Are Saunas Useful for Burning Fat?

In today’s fashion-conscious world, everyone wants to watch their weight. Most people want to drop the extra kilos and tone down. Even if you do not want to look physically leaner, burning fat is always a desirable thing as it means your body is not sedentary and that you are getting the right amount of exercise. Fat burning is also a good way to prevent your arteries from clogging and maintaining a generally active and healthy lifestyle.

But if there is one thing everybody knows about fat, whether they are skinny or have been struggling with weight loss, is that fat is stubborn. Oftentimes it takes difficult and targeted exercises to reduce fat on areas like the belly, thighs, hips, etc. and even then it may seem like you are not doing enough or that the results are not fast enough. Is there a way to exacerbate the process of fat burning? The heat from the sauna may be one of the ways in which you can achieve this. But are saunas always useful for burning fat?

The short answer is, yes, they can be. When you come out of the sauna you may have lost a few kilos or grams. However, in all likelihood that weight loss is only loss in water weight which you will promptly put back on depending on your diet, weather and other lifestyle habits. However, there is something more permanent and effective the sauna can do and that is burn fat. The following are some of the ways in which the sauna may be useful for burning fat:

Calorie Burning

When you are speaking of burning fat, calorie burning is a process that often gets overlooked or is dismissed as just an obsession of the vain. However, calorie control is an effective and important way to burn fat. While calorie control and net calorie intake fall into the domain of your diet, the sauna is extremely helpful for burning calories.

When you are losing to burn fat, a lot of your energies may go into controlling your calorie intake. Frequent sauna sessions, along with exercise, could be a sure shot way to effectively burn fat. It expedites the process of fat burning by burning calories. The heat from the sauna does wonders for increasing the core temperature of the body and consequently increasing your heart rate. This process is similar to how your heart behaves when you have climbed a steep flight of stairs or have finished a workout session.

In other words, at times the sauna can also stand-in for your regular exercises if you do not have the time to w0rk out. If you are back late from work and don’t have time to hit the gym, a 20-minute session in the sauna can also get your heart rate up enough that your body feels exercised. This is not to suggest that saunas can replace exercise in the process of fat burning, but they are certainly a great supplement.

Cortisol Control

Stress is one of the main reasons for weight gain. Cortisol, the stress hormone, has some correlation with weight gain for many people though this may not always be the case. However, some studies find enough of a relationship between stress and weight gain.

The sauna is an established method of de-stressing. The sauna may not be the exact antidote to the increased cortisol levels in the body. A session in the sauna may not obliterate the excess cortisol levels in the body. However, the sauna does release other chemicals in the body that can counter the amount of cortisol and provide the body some balance. There is evidence to suggest that the sauna increases the level of endorphins in the body, along with other opioid-like peptides like dynorphins.

Endorphins are counted as happy hormones. They are associated with feelings of relaxation and the high one feels after a good workout session, often referred to as a runner’s high. Endorphins are also known to relieve pain. All these effects of the hormones combined, along with the release of other opioid-like peptides, are able to combat stress in the body.

In addition to increasing the levels of beta-endorphins in the body, saunas are also associated with an increase in the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF has a proven association with depression. Therefore, healthy levels of beta-endorphins and BDNF will help to keep depression and anxiety at bay, encouraging the person to remain calm and de-stressed. This makes one less vulnerable to putting on weight at least on account of increased levels of stress and cortisol.

As part of its de-stressing qualities, saunas are also known for promoting good sleep. The sauna dilates the blood vessels and encourages the circulation of blood oxygen to different parts of the body. A good sauna session right before bed is one of the best ways to ensure you get a good night’s sleep and are well rested. When the quality of your sleep is good, you will also find that your stress tolerance is better.

Enhanced Metabolism

The sauna is already useful for burning calories. Related to these calorie-burning advantages is the benefits of the sauna in altering one’s metabolism. Some experts have found that the sauna is useful for burning calories not only while you are in the sauna and sweating it out, but also when you have exited the sauna.

Prolonged use of the sauna is also able to alter the way your body metabolizes food, in a more sustained and permanent way. When you use the sauna at the right temperature, you can boost your metabolism by 20%, say some experts. This is how the sauna can be useful for burning fat in a more sustained manner.

Athletic Recovery

While the sauna alone may not be able to do everything the body needs to burn fat, it is one of the best ways to make your exercise and workout sessions more effective. If you are looking to burn fat, you cannot escape exercising and working out. If you lead a sedentary life otherwise, the sauna may be a good way to burn calories and get your heart rate up. However, it is certainly not enough to consistently burn fat.

However, one of the best things about a sauna is that you can bounce back on your workouts with ease, with no downtime in the middle. If you have had a strenuous workout session, you may have sore muscles the next day or may have some aches that prevent you from continuing your workout.

The sauna is a good way to relax the muscles, release heat shock proteins that strengthen the cells and promote the net synthesis of proteins and also relieve pain so you can continue your workouts. This is one of the most important benefits of the sauna.

Traditional vs Infrared Saunas

Traditional saunas and infrared saunas both offer incredible benefits. Both types of saunas increase the core temperature of the body and consequently increase the heart rate, which causes the body to sweat and cool down. This process of cooling down also encourages the body to burn calories.

While there is no conclusive proof to suggest one type of sauna is better than the other for weight loss, it can be said that infrared saunas are easier and more comfortable to use.

Infrared saunas use infrared rays to cause sweating. These rays cannot be seen but can be felt as heat in the body. However, these rays heat the body directly instead of the air around the body.

In other words, infrared saunas can effectively increase the core temperature of the body at much lower temperatures as compared to traditional saunas. You can spend more time inside an infrared sauna without feeling uncomfortable, as the air around you will remain cool. Therefore, only in terms of comfort, an infrared sauna may work better than a traditional sauna to heat the body faster and burn calories faster and for longer.

The Final Word

Saunas are one of the best ways to lay back, relax and let the goodness of sweating provide all kinds of benefits to the body. Burning fat is one of the most difficult things to do, especially if the body has remained sedentary and there has been fat accumulation over a long period.

While saunas alone may not be successful in burning fat, they can certainly exacerbate the process in different ways. One of the most obvious ways the sauna helps burn fat is by burning calories by working the heart. It increases the heart rate and simulates the feeling of exercise.

Saunas are also useful for keeping the cortisol levels in the body low and de-stressing the body. When you are not stressed, you are less vulnerable to putting on weight.

A third way saunas are useful for burning fat is by boosting metabolism, which sustains the effect of the sauna long after you have left the sauna.

Finally, saunas are useful for pain relief and athletic recovery, which allows you to keep working out without getting tired or missing a day because of sore muscles.