Sauna suits are made from a waterproof fabric meant to hold in heat, causing you to sweat. Sauna suits for weight loss are often used by athletes attempting to cut weight for a competition, but the general public has been curious as to whether they can offer benefits to them.
Sauna suits may be able to help you lose weight, but there are health risks to be aware of. Proper supervision and guidance for use are a must.
Easily found at department stores and sports stores, sauna suits are now purchasable by the general population. However, it is crucial to be aware of the health risks involved in wearing a sauna suit. Just because it's available doesn't mean that it's ideal.
Despite the possible health risks, studies are showing some benefits to using a sauna suit if used safely and with professional guidance and supervision. It is vital to stress that using a sauna suit without proper guidance could be risky for your health.
Read more: Is It Unhealthy to Use a Sauna After a Workout?
The Risks of Sauna Suits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a notice regarding the 1997 deaths of three collegiate wrestlers who died while attempting to lose weight rapidly to qualify for competition. The deaths were determined to be a direct result of dehydration through the sweating and resulting hypothermia that occurred while wearing the suits. The wrestlers were restricted in their food and fluid intake during this time and were exercising with high intensities in hot environments.
The CDC notes that vigorous exercise accompanied by dehydration increases body temperature, which is exacerbated by the use of sauna suits that don't allow evaporation and convection of heat loss to occur. This causes dehydration and other heat-related issues, such as elevated sodium and urea.
If you are attempting to use a sauna suit for weight loss, be aware that fast weight loss due to the loss of fluids and not the loss of body tissue is only temporary. Moreover, losing too much water weight without proper nutrition can put you at risk for an electrolyte imbalance, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Health Benefits of Sauna Suits
Although sauna suits may not be ideal for weight loss, they may have some merits. For example, an article published in the March 2016 issue of the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology shows that training with a sauna suit can improve cardiovascular health. The study concluded that regular moderate-intensity exercise training wearing a sauna suit improved cardiorespiratory fitness as well as several critical cardiovascular disease risk factors.
The decrease in risk factors occurred after a small study conducted over six weeks. The participants were found to have significant improvements in body fat percentage, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and maximal oxygen uptake.
Another December 2017 article published in the International Journal of Research in Exercise physiology showed similar results.
After an eight-week study on 45 men and women, the participants who exercised wearing a sauna suit showed significantly greater improvements in V̇O2max, body mass index, body fat percentage, blood glucose, fat oxidation and resting metabolic rate. The study concluded that heat stress induced by a sauna suit might be beneficial for those who have overweight or obesity.
Again, be sure to receive proper training, guidance and supervision before ever attempting to use a sauna suit.
- Mayo Clinic: "Why Do Doctors Recommend a Slow Rate of Weight Loss? What's Wrong With Fast Weight Loss?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Hyperthermia and Dehydration-Related Deaths Associated With Intentional Rapid Weight Loss in Three Collegiate Wrestlers -- North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan, November-December 1997"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Dehydration"
- International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology: "Effects of Exercise Training With a Sauna Suit on Cardiovascular Health: A Proof-of-Concept Study"
- International Journal of Research in Exercise: "Health-Related Benefits of Exercise Training With a Sauna Suit: A Randomized, Controlled Trial"