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Calories Burned in a Sauna: How Much Weight Can You Lose?

Have you ever wondered how many calories are burned in a sauna and how much weight you can lose? Saunas have been around for thousands of years, forming an integral part of Scandinavian living and influencing other cultures worldwide. These ancient structures originally served as bathhouses, but they were also used as spaces for childbirth, healing, and spiritual practices. 

Today, saunas are popularly used for wellness and relaxation. They’re associated with a ton of health benefits, including stress relief, improved blood flow, better skin, and reduced muscle soreness. Some people have integrated saunas into their workouts and weight-loss routine.

There’s a common question that usually pops up when talking about calories burned in a sauna: How much can you lose? You may also be wondering about the science behind saunas and how regular sweat sessions contribute to your weight loss journey.

In this guide, we’ll answer these questions and more! Keep scrolling to learn about saunas and their role in helping you burn some calories, shed extra pounds, and achieve your fitness goals.

How Do Saunas Help You Burn Calories?

If you’re trying to figure out how many calories you’ll lose in a single sauna session, it helps to understand the process behind it. Generally, saunas are spaces heated to temperatures ranging from 150°F to 195°F. Some saunas allow you to create steam using a ladle and water bucket.

The method that saunas use to generate heat can vary. Traditional saunas use burning wood or hot rocks, Turkish-style saunas utilize the steam from boiling water, and electric saunas have an electric heater. Meanwhile, infrared saunas heat your body directly by emitting infrared light. 

Regardless of your sauna type, your body reacts to the heat in the same way—there’s an increase in heart rate, body temperature, and blood circulation. Your blood vessels dilate, and your body works harder to regulate temperature by sweating, similar to when you’re exercising.

As a result of these processes, you burn calories! However, much of the weight you’ll lose from a one-time session can be attributed to water weight. For long-term results, repeated use combined with proper diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep and hydration are necessary.

How Many Calories Can You Burn in a Sauna?

Sitting in a sauna causes a rate of calorie burn that’s 1.5–2 times higher than when you’re sitting in an ordinary setting. It’s worth mentioning that people’s metabolism, heat tolerance, and body composition vary, so results may differ from one sauna user to another.

An equation you can use to estimate the number of calories you’ll burn in a traditional 30-minute sauna session would be the number of calories you burn during 30 minutes of regular sitting multiplied by 1.5 or 2. You’ll need to know your basal metabolic rate for this calculation.

For instance, a 30-year-old woman weighing 150 pounds with a 5’5” height has a basal metabolic rate of 1,401 calories per day, so she burns about 29 calories in 30 minutes of sitting. Multiplying that by 1.5 or 2, she’ll lose an estimated 43.5–58 calories in a half-hour session.

The immediate weight loss from a sauna session is useful for wrestlers, boxers, and other athletes who need to meet weight requirements for a match. It also helps dancers, models, and actors gain a temporarily thinner appearance or fit into tight clothing for an event.

How to Use the Sauna to Burn Calories

Here’s how you can make the most out of your sauna sessions and enjoy lasting weight loss benefits:

1. Find the Right Sauna Type

Try out traditional, electric, infrared, and other saunas to find out which best suits your lifestyle and preferences. You can also do some research or talk to sauna manufacturers to learn more about each sauna’s calorie-burning capabilities. 

For instance, some fitness experts claim that infrared saunas are most effective for burning calories because of the way infrared light penetrates your skin and heats your body directly.

2. Gradually Increase Sauna Time

If you’re new to sauna bathing or are particularly sensitive to heat, it’s best to start with 5-minute sauna sessions first. Provide your body with enough time to adjust to the experience and gradually move on to longer sessions.

Rushing into intense sessions and overstaying your time in a sauna can cause you to become lightheaded or severely dehydrated.

3. Stay Hydrated

Since saunas cause your body to lose water weight, drinking plenty of fluids before and after a session is essential. Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with kidney disease, diabetes, and heart failure conditions are especially vulnerable to dehydration.

Headaches, dizziness, mouth dryness, extreme thirst, and less frequent urination are some of the alarming signs of dehydration.

4. Be Consistent

Don’t expect magical results from just one sweaty session! Consistency is a key factor when it comes to weight loss. This doesn’t just apply to your sauna treatments. It also pertains to other healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nutritious food, resting, and physical activities.

Knowing when to use the sauna is important as well. Sauna bathing before a heavy workout can leave you injured, dizzy, or dehydrated, so it’s best to use the sauna as part of your post-workout routine. Don’t forget to spend 10–15 minutes cooling down your body afterward.

5. Facilitate the Detox Process

Sweating in the sauna helps your body flush out toxins, promoting health and weight loss. You can support the detox process by limiting your alcohol consumption, getting quality sleep, cutting back on salty and sugary snacks, and eating antioxidant and prebiotic-rich foods.

Stay away from fad detox diets with unsupported health claims, and stick to the natural ways of helping your body’s natural detoxification system.

Wrapping Up

When paired with healthy lifestyle choices, sauna sessions can be an effective part of your weight loss strategy. In addition to burning calories, this ancient practice contributes a lot of health benefits that significantly boost your physical and mental well-being.

Hopefully, this guide has given you a clear picture of how much you can lose when it comes to calories burned in a sauna. For more personalized advice on sauna use for weight loss, it’s best to consult a qualified health professional. 


Sauna sessions might be just what you need to reach your fitness goals, so give them a try! See how turning up the heat can help you transform into a healthier, happier, and lighter version of yourself.