Do Infrared Saunas Really Help Burn Calories?
Are you trying to lose weight? Are you still struggling to lose the pounds you put on during the holidays? Chances are you need an extra push to help you reach your goal. Sometimes, even though you’re eating healthy and exercising regularly, your body hits a plateau where it becomes difficult to lose those extra pounds. It's like your body is refusing to let the fat go. When this happens, it’s good to shock your system with new things, and one that has caught the attention of many people lately are infrared saunas. This new technology has been raved about by many people and even celebrities. Just imagine the possibility of burning calories while sitting. A literal dream, and thanks to modern technology it is possible.
How Can Infrared Saunas Give You That Extra Push?
Infrared saunas use infrared light to raise your body temperature without affecting the room's temperature, and this makes them much more bearable than regular saunas where high heat tolerance is necessary to withstand a session. This radiation penetrates almost 4 cm into your skin and has effects on the cellular level that have positive repercussions in your body as a whole. Their main effect is stimulating the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and they produce all the energy that keeps us alive and fuels all the chemical reactions that happen in our bodies all the time. Thus, stimulating the mitochondria results in more energy production and an increase in your metabolic rate. This boost to your metabolism is the reason why you can burn anywhere between 200 to 600 calories during a half-hour session in an infrared sauna [1,2].
The effect infrared saunas have on burning calories was demonstrated by a study at Binghamton University in New York, where they exposed their patients to infrared saunas three times a week for 45-minute sessions. They continued the study for four months and in the end, those exposed to infrared radiation had a 4 percent drop in their body fat, while the other group's body fat remained the same .
There’s another way in which infrared saunas can help you lose temporary weight. Just like with regular saunas, when you’re exposed to infrared light and your body heats up, you end up sweating. This can help you get rid of your water weight, but the weight will come back once you start drinking water . This can be a good option for when you’re feeling bloated. An example of when an infrared sauna session could be beneficial is on women who experience bloating right before or during their period. While the effects aren't permanent, they can help you get rid of the extra water weight.
Other Benefits Of Infrared Saunas
Infrared saunas can also help you lose weight indirectly, in ways different than just making you burn more calories. The most promising way this can happen is by enhancing your endurance and improving your workout performance. This was demonstrated by a study on competitive male runners, where post-training sauna sessions for 3 weeks were responsible for an increase in run time to exhaustion of 32% when compared to the control group . Also, infrared sauna sessions after your workout can improve your recovery by relaxing your muscles and speeding up the excretion of metabolic waste . These two aspects can ensure that you train harder and more efficiently and that your recovery is faster. This big push in the quality of your workouts can be beneficial in losing those extra pounds you've been wanting to get rid of.
Beyond The Weight Loss, There Are Benefits To Your Health
Sometimes we become fixated on losing weight just to improve our appearance, forgetting that it also affects our overall health. Infrared saunas also positively influence cardiovascular health, so adding them at the end of your workouts can be a recipe for success. Every day, there’s more evidence showing the influence infrared saunas have on the reduction in the risk of vascular diseases, like hypertension, strokes, cardiovascular disease, and neurocognitive diseases. They’ve also been associated with a reduction in cholesterol and inflammation, and improvement in the cardiorespiratory system. All these benefits can work in synergy to extend your lifespan and your quality of life .
Use It Responsibly
Infrared saunas have a ton of benefits in many different regards. However, remember that too much of anything is bad. Don’t stay in your infrared sauna for longer than an hour; remember that like with anything in life, moderation is key. Too much time inside any sauna can cause loss of minerals and dehydration . Lastly, remember to always consult with your primary care doctor before starting any sort of treatment, even for something as simple considering the use of an infrared sauna.
 Vatansever Fatma, Hamblin Michael R. (2012) "Far Infrared Radiation (FIR): Its Biological Effects And Medical Applications." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center For Biotechnology Information, 16 October 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699878/.
 Lidz Gogo. (2016) "The Easiest Way To Burn 600 Calories Is By Sitting In A 150-Degree Box." Thecut.com, The Cut, 26 July 2016, https://www.thecut.com/swellness/2016/07/infrared-sauna-benefits.html.
 Kassel Gabrielle. (2018). "Can Sitting In An Infrared Sauna Really Help You Lose Weight?" Womenshealthmag.com, Women's Health, 13 February 2018, https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a16869771/infrared-sauna-weight-losss/.
 Goldman Rena. (2019). "Do Saunas Help With Weight Loss?" Healthline.com, Healthline, 26 February 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/sauna-weight-loss-miracle.
 Scoon GS, Hopkins WG, Mayhew S, Cotter JD. (2007). "Effects Of Post-Exercise Sauna Bathing On The Endurance Performance Of Competitive Male Runners." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnology Information, August 2007, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16877041.
 "Sauna-Induced Sweating Offers Many Health Benefits" Uwheealth.org, UW Health, 16 October 2017, https://www.uwhealth.org/health-wellness/sauna-induced-sweating-offers-many-health-benefits/51516.
 Laukkanen JA, Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK. (2018). "Cardiovascular And Other Health Benefits Of Sauna Bathing: A Review Of The Evidence" Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnology Information, August 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30077204.
 Podstawski Robert, Boraczynksi Tomasz, Boraczynski Michael, Choszcz Dariusz, Mankowski Stefan, Markouski Piotr. (2014). "Sauna-Induced Body Mass Loss In Young Sedentary Women And Men" " Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 31 December 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295591/.