You may not be able to eat while you’re fasting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sweat. Is it safe to use the sauna during a fast?
You can use a steam sauna for two 10-minute sessions per week while dry fasting. Follow this same schedule with an infrared sauna during your water or intermittent fast for 15-minute sessions. These practices will promote autophagy, lower blood glucose levels, and help your body detoxify harmful pathogens.
Continue reading to determine if it’s a good idea to use a sauna while fasting, what each type of fast entails, and the benefits of pairing a fast with your sweat session!
Is it okay to use a sauna while fasting?
In theory, using the sauna while fasting seems like a great way to speed up weight-loss results. However, is this an okay practice?
While it’s perfectly safe to use a sauna while fasting, there are certain parameters to follow. Furthermore, doing this can increase autophagy and release heat shock proteins, along with speeding up muscle repair and stimulating our body’s stress-response system.
In a study done in 2018, researchers found that following 7 sauna sessions, every other day, for 15 minutes at a time, there was an 18% average decrease in the patients’ fasting blood glucose level.
This shows that using a sauna on an empty stomach can actually aid in preventing chronic diseases like diabetes.
What happens to the body during a fast?
It’s important to understand what happens to our body as we fast.
When you do an extended fast, your body will go through a series of stages over several days:
- Anabolic Growth Phase – 0-4 hours
- Insulin is produced.
- Your last meal supplies the energy needed to support your body’s activity (both internally and externally).
- Glucose is released into the bloodstream; excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles.
- Catabolic Phase – 4-24 Hours
- Stored nutrients are now being used for energy.
- Our bodies start the cell turnover process (also known as autophagy). Essentially, we have run out of things to eat, so we begin to eat ourselves.
- Glucose and glycogen decrease rapidly at hour 16.
- AMP-Activated Protein Kinase is released.
- Ketosis – 24-72 Hours
- Ketosis (the process of burning fat for energy) begins.
- Mental performance, cognitive clarity, and energy all improve significantly.
- Brain-Derived Nootropic Factor is released.
- Deep Ketosis: 72 Hours +
- Fat loss increases drastically.
- Your body learns to adapt to stress.
- Hormones are released to combat cancer and aging.
- Thyroid hormones are heavily impacted (our body is in starvation mode).
While most of these benefits are positive, depending on how long your fast is, you could increase your risk for dehydration, hypoglycemia, nausea, and dizziness.
The sauna, if used incorrectly, can exacerbate these conditions.
Should you sauna on an empty stomach?
You may have noticed that a sauna session and fasting period have similar results. Should you pair them together and sauna on an empty stomach?
It’s recommended to sauna on an empty stomach in order to achieve maximum toxin removal, increase the rate of cell turnover, and improve your body’s metabolic rate. Always wait at least 2 hours after your last meal to use the sauna. This will prevent an upset stomach and overall discomfort.
That being said, you need to hydrate as much as possible to avoid adverse effects. We’ll get into the details of how to use a sauna during your fast below.
Sauna during a dry fast
In general, it’s a good idea to do a sauna session while fasting. Does this apply to a dry fast in particular?
Use a steam sauna for 10 minutes or less, twice per week to boost the impact of a dry fast. Using this method, you will help your body stimulate the cell turnover process and create an anti-inflammatory effect.
What is dry fasting?
Dry fasting takes a special kind of discipline.
During a dry fast, you abstain from all food and drink, including water. This type of fasting can be performed intermittently, every other day, or periodically (over the course of 3+ days). Benefits include reduced inflammation and increased cell regeneration.
However, a dry fast can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. Most other types of fasting encourage you to drink water. Without it, dehydration, headaches, pungent urine, and irritation can arise.
What kind of sauna should you use during a dry fast?
While you are dry fasting, there’s a certain type of sauna that will make the benefits most effective: a steam sauna.
You should opt for a steam sauna during a dry fast. This is because the added moisture will help cool your body down (something that’s needed when you aren’t able to produce enough sweat). Also, it’s only around 112°F, which is much less hot than other sauna types, which decreases the risk of dehydration.
While it’s okay to use traditional and infrared saunas during a dry fast, it’s not the safest practice.
How often and how long can you use the sauna?
Is there a time limit on how long you should spend inside a sauna during your dry fast?
Keep your steam sauna sessions to 10 minutes or less, twice per week, while dry fasting to maintain your body’s safety and maximize benefits. Always pay attention to how you feel.
Physicians across the globe can’t stress enough how important it is not to push yourself while in the sauna. This is especially true while you’re fasting.
Sauna during a water fast
Water fasting is a great way to detoxify your body and lose a little fluid weight. You may not be able to eat at all during the day, but you can still sweat out toxins and reduce water retention in the process.
During a water fast, use an infrared sauna for 15 minutes at a time, two times per week. This schedule will help your muscles detoxify and your body flush out chemicals. Drink about 2.5 liters of water per day to avoid dehydration.
This type of fasting will also dramatically increase your mental state, leaving you focused and alert.
What is water fasting?
This type of fasting is exactly what it sounds like.
Water fasting involves limiting your intake to only water (no other fluids or food) for a period of time. The recommended amount is around 2.5 liters of water every day. This process can last anywhere from 24 hours up to several days or more.
The good news is, adding water into the mix will decrease your body’s chance of becoming dehydrated and create more of a “full” feeling to reduce hunger pangs.
What kind of sauna should you use during a water fast?
Is there a recommended type of sauna to use while water fasting?
During a water fast, infrared saunas work best. The reason behind this is that they heat your body internally and encourage your sweat glands to activate more quickly. This results in the most efficient form of flushing toxins.
How often and how long can you use the sauna?
The time you spend in a sauna will depend on the type of fast you’re doing.
For a water fast, keep your sauna sessions under 15 minutes and no more than twice per week. Because you’re able to hydrate, you can stay in longer than while on a dry fast. The 15-minute mark will give your muscles enough time to sweat out any lactic acid.
Anything longer or more frequent is unnecessary.
Sauna while intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting has been a hot topic in recent years- whether it’s impactful, how to do it, and what to eat when you break it. Should you add a sauna to the mix?
The most commonly used type of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 fast, which entails fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window. To use a sauna while intermittent fasting, choose either steam, traditional, or infrared. Spend 15 minutes inside, two times per week.
What is intermittent fasting?
The most popular type of fasting is the intermittent style.
During intermittent fasting, you can drink water, but you still have to limit your eating to set time frames. Common cycles include the Circadian rhythm (13 hours), 16:8 (16 hours of fasting, 8 hours of eating), 18:6, 20:4, and the 36-Hour fast.
This is an impactful way for many people to reset their metabolisms and cut out bad snacking habits.
What kind of sauna should you use while intermittent fasting?
During intermittent fasting, the type of sauna you use is less important. In this case, apply the rule of user preference.
Steam, infrared, and traditional saunas all work well when paired with an intermittent fast. Because you’re able to hydrate, the addition of moisture is less important- so opt for an infrared or traditional to encourage your sweat glands to activate.
How often and how long can you use the sauna?
To get the most out of your sauna while intermittent fasting, follow these guidelines:
Use your preferred type of sauna for 15 minutes, 2 times per week during an intermittent fast. That will best allow your immune system to thrive, cortisol levels to decrease, and chemicals to be released.
The occasional 36-hour fast will require more energy and motivation. Save the sauna session for when you need an extra push to stay on track with your eating schedule!
Sauna and fasting benefits
We’ve mentioned a few of these above.
Here’s a list of benefits reaped when using the sauna during your fast:
- Increased healing (and white blood cell count)
- Induced autophagy
- Detoxification of harmful pathogens
- Lower blood glucose levels
- Increased energy and cognitive function
- Decreased overall appetite (in combination with dry fasting)
- Reduction in cancer and aging
- Improved fat-burning capabilities
The sauna and fasting all produce the advantages mentioned above on their own. So, combining the two increases each one considerably.
Does sauna cause autophagy?
Autophagy is the body’s natural self-cleaning process, where cells renew and remove toxins.
Saunas help to cause autophagy by removing pathogens that inhibit their function. They also speed up our heart rate, thus increasing metabolism – a huge contributor to when our body decides to use this mechanism.
To wrap things up, using the sauna while fasting is a good idea if you spend under 15 minutes inside and pay attention to your body’s reaction.
Always consult your doctor first if you intend on mixing the two to lose weight or treat a medical condition!