How Many Calories Do You Burn in a Sauna? How Can It Help With Your Weight Loss Journey?

How Many Calories Do You Burn in a Sauna How Can It Help With Your Weight Loss Journey

Sitting in a sauna does have an impact on your calorie burn, but how much you will lose will depend on various factors including your overall health and the type of sauna (i.e. wet, dry, or infrared sauna) among others.

Are you curious about the amount of calories burned in a sauna? How much weight can you lose sitting in a sauna for 10, 15, 20, 30, or 45 minutes? Learn how saunas can help in slimming down your waist here!

This blog will delve into the science of saunas and calorie weight loss. We will also provide you with helpful tips for maximizing calorie burn in a sauna along with sauna safety and hydration tips.

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Key Takeaways

  • Sauna sessions can modestly increase calorie burn through elevated heart rate and metabolism, akin to mild exercise effects.
  • The primary weight loss from sauna use is temporary, primarily resulting from water weight loss rather than fat loss.
  • The actual calorie burn in a sauna varies widely based on individual factors such as body weight, metabolism, and the type and duration of sauna use.
  • Incorporating sauna sessions into a holistic health and weight loss plan can enhance overall well-being but should not replace regular exercise and a balanced diet.
  • Infrared saunas may offer a higher calorie-burning potential compared to traditional saunas due to their deeper penetration and efficient heating method.
  • Proper hydration and adherence to safety guidelines are crucial to maximize benefits and mitigate health risks associated with sauna use.

The Science Behind Calories and Weight Loss: Do Saunas Burn Calories?

Does sitting in the sauna burn fat? Does infrared sauna use burn calories?

To answer these questions, let us first look into the basics of how the body burns calories by discussing the sweating process and sauna mechanisms.

NOTE: Dropping pounds isn’t just about what you eat or how often you hit the gym. It’s also about your overall health and the habits you’ve built over time. But for now, let’s zero in on a specific slice of the weight loss pie: the role of sweating it out in a sauna. 

Overview of How Our Bodies Burn Calories

At the heart of weight management and energy balance lies the process of how our bodies burn calories. This is predominantly governed by our metabolic rate, notably referred to as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

BMR is the cornerstone of our energy expenditure, representing the minimum amount of energy required to keep our body functioning while at rest. This includes maintaining core body temperature, supporting the function of vital organs, and ensuring cellular processes run smoothly.

In essence, our metabolic rate is a measure of how efficiently our bodies use energy for these basic functions. Individuals with a higher metabolic rate consume more energy at rest and during physical activities, which means they need to intake more calories to maintain their current weight.

Conversely, those with a slower metabolism burn fewer calories both at rest and in motion, necessitating a lower caloric intake to avoid weight gain.

So, Does Using a Sauna Burn Calories?

While sitting in a sauna does burn some calories, it’s not a substantial amount and certainly not a stand-alone solution for weight loss or fat reduction.

Using a sauna can indeed lead to calorie burn, albeit at a modest scale. The process works through an increase in heart rate, blood circulation, blood vessel dilation, and energy expenditure, akin to the effects observed during mild exercise. This, in turn, elevates your metabolic rate for you to start burning calories.

Sauna Should Not Replace Routine Exercise and a Healthy Lifestyle

Incorporating sauna sessions into your weight loss and health routine can offer benefits, including some calorie burning. Still, it’s crucial to understand that this should not replace traditional methods of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet.

While sauna sessions can contribute to an enhanced calorie-burning regime, they should not be viewed as a standalone solution for weight loss. Saunas can be seen as a supplementary activity that may enhance your overall health and potentially contribute to weight loss efforts, particularly by providing a modest boost in calorie expenditure.

Sauna use offers additional health benefits beyond calorie burning, making it a valuable component of a well-rounded health and fitness routine when used appropriately.

How Does a Sauna Burn Calories? How Do They Make You Lose Weight?

There are two major ways how a sauna can burn calories: increasing your metabolic rate and losing water weight.

sauna bucket and laddle set
Source: Pixabay

1. Increasing Metabolic Rate

The heat from the sauna elevates your heart rate and metabolic rate, akin to the effects experienced during a light cardiovascular workout. This process can lead to significant calorie burn, with saunas, especially infrared saunas, increasing metabolic rates by up to 30%

2. Losing Water Weight

Using a sauna for weight loss primarily results in the loss of water weight. When you indulge in a sauna session, especially an infrared one, your body sweats profusely. This process leads to the loss of some of your body’s hydration, enabling a quick but temporary weight reduction—potentially up to 5 lbs in a well-hydrated individual.

Does Sitting in a Sauna Burn Fat?

Thus, the immediate weight loss observed post-sauna session is primarily due to water weight loss, not fat loss. Consequently, the weight can quickly return once you rehydrate.

Despite the immediate gratification of seeing lower numbers on the scale post-sauna, this method doesn’t offer a sustainable path to fat loss. It’s essentially a quick fix, suitable for certain short-term goals, such as fitting into an outfit or meeting a specific weight for an event.

The Facts: How Many Calories Are Burned in a Sauna?

This question is more complex than it appears, as several factors come into play. It’s crucial to understand that the figures you get in sauna calories burned calculators are just estimates and can vary significantly from one individual to another.

The most accurate way to gauge the impact of a sauna session on calorie expenditure is by monitoring one’s heart rate. This method provides a more tangible measure of the body’s response to the heat and, by extension, the potential calorie burn.

NOTE: Always consult with a healthcare or fitness professional before incorporating sauna sessions into your wellness routine, especially if the goal is weight loss or improving physical fitness.

Factors Influencing Calories Burned in a Sauna

A higher body weight and lower heat tolerance can increase the calorie burn rate. Healthier individuals also tend to lose fewer calories in saunas compared to less healthy or overweight people.

But, calculating the exact calories burned in a dry sauna will depend on factors such as:

  • Body weight
  • Metabolism rate
  • Height
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Heat tolerance
  • Fitness level
  • Health status
  • Hydration
  • Sauna duration
  • Sauna temperature
  • Sauna frequency
  • Time of day
  • The type of sauna used

Saunas can come in different types including the following:

Calories Burned Sitting in a Sauna: Regular vs. Infrared Sauna

Are infrared saunas better for burning calories than traditional saunas?

Source: Pixabay

When deciding between a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna, the choice often boils down to the specifics of how they operate and the benefits they offer, particularly in terms of calorie burning.

man sweating in a sauna

Traditional saunas work by heating the air around you, creating a hot environment that encourages sweating and, to some extent, calorie expenditure.

In contrast, infrared saunas utilize a direct heat approach, employing infrared light to penetrate the skin more deeply and elevate the body’s core temperature more efficiently. The deeper penetration of infrared rays into the body’s tissues is believed to enhance metabolic activity, potentially enabling the body to burn calories at a higher rate.

The distinct heating mechanism of infrared saunas means they might offer a more potent calorie-burning potential compared to their traditional counterparts. 

Some proponents suggest that this can lead to significantly higher calorie burn in an infrared sauna, even proposing that users can burn up to 10 times more calories than in a traditional dry sauna.

However, it’s important to note that while these claims highlight the possible advantages of infrared saunas for those looking to increase their calorie expenditure, scientific research is still ongoing to fully validate these assertions.

How Many Calories Are Burned in a Regular Sauna (a.k.a. Traditional Sauna)?

How many calories are burned in a 180-degree sauna?

(NOTE: Traditional saunas have a heating temperature of approximately 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 82.22 degrees Celcius.)

Generally, it’s accepted that being in a sauna can increase calorie expenditure to about 1.5 to 2 times the rate compared to sitting in a room at a normal temperature. This bump in metabolic rate means that, theoretically, one could nearly double their calorie burning by just sitting back in the steamy warmth of a sauna.

Delving deeper, studies suggest that a 30-minute stint in a traditional sauna could torch between 300 to 500 calories. This range, however, isn’t arbitrary; it heavily depends on the factors we’ve listed above.

Calories Burned in Infrared Saunas: An Ongoing Debate

Calories burned in an infrared sauna cannot be exactly determined.

This is a topic rife with speculation, anecdotal evidence, and a myriad of studies, each presenting a different perspective on the potential calorie burn one might expect from sitting back in the steamy embrace of an infrared sauna. Studies suggest the calorie expenditure might be as modest as 50 calories up to an impressive 600 calories within a mere thirty-minute session.

Below, we outline two key peer-reviewed studies regarding calories burned in infrared saunas:

1. 400 Calories Burned in a 1-Hour Total Session Including Cooldowns

A 2019 study revealed that four 10-minute sauna sessions, interspersed with 5-minute cooldowns, led to a loss of 0.65 kg, primarily from water loss. An average of 73-134 calories burned in the sauna for 10 minutes was recorded, totaling a minimum of around 200 calories burned in an infrared sauna over 30 minutes.

This study used sedentary men with lower heat tolerance and higher body mass, suggesting that factors like body composition and heat tolerance significantly influence the outcomes. However, it’s important to recognize that the weight loss recorded was temporary, emphasizing the need for hydration and the limited role of sauna sessions in long-term weight management strategies.

2. 495 To 1125 Calories Burned in 1 Hour in a Sauna Including Cooldowns

Another study highlighted the effectiveness of sauna sessions, particularly with athletes, in promoting significant calorie burn and potential fat loss.

In sessions structured around three 20-minute exposures with 5-minute cooling intervals, both male and female participants experienced notable weight loss, ranging from 0.39 (women) to 0.89 (men) kg.

When dissected further, this equates to an estimated calorie burn of between 495 and 1125 calories per hour-long session, taking into account that a portion of this weight loss is attributed to fat. This means that calories burned in 20 min sauna exposure is equivalent to an estimate of 165 to 375 calories.

Infrared saunas, maintaining temperatures around 160 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 70 degrees Celsius), have been singled out for their superior efficiency in raising core body temperatures, potentially leading to greater fat loss compared to traditional saunas.

These findings, while promising, are based on simplified estimations, especially considering the variations in water weight. Importantly, caution is advised against self-administering such sessions without professional guidance due to risks like dehydration and skin burns.

Safety Considerations and Best Practices: Avoiding Dehydration from Sauna

Neglecting to stay properly hydrated while soaking up the heat in a sauna isn’t just unhealthy; it can actually backfire on your weight loss goals. Keeping your body hydrated is crucial when you’re trying to lose weight for good.

man sweating in a sauna
Source: Pixabay

Water plays a key role in metabolizing stored fat and helping your body flush out toxins. So, skipping on sipping water in these steamy situations could be counterproductive, making it harder for your body to let go of those extra pounds.

Moreover, ensuring proper hydration is paramount when engaging in sauna sessions, given the significant fluid loss experienced through sweating. To safeguard against dehydration and its detrimental health effects, adhering to the following safety considerations and best practices is essential:

  • Pre-Session Hydration: It’s crucial to drink several glasses of water before entering a sauna. This preparatory step helps your body manage the intense heat more effectively, reducing the risk of dehydration.
  • Post-Session Rehydration: Immediately following your sauna session, replenish your lost fluids by drinking at least the same amount of liquid you’ve lost, ideally opting for water or a spritzer. This step is vital to prevent dehydration-related issues like headaches.
  • Electrolyte and Sodium Replenishment: Considering that a significant quantity of sodium and electrolytes are lost through sweat, adding these to your post-sauna rehydration routine is beneficial. This can be through specialized drinks or a balanced snack, assisting in your body’s recovery and readiness for the rest of the day.
  • General Recommendation: A guideline to follow is consuming 32oz of water for every 30 minutes spent in a sauna. This ensures adequate hydration and supports an optimal sauna experience.

Helpful Tips: How to Maximize Calorie Burn in a Sauna

  • Recommended Sauna Use: Adhere to recommended guidelines for duration and temperature during sauna sessions to maximize benefits and ensure safety.
  • Hydration and Safety: Prioritize hydration and follow safety precautions closely. Drink plenty of water before and after your sauna session to replenish fluids lost through sweating. Certain individuals, including those with specific health conditions and pregnant women, should avoid sauna use.
  • Weight Loss through Sauna: Incorporating sauna sessions into a weight loss plan requires a holistic approach, including maintaining a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, carbs, and proteins, staying physically active, and managing calorie intake effectively.
  • Calorie Control: The effectiveness of using a sauna for weight loss is contingent upon creating a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than are expended, including those burned during sauna sessions.
  • Enhancing Metabolic Rate: Gentle stretching and deep breathing exercises within the sauna may aid in marginally increasing the metabolic rate and boosting calorie burn.

Related: How Long To Wait To Eat After Sauna? 

How Long Should You Stay in a Sauna to Burn Calories?

The time you spend in a sauna can influence how many calories you burn, but it’s important to balance this with safety and health considerations. Generally, most health experts recommend sauna sessions of around 15 to 20 minutes.

Never exceed 20 minutes in one session, especially if you’re new to sauna use.

It’s crucial to listen to your body and exit the sauna if you feel dizzy, uncomfortable, or overheated. Regarding the frequency, regular use can contribute to overall calorie expenditure, but make sure to allow your body to rest and recover.

Sauna Session Benefits Beyond Calorie Burning

  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Stimulates metabolism
  • Aids in detoxification
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular-related deaths
  • Enhances blood flow
  • Improves brain function
  • Supports muscle recovery
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves mental health
  • Improves skin health

In Summary: Is Sauna Good for Weight Loss?

In wrapping up, leaning on saunas for weight loss might seem like a quick fix, but it’s not the wisest choice, especially when quick results are sought for events or fitting into that special outfit. True weight loss and maintaining it hinge on steady, healthy habits, steering clear of the allure of instant solutions which often fall short of their promises or harm your health in the long run

But one thing is for sure – the multitude of health benefits offered by saunas, like Shym Saunas, beyond calorie burning is undeniable.


How many calories do you burn in a 30-minute sauna?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, calorie burn in a sauna can be estimated using factors like sauna type, session duration, and individual metabolic rate. Infrared saunas, for example, might burn calories differently compared to traditional steam saunas due to the way they heat the body.

Is a sauna good for burning fat? Are saunas effective for weight loss?

While sauna use can contribute to weight loss, it should not be relied upon as the sole means of shedding pounds. Take note that the weight loss experienced during a sauna session is primarily due to water loss, not fat loss. However, you can use saunas to complement your weight loss efforts paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Are there any risks associated with using a sauna?

Yes, using a sauna comes with certain risks such as dehydration, especially if not used properly or with caution. To mitigate these risks, it’s advisable to limit sauna sessions to 15-20 minutes, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol before and after sauna use, and always listen to your body, stepping out if you feel uncomfortable or ill.

Individuals with pre-existing health conditions or concerns should consult a healthcare provider before incorporating sauna sessions into their routine.

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