We have all seen that guy in the gym who looks like he is wearing a trash bag. Or maybe you watched the movie Silver Linings Playbook where the main character ran every day wearing a trash bag. What is up with that? The trash bag looking suits are called sauna suits. The idea behind the suit is that if you sweat more, you will lose weight more quickly. It is like a shortcut to fat loss. But do they actually work?

First, let’s talk about sweat.

You sweat because you need to regulate your body temperature. When you start exercising, your body temperature rises. Your body must compensate or you will eventually die from overheating. Sweat is like your own personal air conditioner. Your body uses it to keep you cool.

When you sweat a lot, you will lose weight. If you step on the scale after doing 1.5 hours of cardio with a sauna suit on, the number will go down. Unfortunately, it is not the kind of weight you want to lose. You have not lost any fat, only water. You are just dehydrated and not any skinnier. As soon as you drink water, you will gain the weight back.

It is not necessary to sweat to lose fat. You can lose weight doing less intense exercises like walking, yoga, and pilates. The MAF Method is an exercise program that is based on exercising with a low heart rate. There is not much sweating involved but people still lose fat doing these easier exercises. Do not associate sweating with weight loss!

In addition to not working, sauna suits are also very uncomfortable. You sweat a lot. When you wear a suit, there is sweat everywhere – on gym equipment, your clothes, and your car seats. It is time-consuming to clean up after every session.

Sauna suits can also be dangerous. Sweat is mostly comprised of water but it also contains electrolytes. If you sweat too much, you can lose too many of these salts that are essential for bodily functions. This can lead to kidney damage and heart problems. Sauna suits can also make you overheat. If that happens you might just pass out at the gym. That would be embarrassing and dangerous!

Most people who use sauna suits are trying to find a shortcut. Shortcuts for fat loss simply do not work. You may lose weight quickly in the beginning, but eventually, the weight will come back. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat healthy foods, do a mix of cardio and strength training and stay consistent! Yes, it will take longer but you will safely lose the weight and it will not come back the second you drink a bottle of water.