Can an infrared sauna help with weight loss?

Girl measuring the amount of weight she has lost.
The link between infrared sauna and weight loss.

We are told countless times that we should “exercise more” and “eat better” in order to manage our weight issues. And who doesn’t want to lose a bit of weight? We feel more confident, can fit into our old jeans and skinny black dresses, have more energy and spend more time doing the things we love rather than stressing about our tummies, hips or flabby arms. For some of us working on our diet and exercise plan works great but for others it’s either very difficult to get started or we've tried it and failed many times. So what are some of the other ways we can turn to help us with our weight loss goals? Can sitting doing nothing in a sauna really help? Some latest research we recently dug up suggests it can.

History of sauna use

First a little bit of background. Humans have been using heat therapy and saunas for thousands of years; onsens in Japan, baths in Turkey, dry saunas in Finland and steam rooms that are found in most modern gyms. And the recent clinical evidence on heat therapy is that it is very effective with things like:

  • improving cardiovascular health
  • detoxification of chemicals and heavy metals
  • arthritis and muscular pain relief
  • chronic fatigue and depression.

However when it comes to evidence based research on the benefits of saunas and heat therapy with regards to weight loss, the jury seems to conclude that the only weight you’re going to lose is through sweat. That is, however, until the invention of the full spectrum infra red sauna! Infrared saunas heats you from the inside out by using infrared light, which we experience as heat. It’s exactly the same infrared light that’s produced by the sun so, it is completely harmless.

 This is the spectral composition of sunlight at Earth's surface.
Spectral composition of sunlight at Earth's surface

Most infrared saunas are either just near infrared or far infrared but to get the true benefits, we need the full spectrum which looks like this:

Wavelength spectrum
Wavelength spectrum

The study

So onto the study. Kenneth McLeod, professor of bioengineering at Binghamton University designed a study exposing people to 45 minutes per day in a Clearlight Infrared Sauna to measure the effects on body temperature, physiologic measures and long-term body weight changes.

 

He had the first group use the sauna 3 times a week for 4 months for 45 mins each and they got a whopping 4% reduction in body fat. Remember that this is not a 4% fall in total bodyweight but a 4% loss in body fat which is what we really care about. Check out what a 4% difference makes courtesy of the chaps over at Nerd Fitness:

Dr. McLeod then went onto phase 2 whereby he increased the weekly frequency of sessions to 5 times a week but reduced the duration from 45 mins to 30 mins and the programme length from 4 months to 2 months. These subjects also got an average 4% fall in body fat but in almost half the time (a total of 20 hours sauna bathing vs 36 hours in the phase 1 group). Presumably if the programme would have been run longer than 2 months, they would have lost even more weight before their weight loss plateaued at some point. Have a look at what a 4%+ body fat weight loss looks like in this picture:

Summary of results

Sauna participants Programme Frequency Time Temperature Fat loss
Phase 1 4 months 3x/week 45mins 43 degrees celcius  up to 4%
Phase 2 2 months 5x/week 30mins 43 degrees celcius  4% on average
Control Group 2 months 0x/week 30mins  n/a  0%

Finally it was noted that those that came in later in the day lost significantly more body fat than those using the sauna in the morning. The change in body fat was confirmed by measurements of serum glucose levels. Core body temperature will increase human growth hormone (HGH) production and that should increase serum glucose levels, which is what was found. In addition, they observed that the higher the core body temperature reached, the larger the decrease in body fat, also consistent with the HGH hypothesis.

Conclusion

So do we think that you should treat your body like a human dustbin and sit on your butt all day and do no exercise? No! Do we think that the only thing you need to make your weight loss dreams come true is a few sessions in an infrared sauna? No of course not! The sweet spot is a combined holistic lifestyle change that incorporates nutrition, exercise, sauna use and other lifestyle changes to counteract the perils of modern living. However sometimes it’s hard to get started and something like an infrared sauna session is a relatively easy way to start on the path to health, happiness and longevity. Just make sure it’s a full spectrum infrared sauna!

 

To your health, happiness and longevity,

The Levitise Team

 

P.S. If you looking to use our full spectrum infrared sauna to help you achieve your weight loss goals then, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

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