Sweating is an inextricable portion of sauna use: To sauna is to sweat. Naturally, there are numerous health benefits derived from engaging the systems necessary to regulate temperature via perspiration. Given the high volume of fluid lost during a sauna session, and particularly for individuals engaged in sauna therapy several times a week, it is necessary to stay well hydrated to avoid any negative side effects from sauna use.
Regardless of an individual’s health, it is easy to fall behind in water intake. Sometimes if this happens, instead of feeling amazing as a result from sauna use, individuals can be left with a headache and a bloating sensation. Please always be sure to maintain excellent hydration if sauna use is a part of your every day routine.
In this article you will find out everything you need to know about how much fluid is actually lost during a sauna session, what time of day is most effective to hydrate, and what you should be drinking to maximize your hydration levels.
How Much Fluid Is Lost During A Sauna Session?
Everyone is a little different in how quickly they begin to sweat, and how much fluid they sweat out, so it makes measuring the amount of perspiration somewhat challenging. Nevertheless, Harvard medical school did attempt to quantify exactly how much fluid was lost during a sauna session. Their study revealed that the average person will lose roughly 1 pint of fluid during a sauna session of no more than 20 minutes. (1)
There are variables that affect the quantity of fluid lost such as the individual, length of time spent in the sauna, fitness levels, type of heat used (traditional, far infrared, or a steam room), all of which affect the amount of sweating that occurs during a sauna.
Ultimately, it can be said that significant fluid loss occurs, and it is necessary to prepare the body accordingly through proper hydration before engaging in sauna use. Ideally, hydration ought to occur around the clock, so that when a sauna session does happen, the body is already well hydrated.
The Greatest Risk Resulting From Regular Sauna Use Is Dehydration
In general, barring a few individual risk factors, saunas are considered a safe means to activate a cascade of health benefits, including improvement of the immune system, and revitalization of the whole body’s systems. Regardless of age, fitness level or experience, anyone can be in danger of dehydration from excessive sauna use if proper preparation is not taken.
Dehydration can be a very serious condition at worst, and at best, can leave an individual with an extreme headache and exhausted. All of this, however, can be prevented with proper pre-sauna hydration. Your hydration schedule should begin hours (ideally – days) before you sauna, so that proper fluid intake is a natural part of your lifestyle.
Time of Day for Optimal Hydration
It is important to begin your day with hydration. Many medical professionals recommend water with lemon, or lime. If you know you will be taking a sauna that day, be sure to drink plenty of healthy fluids several hours leading up to your sauna session.
Show up to your sauna session the same way you would a workout!
Your body can catch up on lost fluid from extreme perspiration, but it is best to prepare ahead of time. During your sauna session it is recommended by experts in the field to drink just water in the sauna. After your session you may choose to rehydrate with a healthy beverage from the list below, such as coconut water. (2)
Drinking plenty of healthy beverages before you sauna will help to prevent your body from going into a deficit of hydration. Make sure there is a variety in your beverage consumption from the list of healthy drinks below.
What You Should Be Drinking and Should Not Be Drinking While Using a Sauna
During a sauna session you will inadvertently deplete minerals from your body through sweating – so it is important to replenish these minerals as part of your post-sauna routine. You will also shed toxins during your sauna session. Clean drinking water is always the cornerstone to a healthy beverage diet, however, when using a sauna regularly you will also want to drink something that will refuel the minerals lost during a sweating session.
Many different individuals, both professional and not, have strong opinions about what type of water is the best to drink. There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that one type of water over another is necessarily better. Some folks are committed to alkaline water, while others drink nothing but mineral water, and still others believe that well water or tap water are the best. The only type of water to steer clear of is water that has been purified via osmosis, as this type of water is void of minerals or any other compounds important for the body’s absorption of fluid. (3)
Here is a list of recommended beverages that will hydrate you before, during, and after you sauna session:
- Coconut Water
- Natural Juice
- Water infused with lime or lemon, and salt
- Gatorade (quite high in sugar)
- Electrolyte water
- Mineral Water (Geralsteiner, MontPellier, or other minerally infused water)
- Banana (4)
What You Should NOT Be Drinking In Excess:
- Juice with high sugar content
- Caffeinated beverages: Coffee, caffeinated tea, energy drinks, etc.
If you do engage in the consumption of alcohol, soda, or coffee, remember that these drinks are not hydrating the body, and you will need to continue to intake healthful beverages as well.
The Three Pillars of a Successful Sauna Lifestyle: Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
Regular sauna use provides its users with innumerable health benefits, and barring exceptional cases, the only real danger is dehydration. This factor is controllable by your fluid intake. Please remember to always stay well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids from the healthy list of beverages throughout the day, and especially before your next sauna session.
You can always stay well hydrated, and once you are habituated to drinking plenty of healthy water throughout the day, it will just come naturally to you.