Infrared sauna blankets may be the next big thing in wellness, with a host of positive health impacts, but can you use a sauna blanket for weight loss? From stress reduction to muscle relaxation, sauna blankets use far-infrared technology to bring the benefits of a sauna into your home. And some of these may indirectly impact body weight.
Convenient, compact packaging also makes sauna blankets a breeze to store. They’re simple to set up too, with a ten minute warm-up time allowing you to get yourself a drink of water and quiet your mind. But how useful are sauna blankets for weight loss? Research suggests they may reduce stress levels and encourage hydration, both of which can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. But it’s unlikely that sauna blankets alone can cause weight loss.
Read on to discover what the experts had to say, and whether there’s any evidence supporting claims that sauna blankets can help you to shed fat without moving at all.
What is a sauna blanket?
A sauna blanket uses similar principles to a traditional sauna to trigger the body’s sweating response as one would experience in a very hot room. Sauna blankets generally use far-infrared technology to heat the body from the inside, with most having a top temperature of 178°F (80°C). Sauna blankets run a little cooler than the average steam room, which generally goes up to 195°F (90°C). They are portable, convenient to set up, and can take the hassle out of having some relaxing spa time by allowing you to experience the benefits of a sauna in your own home.
Can you use a sauna blanket for weight loss?
Several sauna blanket benefits may help with weight loss by supporting a healthy lifestyle and making exercise easier.
Our busy, modern lives may not seem compatible with spending any extended time sitting still, but doing just that in a sauna blanket may have the benefit of reducing stress, and therefore making it easier to lose weight.
“Sauna blankets reduce cortisol levels – our stress hormones – and trigger endorphin release – our happy hormones,” Sarah Campus, personal trainer and founder of Ldn Mums Fitness (opens in new tab), tells Fit&Well. “The heat from the infrared sauna blankets can trick the brain into thinking that the body is about to experience pain. Triggered into defensive mode, it releases feel-good chemicals to duke it out with the anticipated pain - which doesn't happen. You feel euphoric without going through any discomfort.”
Research (opens in new tab)has shown that most people use saunas to aid relaxation, so it makes sense that time spent in a sauna blanket may help to reduce stress, making weight loss easier to achieve. One study published in Frontiers In Psychology (opens in new tab) also showed that time spent being mindful can help to reduce cortisol levels, so perhaps meditating while you enjoy your sauna blanket can help you to reap the best calming benefits. Try these three stress-busting mindfulness exercises to see if it works for you.
Faster recovery times
You may find yourself struggling to recover after a workout, which can be frustrating if you exercise often and intensely. Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage (EIMD) occurs when the body is put under stress and can make it difficult to work out the affected muscles again in a short time frame.
“The heat energy from sauna blankets boosts blood circulation to deliver all the nutrients the body needs to recover, penetrates deep to relax tense muscles, and heals damaged tissues,” says Campus. “This is why infrared is used for powerful tissue healing and muscle recovery. It relieves muscle tension, it rejuvenates the skin, and contributes as a refreshing pick-me-up, or as calming and soothing therapy.”
One study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine (opens in new tab) indicated that saunas can help to improve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs), which may speed up your recovery time. Relaxed, well recovered muscles are easier to use and a full range of motion will mean that exercises are performed with correct form, lowering incidence of injury. Being able to exercise more frequently can aid weight loss by increasing overall movement, making it another great benefit of using a sauna blanket for weight loss.
Campus also adds that sauna blankets may offer a way to enjoy the benefits of light exercise even if you are incapable of working out, for instance if you are recovering from an injury.
“Infrared sauna blankets are definitely non-believers of ‘no pain, no gain’,” she says. “Boosting your endorphin levels can contribute to weight loss by modulating your appetite by suppressing your blood sugar levels which otherwise can make you crave sugar and make you feel hungry. A reduction in stress and cortisol levels and an increase of endorphins curbs these cravings contributing to weight loss.”
Research (opens in new tab) indicates that hydration is important for weight loss, because a well-hydrated body is lower in the hormone angiotensin II, which is associated with many chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Campus explains that by making the body sweat, sauna blankets can help to encourage us to stay hydrated. “The heat generated in a sauna blanket heats up your body and as such makes you thirsty as it dehydrates the body which in turn encourages hydration,” she says. “Hydration benefits weight loss by naturally surprising your appetite, increasing calorie burn, supporting the removal of waste from the body, and also water is essential for burning fat as without water the body cannot metabolize stored fat and carbohydrates properly.”
One study in the Journal of Investigative Medicine (opens in new tab) also suggested that hypohydration (water loss through sweat that is not replaced) is common in those with obesity, and that there is a possible correlation between hypohydration and further weight gain in obese adults.
Make sure to hydrate after your sweat session with the best water bottle too.
Sauna blanket for weight loss: The verdict
The many benefits of using a sauna blanket may help you to become a happier and healthier version of yourself. You might find yourself more capable of achieving your weight loss goals due to the effects the blanket has, such as improved mood, speeding up post-exercise recovery and aiding hydration. These benefits all support healthy weight loss by curbing appetite and helping your body to maintain peak performance even after a tough workout.
However, Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics (opens in new tab), doubts that sauna blankets can directly cause weight loss.
“If you weigh yourself after, you will probably find you have lost a bit of weight, however this will only be the water you’ve lost through sweating which you’ll recoup as soon as you rehydrate,” he says. “They don’t speed up your metabolism or burn any fat despite raising the heart rate. It just doesn’t work like that.”
Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well, Coach, LiveScience, T3, TechRadar and Tom's Guide. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.
Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health. You can find her on Instagram at @loulouapril
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