The Science Behind Sauna Suits
Lance C. Dalleck, a member of the ACE Scientific Advisory Panel and a Ph.D. holder, researched claims made by sauna suit manufacturers. During this research, he found that individuals who train in a sauna suit do obtain performance benefits. The individual begins to sweat earlier, his or her plasma volume increases, the VO2 max increases, and the individual is better able to tolerate heat.
Dalleck took his research further, however. He tested three groups of individuals who were trying to lose weight. All participants were overweight or obese adults between 18 and 60 years of age who lived a sedentary lifestyle. The BMI of each participant fell between 25 and 40 and the body fat percentage for each female participant was 32 percent or higher. For males, the BMI was 22 or higher percent. All participants were examined to determine their risk for metabolic, cardiovascular and/or pulmonary disease before being allowed to take part in the study.
The participants were put into one of three groups. The control group maintained their current lifestyle while the other two groups took part in an exercise program. One exercise group participated in five workouts each week, three of moderate intensity and two of vigorous-intensity. They didn’t exercise outside of these workouts and continued to eat normally. The second group did the same but wore a sauna suit during these workouts.
All individuals who took part in the exercise portion of the study decreased their waist circumference and improved their total cholesterol and blood pressure levels. However, the group wearing the sauna suit saw greater improvements in all areas. They lost more body weight, at a rate of 2.6 percent to .9 percent, and more body fat. Furthermore, they witnessed an improvement in their ability to burn fat for fuel and their VO2 max while observing a larger decrease in their fasting blood glucose. They also saw their resting metabolic rate increase by 11.4 percent. This is of great importance as the group not wearing the sauna suit while exercising saw their resting metabolic rate go down by 2.7 percent.