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Weight Loss

Can Daily Sauna Sessions Work Better Than Ozempic?

written by Skye Sherman - Jan 22, 2024
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Apr 17, 2024

Photo Credit: by pvproductions,
Photo Credit: by pvproductions,

Disclaimer: Be cautious about taking any prescriptions, especially for off-label use of diabetes medications. Always consult your physician before taking any medication.

Ozempic is one of the biggest wellness trends of the year. People want to slim down, feel good, and avoid the many dangers of obesity. But is this diabetes drug the best way to do it? There are other ways to lose weight, and many of them don’t involve the use of a prescription medication.

Another major wellness trend in recent years (which is actually a very old tradition) is using a sauna. Some people even sit in the sun for a sweat session if they don’t have access to a proper sauna, and many people love to incorporate a sauna session before or after a workout.

While body positivity has also trended in recent years, the chronic medical condition of obesity has undeniable risk factors, and is more than simply being big-boned or heavy. According to USA Today, “over the last two decades, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased from 30.5% to 41.9%.” Many obese people are turning to Ozempic and similar drugs to finally drop the stubborn excess weight they have struggled to lose.

But did you know that some people are spending time in saunas in an effort to lose weight? You sweat quite a bit from spending time in the sauna, but does it work better than Ozempic? In this article, we’ll take a look at how sauna sessions and Ozempic stack up when it comes to weight loss efforts.

How does Ozempic help with weight loss?

You’ve more than likely heard about how well Ozempic works for weight loss, but not many people realize how or why it works.

According to The New York Times, “Ozempic has become an umbrella term for a new class of medications that can induce weight loss, in part by quashing one’s appetite and slowing the emptying of the stomach.”

Besides the suppression of appetite and slower digestion, users also report that Ozempic and similar drugs affect the brain by shutting off obsessive thoughts about eating, which can also aid in weight loss by decreasing appetite and interest in food.

Ozempic is an injectable diabetic medication that people use off-label (which means not for diabetic-related use cases) to lose weight. However, similar options include Wegovy, a different dose of the same substance, which is approved to treat obesity, and Mounjaro, a similar diabetes drug. People are even using supplements like berberine to obtain a similar effect. The main drug in these weight loss medications is semaglutide.

Of course, all of these treatments must be done under the care and supervision of a licensed physician.

Still, The New York Times points out, there are side effects: “As more people turn to these drugs, some are also navigating stark side effects: shrinking muscle mass, intense nausea, vomiting, constipation and even, in rare cases, malnutrition.”

But many people have lost significant amounts of weight by turning to these drugs, which has a lot of health benefits in its own right, like reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular-related deaths in people who are overweight or struggling with heart disease while obese.

That’s another reason why it’s important to discuss with a doctor which route may be right for you if you need to lose weight.

Other weight loss tips, including eating breakfast like a king

Looking for more ways to shed some pounds?

You’re not alone. As USA Today explains, “Obesity is a public health emergency. Congress is long overdue to expand Medicare coverage for anti-obesity drugs. Only with a combination of options including diet, exercise, and either bariatric surgery or anti-obesity medication, can we fight this epidemic.”

Remember that at the end of the day, calories consumed must be equal to or less than calories expended if one is to lose or maintain weight. You’ll need to find a combination of diet, exercise, lifestyle, and other choices that works for you (and probably cut out the fast food).

As Harvard reports, “Instead of embracing fad diets, people who have lost weight—and kept it off—usually have made a permanent shift toward healthier eating habits. Simply replacing unhealthy foods with healthy ones—not for a few weeks, but forever—will help you achieve weight loss while also offering numerous other benefits.” A balanced diet is crucial.

Another tip is to change the style in which you eat. Everyday Health the latter part of the day may be an advantage to those who want to lose weight and improve overall health … eating the main meal (larger meal) too late (after 3 p.m.) was associated with difficulty with losing weight.”

Overall, your lifestyle shifts must be able to be maintained for the long run if you are to lose weight and keep it off permanently.

Can daily sauna sessions help you lose weight?

The New York Times also comments on the sauna trend of late: “After a pandemic-induced chill, bathhouses are back, and more people are turning to them with the hopes of sweating out toxins or boosting their brain. Researchers say there isn’t clear evidence that saunas can do quite all that, but a trip to the steam room might offer some other health benefits.”

Medical News Today reports, “Saunas may offer short-term weight loss through the loss of water weight. The heat can also raise the heart rate, which can help burn more calories.”

Still, because the weight you lose from a sauna session is mostly water weight, it’s temporary and not a lasting pound-shedding tool. Once you rehydrate with more water, you will gain the weight back.

According to Healthline, “The higher temperatures cause your heart rate to increase in a way similar to exercise. But this increase only causes a slightly higher calorie burn than sitting at rest. The sauna may be able to help you burn some extra calories, but don’t bank on sweat sessions alone to shed pounds.” This can be dangerous for some individuals who may have circulation issues, heart disease or inability to properly regulate their body temperature.

Spending daily time in a sauna could help, though, if you use it to detox, sweat regularly, and reduce muscle soreness so you can return to working out more quickly after a strenuous training session. Regular sauna use can help relax muscles, improve blood flow, and bolster skin health.

Wondering how to sauna to reap the benefits?

There are various types of saunas, from wood-burning stoves that heat sauna rocks to electrically heated saunas, steam rooms, and infrared saunas. All work in the same basic way: heating you up to cause you to sweat, with varying levels of humidity, temperatures, and light.

Many gyms, spas, and bathhouses provide access to a sauna, and there are even some at-home options like a sauna blanket. First-timers should start with 5 to 10 minutes and work up to the recommended length of time, which is 15 to 20 minutes.

Of course, always consult with a physician before beginning a sauna routine or any weight-loss efforts.



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