If you’re looking to shed some weight, there’s no doubt that a healthy diet and regular exercise are key. But did you know that spending time in the sauna or steam room could also help accelerate your weight loss progress?
While these heated rooms have been popular for their many health benefits since ancient times, they are now increasingly being touted as an effective tool for losing weight.
In this article, we’ll investigate whether the sauna or steam room is better suited for weight loss – and reveal the ultimate truth on which one deserves a spot in your fitness routine.
“Sweating it out in the heat has long been thought to promote detoxification and relaxation – but can it really help you lose weight? Let’s find out.”
We’ll explore how each of these environments works to boost metabolism, burn calories, and break down fat cells – as well as any potential risks or concerns associated with their use. So sit back, relax, and get ready to discover the science behind sweating for weight loss!
Sauna And Steam Room: What Are They?
Definition Of A Sauna
A sauna is a small room designed to be heated at high temperatures. These rooms typically use dry heat which can reach up to 185°F (85°C). The sauna experience usually involves sitting in the hot and humid conditions and sweating out toxins through your pores. Traditionally, saunas have been used for relaxation, easing sore muscles, eliminating toxins, reducing cold symptoms and promoting weight loss.
Definition Of A Steam Room
A steam room is similar to a sauna in that it also produces heat but instead of using dry heat, a steam room uses moist heat. This moisture results from boiling water and releasing steam into the air. Steam rooms are usually kept at about 100-115ºF with humidity levels ranging from 100 to 110%. People tend to use steam rooms for their perceived abilities to improve breathing, help with certain skin conditions such as acne, promote joint health, decrease stress, clear sinuses and soothe muscle tension.
Differences Between Sauna And Steam Room
While both saunas and steam rooms share some similarities, they differ in two key ways: temperature and humidity. While the sauna tends to produce higher temperatures than steam rooms, steam rooms win when it comes to humidity levels. Another notable difference is that steam rooms require less energy to operate compared to saunas due to their lower operating temperatures and cost-effectiveness. Additionally, steam rooms may be better suited for people with certain respiratory issues since they add moisture to the air rather than drying it up like saunas do.
“Saunas increase heart rate, dilate blood vessels, and open up pores, all contributing to increased sweating.” -Dr. Thomas Hlavacek
Now that we have a better understanding of saunas and steam rooms, let’s move on to one of the most common questions people ask. Is the sauna or steam room better for weight loss?
The answer is…it depends. While both can assist with shedding some pounds at first due to water loss from sweat (which may not be enough to see noticeable results in body composition), neither should be considered an effective way to lose significant amounts of weight long-term.
“Sitting in either of these types of enclosures increases perspiration, which means you’re losing water.” -Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez
A 2003 study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association found that while sitting in a sauna may have similar cardiovascular effects as moderate exercise, it doesn’t provide the same benefits when it comes to burning calories. According to the study, a 30-minute session in a sauna only burned around 300 calories compared to over 2,000 calories burned during moderate exercise like cycling or jogging.
Furthermore, spending too much time in either a sauna or steam room can increase your risk of dehydration, so it’s important to stay properly hydrated before, during, and after each session. Additionally, people who suffer from certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, or are pregnant should avoid using saunas or steam rooms altogether.
While there are health benefits associated with frequent use of saunas and steam rooms, complete reliance on them alone is not an ideal approach to sustained weight loss. They do, however, provide valuable physical and mental benefits worth exploring if partnered with other healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
Benefits Of Sauna And Steam Room
Relaxation And Stress Relief
If you’re stressed or anxious, a steam room or sauna can help relieve tension by promoting relaxation. The heat from the sauna and steam room soothes muscles, increasing circulation and helping your body release endorphins – which are natural painkillers and mood elevators.
You may also experience decreased blood pressure levels when you regularly use saunas or steam rooms, further decreasing stress on your heart.
“Saunas and steam rooms have been found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body,” says Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency medicine physician and host of “The Doctors.”
Beyond mental benefits, regular sessions in a sauna or steam room can provide physical relaxation, too. Heat conditions in these types of treatments can increase range of motion and flexibility in joints and muscles, leading to less soreness after exercise.
Saunas and steam rooms have long been important for detoxifying the body, as they allow individuals to sweat out harmful toxins through their pores.
In a typical 20-minute session in either treatment option, an individual can lose up to a quart of water through sweating alone – acting like a “mini-detox,” to cleanse one’s skin and organs
The deep sweating that occurs in a sauna or steam room helps to flush out potentially harmful toxins from the body, assisting liver function and boosting metabolic processes. This means that ammonia, sodium, lactic acid and uric acid can be purged from the body along with other toxins that build up over time.
“Given people’s tendency to accumulate so much heavy metals including mercury, lead and cadmium, all of which will leach out of tissues in a sauna, sweating represents one of the body’s safest and most natural ways to heal itself,” says Dr. William LaValley, founder of the LaValley Health Clinic.
While there is no conclusive evidence that saunas or steam rooms have significant weight loss benefits, it does appear they can improve cardiovascular health and help encourage relaxation and detoxification — all important factors for overall wellness.
How Do Sauna And Steam Room Aid In Weight Loss?
For many people, weight loss is a challenging and frustrating journey. Although regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential for shedding unwanted pounds, there are other ways to aid in the process. One popular method is through the use of sauna or steam room sessions. While both can be effective in promoting weight loss, some may wonder which one is better. Let’s take a closer look at how these relaxing heat therapies can help you slim down.
When your body temperature rises from using a sauna or steam room, it can cause an increase in metabolic rate, which refers to the number of calories that your body burns while at rest. This rise in metabolism is due to the increased heart rate caused by the heat stressor, and researchers have found that regular exposure to heat therapy can result in moderate increases in metabolic activity.
This increase in metabolic activity means that your body is expending more energy than usual and consequently burning more calories throughout the day. As a result, using a sauna or steam room can complement a healthy diet and fitness routine by providing an additional boost to your overall calorie expenditure.
In addition to boosting your metabolism, regular use of saunas or steam rooms has been shown to actively burn calories. It’s important to note, however, that the calories burned during a single session are relatively modest, around 300-500 depending on factors such as age, weight, and duration of the session. That being said, consistent and frequent visits to the sauna or steam room can add up over time and contribute to significant weight loss results.
If you’re looking to maximize your calorie burn during your sauna or steam room session, consider incorporating light stretching or low-intensity cardiovascular exercise into your routine. These activities can further increase heart rate and calorie expenditure while remaining within the safe confines of the heat therapy environment.
Reduced Water Weight
In addition to facilitating long-term weight loss through metabolic boosts and calorie burning, sauna and steam room sessions can also lead to a reduction in water weight. When our bodies are exposed to high temperatures, they respond by sweating profusely as a means of cooling down. This intense perspiration leads to an immediate loss of fluids, which can result in noticeable reductions in bloating or retaining excess fluids.
This effect is particularly useful for those who regularly experience water retention due to dietary imbalances or hormonal fluctuations. While it’s important to remember that these losses are temporary and not indicative of true fat loss, they can still serve as a valuable tool for jumpstarting a weight loss journey or getting back on track after a period of indulgence or stagnation.
Elimination Of Toxins
Another potential way that sauna and steam room sessions can support weight loss efforts is through toxin elimination. Sweating is one of the body’s primary ways of flushing out harmful toxins and reducing inflammation throughout cells and tissues. By using a sauna or steam room consistently, you may be able to aid your body in eliminating unwanted waste products that can hinder your overall health and digestion.
While more research is needed to confirm this link between detoxification and weight loss, many enthusiastic users have reported feeling lighter and less weighed down following regular sauna or steam use. If you’re interested in exploring the potential detoxifying benefits of heat therapy, make sure to stay hydrated and listen to your body’s cues about when to take breaks or exit the heated space if concerns arise.
“Using a sauna or steam room can enhance weight loss efforts by increasing metabolism, burning calories, reducing water weight and aiding in elimination of toxins.” -Dr. Katerina Rozakis
Both sauna and steam room sessions can be effective tools for enhancing your weight loss journey. By raising metabolic activity, burning calories, reducing water weight, and promoting toxin elimination, these heat therapies offer a range of potential benefits that can supplement healthy eating and regular exercise habits. With consistent use, many users have reported experiencing not just physical changes but also emotional wellbeing improvements such as stress relief and improved sleep quality.
If you’re looking to incorporate saunas or steam rooms into your health routine, start gradually and consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about underlying health conditions or medication interactions. Finally, remember that while heat therapy can be an excellent supplemental tool for weight loss efforts, it should never replace the foundational pillars of a healthy lifestyle including nutritionally balanced meals, hydration, and movement.
Which Is More Effective – Sauna Or Steam Room?
Depends On Personal Preference
The debate on whether the sauna or steam room is more effective continues to be a topic of discussion among many. The truth is, there are some factors that may influence an individual’s preference for one over the other. Most people find their choice based on personal preferences.
Saunas use dry heat and typically operate at temperatures between 170°F and 195°F. Since it’s just hot air doing its job in this room, individuals who prefer high heat often opt for saunas. Whereas, steam rooms use moist heat usually operating around 110°F. These two options can make all the difference when choosing which you prefer especially if you’re not fond of enclosed spaces with extreme temperature changes.
“People who love intense heat and don’t have any sinus problems tend to enjoy saunas better,” says Amy Chadwick of exhale spa in an interview with Huffington Post.
Differences In Heat And Humidity
Both saunas and steam rooms offer similar health benefits such as sweating out toxins in the body, improving circulation, and helping some skin conditions like acne. However, they differ in the amount of heat and humidity they provide. A sauna provides dry heat, while a steam room produces moist heat. When comparing weight loss effectiveness, the type of heat produced plays a key role.
In a sauna, sweat is induced by heating the air around your body. The warmer temperature causes the blood vessels near the surface of your skin to expand, improving circulation and encouraging your body to sweat. This will result in fluid loss that occurs through sweating.
In a steam room, on the other hand, sweat is induced by heating your body’s surface and not just the air around it. Steam contains moisture that penetrates your skin, opening up pores, allowing you to excrete more sweat from your body. This type of environment can leave you feeling “looser” in comparison to saunas.
“A sauna will help you lose weight faster, but weight loss due to dehydration (from sweating) is not permanent,” says Dr. Michael Breus in an interview with Sleep Doctor.
Health Conditions To Consider
Prior to deciding which option may be best for weight loss, It’s important to take into consideration one’s health status which plays a significant role in choosing between these two methods.
If you suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma or allergies, it would wise to opt for sauna rather than a steam room since the dry heat produced in saunas won’t irritate the respiratory passages as much. Similarly, if you’re suffering from high blood pressure, it might be better to avoid saunas since they tend to raise blood pressure. A study suggested that individuals who are overweight especially should avoid prolonged time spent in the sauna due. Excessive times spent can increase further stress on their cardiovascular system.
“Both the Sauna and Steam Room have similar benefits when it comes to losing weight; however, if you suffer from any sort of respiratory condition, stay away from steam rooms,” warns Fitness Coach Tim Katic on his web page ‘How2BurnFat’.
Combining Both For Optimal Results
If you’re someone who likes having the best of both worlds, combine both sauna and steam room. Alternating between each can leave one feeling invigorated with physical benefits.
“The total effect is that your muscles and joints loosen up, making it easier to move,” says Andrew Weil M.D in an article on CNN Health.
By stimulating circulation and expelling toxins from the body through sweating, both saunas and steam rooms do offer weight loss potential when combined with dietary changes and increased exercise habits. The key here would be moderation and being mindful of one’s limitations especially if suffering health issues.
“ If you are using either the Sauna or Steam Room for weight loss then I suggest use 15-20-minute sessions every time,” shares Dr Johnathan R White on a Youtube video post reviewing the topic.”
Precautions To Take While Using Sauna And Steam Room
The sauna and steam room are known for their many health benefits, including weight loss. However, before you rush to the nearest gym or spa, it’s important to take certain precautions. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
One of the biggest risks of using a sauna or steam room is dehydration. The high temperature causes you to sweat, which can quickly drain your body of fluids. Make sure you drink plenty of water both before and after using these facilities. Drinking water during your session can also be helpful.
If you don’t stay hydrated, you may experience dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, and even fainting. Severe dehydration can also lead to kidney problems and other health complications.
Limit Time In Sauna And Steam Room
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re enjoying the heat and relaxation of a sauna or steam room. However, it’s essential to limit your time in these facilities. Most experts recommend spending no more than 15-20 minutes at a time inside.
Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can increase stress on your cardiovascular system, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also cause skin irritation and dryness. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy at any point, step out immediately and cool down.
Avoid Alcohol Before And After Use
Drinking alcohol before or after using a sauna or steam room can be dangerous. Firstly, alcohol dehydrates your body, which could exacerbate the effects of hot temperatures in these environments. Secondly, excessive consumption of alcohol can impair your judgment and coordination, making it harder for you to take care of yourself during your visit.
In addition, alcohol and high temperatures can put extra strain on your liver and kidneys. These organs are already working hard to eliminate toxins from your body in a sauna or steam room – adding more stress with alcohol consumption could be harmful.
“Hot yoga, hot Pilates, spinning – those aren’t bad for sweating, but they’re nothing compared to Bikram yoga. It’s really the most extreme thing you can do.”
If you want to boost your weight loss efforts, there are other things you can try besides using a sauna or steam room. For instance, regular exercise and a healthy diet are key factors that contribute to weight loss.
Bikram yoga is another option that has been shown to promote rapid weight loss. This type of yoga is conducted in a heated room (often up to 40 degrees Celsius), making it similar to a sauna in terms of its effects on the body. However, unlike saunas, Bikram yoga involves physical activity that helps burn calories and build muscle mass.
While using a sauna or steam room may have some benefits for weight loss, it’s essential to take precautions and not rely solely on these facilities as a weight loss strategy. The key to successful and sustainable weight loss is adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, good nutrition, and plenty of rest!
Conclusion: Sauna Or Steam Room – Which One Should You Choose For Weight Loss?
The choices between sauna or steam room could seem challenging for those who have never heard of their benefits. Although both provide similar health advantages, each has its own unique features which might suit different individuals and their preferences. However, if the primary purpose is weight loss, then a few crucial factors need to get considered when selecting either sauna or steam room.
Consider Personal Preference And Health Conditions
The first critical thing to consider before choosing between sauna or steam room is personal preference and health conditions. While both options can help people lose weight, some people may prefer one over the other due to individual tastes and requirements of the body. Generally, people expect more heat in a sauna than in a steam room since saunas are dry, hot rooms that use heated stones to make temperatures rise beyond 80–100°C; however, steam rooms tend to be less intense because the humidity level reaches almost 100%, but the temperature stays around 55-65°C.
“Before deciding between sauna or steam room, it’s important to know your body limits, so you don’t end up having an adverse reaction to the heat,” recommends Dr Chen Ben Asher, founder of Mor Nutrition & More, consultancy practice.
Combine Both For Optimal Results
If feeling indecisive about whether to take a sauna or steam room, knowing that combining both activities one after another promotes optimal results may solve the dilemma. Alternating the two types of heat stimulation activates longer-lasting metabolic rates, promoting faster calorie-burning and detoxification from the body. Besides enhancing metabolism, steaming and saunas also open the pores, making skin glow with health while replenishing water lost after sweating. This way, by already losing calories during the activity, the body increases energy levels through reducing fats that make people feel sluggish and heavy.
“Switching from one temperature stressor to another stimulates your vascular system,” says Michael F. Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic. “Your veins will expand during steam bathing due to increased heat exposure; this allows for better blood flow.”
Consult With A Healthcare Professional Before Use
Although saunas and steam rooms offer various health benefits beyond weight loss, these activities may not be suitable for everyone. Some conditions can magnify negative effects of intense sauna or hot steam room sessions on people with low tolerance towards high temperatures such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, lupus erythematosus, pregnancy, etc. Therefore, it is advised to scan individual cases before stepping into saunas or using steam rooms even for those without pre-existing medical issues. Always consult a healthcare professional before indulging in any new health program.
“It’s important to avoid dehydration by ensuring you drink plenty of water ahead of time, during use, and afterward, particularly if you have medical concerns,” warns Dr Bonnie Balk, an associate professor of medicine at California State University.
Both saunas and steam rooms provide tremendous health advantages but choosing between them largely depends upon personal preference and physical adaptability. For optimal results, individuals may consider combining both methods. However, it’s critical to check in with a doctor before initiating either sauna or steam usage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a sauna?
A sauna is a small room designed to generate heat and humidity, typically using hot stones or an electric heater. The high temperature causes sweating, which is believed to have health benefits such as relaxation, improved circulation, and detoxification.
What is a steam room?
A steam room is a heated room that produces steam by adding water to hot rocks or a steam generator. The high humidity is believed to have similar health benefits to a sauna, such as relaxation, improved circulation, and detoxification. However, the steam may be more gentle on the respiratory system.
How do saunas help with weight loss?
Saunas may help with weight loss by increasing heart rate, metabolic rate, and sweating. The increased sweating can help eliminate toxins and excess water weight. However, any weight loss is likely to be temporary and mostly due to water loss rather than fat loss.
How do steam rooms help with weight loss?
Steam rooms may help with weight loss in a similar way to saunas, by increasing heart rate, metabolic rate, and sweating. The high humidity may also help with flushing out toxins. However, like saunas, any weight loss is likely to be temporary and mostly due to water loss rather than fat loss.
Which is more effective for weight loss: sauna or steam room?
Neither sauna nor steam room is likely to be significantly more effective than the other for weight loss. Both can help increase heart rate, metabolic rate, and sweating, leading to temporary water weight loss. However, neither is a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise when it comes to long-term weight loss and maintenance.