5 Helpful Tips To Lose Weight With A Sauna

Fact Checked

The article is checked by our editorial team, which includes registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, real-world clinical experience.

Learn more about out editorial process here

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Gopal Ramakrishnan, Ph. D (Biochemistry)

Lose Weight with A Sauna

When it comes to losing weight, there are a plethora of different ways to do it, and what is going to work for one person may be completely different from another. If you love sweating it up in the sauna, these 5 helpful tips can aid in your weight loss journey. 

Saunas originated in Northern Europe (most probably Finland) around 2000 BC[1] and they became a large part of their cultural life. In the very beginning, they functioned as kitchens, washrooms, hospitals and sometimes, during very harsh winters, they were literally the only place to live in. They even became holy places that were intertwined with spiritual beliefs and therefore became places where people were born, laid out after their death, and where all sorts of important ceremonies took place. 

Today, we use saunas to unwind and relax, mostly as a part of spa treatments or after a good workout in the gym. The heat is great for muscle relaxation and increased blood circulation[2], bringing fresh oxygen into all areas of the body more efficiently, which is why they are nowadays being used as part of many rehabilitation and therapeutic treatments.

Does Sauna Help You Lose Weight?

The short answer is: Yes, sauna sessions can most definitely be a helpful tool when trying to lose weight. It is not and cannot be the only solution, but it works really well in addition to other, already well-known healthy routines such as exercise, healthy meal plan, adequate amount of sleep, proper hydration, and working on reducing your stress levels. Everything must work in unison to be able to lose weight in the healthiest way possible, which will also help you maintain it long-term.

5 Helpful Tips To Lose Weight with A Sauna

Try Different Types of Sauna

Depending on how the room is actually heated, there are several types of sauna. These include:

Wood burning sauna[3]: Usually high in temperature and low in humidity, in these types of saunas, wood is used to heat the sauna room and sauna rocks.

Electrically heated sauna: Similar to wood-burning saunas[4], electrically-heated saunas have high temperatures and low humidity, and the room is heated by an electrical heater, usually attached to the floor.

Infrared sauna[5]: In these types of saunas, the room is not heated. Instead, special, infrared lamps heat a person’s body. The temperature is typically lower than other saunas, but the person still sweats in a similar way, getting heated inside out instead of the other way around.

Steam room[6]: High in humidity as well as temperature, steam rooms are heated with steam generators, with studies showing its benefits on the cardiovascular system[7]

All of these types can aid in weight loss, and here are some helpful tips to achieve that:

Do not Overdo It

Always make sure you are not overstaying your time in the sauna. Even if you are regularly enjoying your self-care sweating sessions, anything over 20 min is not recommended as you risk dehydration. Even the esteemed American College of Sports Medicine[8] agrees. 

If, on the other hand, you have never used a sauna before or you are just starting out, it is always better to start small and avoid using it for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Also, if you have exercised beforehand, wait for at least 10-15 minutes before you enter the hot room. You do not know how your body will respond to heat and you might get dehydrated way sooner than you think, which can wreak havoc on your body[9]

The initial weight loss will mostly be just retained water, so it might be tempting to indulge in longer sessions. This is where most people have it wrong. Keep it simple and avoid dehydration by staying under 20 minutes per session. 

Allow it To Cleanse Out Toxins

Sweating in general is a body’s way to:

  • Maintain an optimal body temperature by cooling it down in hot conditions
  • React to stress and exercise
  • Get rid of toxins accumulated in your body

When you are trying to lose weight, you are working on lowering your body’s inflammation and getting rid of toxins in the most natural way possible. Hot air conditions in the sauna will make your body sweat, and therefore help flush toxins out[10]

Although we should be able to detoxify on our own every single day, it is genuinely hard to do so without a little push. Sauna sessions can definitely help. 

When your inflammation is reduced, your body can function better, faster, stronger, and overall healthier. This is how you will be more efficient in losing the excess weight that is being retained. 

Let it Help Increase Your Metabolism

When your body is exposed to intense heat or cold, it has to work much harder and your heart rate can increase by up to 30%[11]. This boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more  calories[12]. That’s why working out in cold conditions may help you lose weight as much as doing it in the heat. Depending on your body’s preferences, you might respond better to one way or another, but taking some “me time” in the sauna will definitely be more enjoyable than sitting out in the cold. 

In order to burn a calorie, heat must be released[13]. So when your body is working hard to either warm up your body or cool it down, more heat gets released, resulting in more calories being burned. This speeds up your metabolism and makes you burn calories faster and at a much more efficient rate. 

Use it For Stress Release

Spending some time in the sauna can be a real therapeutic experience, helping you relax and destress from your everyday life. The majority of people who are struggling with losing weight are under tremendous amounts of stress which keeps them in constant “fight or flight” mode[14], creating a false sense of danger which makes their bodies hold on to every little ounce of fat in order to protect itself. 

It is also stimulating highly inflammatory responses in many different areas in the body which turn on light little lightbulbs and communicate amongst each other to prevent you from turning them off quite as easily. 

That is where regularly closing your eyes and sweating it up in the sauna can come quite handy. Let yourself breathe in that hot air and use it to release all tension that is building up on the daily. You can even include some relaxing music, essential oils, or even CBD oils which are known to help with weight loss. 

Creating relaxing rituals and making them a part of your regular routine can do wonders for your overall health and wellness, helping you not only lose the unwanted pounds, but also maintain a healthy weight long-term. 

In addition to sweaty sessions, it is important to implement other healthy habits such as adding exercise prior to your self-care time, lots and lots of fluids and hydrating foods, prioritizing sleep, as well as getting lymphatic drainage massage[15] to help speed up the process. 

Be Consistent

Nothing in life works unless you stay consistent with it. Eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep, moving your body – in order to get results, none of these things can be done for a few weeks and then stopped. The same works with sauna treatments. 

You cannot do one or two and expect magical results overnight. Instead, implement them into your regular weekly schedule (2-4 times per week) and you will be amazed at what your body can do when it adapts to sweating on-demand. It is going to reduce your inflammation and flush toxins at a more efficient rate and allow you to fully reap the benefits from the moment you enter the hot room. 

All in all, sauna rooms are a great tool which can aid in weight loss as well as your overall wellness. All that is left to do is give these sweaty sessions a try.


+ 15 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Oviir, A. (2019). Here’s why the history of the sauna is deeper than you might think. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/estoniansaunas/heres-why-the-history-of-the-sauna-is-deeper-than-you-might-think-d8e5127a8232.
  2. ‌Hussain, J. and Cohen, M. (2018). Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 2018, pp.1–30. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  3. ‌Finnmark Sauna. (2021). Finnmark Sauna. [online] Available at: https://finnmarksauna.com/collections/wood-burning-sauna-heaters-stoves [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  4. ‌greatbayspas (2017). Electric Vs. Wood Burning: Which Sauna is Right for You? | Great Bay Spa & Sauna. [online] Greatbayspas.com. Available at: https://www.greatbayspas.com/electric-vs-wood-burning-which-sauna-is-right-for-you/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  5. ‌mindbodygreen. (2014). mindbodygreen. [online] Available at: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12265/6-benefits-of-infrared-sauna-therapy.html [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  6. ‌Johnson, J. (2017). What are the benefits of a steam room. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320314 [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  7. ‌Lohman III, E.B., Sackiriyas, K.S.B., Bains, G.S., Calandra, G., Lobo, C., Nakhro, D., Malthankar, G. and Paul, S. (2012). A comparison of whole body vibration and moist heat on lower extremity skin temperature and skin blood flow in healthy older individuals. Medical Science Monitor, [online] 18(7), pp.CR415–CR424. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3560772/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  8. ‌Human Kinetics. (2018). Maintain health/fitness facility sauna, steam room, and whirlpool operating standards. [online] Available at: https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/maintain-health-fitness-facility-sauna-steam-room-and-whirlpool-operating-standards [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  9. ‌Taylor, K. and Jones, E.B. (2021). Adult Dehydration. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  10. ‌Crinnion W (2011). Components of practical clinical detox programs–sauna as a therapeutic tool. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, [online] 13(2). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17405694/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  11. ‌Braian M, B., Camila, C., Antonella De, V. and Carlos G, M. (2018). Human Physiology in Extreme Heat and Cold. International Archives of Clinical Physiology, [online] 1(1). Available at: https://clinmedjournals.org/articles/iacph/international-archives-of-clinical-physiology-iacph-1-001.php [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  12. ‌Galgani, J. and Ravussin, E. (2008). Energy metabolism, fuel selection and body weight regulation. International Journal of Obesity, [online] 32(S7), pp.S109–S119. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897177/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  13. ‌Quora (2017). What Actually Happens To Your Body When You Burn A Calorie. Forbes. [online] 8 May. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/05/08/what-actually-happens-to-your-body-when-you-burn-a-calorie/?sh=1b2c1b2e772b [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  14. ‌Goldstein, D.S. (2010). Adrenal Responses to Stress. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, [online] 30(8), pp.1433–1440. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056281/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].
  15. Vairo, G.L., Miller, S.J., Rier, N.M.C.I. and Uckley, W.B.I. (2009). Systematic Review of Efficacy for Manual Lymphatic Drainage Techniques in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: An Evidence-Based Practice Approach. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, [online] 17(3), pp.80E89E. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755111/ [Accessed 24 Jul. 2021].

Medically reviewed by:

Karla is a published author, speaker, certified nutritionist, and yoga teacher, and she's passionate when writing about nutrition, health, fitness, and overall wellness topics. Her work has been featured on popular sites like Healthline, Psychology.com, Well and Good, Women's Health, Mindbodygreen, Medium, Yoga Journal, Lifesavvy, and Bodybuilding.com. In addition to writing about these topics, she also teaches yoga classes, offers nutrition coaching, organizes wellness seminars and workshops, creates content for various brands & provides copywriting services to companies.

Medically reviewed by:

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Department of Health and Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source