March 14, 2023 4 min read

Spending time in a sauna is an excellent – and relaxing – way to help improve cardiovascular health and even aid in weight loss. But how long should you stay in a sauna to lose weight? Our guide will provide you with the necessary information regarding the duration of your sessions and the potential health benefits.


Understand the basics of sauna weight loss.

basics of sauna weight loss

It is crucial to remember that the duration of your sauna session will significantly impact how much weight you can lose. Generally speaking, experts recommend spending at least 20 minutes in the sauna to see results. Studies have shown that you burn more calories in the heat. That being said, it is essential to understand that the number of calories burned depends on several factors, including:


  1. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain essential functions like breathing and circulation. This is influenced by age, sex, and body composition.

  2. Your activity level. The higher your activity level, the more calories you burn. Different activities burn different amounts of calories. For example, running burns more calories than walking. So stay active!

  3. Your muscle mass. Even when you're at rest, muscle burns more calories than fat. So the higher your muscle mass is, the more calories you burn.

  4. Your genetics. Some people naturally have a faster metabolism than others, which can affect how many calories they burn.

  5. Your age. Your metabolism tends to slow down as you age, making it harder to burn calories.

  6. Your diet. Certain foods, such as protein, fiber, and spicy foods, can increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories.

  7. Your hormones. Hormones like thyroid hormones and cortisol can affect your metabolism and how many calories you burn.

  8. Environmental factors. Extreme temperatures can cause your body to work harder to maintain a stable internal temperature, increasing the number of calories you burn.


How long should you stay in a sauna to lose weight?

Sauna timer and thermometer

To ensure the best results, we recommend you stay in the sauna – infrared or traditional – for 15 to 20 minutes. However, longer sessions can be beneficial for more intense water weight loss. Aim for about an hour in the sauna, divided into shorter blocks of 30 minutes with a break in between. During your session, take "cool-off" breaks by stepping out of the room and hydrating, as this will help regulate your body temperature and minimize the potential risks. Do not go longer than 20 minutes if it is your first time in the sauna.


Avoid common mistakes when using a sauna for weight loss.

Many people make the mistake of staying in a sauna too long and exposing themselves to excessive heat. This can lead to:

  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Additionally, if you stay in the sauna longer than necessary and don’t give your body enough time to cool down and hydrate again after a session, it can cause your blood pressure to increase or, worse yet, fainting. Listening to your body while in the sauna and taking cool-down breaks when needed is essential.


Know your options for healthy sauna use.

How long you decide to stay in the sauna depends on how much heat your body can handle. A good rule of thumb is to stay in the sauna for no more than 15 minutes at a time and then take a 5–10-minute cool-down break before going again. This gives your body adequate time to recover and prevents it from becoming too hot, which could cause some of the abovementioned problems.


Understand how eating habits affect the results of sauna weight loss programs.

three persons eating fruits in the sauna

The results of using a sauna for weight loss can significantly vary based on your eating habits. Although the heat from the sauna will cause your body to burn calories, those effects are not permanent, and it is essential to couple this with healthy dietary changes. Eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-dense options—including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins—is a must for seeing results from your sauna regimen.

Watch this short video from St. Luke's Health and learn about healthy and sustainable steps for weight loss. 


Sauna and Weight Loss Caution

While saunas can have some health benefits, including promoting relaxation, improving heart rate, and reducing stress, they are not viable for significant weight loss. Saunas can help you lose water weight temporarily, but this weight loss is not the same as losing weight with exercise and diet. Moreover, staying in a sauna for too long can be dangerous, as it can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other health complications. However, limiting your sauna sessions to no more than 20-30 minutes at a time is generally recommended, and hydrate well before and after your session.



two women sitting in the sauna

If you want to lose weight, it's best to focus on healthy lifestyle habits, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise, rather than relying on only one method, such as sauna sessions, as a weight-loss strategy. What healthy steps are you taking to help you lose weight?

Leave a comment