We all know that magic weight loss pills are completely a big hoax of modern times. You might, naturally, assume that sauna suits are nothing’ other than just a hype.
However recent research suggests that these scuba-style outfits can just have some legit workout perks.
Lance C. Dalleck, Ph.D. and an ACE Scientific Advisory Panel Member, recently found that training in sauna suits can offer serious performance benefits for athletes. “We know that for athletes who train in the heat, there are a number of adaptations,” told Dalleck. “You sweat earlier, you have an increase in plasma volume, have a higher VO2 max and better ability to tolerate heat.”
But in his most recent research, Dalleck wished to see how exercising in sauna suits can affect weight loss.
The research team from the High Altitude Exercise Physiology Program at Western State Colorado University enrolled 45 sedentary overweight or obese adults (between the age group of 18-60 years old with a BMI ranging between 25-40), a body fat percentage over 22% for men and 32% for women, and rated as low-to-moderate risk for pulmonary, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. The group was divided up into three groups: a regular exercise group, a sauna suit exercise group, and a control group.
For 8 weeks, both exercise groups participated in the progressive workout program, performing three 45-minute moderate workouts ( rower, elliptical and treadmill) and two 30-minute vigorous workouts (like spin class) each week. They all had a normal diet and didn’t perform any exercise outside of the study’s guidelines. The only difference between the two groups was that one group worked out in Kutting Weight sauna suits while the other group worked out in their usual gym clothesline.
The benefits of sauna suits for weight loss
At the end of the research, all exercisers noted improvements in their systolic and diastolic blood pressure and total cholesterol and decreased waist circumference.
Whats interesting is that sauna suit group saw a great improvement in basically every key measure over those who just exercised in regular clothes. For one, the sauna suit group dropped 2.6% of their body weight and 13.8% of their body fat vs the regular exercisers, who just dropped 0.9% and 8.3% respectively.
The sauna suit group also noticed a huge improvement in their VO2 max, increase in fat oxidation, and a greater decrease in fasting blood glucose.
Last but certainly not the least, the sauna suit group also noticed 11.4% increase in their resting metabolic rate (no of calories your body burns at rest) compared to the regular exercise group, which saw a 2.7% decrease.
It all comes down to post-exercise oxygen consumption, says Dalleck. “Exercising in heat increases EPOC,” he said, “and there are a lot of favorable things (like burning more calories) that come with EPOC.”
There are multiple factors that can increase EPOC: like high-intensity exercise since it creates a larger disruption of your body’s homeostasis. After a workout, it takes more energy to return back to that homeostasis. Another factor is the disruption of your normal core temperature. All workout results in the increase of core temperature, however, if you accentuate that even more (for instance, exercising in the heat or in a sauna suit), that means it will take a longer time to return to homeostasis and regulate your body temp. Both of these factors result in a greater calorie burn and improvised carb and fat oxidation.
Before you go work out in a sauna suit…
Keep in mind that the study was conducted using only moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise, not the high intensity, and always for 45 minutes or less, in a controlled, unheated environment. “In this instance, if used appropriately, sauna suits can be very beneficial,” said Dalleck.
Subjecting your body to heat as well as a super intense workout when you aren’t trained for it can put too much stress on your body leading to hyperthermia. “We recommend keeping the intensity moderate to vigorous, not high,” he said.
(Keep in mind that if you have heart disease, diabetes, or any other conditions that make it difficult for your body to thermoregulate, then you should skip the sauna suit or consult with your doc first).
Also, you might be able to get the perks from just going to your usual vinyasa, heated spin class, or another steamy workout studio. The sauna suits simulate about a 90-degree Fahrenheit environment with 30 – 50 percent humidity, said Dalleck. Though you can not exactly control the environment of your workout class, challenging your body to adapt to that environment is similar to heating it through sauna suit.
One last interesting fact is: “Acclimating to one environmental stressor can offer protection against other environmental stressors,” said Dalleck.