your own home? Check out our top-rated infrared saunas and discover the benefits of having one just around the corner.

Woman upper side, sweating. A measuring tape next to it suggest that sweating helps losing weight Image

How Is an Infrared Sauna Different from a Traditional One?

A conventional electric or wood-burning sauna gets you sweating by warming the air around you. Thus, sitting in a sauna of this type is like sitting in a room where the thermostat has been set at a high value and no one bothered to adjust it. You will sweat because everything around you is getting warmer.

An infrared model, on the other hand, doesn’t heat the room but sends infrared waves toward your skin. The waves penetrate the skin, reaching the muscles which begin to warm. Thus, this type of sauna increases your body temperature from the inside, making you sweat.

In the end, both of the models act upon your body, increasing its temperature, and this makes the body work harder to re-establish the balance, namely lower the temperature. This extra work can translate into higher consumption of calories and, thus weight loss.

Beautiful natural landscapes can make your sauna sessions even more relaxing. So, why not installing one outdoors? Find a beautiful outdoor sauna among our selection and prepare for sweating up all the bad things inside your body and then chilling in a beautiful lake or the amazingly-cold snow.

Woman entering an infrared sauna with a glass of water in her hand Image

Can It Help You Lose Weight? How?

There’s no proof to link sauna sessions directly to weight reduction, except one study performed by Binghampton University in NY, during which a group of people was exposed to an infrared sauna for forty five minutes, three times a week for 4 months. At the end of the study, the people in the group showed a 4% drop in total body fat compared with the people in the control group. While this could be considered good enough proof, the conditions in which the study took place are the ones that make it unreliable. Outside the study, the participants weren’t controlled, so it is impossible to assess if the results were owned to the sauna sessions or the subjects’ lifestyle, diet, exercise routine, hormonal imbalance, or a combination of these factors.

Nevertheless, what studies have shown is that when the body is exposed to heat, the heart rate increases, as the body needs to work harder to keep itself cool. As known, any consumption of energy is a consumption of calories, so this could result in weight loss.

Furthermore, this type of sauna can help you get slimmer indirectly, and this is probably why you should use it in the first place:

  • It helps you recover faster after intense training – Heat is an excellent therapy for muscular and joint pain and is often used by athletes to recover after exercise sessions or exhausting competitions. By exposing your body to an infrared sauna, you can reduce muscular pain resulted from the lactic acid building up in the muscles after training. Thus, you will be fresh the next day and ready for a new gym session.
  • It relieves stress – There’s no secret that stress can lead to weight gain. Either the metabolism cannot work at its capacity due to extenuation or you keep feeding your body large quantities of fats and sweets in an attempt to make yourself feel better. These practices stress the body even more, so you find yourself trapped in a vicious circle. The infrared sauna can break this circle and offer you relief. In time, this therapy will help you renounce unhealthy habits and restore the order in your life.
  • It stimulates the production of serotonin – The infrared waves can trigger serotonin release, which functions as a natural antidepressant. Thus, after an infrared sweating session, you will feel happier and more confident, which can stimulate you to continue your training and healthy diet.

Get your own portable sit-down infrared sauna and start sweating in the comfort of your own home. Each of the models in our selection is built to provide excellent results and facilitate maintenance.

Asian woman sitting in a portable sit-down infrared sauna and reading a magazine Image

Does an Infrared Sauna Melt Fat?

Some infrared sauna enthusiasts and even some manufactures claim that infrared radiation can burn fat cells directly. However, this statement poses multiple issues. First of all, while it is true that infrared waves can penetrate the skin to a depth of about 1.5 inches, it certainly cannot melt fat, otherwise, it wouldn’t have any problem in melting the rest of the cells as well. The fat is burned through the effort the body puts into cooling itself off. It needs more energy for this action so it goes to the resources that have been sitting on your belly and hips until now.

How Many Calories Can You Burn in One Session?

Recent studies say that you can burn somewhere between 400 and 600 calories, which is a noticeable amount if you consider that an hour of jogging could help you burn only 300 to 400 calories. However, infrared sauna shouldn’t be regarded as an alternative to regular exercise, which is the only way to maintain the muscles in good shape and ensure good blood circulation.

Hydration is one of the most important factors when using a sauna. For excellent hydration, we recommend replacing regular water with alkaline water. For more details, check out our article about the benefits of drinking alkaline water and discover how you can make it at home.

Woman wearing a white towel relaxing in a sauna Image

How Often Should You Use an Infrared Sauna for Weight Loss?

A sauna session can last from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on your health and experience. Thus, it is recommended to start with sessions of 10 to 15 minutes and increase the exposure time progressively, as you get accustomed to the high temperatures. Regarding the frequency of the sessions, you can enjoy the sauna from 3 days a week to every day of the week if your health allows it. But this is not a rule. If you feel dizzy or sense that you cannot bear the heat after 3 minutes, then get out. You may be claustrophobic or your body may have a problem with high heat. If this happens, it is better to check with your doctor if an infrared sauna is the best match for you.

Infrared saunas can reach temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and allow you to select the heat level you can bear. The thermostat will help you keep track of the temperature, but it never hurts to have a second measuring device around. Take a look at our best sauna thermometers and start sweating with the certitude that you are safe at all points.

Woman dressed in sport clotes with a towel around her neck drinking water from a bottle Image

How to Maximize the Effects

As we have explained, regular sessions can have visible effects upon your overall wellbeing and help you lose weight. But there’s much more a sauna can do for you, and one of the most praised action is getting you rid of toxins. It can also improve blood circulation and reduce wrinkles by maintaining you happy and relaxed. However, all these effects can be improved if you take measures to enhance each session. Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t drink – If you have been drinking heavily the day before, it is better to skip the session. Alcohol is known to cause dehydration, and this is the last thing you will want to deal with in a sauna. Drink plenty of water instead and wait until your body recovers. Then you can hit the sauna without any risk.
  • Stand up – It is relaxing to lay down and maybe watch your favorite series on Netflix (some saunas provide this option), but you will benefit more if you stand on our feet. For the infrared waves to heat the muscles they need to reach to them. If you are laying on your back, a big part of your body will remain unexposed, and your muscle pains won’t be efficiently treated.
  • Drink lots of water – If you are thinking ‘why drinking water when I am trying to eliminate it?’ then you are making a common mistake. You are not losing weight because of the water you eliminate through sweat. So, you should make sure to replace all that water and keep your body balanced and hydrated. You can even try alkaline water, which is known to hydrate better than regular water.
  • Do not miss chilling sessions – Even if it seems that you will lose more time at the spa, this is an important step. You need to restore the balance inside your body and wait for the temperature to drop before going out the door, and this should happen especially if the temperature outdoor is high.

A gym or SPA subscription can prove expensive over time, especially if it offers sauna services. Consider buying an infrared sauna blanket and get yourself sweating without spending a fortune. Plus, it is super compact, and you will be able to pack it and take it with you wherever you go.

The Bottom Line

The truth is that no miracle can make you lose weight. At least not the healthy way. So, you will probably need to come up with a plan that includes exercise, a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, and good hydration. An infrared sauna can function as a stimulator and make the training feel more bearable. It is more likely for you to return to the gym the next day if you aren’t in excruciating pain. Even if it is still to be proven, the evidence points out that infrared waves can have an effect on your body and make it work harder to keep a proper temperature, a process that will lead to fat burn. Plus, with all the benefits it can bring to your body and mind, it would be a shame to skip on this type of therapy.

Lillian Davies
Lillian Davies
Lillian is a fresh college graduate who has lived in Tucson for most of her life, battling the torrid heat ever since she was a child. She is quite versed in the topic of thermal comfort and what solutions work to make conditions more bearable when the temperatures go haywire, which makes her knowledgeable in the topics she writes about here. Since she is a perfectionist, Lilian always takes time to polish her articles before release, which makes her an irreplaceable part of the team.

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