Can you lose weight and burn belly fat inside an infrared sauna, or do you just sweat out some water, as some people claim?
Do you actually burn calories, and reduce cellulite?
This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.
There seems to be a weird controversy over losing weight via FIR sauna treatments, though the facts are simple, straight forward and science-backed.
Table of Contents
- 1 Can You Use an Infrared Sauna for Weight Loss?
- 2 Steam Sauna vs. Infrared Sauna for Weight Loss
- 3 How Do I Use an FIR Sauna to Lose Weight?
- 4 Infrared Sauna Weight Loss FAQ
Can You Use an Infrared Sauna for Weight Loss?
When people talk about sauna weight loss, they are usually curious about calorie-burning.
Do You Burn Calories Inside an FIR Sauna?
Sitting in an infrared sauna doesn’t require you to move a single muscle. You calmly sit there, listen to music or read a magazine.
So why would you burn any calories?
The answer is simple:
Any time your body is heated (by exercising, sunbathing or entering a heated space) – it immediately tries to cool itself down and regain homeostasis.
In a Finnish sauna you’d splash some water on your skin and cool down, but in a dry sauna or an infrared sauna, your body has to cool itself down on its own.
The result is SWEAT.
Sweating is the body’s natural way of regulating body temperature. It does this by releasing water and salt, which evaporates to help cool you.
The act of vaporizing sweat requires ENERGY. Calories are units of energy, derived from the food you consume.
Guyton’s Textbook of Medical Physiology reports that one gram of sweat requires 0.586 calories for the vaporizing effect.
👉 How many calories do you burn in an infrared sauna?
During sauna bathing, sweating begins quickly and reaches its maximum at approximately 15 minutes, with sweat production average total of 0.5 kg (study)
Fact: you can easily burn between 200-600 calories after 15-40 minutes inside an FIR sauna– without moving a muscle.
Fiction: you only lose water weight with infrared sauna sessions.
Does this mean you’ll lose weight?
Not necessarily. This depends on how many calories you consume. If you consume more than you burn, you may not lose weight.
Can an FIR Sauna Help You Reduce Belly Fat and Cellulite?
Burning fat, no matter in what way, is a controversial subject among all experts and scientists.
However, research has found that exposing fat cells (Adipocyte cells) to high temperatures (45-60 degrees Celsius) causes lethal thermal damage to subcutaneous adipose tissues (“white fat”) – without damaging overlying and underlying tissues.
The result of this is the death of fat cells and their elimination from the body.
Infrared Sauna Weight Loss Study 👇
In an infrared sauna, the white fat cells you have within the depth of 2-3 cm (like belly fat) are radiated with up to 60 degrees Celsius, which should definitely lead to fat loss.
These findings were supported in a two-phase, sauna weight loss study conducted by Binghamton University in New York, which revealed that an increase in core body temperature resulted in a decrease in body fat.
👉 For example, for a 175-pound man, that represents a weight reduction of seven pounds.
What about Treating Obesity?
Science has also proven that obese people can especially benefit from sauna treatments.
This study has shown that for obese people, repeated sauna therapy (60 degrees C for 15 min) has led to a significant decrease in body weight and body fat – after only 2 weeks.Conclusion
Fact: science has proven that deep penetrating heat causes fat cell death and elimination as waste from your body.
Fact: minimizing stress was proven to balance appetite and prevent the further storage of abdominal fat.
Stress relief should be one of your priorities if you’re trying to lose weight.
Can You Use an FIR Sauna to Boost Your Metabolism?
It’s been known since the early 20th century that a rise in temperature is connected with increased metabolic rate, and when your metabolism is boosted, you burn more calories (study).
Metabolism is the chemical process your body goes through to turn the food you eat into energy for every basic function.
The more energy you need (like when you sweat heavily in an FIR sauna), the higher your metabolism is, and the more calories you burn.Conclusion
Fact: using an infrared sauna is most likely to improve your metabolism, though only temporarily, until your body finished adjusting to the heat and regaining homeostasis.
Can an Infrared Sauna Curb Your Appetite?
Here’s something most people don’t know about infrared sauna treatments:
They can be the ultimate stress relievers to have at home.
Everyone, no matter their age, work, financial situation or stress level – comes out of an infrared sauna feeling completely relaxed.
(See 9 incredible infrared sauna benefits and results from real people, including stress relief, pain reduction, glowing skin, and more)
What does that have to do with your appetite?
Stress is well known and proven to be associated with increased appetite.
I’m sure you already know this from your own experience, but if that’s not enough – research has proven the link between stress and an increased desire to eat, binge eating, and eating processed foods.
Plus, science has shown that regular sauna bathing helps the body adapt to stress over time, so you are less likely to suffer from the physical results of ongoing stress.Conclusion
Fact: An infrared sauna is proven to help the body reduce stress and even adapt to stress over time – and the side effect can be suppressing stress eating.
Steam Sauna vs. Infrared Sauna for Weight Loss
Traditional saunas use either 220-V heaters or wood stoves to heat the air around your body to approximately 85 degrees Celsius, which heats your body mainly through convection.
This type of heat is very uncomfortable and compared to infrared heat technology, less effective in raising your body temperature and sweating heavily.
FIR saunas use ceramic/carbon infrared heating panels to emit infrared rays that penetrate deep into your body (2-3 cm deep) – without heating the air around you.
👉 The result is better heat penetration and more sweating – in a more comfortable and pleasant environment. More sweat – at a lower temperature.
This makes infrared saunas superior to traditional saunas (steam/dry) for effective weight loss.
And let’s not forget the PROVEN health benefits of FIR saunas, which include:
- Reduced cardiovascular disease.
- Toxin release through vigorous sweat (detox).
- Increased lifespan and decreased early mortality.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Improved cognitive function and reduced risk of neurodegenerative disease.
- Improved arthritis symptoms.
- ·Muscle, joint and nerve pain relief.
Far infrared heat has also been found to slightly increase human growth hormone production (HGH) and lower cortisol levels which aid in greater weight loss and overall better health.
👉 As always, be sure to talk to your doctor. Certain conditions and scenarios, like pregnancy, require extra caution with saunas or other forms of heat therapy.
The Best Infrared Saunas for Weight Loss
When it comes to losing weight with an infrared sauna at home, you have a variety of options:
👉 Portable infrared sauna – these cost less than half the price of wooden IR saunas and are just as effective.
👉 Infrared Sauna blanket – another lower-cost option, Infrared sauna blankets are similar to heavy sleeping bags. You enclose yourself in one as it emits infrared rays and builds body heat.
How Do I Use an FIR Sauna to Lose Weight?
There is almost no limit to how many treatments you can do in your infrared saunas – to lose weight.
As long as you stay hydrated and well-nourished, you can use an infrared sauna every day, for 15-30 minutes, once it’s fully heated.
👉 Again, make sure you hydrate. According to experts, sauna-goers should drink 400–800 mL/h of fluids containing 60–80 g of simple sugars and 400–1100 g of sodium during every bathing session.
While mostly all you have to do is sit back, relax and listen to some music, there are few ways you can enhance your health and weight loss goals, such as moderate exercise (hot yoga) or mild stretching.
Any questions? thoughts? did you ever try an infrared sauna treatment?
Share with us in the comments below, or message us directly on our Facebook page.
Infrared Sauna Weight Loss FAQ
To your health and happiness,
Avci P, Nyame TT, Gupta GK, Sadasivam M, Hamblin MR. Low-level laser therapy for fat layer reduction: a comprehensive review. Lasers Surg Med. 2013;45(6):349–357. doi:10.1002/lsm.22153
(2005) Cellulite treatment using a novel combination radiofrequency, infrared light, and mechanical tissue manipulation device, Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 7:2, 81-85,
Caruso-Davis, M.K., Guillot, T.S., Podichetty, V.K. et al. OBES SURG (2011) 21: 722. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11695-010-0126-y
Neira R, et al., Fat liquefaction: effect of low-level laser energy on adipose tissue, DOI: 10.1097/00006534-200209010-00030
Savoia, Antonella et al. “Low-level laser therapy and vibration therapy for the treatment of localized adiposity and fibrous cellulite.” Dermatology and therapy vol. 3,1 41-52. 23 May. 2013, doi:10.1007/s13555-013-0026-x
Kauppinen K., Sauna, shower, and ice water immersion. Physiological responses to brief exposures to heat, cool, and cold. Part III. Body temperatures., Arctic Med Res. 1989 Apr;48(2):75-86.
James P.Warne., Shaping the stress response: interplay of palatable food choices, glucocorticoids, insulin and abdominal obesity, DOI: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.09.036
Groesz, Lisa M et al. “What is eating you? Stress and the drive to eat.” Appetite vol. 58,2 (2012): 717-21. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.11.028
Landsberg, Lewis et al. “Do the obese have lower body temperatures? A new look at a forgotten variable in energy balance.” Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association vol. 120 (2009): 287-95.
Biro, Sadatoshi, et al. “Clinical Implications of Thermal Therapy in Lifestyle-Related Diseases.” Experimental Biology and Medicine, vol. 228, no. 10, Nov. 2003, pp. 1245–1249, doi:10.1177/153537020322801023.