Saunas are more than just a place to relax, unwind and warm up: Thanks to the heat they emit, you can actually burn calories just by sitting inside.
While indulging in a sauna session isn’t a replacement for healthy eating and regular exercise, the number of calories you can burn in a sauna can certainly supplement your normal fitness efforts.
For example, according to Fitness Blender, a male that weighs 185 pounds can burn approximately 60-80 calories during a 30-minute sauna session.
Read on to find out exactly how many calories you can burn in a sauna, and how you can use a sauna to support your fitness and weight loss goals.
Calculate How Many Calories You Burn in a Sauna
According to an article published by Fitness Blender, “Can You Lose Weight in a Sauna? Calories Burned in Sauna,” you can calculate how many calories you’ll burn in a 30-minute sauna session using the following equation:
Number of calories burned in 30 minutes of sitting x 1.5 = calories burned in a 30-minute sauna session.
To calculate the maximum number of calories you can burn in a sauna session, multiply the number of calories burned in 30 minutes of sitting by two instead of 1.5.
With the numbers produced by those two calculations, you’ll get a general range you can use to estimate the number of calories you’ll burn in a sauna.
Keep in mind that the number of calories you burn in 30 minutes of sitting will vary based on your weight, height, age and gender, so it’s important that you calculate that accurately.
For example, using a base metabolic rate (BMR) calculator , we can learn that a 30-year-old female who weighs 150 pounds and is 5’5’’ tall has a BMR of 1,492 calories or about 31 calories per 30 minutes.
Using the calculation above, we can see that that same female would burn about 46.5-62 calories during a 30-minute sauna session.
Do You Lose Weight in a Sauna?
If you weigh yourself before and after a sauna session, you may notice that you weigh slightly less right after your session.
However, it’s important to remember that that weight loss is a result of losing water through your sweat, not a result of losing fat.
According to a 2018 article from the Harvard Medical School, “Sauna Health Benefits: Are saunas healthy or harmful?” you can lose a pint of sweat during a brief sauna session.
Assuming that their definition of a brief sauna session equates to 15 minutes, this means that a 30-minute sauna session will cause you to lose approximately two pounds of water weight.
Once you hydrate with a few glasses of water after your sauna session, that weight will instantly return.
So, keep in mind that while sweating in a sauna can burn more calories than sitting in a room-temperature space, it can’t help you lose fat quickly.
To lose weight with sauna use, you’ll have to use your sauna regularly for an extended amount of time while also eating healthy and exercising.
Can Saunas Help You Lose Weight in Other Ways?
Sauna use can indirectly help you maintain a healthy weight by reducing stress.
According to a 2013 article in Psychology Today, “Why We Gain Weight When We’re Stressed—And How Not To, ” stress causes your brain to release a hormone called cortisol.
This hormone tells your body to restock on calories, which can lead to overeating. Plus, stress can also cause our your body to store an additional layer of fat, particularly in your stomach.
As a 2018 article published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review” explained, sauna sessions can help to reduce stress and depression.
Thus, reducing stress through regular sauna sessions may help you to prevent stress-related weight gain and fat retention.
Whether directly or indirectly, using a sauna regularly can help you meet your weight-loss goals and burn additional calories over time. What’s not to love about that?