Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Does The Sauna Burn Fat? (Or Just A Myth)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Last updated: September 30, 2022

As a personal trainer, I recommend that all my clients should sit in a sauna for 10 minutes after a workout at the gym. I always looked at this as a way for your muscles to relax, and it is part of my regular post-workout routine.

But I wanted to explore if the sauna and steam room could be helpful for weight loss as well.

So, I got together with the team, and we did some research into all the benefits of spending some time in the sauna and if there was ideal timing as well.

Here’s what we found.

Quick Summary

  • Sitting in a sauna is something many athletes do after a tough training session to help wind down the body.
  • Many people also do it because it can help with losing weight, but it’s important to understand the difference between fat loss and losing water.
  • A sauna session can help with burning calories, but it shouldn’t become a reason for skipping a set in your training session.

Do You Lose Weight In The Sauna?

Woman relaxing inside a sauna

Yes, you can lose weight in the sauna, but it’s important to understand what happens in your body.

Many people head to the sauna and think they will have effectively lost weight by the time they get out.

While you will sweat a lot, and losing water weight also means overall less weight, once you start drinking cold water after the sauna, you’ll top up that weight again.

But, heading into the sauna before or after a workout does have weight loss benefits.

Studies have shown that regularly going to the sauna can boost your metabolic rate by 25% to 33% [1]. The interesting thing is that this metabolic boost doesn’t just happen while you’re in the sauna, but for several hours after.

How Much Time Should You Spend There to Lose Weight?

You should start sitting in a sauna for five minutes to lose weight. It’s important that you don’t immediately go for longer periods as your body needs to get used to the increased body heat.

If you are using infrared saunas to burn body fat, it is recommended not to stay for longer than 15-20 minutes [2].

One issue with staying too long is that the water loss from sweating can reach dangerous levels.

You’ll lose a lot of water and electrolytes, and it’s not uncommon for people to feel faint. And in serious cases, it can even lead to heat stroke [3].

Related Article: Does a Sauna Suit Help With Weight Loss?

How Does It Help You Lose Weight?

Two person staring at each other inside the sauna

The sauna helps you lose weight through increased calorie burn for several hours after you were sitting in that hot room.

But you also lose weight immediately, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s important to understand what happens to your body to assess the health benefits.

1. Water Weight Loss

You’ll be sweating even in just five minutes of sauna time. And if you step on weighing scales before and after, you’ll notice a significant amount of weight loss that could be up to a pound.

But when you lose water weight, you have to replenish it, so this isn’t true weight loss.

2. Fat Loss

Studies have shown that regular trips to the sauna can boost your metabolism and burn more calories after you leave the sauna. And there’s an added bonus of this helping to build up more lean muscle mass [4].

Now, it’s not like you’re going to burn extra calories that compete with a tough workout. But your body will use up more energy, even when resting and recovering.

3. Detoxification

Body sweat can help to flush out the lymphatic system, which is also responsible for flushing out toxins and supporting the immune system [5]. It’s one of the main health benefits of going to the sauna, as your body will become more effective at removing toxins [6].

“Far-infrared saunas provide a gentle, side-effect-free, effective mechanism for detoxification. Their waves penetrate deep into the human body, elevating the body's surface temperature, activating circulation, sweating, and excretion of toxins from the lymph and blood through the skin.”

- Marilee Nelson, Writer at branchbasics.com

FAQs

How Many Days a Week Should You Go to a Sauna?

You should try to go to the sauna up to three times a week. That’s a generally recommended guideline and safe option if you limit your time to under 15-20 minutes.

Should You Drink Water in the Sauna?

Yes, you should drink water in the sauna. If you just go in for five minutes, you might be fine.

But after a tough training session, you can’t afford to become further dehydrated. It’s also a good idea to drink some water before a sauna visit.

Boost Your Calories Burned After Training With Sauna Sessions

The next time you’re sitting in a sauna after the gym, consider what it’s doing for your muscles and metabolism by helping you burn calories and excrete toxins stored in your fat cells.

Over time, sauna use can add up to significant fat loss and better muscle recovery.

And if you want to further boost your metabolism, then consider adding the following products to your daily supplement stack.

These natural products trigger metabolic responses to burn off more fat and get into a leaner shape.

It’s not a magic bullet to get slim, but it will speed things up over the coming weeks.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3766176/
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/saunas-and-your-health
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507382/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33922289/
  5. https://www.livescience.com/26983-lymphatic-system.html
  6. https://branchbasics.com/blogs/healthy-living/16-ways-to-activate-your-lymphatic-system
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author