Baking cookies, roasting delicious food in the oven, and nuts in dishes around the home is synonymous with the holiday season for many people. Sharing food with family and loved ones is a tradition shared by many all over the globe. Unfortunately, by the time the New Year comes around, lots of folks have neglected their sauna or fitness regimen and are struggling to get back into the swing of things.
Your sauna can be a powerful health ally throughout the month of December. If the temperatures leave sidewalk and street conditions icy, or if you just want to step into the sauna from home and save on time, using a sauna can give you a reasonable facsimile to a cardiovascular workout. Plus, saunas bring so many wonderful health benefits outside of helping you to reach your fitness goals.
Given the abundance of food-related events during the holidays, if you intend to maintain your sauna routine, it’s important to coordinate your eating schedule accordingly. By continuing to use your sauna throughout the holiday you help mitigate any unwanted weight gain, and reduce excessive toxin intake by continuing to detoxify in your sauna.
Can You Eat Before Your Sauna?
- In General: Eat For a Sauna as you Would a Workout or Swim
- Go Into Your Sauna Fasted for Human Growth Hormone Production
- Use Your Sauna at a Semi Fasted Point for Weight Management
The general rule of thumb when it comes to eating and your sauna use is that you should, if possible, wait 2 hours after eating before using a sauna. There are several reasons for this, however, it should be noted that if you are diabetic, have low blood pressure, or have specific dietary restrictions such as maintaining ketosis, follow what works for you and is recommended by your trusted healthcare provider to keep you as healthy as possible.
For most people who are using a sauna to improve cardiovascular function, or to detoxify, you will want to wait around 2 hours after eating before going into the sauna. It is important to remember that the body needs energy in order to properly digest food. Ideally, the autonomic nervous system will be in a fairly relaxed state (parasympathetic dominance, aka rest and digest) while you are eating as this allows the body to pour its energy into the process of digestion. This means that it is best to exercise or go into a sauna after you have finished the process of digestion.
When in doubt, try to wait two hours after eating, if possible, before entering the sauna.
One notable exception to the “2 Hour Rule” is if you are using a sauna for the purpose of increasing Human Growth Hormone Production. In this case you will follow an altogether different protocol for sauna use including using a sauna in a fairly fasted state. This protocol also includes limiting the frequency of sauna use to just a few days in the month, but doing 4 sessions in a single day. This is an atypical protocol for sauna use and should not be followed for any other reason than to produce human growth hormone. (1)
If your goal in using a sauna is to decrease all cause mortality from cardiovascular disease then you will want to make sure that you are getting into the sauna as often as possible. (2)
During the holiday season if you are using a sauna for managing weight your sauna protocol will vary somewhat. Ideally, if you are accustomed to some level of intermittent fasting and your body allows you to enter a sauna first thing in the morning before breakfast, this will help you manage your weight while still enjoying the rich foods of the holidays. (3)
Using a sauna frequently, but for less time, will also help to maintain your ideal weight. Meaning the more times that you are able to tap into your temperature regulatory system and push the body to a point of perspiration, the easier weight management will be, even without exercise.
If you would like to indulge this holiday season in whatever foods you fancy and still step into the New Year looking fabulous, consider keeping up with your sauna use throughout the season.
How Long After Your Sauna Can You Eat?
After you sauna you will naturally want to take a shower and properly cleanse your skin and hair. You will also want to be sure to intake high quality fluids with lots of electrolytes. If possible, take some time to sit or lie down. As your body temperature begins to drop again you will naturally begin to feel hungry. For most people this is about 45 minutes after a sauna session. Eating after a sauna has fewer parameters than before your sauna. So, just make sure that you are hydrating well, cleansing yourself thoroughly, and know that as your internal body temperature drops you will naturally want to eat again (especially if you have been fasting).
Sauna During the Holidays To Detoxify From Rich and High Sugar Foods
If you are not used to rich foods high in sugar and fats, you may be left with somewhat of a yucky or bloated feeling throughout the holiday season. Taking even a quick sauna can help you feel balanced again if these unusual foods throw you for a loop. Be sure that you are waiting to get into the sauna for at least 2 hours after eating and especially be certain that no alcohol has been consumed.
Using a sauna every morning, or every other morning, during the holiday season will help you to release alcohol and other toxins found in foods that you may not be accustomed to. (4) Saunas capitalize on the use of your largest organ – the skin – to detoxify the body. This process of detoxification relieves stress from the internal organs, such as the kidneys and liver – helping the body to feel ‘less cluttered’, much like tidying up the wrapping paper or doing the dishes after a party.
Additionally, a daily sauna will help to keep you grounded during a season of intensive social engagement. So, if you are feeling uncomfortable from too much sugar or unusual foods, know that you can reliably go into the sauna to find your equilibrium again.
Step Into The New Year Feeling Fit and Beautiful
Most people set their fitness, health, and weight loss goals for after the New Year, but with access to a regular sauna, you can forego the crowds and ensure that you are maintaining your health and wellness by using your sauna throughout the holidays.
It is important to feel as if you can participate in fun family meals,knowing that you can find a balance with regular sauna use.
Remember – unless you have specific dietary restrictions – it is best to wait 2 hours after you eat to enter a sauna, or treat a sauna the same way you would a workout or a swim. If you are using a sauna for Human Growth Hormone production, we recommend you follow the aforementioned protocol, or if you are using a sauna specifically as a weight management strategy, you will want to consider fasting before your sauna.
As always, consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in any new food restriction or other health methodologies. If you are living with or recovering from an eating disorder, proceed with correct eating for your body and in accordance with the recommendations of your medical doctor.
Above all else, stay safe and enjoy the holidays!