Does Infrared Sauna Burn Visceral Fat? Doctor’s Review & Scientific Perspective

The age-old question: how to burn fat quickly and efficiently. We've explored how the infrared sauna handles visceral fat and weight loss and what the science says about it.

Occasionally, traditional methods of burning visceral fat, such as workouts and diets, don’t seem to cut it or work very slowly. You eat healthy foods, run and work out, drink enough water, and still can’t get the inches off your waistline. This is terribly annoying and very difficult not to give up at all. Motivation decreases dramatically when you don’t see changes. So what to do then? Looking for ways to get rid of visceral fat more quickly is an option.

One of such ways in theory can be an infrared sauna or infrared sauna blankets. Today we’re going to find out if the infrared sauna helps you lose weight and burn fat and if it is worth it.

What is an Infrared Sauna and Why Does it Work

An infrared sauna is a small size cabin, the perimeter of which is equipped with heating elements that emit infrared waves. Infrared heat warms up the body of the person inside, with the temperature inside the cabin not exceeding 130°F/55°C (usually about 110°F/ 42°C). 

The waves are natural and safe for the human body. Subjectively they are perceived as a soft, pleasant warmth. The waves quickly warm the body, penetrating to a depth of 4 cm. The feeling is similar to the effect of light exercise: heart rate is rapid, and sweating is moderate. The key difference from a conventional sauna is that it heats the body directly, not the air. It’s more effective for burning fat, but it can also be more expensive. 

Infrared sauna can be not really convinient and expensive way to get rid of visceral fat; instead, we recommend infrared sauna blankets — they can be used at home and provide a similar effect.

Additionally, manufacturers state that our bodies absorb as much as 93% of the far-infrared waves that reach our skin from certain infrared saunas. Compared to traditional ones, it’s five times more and faster, because infrared saunas take 10-15 min to heat up, and conventional saunas require 30 to 90 minutes of warm-up before use.

Does infrared sauna burn visceral fat?

infrared sauna

Let us first determine the definitions. Visceral fat is white fat that accumulates in the abdominal cavity around internal organs: the liver, pancreas, heart, and intestines. It accounts for about one-tenth of all fat in the body.

We believe that the infrared sauna itself can help burn calories (it may lead to getting rid of visceral fat in the future), but not significantly unless supplemented by other methods such as workouts and healthy food. If you will use only infrared saunas… Yes, you will lose weight from water through sweat, but you will immediately gain it back as soon as you regain moisture.

Note
It also affects relaxation and stress reduction, which in turn helps you lose weight more easily.

Below we will cover in detail exactly how to use an infrared sauna for weight loss more effectively.

Before&After: Infrared sauna for fat burning

First of all, we want to make it clear: no one guarantees magical fat-burning results after an infrared sauna. There are few studies on this subject and the results are not particularly impressive. But if you use the infrared sauna as an adjunct to in-line exercise (fitness or other similar workouts), together it produces spectacular results:

“Six months ago I bought a portable infrared sauna for home use. I used it every day for those months.  During that time, I lost 11 kilos of fat. I also went to the gym regularly during that time, but I didn’t change my diet.”

Katherine, New Jersey

The following chart will help you understand exactly how your body heats up when you are in an infrared sauna or use infrared sauna blankets.

Before&After: Infrared sauna for fat burning
The impact of infrared rays on your body

And also an example of how an infrared sauna can help with cellulite. However, other factors — individual body features, other physical activity and diet, and sleep patterns — should also be taken into account.

Possible results after 8-10 sessions of infrared sauna
Possible results after 8-10 sessions of infrared sauna

How to Burn your Visceral Fat with Infrared Sauna: Tips & Tricks

In order to get to the visceral fat you have to sweat a lot — both literally and figuratively. Calorie burning can help with that. Here we’ve gathered all the possible tips to help you increase the effectiveness of the infrared sauna for burning calories and further fat loss. Try to stick to them if you decide to have this procedure.

  1. Before you begin your infrared sauna regimen, make sure your body is ready for heat therapy sessions. Visit a cosmetologist, or a therapist, and get a cardiogram if necessary. For active weight loss, adjust your diet system according to the individual recommendations of a professional nutritionist.
  1. Immediately before the heating procedure, you can eat your favorite sour milk product. Such products, with their quality bacterial composition, activate digestion and promote fat burning.
  1. When visiting the infrared sauna, you should be aware of the importance of drinking water. In the process, the body loses a lot of fluid. If it is not replenished, you can get dizziness, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms of dehydration. It is optimal to take care of this beforehand so that you do not suffer from the consequences. But do not overdo it. 
  1. On the day of visiting the sauna, it is strictly forbidden to drink alcohol. Before visiting the infrared sauna, alcohol can lead to arrhythmia, blood pressure jumps, and gastrointestinal disorders, and after that, it will completely negate the whole desired effect of losing weight.
  1. In the sauna, you can do a mini-workout. For example, a massage, or light exercise can intensify weight loss. This will lose 300-500 kilocalories per hour more than immobilized sitting on a shelf.
  1. The beauty of your face and body directly depends on the state of your nervous system. So if you feel tired, irritated, or anxious, then don’t skip the heat therapy sessions. In a relaxed state, you experience happiness, which means you eat less calorie-dense food. Regular visits to the infrared sauna promote stress tolerance and weight loss in general.
Note
If you can’t afford an infrared sauna, there is still an option for you. Try infrared sauna blankets which take up little room in your home but have the same effect as infrared saunas.

Infrared vs Traditional sauna: what works better to burn visceral fat?

If you’d ask us, we would vote for the infrared one. Why? While in a traditional sauna the heat warms the air, which in turn heats your body, the infrared sauna uses radiation to directly heat your body. It also works at a lower temperature that’s why it is not such a strain on your body and is more pleasant too. 

In the infrared one, the body loses more fat and burns more calories, because the infra rays get into deeper layers of the skin where the body fats are stored compared to the traditional sauna where the body loses just water. So, an infrared sauna hits two birds with one stone — more effective and delightful.

“You sweat, but you don’t get too hot or discomforted. In a traditional sauna, the heat can be so intense that it seems difficult to breathe. With an infrared sauna, this is not the case. It’s easy to breathe, just as it is without a sauna. In my experience, it takes longer to get sweaty. Perhaps this is because the heat penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin.”

Mary, North Wales

The difference between the traditional and infrared sauna techniques
The difference between the traditional and infrared sauna techniques
Infrared saunas are still not ideal — they have flaws and are not suitable for everyone.

What Science Says About Infrared Saunas

Although infrared saunas have long been popular around the world, there is little research on whether they burn fat. This is because most of the significant benefits of such saunas have to do with treating chronic diseases and improving mental health.

Nevertheless, we have reviewed all available relevant studies to answer the question: does infrared sauna help with weight loss? Therefore, you will be able to draw your conclusions about the benefits of infrared saunas for fat burning.

One of the Japanese studies shows significant changes in fat decrease after using far infrared sauna therapy for 2 weeks. Ten obese people (5 men and 5 women) participated in the experiment for two weeks. On average, their weight dropped from 83.5 kg to 82.0 kg and their body fat percentage dropped from 41.5% to 37%. At the same time, they consumed 1,800 kcal/day. These are not huge results, but they are realistic. Another subject in this study used an infrared sauna for 10 weeks and her weight dropped from 117.5 kg to 100 kg and her fat percentage dropped from 46% to 35%. At the same time, she was consuming 1,600 kcal/day.

The change in weight (a) and fat percentage (b) after using the infrared sauna for 2 weeks
The change in weight (a) and fat percentage (b) after using the infrared sauna for 2 weeks

This suggested to the researchers that repeated use of the infrared sauna would help decrease body fat percentage and weight loss (for obese people).

Another study by Theodore A Henderson and Larry D Morries from Neuro-Laser Foundation proved that infrared rays can penetrate the skin to a depth of at least 3 cm. That means, it can potentially get to your visceral fat.

A small 2013 study conducted by Binghamton University, based in New York City, confirmed that 30 minutes of infrared sauna use three times a week resulted in an average loss of 4% body fat in participants over 4 months. These impressive results were achieved even without changing diet or exercising. 

On the other hand, we discovered an opposite state of mind on this topic. “Zero studies show long-term benefits of using infrared saunas for weight loss,” says Brian Quebbemann, M.D., medical director of The N.E.W. Program.

Infrared Saunas

Side Effects and Who isn’t a Good Candidate for the Infrared Sauna

For a healthy person, the infrared sauna can do almost no harm. It’s just better to remember that if you “steam” without special glasses, you can damage your eyesight. Besides, take care of your water balance so as not to become dehydrated. 

But, you can harm your health, if you have contraindications, and there are many of them! Visiting the infrared sauna in the presence of certain diseases, may cause considerable damage to health, provoke a hypertensive crisis, and lead to dehydration. A visit is not recommended in cases of:

  • Malignant neoplasms;
  • Arterial hypertension;
  • Pregnancy and lactation;
  • Infectious diseases;
  • The use of certain drugs;
  • Menstrual disorders;
  • Fever of any origin.

These conditions limit the use of all saunas and baths, including the infrared sauna.

Infrared Sauna

Summary

An infrared sauna can be a great addition to a comprehensive approach to weight loss. Since there is virtually no research on visceral fat burning with the infrared sauna, we will not recommend it specifically for this purpose. However, if you want to relax, reduce stress levels and even improve your skin, you can use infrared saunas or blankets. You can read more about all the benefits of the latter in another article.

At the same time, do not forget to consult your doctor and make sure that such procedures are allowed to you. Otherwise, the side reactions can be much stronger than the positive effects of the infrared sauna.

FAQ

🏹Can infrared heat break down fat?

Infrared rays can penetrate the skin to a depth of at least 3 cm. That means, it can potentially break down fat. But there is no official confirmation in the form of studies on this topic yet.

🔎Are infrared saunas good for weight loss?

Studies show that you can lose about 17 pounds in 2.5 months of using an infrared sauna, provided you were originally obese. If your weight is normal, the numbers will be less.

🤨Does infrared sauna help with cellulite?

Infrared sauna sessions indeed help reduce cellulite. Cellulite is deposited in layers under the skin, leading to noticeable cosmetic problems. The deep penetration of infrared heat helps to break down cellulite and then expel it in the form of sweat.

🔥Can you burn fat in a sauna?

In the sauna, your body heats up and sweats. In this process, you lose calories. This is not the same as fat, because water leaves your body first.

📍Do you burn calories in an infrared sauna?

Yes, you can burn calories in an infrared sauna. But 600 calories in 30 minutes is a myth. It’s more likely to be up to 200 calories in that time.

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