The sauna detox

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Do saunas work for detox?

  • The eat more, lose more equation

  • The muscle protector

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Myth or Magic: Do Saunas Work For Detox?

Note from Adam: We thought we would start tackling your questions about popular trends. And when we don’t have the answers, we’ll talk to the world’s best experts to help you know what's worth your time. We’ll keep doing it as long as you find it helpful.

Saunas are burning up in wellness circles. If you listen to some of the most popular podcasts, you might think that saunas are the fountain of youth, the best recovery tool, a muscle-optimizer, and the perfect detox all-in-one. And while we think sauna does have some potential health uses, there’s one benefit that appears to be mostly overblown.

If you use the sauna to detox, you’re likely not sweating away toxins.

And it has little to do with how much you sweat, the type of sauna you prefer, or how long you can last.

Your sweat contains a small number of toxins. Researchers found that if you sweat a total of 2 liters each day (that’s a lot of sweat!), it would contain less than 1/10th of a nanogram of pollutants.

In other words, that’s less than 1 percent of the total toxins you might consume in a day’s worth of food. You might find other benefits from heat, but it won’t do much for detox. If you want us to cover more about saunas — or have other topics you’d like to learn about — let me about it on Twitter or Instagram.

The Eat More, Lose More Equation

When you think about dieting, the typical approach is to eat less. And that is true — with one big exception. When you eat more protein, you tend to lose more weight.

In one study, when people doubled their daily protein intake, they lost 11 more pounds compared to people who still consumed less protein.

The reason for the big loss was simple. Those enjoying more protein ended up eating approximately 450 fewer calories per day. And it should come as no surprise as multiple studies have suggested protein helps people feel more satisfied. That means loading up on options such as poultry, fish, eggs, lentils, beans, lean meat, or your favorite protein powder can save you from mindless snacking or eating foods less likely to keep you feeling full.

The most amazing part? Increasing protein was the only change participants made to their diet. No stressing about screwing up or worrying when to eat, the number of meals per day, fasting, or superfoods.

But don’t get it twisted. If your goal is to drop pounds, you don’t need to eat more protein to lose weight. It’s a matter of fullness and calories because the less you eat the more you tend to feel hungry. That's why loading up on protein can be an "easy button" because it helps you feel like you’re eating more while still eating fewer calories overall.

The Sleep-Muscle Connection

You just learned that eating more protein can help if you're trying to lose weight. But, if you’re cutting calories, your sleep habits can determine whether you're dropping fat or muscle.

Researchers found that just one week of sleep reduction can cause you to lose a significant amount of muscle.

In the study, all participants were following a fat loss diet, but one group also restricted their sleep by 1-hour per night during the week. Everyone lost a similar amount of weight. But those in the sleep reduction group held onto more fat and mostly lost muscle.

The study participants were allowed to catch up on sleep as much as they wanted on the weekends, but still went from losing mostly fat to losing primarily lean mass as a result of their weekday slept debt.

This isn't the first time sleep deprivation has been tied to muscle loss. In a different study, participants who slept on 5.5 hours per night (compared to 8.5 hours) saw that nearly 80 percent of their weight loss was from lean muscle (instead of fat).

While some muscle loss is expected during a diet, you can help preserve your hard-earned muscle by training hard, eating enough protein, and getting enough sleep.

The sauna detox

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