Living in this digital age of technology certainly has its perks. From convenient mobile devices to cutting-edge home automation, modern innovations simplify many aspects of daily life.
So it’s no surprise that weight loss technology is making leaps and bounds too. People are studying everything from blood types to cryotherapy and the relation to body fat. But what if you could burn fat from the comfort of your own home—without any diet or exercise?
If you think it sounds too good to be true, you aren’t alone. We constantly hear questions like “Does infrared sauna burn fat?” and “How often should I use an infrared sauna for weight loss?”
That’s why we compiled this complete guide—including FAQs—on whether or not you can actually ‘heat yourself thin.’ By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a clear understanding of the role infrared saunas can play in burning calories.
To understand how infrared saunas work, let’s first do a quick recap from science class:
Infrared light refers to radiant energy that humans can feel but can’t see. Every single object in our universe emits some level of infrared light, but the most obvious examples are fire and the sun. (1) Basically, you experience radiant energy as warmth and heat.
An infrared sauna uses this invisible light as the heat source. Your skin and muscles absorb the heat—like sitting in the sun on a warm day.
There are a few different heaters for infrared saunas, but you’ll be happy to know that the style has no impact when asking an important question: “Does infrared sauna burn fat?” The materials of your infrared sauna won’t negatively impact your potential weight loss.
Carbon heaters are prized for being efficient, safe, and a good balance of power versus comfort. An infrared sauna with a carbon heater will be heated more evenly and efficiently than other types. Just know that carbon heaters cost more than other types.
Ceramic heaters are another option. These use ceramic rods, which warm up in the blink of an eye. But because these types of saunas come up to heat so quickly, the ceramic rods wear out a bit faster than carbon heaters. That’s why ceramic heaters are less expensive than carbon.
Health Mate Saunas’ heaters have a proprietary design–made using TecoloyTM stainless steel reflective panels, they're shaped to create a full-circle heat to heat you more evenly. With the heater’s 360 degree heat your body reaches a high core temperature quickly at the highest level of penetration. As an added benefit they can last 15 to 20 years or more.
Finally, ceramic-carbon hybrid heaters are becoming popular lately. With this option, you’ll enjoy the longevity of a carbon heater with the speed of a ceramic heater. And remember that you’ll enjoy all the same health benefits no matter which style you select.
An infrared sauna is different from a regular one in 9 key ways:1. Heating method. This is the main difference between traditional and infrared saunas. Traditional versions use a heater, hot air, and steam to warm your body. Infrared saunas use radiant heat to penetrate deep into your skin and muscles.
2. Health benefits. Studies have found that even medical professionals like physical therapists are utilizing the health benefits of infrared saunas. (2) Stress relief, lower blood pressure, improved circulation, skin tightening, and muscle/joint pain relief are the biggest benefits you can enjoy with an infrared sauna.
3. Temperature. Traditional saunas operate anywhere between 70 and 85 degrees Celsius (160 -185 degrees Fahrenheit) to make you sweat. Infrared saunas don’t need to be as hot because your body absorbs the heat better—typically between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius (104 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
4. Running costs. Your estimated running costs depend on what your energy company charges per kilowatt-hour (you can find this info on your electric bill). But in most cases, traditional saunas are far less energy-efficient than infrared. This boils down to the fact that infrared saunas heat up faster than their traditional counterparts.
5. Maintenance. It’s true that most saunas are relatively low maintenance. The thing is, infrared saunas are just plain easier to maintain. Infrared saunas are completely dry, while traditional saunas use water to create steam. Where there’s water and steam, there’s a greater chance of mold and mildew. Basically, maintaining an infrared sauna requires less elbow grease.
6. Heat-up time. Your infrared sauna will reach its ideal temperature within 10-15 minutes. Traditional Finnish saunas usually require around 30-40 minutes to heat up.
7. Installation. A traditional indoor sauna needs drainage, ventilation, and plumbing as part of the installation. And that work can add up fast. Most infrared saunas, on the other hand, are pre-built portable units. Assembly and set-up often require only basic hand tools and a couple hours.
8. Sauna cost and price. There are exceptions to every rule, but traditional saunas are usually more expensive to purchase, install, and run. Once you add up the installation labor, materials, and equipment, it’s easy to see why. Infrared saunas are easier and faster to set up, plus they require less energy to operate.
9. The sauna experience. This is another major difference between infrared and traditional saunas. Traditional saunas are so hot that sessions need to be shorter—think 20 minutes at a time. But with their lower temperature, you can bask in an infrared sauna for more like 40 minutes. Keep in mind that traditional saunas are steamy, while infrared offers a dry heat.
There are quite a few health benefits to using an infrared sauna, but overall, they’re very similar to the benefits of moderate exercise. (3) Your focus may be on answering “Does infrared sauna burn fat?” But you should also know all the other powerful health benefits an infrared sauna can offer.(4)
“Studies have found benefits for people with high blood pressure, headaches, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.” –Forbes
That said, there are some common myths worth addressing too. We now have a much clearer understanding of what happens in the human body during a sauna session thanks to modern studies in recent years.
Let’s take a moment to separate fact from fiction.
Sweating is in style as of late. You’ve probably seen ads promoting detoxing during hot yoga, or even during an infrared sauna.
But the truth is, the jury’s still out on how much of a positive impact this can have. The reason humans sweat is to cool down the body whenever it’s at risk of overheating.
While studies have found that sweating removes trace amounts of toxins—like mercury and other heavy metals—no study has proven that doing so is beneficial. No matter how much you sweat, your sweat is still 99% water. (5)
However, a 2021 study found a potential link between infrared sauna usage and significant improvements in skin tightness. Fine wrinkles, skin tone, and skin roughness all showed noticeable improvement during 6 months of regular infrared sauna sessions. (6)
So, studies haven’t yet found a clear link between sauna usage and detoxification—despite centuries of anecdotal evidence from cultures around the globe. At the same time, infrared sauna sessions have been proven to offer several anti-aging benefits.
Though more research is needed to learn how saunas help you detox, the cardiovascular benefits have been proven many times over.
Infrared light penetrates deep into your skin and muscles—much deeper than you’d experience in a traditional steam sauna. The heat makes your heart pump faster, just like when you go for a run. It’s almost like resistance training for your cardiovascular system.
So how does this come into play when asking “Does infrared sauna burn fat?” Well, an infrared sauna lowers your blood pressure because the heat helps your blood vessels be more efficient. This also lowers your cholesterol and inflammation, which often go hand-in-hand with burning fat.
In a nutshell, one of the ways an infrared sauna helps you burn fat long-term is by improving your circulation and blood pressure. The increased heart rate you experience during each sauna session helps your body burn calories for hours afterwards.
It's no secret that heat is one of the best treatments for arthritis, muscle soreness, and joint pain. So, it makes sense that infrared saunas are excellent for pain and arthritis relief.
Did you know oxygen depletion is the main cause of joint and arthritic pain? Since infrared light increases circulation, a sauna session can restore oxygen to those depleted muscles. It’s the perfect way to get some much-needed arthritis relief.
The infrared light has a positive impact on inflammation, too. Since your cardiovascular system gets more efficient during sauna sessions, swollen and inflamed areas get oxygen-rich blood much faster than they normally would.
You should also know these benefits apply to both chronic and acute inflammation. If fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis are troubling you, sauna sessions can help alleviate your symptoms.
Best of all, there’s evidence to support the theory that sauna sessions can reduce oxidative stress. This is the type of stress caused by an imbalance of antioxidants in your body. It’s responsible for causing neuron damage, which can speed up the onset of dementia. Infrared light not only heals your body, but your mind too.Basically, an infrared sauna helps you start feeling better faster—no matter what the source of your soft tissue pain might be.
Just like anything else in life, you should have infrared sauna sessions at a regular cadence to notice positive results. We recommend beginners start with 2-3 sessions per week. Many sauna owners use theirs 4-7 times per week to maintain their ideal weight.
Just keep in mind that more sessions don’t necessarily mean more weight loss. Treat your sauna regimen the same as you would a diet or exercise routine—pushing yourself too hard can lead to big setbacks.
Listen to your body and hydrate well after every sauna session. The infrared light might be a lower temperature than a traditional sauna, but you’re still at risk of overheating and dehydration if your sessions are too long.
Generally speaking, no, you can’t heat yourself thin. If it was possible for any overweight person to reach a healthy weight just by basking in a sauna, everybody would do so. But the truth is, daily sauna sessions alone aren’t enough to cause major weight loss.
Think of your infrared sauna as another tool for maintaining your healthy lifestyle. When paired with regular exercise and a healthy diet, infrared sauna sessions can seriously boost your progress.
But without these other habits in your life, infrared sauna sessions will make only a very small impact on your weight—even over the course of several months or years.
That’s why infrared saunas are more effective for maintaining your ideal weight. You can’t expect to lose 1 pound every week solely through sauna sessions, which is the typical benchmark for any weight loss regimen.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here to help answer, once and for all, the question of “Does infrared sauna burn fat?” You now know how infrared saunas work, how your body absorbs the heat, and several proven benefits of regular HealthMate infrared sauna sessions.
One of these benefits is the possibility of burning fat. But an infrared sauna can’t fully replicate the effects of exercise and a healthy diet.
In a nutshell, you’ll need more than infrared light if you’re on a major weight loss journey. But if you’re at or near your ideal weight, sauna sessions are a great way to burn calories while you relax. In addition to slimming down, you’ll also enjoy cardiovascular and anti-aging benefits.
Now all that’s left is deciding where to install your new infrared sauna!
References:1. Live Science, What is Infrared?
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If you’ve started researching infrared saunas, you’re probably wondering “Is Health Mate a good sauna?” This is one of the questions we get most often here at Divine Saunas. That’s why we put together this complete guide on what sets Health Mate saunas apart from the rest.
Overall, outdoor saunas are built to last for decades. Most saunas hold up anywhere from 15-25 years with the proper care and maintenance.
In this guide from Divine Saunas, you will learn everything you need to create an exceptional outdoor sauna experience.