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Do Saunas Burn Calories?

If you’ve ever thought about using a sauna to lose weight, you’re probably got in mind that iconic image of a boxer, wearing what amounts to an oversized garbage bag, furiously pedalling away on an exercise bike that’s been stationed inside the hot box. If a professional athlete is using a sauna to cut weight before an important event, there must be some sort of logic to the act. If saunas burn enough calories for a boxer to make weight before a fight, it’s easy to ask, “Do saunas burn calories for the average person as well?” And would that caloric churn be enough to take weight off permanently?

How Do Saunas Burn Calories?

It’s highly doubtful a professional athlete would put up with the humiliation of working out in a wooden box while wearing a plastic tracksuit if there were no proven benefits of doing so. Just like you wouldn’t expect a tough guy boxer to be skipping rope if it didn’t result in some sort of cardiovascular benefit and dexterity building. But the fact is that the boxer who’s trying to cut weight isn’t doing it for the long term. They’re trying to lose what’s typically a relatively small amount of weight in a very short period of time. And as soon as that weight loss is quantified for the judges’ weigh-in, they’ll be working just as hard to regain the weight they just lost. The weight lost by exercising in a sauna is actually a simple water-loss created through the process of sweating, not the appreciable conversion of fat.

How Many Calories Can Be Burned in A Sauna?

When it comes to using a sauna to burn calories, create a caloric deficit and promote weight loss, it’s important to figure out the calorie burning base rate to begin with. If you simply sit in a sauna without exercising, the average sized male might burn up to 90 calories during a 30-minute session. Comparing that with an average intake of 2500 calories per day, it quickly becomes obvious that simply sitting in a sauna isn’t going to help you lose a lot of weight. Of course, you’ll still sweat and lose weight due to water-loss, but that’s something you’d want to rectify quickly if you wanted to stay healthy. If you’re actually doing exercise in a sauna, you’ll be burning as many calories as you would doing the same activity outside the sauna. A half hour on a stationary bike can burn 300 calories or more. But doing it in a sauna doesn’t increase the calories being expended, it simply makes you sweat a whole lot more.

Weight Cutting Versus Weight Loss

If you’re looking to burn calories to lose weight, simply sitting in a sauna is not going to get the results you’re looking for. If you’re a professional athlete looking to quickly cut your weight for a short period of time, sweating out the excess water in your body can give you that temporary weight drop. But as soon as you rehydrate, you’ll be back to your original weight.

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