When on a weight loss journey, it’s important to find the practices, tools, and activities that work for your body. For years, people have used the power of heat through sauna and steam room use during their process. While both are similar tools, they each offer unique benefits for losing weight. So when it comes down to it, should you use a sauna or steam room for weight loss?
Below, learn more about how these tools aid in losing weight and find information on the shared weight loss benefits of sauna and steam room use, along with the differences that set them apart when sweating it out:
Sauna vs Steam Room Weight Loss Basics
What is an Infrared Sauna?
An infrared sauna is a room constructed of wood that warms the body through infrared rays with a dry heat. Infrared heat can penetrate 1.5” into the skin to warm the body efficiently. Because of this heat penetration, infrared saunas only need to operate between 115°F and 130°F as opposed to the 170°F to 200°F temperatures of traditional saunas. Outside of weight loss, there are many sauna health benefits, including boosted metabolism, detoxification, and stress reduction.
What is a Steam Room?
A steam room, also known as a steam bath, is an enclosed space outfitted with a steam generator. Because of the moisture content, steam rooms often have tile floors and either glass or tile walls to avoid the growth of bacteria in porous materials. Temperatures often range between 110°F and 114°F with 100% humidity. Due to the high heat and moisture, steam room benefits include skin hydration, respiratory relief, and lowered blood pressure.
Are there any Risks of Steam Rooms or Saunas?
As with any big lifestyle change such as a weight loss journey, it is always advised to consult with your doctor to avoid complications, especially if you have any health conditions. Those with heart conditions, pregnant women, those on medication should take extreme precaution when using a sauna or steam room.
If you are incorporating these methods into your weight loss journey, one key factor to keep in mind is hydration. Sweating means your body is losing fluids, so it is extremely important to replenish those fluids to avoid dehydration. Keep sessions in both devices to approximately 15 to 20 minutes. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop your session immediately and take a break.
One thing that is very important to consider on the topic of steam room and infrared sauna weight loss is water weight, or the collection of fluids in your tissues. This buildup of fluid causes bloating, and can make the scale fluctuate by 2-4 pounds every day. If you hear about something that will help you “lose weight quickly,” water weight is typically being targeted. While it is a quick weight loss tip, long-term weight loss requires more than simply losing water weight.
There are a number of ways to reduce water weight, including reducing sodium intake, reducing carbohydrate intake, increasing water intake, and sweating it out – something both infrared saunas and steam rooms are great at helping you achieve.
Unfortunately, the weight lost from this process is merely water weight and no fat burn. This means, as a stand-alone activity, the results of using a sauna or steam room for weight loss are very short-term and the weight will return once you drink water again.
Boosted Calorie Burn
There are many claims stating that sitting in a sauna can help you burn a lot of calories fast, but infrared sauna weight loss is more of a gradual burn. The infrared heat increases your heart rate and boosts your metabolic rate to burn approximately 1.5 times your regular calorie burn. For example, if you typically burn 40 calories in 30 minutes, a 30-minute sauna session will burn 60 calories. While it isn’t a large difference, any additional calorie burn helps!
Lipids such as fats and cholesterol can be big deterrents in weight loss. The penetration of infrared heat helps increase blood flow to fat cells, helping detoxify and reduce the appearance of fat cells. Additionally, sauna use has been shown in studies to significantly decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) and slight increase in HDL (good cholesterol), which is a good sign of weight loss and leads to better health due to improved cardiovascular health.
Muscle & Joint Pain Relief
When your muscles and joints ache, it makes it difficult to pursue your weight loss goals. Infrared sauna use helps reduce this pain by penetrating deep into muscles to release tension. This use of heat, also known as thermotherapy, triggers heat shock proteins that push the body into optimal repair and rebuild mode. Reducing, and even eliminating, aches and pains makes it easier to keep going back to your fitness routines and your weight loss efforts.
Improved Sleep & Relaxation
Have you ever snacked when you’ve been stressed? Or reached for unhealthy treats when your energy has been low? Feeling well-rested and relaxed helps us make better dietary decisions and stay on track for weight loss. Infrared sauna use puts you in a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state that helps you unwind and sleep well, which will leave you feeling motivated to make healthy decisions to reach your weight goals.
Water Weight Loss
As mentioned earlier, water weight can cause your weight to fluctuate by a couple pounds every day, and sweating it out is one quick way to lose this weight. The humidity in steam rooms create an especially effective environment for sweating, helping you lose weight.
When used after exercising, the steam room is a great supplementary practice to help you on your journey. Steam rooms can be used after a workout to help sweat out any remaining toxins. The application of steam also helps the recovery of muscles, making it easier for you to get back to your workouts. And like saunas, where calorie burn isn’t much higher than normal, consistent use of a steam room after working out can give you an extra calorie boost to lose weight.
Whether you choose a sauna or steam room for weight loss, both are great additions to your routine. While using as stand-alone treatments may not show quick or drastic results, using saunas and steam rooms can be used to improve your overall health and weight goals when combined with proper diet and exercise.