Losing weight with infrared sauna - definitive guide

An infrared sauna is a great instrument in the fight against excess weight.

Are you tired of those muffin tops? Do you care about that waistline? Does that belly need a little tightening? You’re looking at weight loss as are many others. Whilst weight loss is good, what you should be looking at is fat loss. But even fat loss is not straightforward. There are two types of fat, visceral and subcutaneous. You should be more worried about the intra-abdominal visceral fat, it is the dangerous kind that is associated with a plethora of medical conditions and diseases.

We’ve got bad news for you, losing fat is not easy. The good news that following certain rules makes fat loss certain.

But if you are serious about losing excess fat, if you’re keen on losing those love handles, if you’re set to combating being overweight - you may as well be efficient at it, right?

To lose weight efficiently the best thing is to combine several smaller changes in your behavior.

Improving your diet.

Improving sleep quality.

Finding time for regular physical exercise

Enjoying mental exercise

Stressing less

Using infrared sauna

It is not rocket science but the more energy you use and the less energy you consume - the more weight you will lose. However you don’t want to be losing water, or muscle, you want to be losing that unnecessary fat, and infrared saunas can help you with that, along with the rest of the items on that list.

The best thing about this simple list is that one item reinforces and stacks with the other.

Infrared saunas help by altering slightly your body chemistry, similar to the way physical exercise does it. Using an infrared sauna should accelerate fat loss because heat stress from infrared saunas is similar to exercise. Furthermore, infrared light therapy in a sauna relaxes you, helps you sleep, and provides massive benefits to your health. It even helps families bond through sharing a sauna experience.

Sauna such as infrared is a long-term investment into one's health.

"Improved Metabolism: I had heard of this in the infrared saunas, but was very pleasantly surprised to see it was true. I had personally noticed fat loss and increased energy from our Far North Wellness infrared sauna as well as sleeping better. I decided to run functional medicine testing to confirm this and found my basic metabolic rate had actually increased. " - Dr. Mike Nowazek-President Alberta Naturopathic Practitioners (2000-2007)

Fat loss is a serious issue

Weight loss is a serious issue. Americans in particular are among the most overweight nations in the world. Excess weight is a major concern as it is correlated, or maybe a symptom of a bunch of conditions. Fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular problems are all associated with excess weight. There is overwhelming research, almost all of which shows that being overweight is detrimental to physical and mental health. There is significant research into saunas and infrared saunas in particular, which show overwhelming benefits of sauna use with very few adverse effects if any if done in moderation.

The benefits of infrared light therapy stack

Infrared saunas, or any other sauna for that matter, cause heat stress. Heat stress triggers certain mechanisms in the body as it tries to cool down. The effects of these mechanisms are comparable to exercise. Exercise is good for health and weight loss, also if done in moderation. Infrared saunas induce heat stress by penetrating inches into the skin and muscles via infrared light, unlike traditional saunas that heat the surrounding air. Heat stress is like a mini-exercise for the body, the effects of which are almost identical to exercise. Moreover, combining a sauna with exercise significantly increases performance in athletes, so the effects stack.

Relaxation is important in the fight against excess weight

There are very few things one can do that are as relaxing as enjoying a sauna. Infrared saunas are arguably more comfortable as the air you breathe remains cool and it is easier to breathe. Considering the low maintenance that is required of an infrared sauna compared to a traditional sauna it is a relaxing experience before and after enjoying a sauna session.

Overall health benefits

Saunas such as infrared have been studied and the research shows that sauna use is tremendously beneficial for the whole body. Cardiovascular health, immune system, respiratory system all benefit from the effects of sauna use. Considering how similar sauna is to exercise and the stacking effect on the entire body and mind, an infrared sauna becomes a necessity. Besides the benefits to the inner workings of your body sauna, several benefits of infrared sauna use are cosmetic such as improved skin health and even skin glow.

Why weight loss matters and what do we know about it

Why weight loss matters

Weight loss does not matter. What matters is the fat loss, unless you are underweight or malnourished. Fatty liver and build-up of visceral fat around the body can cause substantial damage to your body in the long term. We all know the dangers of being overweight, every single government agency advises against being overweight, yet we still, as a population continues increasing our waist sizes.

Health issues associated with excess weight

Think of excess weight this way. Your body can work optimally when you are of a healthy weight. But if you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to supply all of those areas with blood. More fat around the body means clogged up arteries and it has to work even harder. Now think what is the leading cause of death in the world? It’s not old age, it’s heart-related conditions. If you make your heart work extra hard, even 1% harder it scales up with time. Your heart is working every single moment of your life, and a tiny fraction like 1% is already putting unnecessary strain on what makes you tick.

Excess fat, in the long run, is unsustainable, so start looking after your body early. You know that heart sign as a sign of love, love your heart, look after your body. Don’t take your heart for granted. Besides increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer, there is a whole range of mental health issues that are correlated with being overweight, distorted body image, low self-esteem, depression, cognitive health, dementia, and other conditions are associated with excess body weight.

Fat shaming

Whilst in recent times fat-shaming has become a taboo and we don’t want to shame anybody for being overweight, we only want to point out how unhealthy it is to be overweight or obese. Most of us already know how detrimental it is for one’s health to be of a larger body type, yet it is entirely up to you and no one should be forcing or shaming you into becoming fitter. It is entirely up to you. Looking after one’s health will always be respected and there are a whole bunch of mechanisms that include sauna use that can help a lot in the pursuit of good health.

Visceral vs subcutaneous fat

Your body fat can be divided into two types: Visceral and subcutaneous fat. Fat around your organs is called visceral fat and it's the dangerous kind. Visceral fat is associated with a plethora of diseases, subcutaneous fat has its uses, it has a function and it's the fat that is removed with liposuction surgery. You want to lose visceral fat that interacts with your internal organs with dangerous consequences for your body. Subcutaneous fat is the one you can pinch, it’s the stuff you see bobbling when you shake.

How to lose weight - the short guide

We’ve already established that you want to lose fat, rather than weight. It’s the visceral fat you’re after. There are a lot of misconceptions about weight loss. The weight loss industry is massive and it is propagating lies, myths, and disproven theories. So there ought to be a short guide to help you.


This is a *simplified* summary of metabolism. Metabolism is a combination of chemical processes in the body including energy conversion. But there is an easier way to explain how the fat burns.

How do we lose fat?

We lose fat primarily in the form of water and carbon dioxide. We sweat out water and we exhale water droplets and carbon dioxide. Curiously enough, some scientists calculated the ratio to find which organ does the most for us in terms of weight loss. Excess carbs and protein in our diet are converted to a type of fat called triglyceride. When you try to lose weight, you hope to metabolize these triglycerides while keeping their fat-free mass, i.e. muscles and bones intact. Triglyceride is a molecule composed of three types of atom: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Triglyceride molecules can be broken down only by unlocking these atoms, through a process known as oxidation. Researchers looked at how these atoms leave the body. They found that when 10 kg of fat were oxidized, 8.4 kg were converted and excreted as carbon dioxide (CO2) via the lungs, and 1.6 kg became water (H20). Therefore, it is the lungs that do most of the work getting you rid of fat, so make your lungs work. To make the most of your body’s natural ways of getting rid of fat, consider the following list:

  • Sleep well
  • Consume more nutritious food
  • Consume less food or consume more satiating food
  • Enjoy regular physical exercise
  • Enjoy mental exercise
  • Stay relaxed
  • Use infrared sauna

Losing weight step by step

Improving sleep to lose weight

One part of life that is often overlooked by those seeking to lose weight is the quality and the quantity of sleep. Sleep is a hugely important factor for an organism to function properly and if there is a lack of quality sleep this can disrupt bodily functions, including hindering the brain and disrupting metabolic mechanisms.

Consuming more food that is rich in nutrients to ensure fat loss

When it comes to your diet, look for good sources of nutrients. Processed foods often lack nutrients and it is better to avoid them. Most dietitians recommend consuming nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruit, and fish.

Consuming less food or consuming more satiating foods to prevent gaining weight

It is easy to suggest cutting down on food but accomplishing it is much more difficult. The easiest way to accomplish this is through the consumption of foods that are rich in nutrients and that are more satiating. For example meat and fiber-rich cereals like oats.

Enjoying physical exercise to stimulate energy consumption

We all know that physical exercise causes weight loss, as the energy you would otherwise not be using gets stored as fat. But by being physically active we burn more calories in the short term and we tap into our fat reserves in the long term. If you’re exercising and sweating you’re losing water and more importantly, you’re exhaling carbon dioxide, which both derive from fat. One psychological trick is to realize that physical activity that you are doing is not an abstract way of losing fat, but that physical exercise equals weight loss.

Enjoying mental exercise to burn calories

Did you know that chess grandmasters burn through 6000 calories a day playing chess at tournaments? The brain uses up to a third of our energy, so if you use it a lot you’re bound to be burning a lot of calories. So stop entertaining yourself, challenge yourself mentally instead and burn more calories with your head. Pun intended.

Relax and chill to maintain discipline

Stress is a source of calories in some ways if you are stressed you are less likely to maintain discipline. Lack of discipline leads to excessive consumption of food and discontinuing of physical exercise regimen. Relaxing whether, through meditation, exercise, or sauna sessions will help you lose weight.

Use infrared sauna to combine all of the above

Saunas such as infrared assist with all of the items above. Regular infrared sauna sessions help you sleep, improve your metabolic function, stimulate physical conditioning, and help with athletic performance. They even improve cognitive function in the long term and improve the mood even in those suffering from chronic depression. Enjoying a sauna session, infrared or traditional, is a great way to relax. Other resources can provide information in detail about the topics above, but we will dive deeper into how infrared saunas help you lose weight.

Increased athletic performance with infrared sauna

In the short term combining sauna use with physical exercise should accelerate fat loss. Through improved athletic performance, the body becomes better adapted at burning excess energy, i.e. fat.

Sports physicians have been wanting to give an edge to athletes for a long time. Some of this was achieved with steroids but there is also thermotherapy. Thermotherapy is used in sports as a method of instigating changes in body chemistry to facilitate improvements in endurance and recovery. It is entirely natural. Heat shock proteins that are generated in response to heat as the body attempts to cool down trigger a bunch of processes that are similar to exercise.

Even minor increases in endurance for athletes are crucial and saunas have become a part of the fat loss routine for many athletes and celebrities. Some physicians even suggest sauna such as infrared and other heat therapy sources as a means of slowing down aging.

Research has shown that combining physical activity with sauna sessions significantly increases endurance. Increased endurance makes burning fat easier and more sustainable in the long run. Infrared saunas and other saunas have been shown to increase endurance in athletes. The more endurance you have the more fat you can lose through exercise.

One small heat therapy intervention study looked at the effects of regular sauna use on athletic performance and other physiological effects in six male distance runners. The study found that one 30-minute sauna session twice a week for three weeks after a physically demanding exercise increased the time that it took for the participants to run until exhaustion by 32 percent compared to their baseline.[1] These performance improvements were accompanied by a 7.1 percent increase in plasma volume and a 3.5 percent increase in red blood cells (RBCs).[1] During exercise, the respiratory system works by transporting oxygen via red blood cells from the lungs to the body's cells (muscles in particular) and then delivering CO2 molecules to the lungs for exhalation. Increases in red blood cell count levels may suggest that combining sauna with exercise improves performance.

Improved perspiration and exhalation

We established that we lose fat through a process called oxidation, as bonds break between the atoms of triglyceride molecules. In this process, we exhale carbon dioxide and we sweat out water and it’s the lungs that do most of the work. The study above found that the number of red blood cells and plasma increased, as did the maximum physical endurance of male distance runners.

Increased levels of red blood cells mean there is more oxygen that can be transported towards tissues that require them. More blood plasma means more water, nutrients, and proteins are carried to the same tissues. With this in mind, it is clear why the physical endurance of athletes increased. Using an infrared sauna increases the rate at which oxygen can be substituted for carbon dioxide. Also, it increases the rate at which nutrients are delivered and waste is carried off from the tissue that requires them during exercise. It is no surprise that our lungs become more efficient and therefore more capable of burning through excess energy when using a sauna.

Infrared sauna for those looking to kick start their physical activity

Some overweight persons might struggle to begin their exercise regimen. It is a catch 22, a loop, a cycle where the start seems to be too difficult. So it gets postponed and delayed and forgotten. This is where the infrared sauna is the most useful, to start slowly with mild exercise for the body. The body cannot tell if this is a physical exercise or a sauna session. It responds to the heat on the skin and in the muscles the same way. In response to the body heating up, energy is spent on trying to cool down, without alarming the muscles.

Sauna such as infrared could be a great way for overweight and obese individuals to ignite and kickstart their bodies into performing athletic feats. Sauna sessions are like mild exercises in the way they affect the organism. The cardiovascular system, the respiratory system both benefit from heat stress experienced in the sauna and bodies slowly adapt to more demanding conditions. Physical conditioning through infrared sauna could be used as one of the initial steps towards fitness. Regular sauna sessions combined with a nutritious diet and proper hydration after a good night’s sleep would also help.

As mentioned above the best is not to endanger yourself by avoiding unnecessary contact with others.

Who could use an infrared sauna to kickstart their physical exercise regimen

Anyone could benefit from infrared sauna usage, but some groups of people stand to benefit the most

  • The elderly
  • Those with a weakened immune system (i.e. those following a chemotherapy or radiotherapy cancer treatment, those who have had an organ transplant)
  • Those with metabolic syndrome (i.e. diabetes and obese/overweight persons)
  • Those with problematic lungs (i.e. those who suffer from cystic fibrosis or asthma)
  • Those with other serious conditions (i.e. leukemia)
  • Smokers and those with underdeveloped lungs (i.e. those who lead a sedentary lifestyle)

Increased HGH to help you lose fat

One study on Finnish men found that sauna use increases the production of HGH, human growth hormone. HGH is associated with fat loss. HGH therapy in adults found that it causes a small reduction in body fat and an increase in muscle mass. For this reason, HGH therapy is considered to be doping, an unfair advantage in most sports associations. Nicholas Tritos, MD, who co-authored a study analysis evaluating the effectiveness of HGH for weight loss in obese people. "Our results showed small improvements in body composition, a small reduction in body fat and increase in muscle mass, but on balance, the weight did not change," Infrared saunas and other types of saunas temporarily increase the body's internal HGH production in a way that is similar to exercise. This alone could suggest that infrared sauna sessions help people lose weight. Instead of relying on artificial HGH, the body can produce it entirely on its own so it is a natural body response to some demanding activities. An infrared sauna is a good relaxing way to increase your HGH levels that have other beneficial effects.

Relaxation as a means to lose weight

If you are relaxed, you are less tempted to reach for a snack or to break your training regime. So chilling and relaxing is a really good way to maintain your focus. If you are focusing on losing weight effectively, then staying relaxed and avoiding stress is a reasonable strategy. Infrared saunas, like other types of saunas, are well known for their relaxing effect. It can be considered therapeutic relaxation. Some psychologists recommend sauna sessions as a method to counter stressful life. Research into the effects of sauna use on chronic depression patients showed that there is a long-term benefit for heat therapy even days after sauna usage. Our bodies respond well to heat stress, unlike emotional stress, we can successfully cope and our bodies reorganize naturally. Invigorated through thermotherapy we start to feel better. Infrared saunas require very little maintenance. Moreover, you can listen to your favorite music or to a podcast you were meaning to listen to. Overall, a sauna session is often a fun relaxing experience that can be enjoyed in solitude or with someone.

Improved sleep quality to help weight loss

Regular infrared sauna sessions help to lose weight by improving cardiovascular health, which leads to a better functioning body.

Sleep quality is tremendously important for several reasons. We sleep for a third of our lives for a good reason: it is necessary. The necessity dictates that to recover we have to go through periods of rest. However, in our culture, many people are struggling to fall asleep. Whether it be through stress or through mental loops we’re going through, sleep sometimes does not come by easily. Sleep has been linked to increased appetite and disruption of metabolic mechanisms. In other words, a lack of quality sleep causes people to gain weight, which is avoidable through the use of the sauna. Besides a range of benefits that include advantages to cardiovascular health sauna sessions also help people sleep better. An infrared sauna helps to raise the temperature of the body’s exterior, to drain away blood from the inner core of the body. This makes it easier for the inner core of the body to cool down which is necessary for you to fall asleep. So improving sleep quality will indirectly improve your metabolic function and will make it easier for you to keep up a specified diet and exercise regime. After completing a sauna session remember to rehydrate to make the most of your sleep.

In conclusion: Infrared saunas and losing weight

Regular infrared sauna sessions help by improving overall physical resilience and by helping to lose weight.

Losing weight is not easy. It is easier to lose fat with the help of an infrared sauna. Whether you are obese, overweight or a fit athlete using a sauna will make weight loss not just easier but also more effective. Whilst an infrared sauna alone is not likely to make a massive difference to your fat to muscle ratio, it will assist you in every other way from calming you down to assisting your metabolic function. Fat reduction requires discipline and willpower, infrared sauna sessions even help in that department by stimulating cognitive function. Regular sauna use decreases the risk of cognitive impairment in later life. Infrared sauna can be used at any age, in any physical condition with little to none adverse effects.

How to make the most of infrared sauna for weight loss

You can introduce sauna into your daily routine

Taking all the science into account this is what could be recommended to lose fat efficiently in combination with infrared sauna use. Intense weight loss Your excess energy is stored as glycogen in your muscle and liver and as triglycerides in your fat. If you don’t eat for, let’s say 16 hours, you tap into your fat reserves when glycogen is used up. Avoid eating late to wake up with depleted glycogen, so that when you are exercising or going for a sauna session in the morning you’re burning fat. Enjoy your day, eat healthy food. Before going to sleep, hydrate yourself, and have another session in the sauna. This will help you sleep. Rehydrate and sleep in the darkness with no distractions. Wake up feeling great and repeat.


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2. Effects of Recombinant Human Growth Hormone Therapy on Bone Mineral Density in Adults With Growth Hormone Deficiency: A Meta-Analysis. Maya Barake, Anne Klibanski, Nicholas A. Tritos
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 99, Issue 3, 1 March 2014, Pages 852–860, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2013-3921

3. Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics

4. Sauna may be as good for the heart as exercise. WebMD.

5. Hussain J, Cohen M. Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:1857413. Published 2018 Apr 24. doi:10.1155/2018/1857413

6. Janssen CW, Lowry CA, Mehl MR, et al. Whole-Body Hyperthermia for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(8):789–795.