A steam room can seem like a quick and easy way to lose weight, but is it actually effective?
A steam room cuts weight by causing intense perspiration, meaning that you lose much more water weight than you would under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, this weight loss is only temporary as the pounds will return once you rehydrate. However, the steam room can aid in weight loss when used in conjunction with a diet and exercise routine.
Keep reading to learn why steam rooms aren’t a quick fix for weight loss, and how they can still be used to achieve your weight loss goals.
The science behind steam rooms and how they cut weight
After spending some time in the steam room and seeing how much weight you can drop in just half an hour, you might think that your gym’s steam room is the answer to all your weight loss goals. After all, who needs the treadmill when you can work up a sweat sitting down? But does it really work that way?
Steam rooms cause you to lose weight because the combination of high heat and extreme humidity means you sweat intensely during your session. If you weigh yourself before going in and then as soon as you exit the steam room, the immediate change is entirely water weight. As soon as you rehydrate, your weight will return to normal.
The average steam room reaches 110-120°F. In that kind of heat, your body’s natural response is to start sweating in order to cool itself off. The 100% humidity in the steam room actually makes it feel even hotter, and your body sweats even more to try and keep you cool.
All of this sweating is why it’s so important to hydrate before and after your time in the steam room (no matter how nice it might be to see that scale drop).
Is a steam room good for cutting weight?
The benefits of steam rooms include clearer skin and improved circulation, both of which are nice but not helpful in terms of weight loss.
Steam rooms are not good for significant weight loss when used by themselves. However, they are very good for muscle recovery after a workout, leading to fewer injuries or missed gym days. They are also ideal for relaxation and may reduce the stress hormone, making weight loss more difficult. Finally, when used correctly, they can boost your metabolism.
Steam improves skin health by opening pores and letting out impurities. These detoxifying elements help with muscle recovery after a workout and help reduce stress.
Steam rooms are great when your skin needs a little extra moisture.
Should you use a steam room for weight loss?
Visiting a steam room can be a great way to end your gym session, but that doesn’t mean it will actually make a big difference in your weight loss journey.
Using a steam room in conjunction with other weight-loss systems – such as a healthy diet and moderate exercise – can help establish healthy routines and provide a relaxing incentive to push through the less enjoyable parts of your day. While it will not cause significant long-lasting weight loss on its own, visiting a steam room can aid in your overall weight loss.
Let’s look at some of the specific scenarios where using a steam room for weight loss is encouraged. Then we’ll address a couple of times it should be avoided.
Why you should use steam rooms for weight loss
As discussed, steam rooms can be a helpful tool in your weight loss toolbelt.
You should use steam rooms for weight loss:
- After a high-intensity workout – The steam room is known to be a popular choice for recovery in athletes because the heat improves blood circulation and increases mobility throughout the body.
- To reduce stress – Even if you’re cutting calories and working out, the stress hormone cortisol can cause your body to retain fat. Steam rooms offer a comfortable space to unwind and relax the body and mind. By cultivating a calm and rested state, the body can build stamina for mental and physical strength.
- To stimulate your metabolism – The heat of the steam room can lead to an increase in heart rate and increase your oxygen consumption, simulating moderate exercise.
Why you shouldn’t use steam rooms for weight loss
However, steam rooms aren’t for everyone, and they certainly aren’t the ideal way to go about losing weight.
You should avoid the steam room if you are:
- In poor health – If you have poor health and cardiovascular issues, you should consult your doctor if using a steam room is right for you. Studies have shown that people with coronary heart disease have a higher risk of health issues when their heart is under stress from heat.
- Dehydrated – Severe dehydration is a serious condition when it comes to health. Without proper hydration, many detrimental outcomes may occur as a result. Steam rooms are known to further dehydrate you through sweating, so if you’re already in a dangerous state of dehydration, it’s best not to step into a sauna.
- Drinking or intoxicated – A study in Finland found that 50% of the deaths in saunas were associated with alcohol, either because of accidents or dehydration.
How much water weight do you lose in a steam room?
While I don’t recommend it, if you’ve ever weighed in immediately before and after your time in the steam room, you know you can lose a surprising amount of water weight in a short time.
It is possible to lose up to 5 pounds during an hour-long session in the steam room; however, it is not recommended that you stay in the steam room for longer than 30 minutes at a time due to the risk of extreme dehydration.
Keep in mind that all the weight you lose in the steam room will return as soon as you rehydrate.
Can steaming reduce belly fat?
Unfortunately, steaming alone does not reduce belly fat because most of the weight you lose in a steam room is all water weight.
The steam room can be helpful as a part of a weight loss routine, but it is not good for significant weight loss by itself. Additionally, there is no such thing as targeted weight loss. That means you must lose weight all over your body to lose belly fat.
Again, using a steam room is an excellent supplement for recovery after a workout. All of that relaxation and circulation help speed up your healing process.
How to use a steam room to help cut weight
If you want to use a steam room to cut weight, there are a few things to keep in mind.
In order to use the steam room to help cut weight, follow these steps:
- Set a routine
- Don’t overdo it
- Enjoy after a workout
Let’s look at how each of these can aid in weight loss.
Set a routine
As with everything else in life, a good routine is the key to success.
Visiting the steam room consistently for three 30-minutes sessions each week can actually extend your lifespan!
Studies have shown that frequent use of steam rooms and saunas provides cumulative health benefits, including reduced incidence of cardiovascular diseases.
Don’t overdo it
Although it’s good to set a routine, you should be careful in the frequency and duration of use.
Moderation is the key when enjoying the sauna – limit yourself to 30 minutes a day and no more than 3 visits a week (avoiding back-to-back days). Give your body time to recover.
If you’re in poor health or if you’re sick, then you should avoid steam rooms altogether, as the stress could make your illness worse.
Enjoy after a workout
Add a steam room session to a post-workout regime and help foster overall care.
The wet heat of the steam room soaks into muscles more easily than other sauna types and will allow you to relax and recover more quickly than a simple shower.
Rest is an important part of recovery and leaves you feeling energized for your next workout session. Some benefits include increased flexibility, muscle recovery, and improved joint stiffness.
Have you ever come back from a vacation and felt as if you could take on the world? That’s because you gave yourself time to recuperate and recharge your batteries. The same goes for the steam room.
After exercising, use the steam room to help you relax and take a break from your usual routines, like a mini vacation.
You can also think about your time in the steam room as a reward for all the hard work you’ve done the rest of the day.
How long should you stay in a steam room to lose weight
Simply put, you lose weight by sweating. How much you can lose each session depends on a few different variables.
First, the temperature of the steam room plays an important role; in general, the higher the temperature is set, the more weight you can potentially lose. Second, the amount of time you stay in the steam room is also noteworthy – but this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to stay in a steam room for hours on end.
The temperature of steam rooms ranges from 110 to 120°F with a humidity of 100%. For weight loss, stay in for 30 minutes three times a week. During this time, you can lose up to 2.5 pounds. However, this will vary from person to person.
This can be helpful if you need to weigh in for a competition or similar event, but remember that these pounds are from water weight loss, not fat loss.
How long should you stay in a steam room after a workout?
Recovery is an essential part of your training routine and using a steam room is a popular choice when it comes to recuperating the body.
The time spent in a steam room after a workout doesn’t have to be long to have a major impact. As little as 10 minutes can aid in the recovery from an intense 30 minutes workout.
In this time, flexibility and mobility are both shown to improve. It may be mentally relaxing to stay longer, but 10-15 minutes is enough to see physical results.