Many people swear by sauna use while they dry fast. But they don't often mention the dangers of using a sauna while dry fasting. In this article, we’ll explore why people consider using the sauna during a dry fast, the possible risks, scenarios where it may work, and some testimonials of people who have experimented with it. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s safe to use a sauna during a dry fast, then keep on reading!
What is Dry Fasting?
Dry fasting, where individuals abstain from both food and water, is an ancient practice with claimed benefits like weight loss, improved immune function, better skin, and reduced inflammation. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited, and the risks may outweigh the benefits. Dry fasting risks include dehydration, mental fog, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections. This practice differs from intermittent fasting, which involves eating and fasting cycles, and water fasting, where only food intake is restricted. Dry fasting has been practiced for centuries for religious and spiritual reasons, but one should exercise caution and seek medical advice before attempting it. Although dry fasting can help improve mood, focus, and mental clarity, it is essential to ease into it and maintain a healthy diet and regular physical activity for overall well-being.
Why do people consider using a sauna while dry fasting?
There are a number of reasons why people might consider using a sauna while dry fasting. Sauna use has some amazing benefits that people think of when they attempt to compound them with dry fasting. For some, it may be seen as a way to intensify the detoxification process. Saunas can help to detoxify the body by sweating. Saunas can also help to relax your muscles and relieve pain.
Some think that using things like exercise and saunas can speed up the loss of water and muscle glycogen which would naturally speed up entering ketosis. As with many things in our world, everyone is searching for faster results, and this is no different. If ketosis is achieved faster, the rational states that you can get a head start on autophagy, and mental clarity. Some fasters really struggle with the first 2 days of a fast, so trying to cut those corners makes for quite an incentive.
Mixing up dry fasting with other forms of fasting
The key thing here is that most people unknowingly mix the tenets of water fasting with those of dry fasting. Water fasting and intermittent fasting are gaining popularity at a very fast scale, so there are a lot of different opinions floating around, whereas dry fasting is much more secretive and is a less popular type of fast. Read more about Dry Fasting vs Water Fasting here. Most of the research about dry fasting comes from Ramadan participants who dry fast for only 12–18 hours per day (30 straight days!). It leaves extended dry fasting a little bit more of a guessing game and also why it is so easy to blur the lines between water and dry fasting.
Because sauna use is supported by people doing water fasting and intermittent fasting, it can lure dry fasters into wanting to try it too. I mean, if it’s helping speed up the process during a water fast, wouldn’t it speed up a dry fast EVEN more? Yes, according to some testimonials, it actually might. But, at what cost? View a curated list of testimonials here: Dry Fasting and Sauna | What people are saying | Reddit and more
Sauna benefits max out when dehydrated
Do not drink water while using the sauna. There are studies that back this up and it is a common practice in Nordic countries where fasting is a cultural activity. You are advised to drink mineral water only after you complete your sauna sessions. This is further proof that when you deprive your body of water, you activate improvements in your body. This study indicates that we activate new and powerful authophagy when inducing hypertonic stress. Hypertonic in this case refers to a high osmotic pressure in the blood plasma which is caused by having less water. It becomes a skill of activating your body’s healing mechanisms from these hormetic events without actually going far enough where it causes damage.
Comparing dry fasting stages to sauna use
This is assuming you are NOT on a keto diet prior to starting your fast.
- Day 1 [8 hours] – Your stomach is now empty and blood sugar levels are dropping. Internal water stores are still available.
- Day 1 [12 hours] – Most of the food has been burned up. The body is still using sugars and stored glycogen. Internal water stores are still available.
- Day 1 [24 hours] – Moderate autophagy begins. HGH levels rise. Ketones are present in the blood. Hunger starts to disappear. Notice as the body starts to run out of exogenous water, it is required to produce its own water and must consume fat cells quicker. Internal water stores are still available.
- Day 2 [48 hours] – Autophagy increases drastically, the immune system is strengthened without having to focus on the digestive system, you may start getting keto flu symptoms. Internal water stores are potentially depleted.
- Day 3 [72 hours] – FIRST ACIDOTIC CRISIS: Deep healing commences. Urge to eat goes away. Urge to drink water increases. You can see that the acidotic crisis is achieved much faster than water fasting. Internal water stores are most likely depleted.
- Day 6 [144 hours] – FIRST ACIDOTIC CRISIS ENDS: It is ideal to break your extended dry fast at this stage if you are looking to heal severe disease. Internal water stores are depleted.
Is it okay to use a sauna while dry fasting?
Using the sauna during your dry fast can include risks like dehydration, dizziness, fainting, and heat stroke. Saunas can also put undue stress on your heart, which is not ideal when you are already in a state of dehydration.
For these reasons, it is generally not recommended to use a sauna while dry fasting. If you are considering doing so, it is important to speak with your doctor first to make sure that it is safe for you to do so.
It’s important to ask yourself, “why do I want to use the sauna while dry fasting?” If the reason you’re doing it because you want to maximize the benefits offered by dry fasting then you are going about this the wrong way. Dry fasting is already one of the most stressful activities you can put your body through. If you have the willpower to go through multiple days of dry fasting, you don’t need to add another obstacle on top of it by using a sauna. If however, you are playing around with a limited amount of time, then adding the sauna to short dry fasts seems like an interesting experiment.
Personally, I have used the sauna on 36 hour dry fasts. I believe they have allowed me to enter the deep stage of autophagy faster, and activated my heat shock proteins. It’s important to note that with long covid and ME/CFS, a lot of people will experience relapse symptoms when using the sauna. This is similar to the relapse symptoms you would get when trying to exercise, or eating a high carbohydrate meal. But, if you pair the sauna use with a short burst dry fast (like the 36 hour one) you are able to minimize the relapse symptoms while maximizing the healing. I will be experimenting with this much more, and I hope to read some comments from anyone who has experience with this as well. Please join the dry fasting discord and share your experiences!
Possible consequences of overdoing the sauna while dry fasting
The overall consensus is to avoid Sauna use, but nevertheless, a lot of people still do it. It’s important to remember that the longer you fast, the more dangerous high temperatures become. Your body needs to keep up with replenishing itself with metabolic water. Sauna use during these stages can put your body into severe dehydration and affect the kidneys and heart.
Dehydration will lead to low blood pressure and decreased kidney function. Many metabolic systems start to shut down in response to heat illness and a decline in kidney function is part of that abnormality in metabolic systems. There is a breakdown of muscle tissue that results in kidney failure. If the kidneys get damaged due to extreme dehydration which can be brought about by sauna use during the dry fast, then you can also start to experience symptoms of water retention.
Some testimonials from users who tried the sauna during their dry fast
I feel like I accelerated my dry fast. I drank a little water before the Sauna, and I sweat out 4 pounds in 2 hours on and off in Sauna. I left Sauna 3pm and now it is 8pm. I am now 5 hours into my dry fast, and I can’t handle it anymore. I’m just gonna stop because I feel the Sauna made it equivalent of me doing it for 10 hours.
In the middle of a dry fast hour 37/72 and decided to finally add a sauna in to the regimen. I found a place that does infrared saunas(finding traditional steam sauna was hard for some reason). I sat in it at 140 degrees for 30 minutes and OH MY GOD it was the best. It was like doing a sprint while dry fasting but without the puking sensation. I highly recommend everyone try it. It felt like a workout just sitting there. I lost about 1-1.2 pounds just sweating after already being dry absolutely nuts. One caveat though don’t test yourself my heart rate was at 150-170 for 22 minutes and if i stayed any longer i would have puked/maybe passed out (eventually).
Absolutely do not use the sauna during your dry fast. The body is amazing at creating its own metabolic water, but I am doubtful it would be able to keep up with the amount of sweat one produces in a sauna. Dry fasting is also already a powerful stressor – stacking sauna on top of it seems dangerous and excessive.