The weight loss that one may experience when using a sauna is temporary, due to the fact that the loss is through sweating, and is primarily water weight. This is easily regained after drinking a couple of glasses of water or juice. Some argue that the heart beats faster, which in turn results in the body burning more calories while in a sauna. However, this effect may result in very tiny increments of weight loss. Using a sauna is certainly not as effective as spending the same amount of time pursuing an aerobic activity like walking, swimming, or taking an aerobics class.
Athletes in certain sports may occasionally employ saunas, or sweat suits made of rubber, to lose a small amount of weight. This is particularly the case with sports where competition is based on weight class, as in wrestling. A pound difference can mean competing or not competing. Usually once a wrestler is given his weight class, he has time to produce more energy by drinking a protein drink or juice.
This is one thing that should be a concern with all sauna users. If you do plan to use a sauna, you should be concerned about fluid replacement. Water tends not to be the best choice, since it doesn’t contain a sufficient electrolyte balance. Juice, or specially formulated sports drinks are usually the optimum choice for replacing fluids lost while using a sauna. Lack of fluid replacement, and using the sauna for an extended period of time could result in dehydration.
There is certainly no harm in using a sauna for most people. People with low blood pressure or pregnant women, however, should not use a sauna. For most, using a sauna after a workout can be a nice way to soothe aching muscles. Many feel quite refreshed using either saunas or steam rooms.
For the dieter, you might want to skip the sauna as a weight loss tool, and instead invest a few more minutes in aerobic activity. This is likely to result in the actual accumulation of muscle, and burning of fat. Most who want to lose weight are interested in permanent, and not temporary results. A sauna only provides negligible, temporary weight loss.