You may not realize this, but part of the reason I focus so much on helping patients lose weight isn’t because I want to help everyone make it onto the covers of fitness magazines.
Far from it.
Weight loss as it relates to aesthetic improvements isn’t a main concern of mine.
Instead, the reason I focus relentlessly on helping patients lose weight is because weight gain is inextricably tied to poor health.
The vast majority of Americans carry around far more body fat than is healthy.
Surprisingly, even being as little as 10 pounds overweight is enough to start affecting your health negatively.
And when you consider the fact that 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight you can see why the topic comes up so much in my writings.
When I decided to get into medicine, I never realized I’d focus this much on weight loss.
However, given the fact that it’s such a profound problem, and that there are a myriad of ways to help people lose weight while simultaneously improving their health in other ways, there’s no good reason to stop talking about it.
In this article, I’m going to spend some time writing on the subject of infrared sauna use and how it corresponds to weight loss.
Weight Loss Is A “Side Effect” Of Infrared Sauna Use
Interestingly enough, we didn’t begin offering infrared sauna sessions in our clinic to help people lose weight.
Infrared saunas provide many of the benefits of regular sauna use without the need for being exposed to extremely high heat.
Those benefits include:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Anti-aging benefits
- Acute pain relief
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Stress relief
- Enhanced detoxification
- Better sleep quality
It just so happens that healthy weight loss can also be achieved with regular infrared sauna use.
And no, I’m not talking about losing water weight either.
While we’re not quite sure of the exact mechanism at work (it may be one, or it may be many), studies show that when nothing more than infrared sauna use is added into a person’s daily routine it may help with weight loss.
There are a few possible causes, which I’ll show research on here in a few moments.
The main theories are as follows:
>> Infrared saunas send light into your body (that’s what near infrared rays do – they shine into your body) and they may be able to boost certain hormone levels that are helpful at boosting metabolism and aid in weight loss.
>> They may help to provide thorough detoxification that leads to the release of stored fat while also freeing up thyroid receptors. This enhanced metabolism may make it easier for you to burn fat faster.
>> It’s possible that infrared saunas help to activate your cell’s mitochondria so that you’re able to produce more cellular energy for weight loss.
>> That, and associated blood sugar improvements may also help to stimulate metabolism as well.
The fact of the matter is I believe that infrared sauna use is quite beneficial to total health and that the weight loss associated with sauna use is icing on the cake (which I insist you try not to eat).
Here’s What the Research On Infrared Saunas and Weight Loss Looks Like
It would be one thing to say all of this based on little more than hunches and guesswork.
It’s another thing altogether for me to make these claims and provide proof, which I can do.
Remember, the exact mechanisms behind infrared sauna use and weight loss aren’t fully understood.
What we know for a fact is when we control for diet and exercise and add infrared sauna use into the mix, it absolutely results in weight loss.
It Likely Stimulates Growth Hormone Production
Take a look at this study from Binghamton University in New York.
“Participants were exposed 3 times per week for a 45 minute infrared sauna at 110 degrees for 16 weeks. Compliance ranged from a low of 12 sessions completed to 45 Sessions.
Findings: Participants who had high compliance (used the sauna regularly) had a greater loss in body fat. Participants measured up to a 4% drop in body fat over the four months.
However, interestingly, those that came in late in the day or evening lost significantly more body fat than those using the sauna in the morning. The change in body fat was confirmed by measurements of serum glucose levels.
Phase Two (8 week study): Participants were exposed 5 times per week for a 30 minute infrared sauna at 110 degrees after 3pm.
On average, the study subjects lost about 0. 5% body fat per week totaling approximately 4% over 8 weeks. This resulted in approximately twice the rate of fat loss as compared to Phase 1 (8 weeks vs. 16 weeks). A control population was used in Phase Two of the study and the body fat of the control group did not change over the 8 week study.”
The researchers theorized that exposure to the infrared waves boosted growth hormone production, which is a major regulator of metabolism.
Growth hormone happens to be one of your body’s best fat burning hormones. And for you to be exposed to infrared light for some time it would make sense that an increase in the release of growth hormone would cause you to lose weight.
In addition to that, here’s what happens to your body’s cells when you’re exposed to light.
It Provides You With Mitochondrial Support
You’ve probably never heard this before, but light is a nutrient. Plants use light to grow and our bodies need light to grow as well.
When you’re exposed to infrared light, that light helps to stimulate your body’s mitochondria. In order to burn fat, you need healthy mitochondria.
Research shows that infrared sauna use can help to boost mitochondrial function by as much as 28%.
Enhanced efficiency in mitochondria doesn’t just lead to better functioning of your cells, it helps you metabolize more fat. And that’s been proven over and over again.
It Boosts Blood Sugar Metabolism
One of the clearest paths towards better health and subsequent weight loss is improving your blood sugar levels.
Infrared saunas may be one of the best auxiliary methods (that is non-dietary or non-exercise based) for helping to influence blood sugar.
As I wrote in a previous article about infrared saunas:
“Back in 2010, the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine conducted a study on subjects who had known blood sugar issues.
Their research showed that when these subjects used infrared saunas it led to an increase in insulin levels, as well as helping to reduce the pain associated with their condition; while simultaneously improving their energy levels, mood, and heart health.
All it took for the patients to generate these improvements were 20-minute sessions 3x weekly for 3 months.
The way it works is quite fascinating.
Because the infrared saunas calmed a person down and decreased stress, it helped improve hormone function, which in turn helped modulate insulin levels in a positive way. The improved insulin function ultimately led to improved blood sugar levels.”
Guess What – Infrared Red Saunas Do Even More Than Help With Weight Loss
As I mentioned, weight loss from infrared saunas is a mere “side effect”.
The truth of the matter is infrared saunas impart far more benefits than just helping you lose weight.
I’ve linked a video from one of the most knowledgeable researchers in the field so you can learn more about infrared saunas.
I believe that everyone should use infrared saunas.
This is why we put one in our office.
However, for some of you, it may be impractical (or impossible) to head down to our office every time you want to use a sauna.
The good news is they’re available to purchase for home use.
Small enough to fit in any room, these units can be used as often as you’d like.
I understand they’re not cheap, but if you’re interested in purchasing one you can follow this link and look at options you can use at home.
If you’d prefer to use ours you can schedule a therapy session at our office instead.
Call 336-768-3335 and you can set up a one-time appointment, or buy a multi-use pass.