Sauna Before or After Eating? (What to Eat & Avoid)

Want to use the sauna to relax and have a good time? There are a few things that you should consider before using the sauna. What to eat and when you eat are probably the most important things to consider.

You can use the sauna 1 hour after eating a meal. Avoid going to the sauna while hungry and avoid eating anything right before stepping into the sauna as it would cause unwanted effects like dizziness and stomach aches. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. 

In the rest of the article, we are going to take a deeper look at why you shouldn’t go for a sauna session on an empty or full stomach. We will also discuss which food is ideal for pre and post-sauna sessions.

Sauna After Eating: Effects on Your Metabolism 

You must have noticed how you feel dizzy and sluggish after eating a meal. That’s because your body is working rigorously to digest the food. This is why you often experience post-lunch or post-dinner coma

After eating food, your body begins to convert the food into energy to stay alive and carry out various activities. The process of breaking down food and drinks into energy is called metabolism.

Given the way, our body reacts to metabolism, it’s safe to say that metabolism is not an easy process. Your body is overworking to digest the food you just ate. This is why experts recommend avoiding using the sauna right after eating. 

Inside a sauna, the body has to work hard to keep itself cool. The body is already involved in a difficult task. If you go inside a sauna with a full body, the body has to carry out two heavy tasks as one go. 

Needless to say, if you step into the sauna right after a meal, your sauna session will be anything but relaxing.

sauna after eating
Eat 30 mins to 1 hour before going to the sauna
(Image source: Helena Lopes from Unsplash)

Should You Use a Sauna Before or After Eating? 

You should use the sauna after eating but not immediately after eating. In other words, you shouldn’t steps into the sauna with a full stomach. And nor should you step into the sauna with an empty stomach. 

Why Avoid Going to Sauna in Full Stomach

If you go to the sauna right after having a meal, you are likely to feel very uncomfortable. This happens because your body is digesting food which requires a lot of energy and effort. That’s something your body is used to doing every day but inside the sauna, the body has to manage two tasks which means it has to overwork. And that’s what causes the discomfort. 

Visiting the sauna right after eating can affect your blood flow. As the body strives to digest food and keep cool and relaxed, it will have less time to focus on maintaining normal blood flow. This means, less blood will flow into your brain. As a result, you will feel dizzy and might injure yourself if you are not careful. 

Avoid Going to Sauna in an Empty Stomach

When you sweat inside the sauna on an empty stomach, the body is using up whatever little reserve of energy you had gained from your previous meal. Depending on how long you spend in the sauna, you might end up needing more energy than your body can offer. Unable to get the energy your body needs, you might end up feeling weak, dizzy, and sick. 

That’s why you should avoid going into the sauna on an empty stomach. 

What to Eat Before Going to the Sauna

You need to eat an hour before stepping inside the sauna. But try and keep it light. You can eat: 

  • Nuts
  • Toast 
  • Salad
  • Melon 
  • Quinoa
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal 
  • Small pasta dish 
  • Smoothie
  • Boiled egg 
  • Light sandwich
  • Energy bar 
  • Protein shake 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Low-fat soups
  • Low-sugar fruits
  • Fruit juices like celery juice

If you are taking snacks like nuts and toast, then make sure you are eating them 30 mins before going into the sauna. For light meals like pasta, and oatmeal, you need to give yourself an hour. 

eating before sauna
Low-sugar fruit juices are an ideal snack before sauna
(Image source: Greg Rosenke on Unsplash)

What to Eat After a Sauna Session

Following a sauna session, you should allow your body to rest and recover before eating anything. 

One of the first things you should do is drink a ton of water to rehydrate yourself. Then wait for 30 minutes to an hour before you start eating. Here’s a list of food you can eat after a sauna session:

  • Coconut water 
  • Fruits
  • Yogurt 
  • Boiled eggs
  • Avocado
  • Energy bars 
  • Crackers
  • Watermelons 
  • Low-sugar fruit salad 
  • Electrolytes-rich bananas 
  • Low or no sugar sports drinks

Needless to say, avoid taking alcohol and drugs pre or post-sauna.

How Long Should You Wait After Eating to Go to Sauna

You should wait for 30 mins to an hour after eating to go to the sauna. If you had a snack then wait for 30 mins, wait an hour for light meals and heavy meals should be given two hours to be digested before stepping into the sauna. 

Best Time to Use Sauna

The best time to use the sauna is when you are not full or too starved. Morning, late afternoon, and evening are perfect for stepping into the sauna. 

Morning: If you are an early riser, then go to the sauna an hour before breakfast. You can even hit the gym early morning before stepping into the sauna. Just make sure don’t go empty stomach. 

Late afternoon: Following lunch, you are likely to experience a post-lunch coma. Give your body an hour to digest the food before you step into the sauna. 

Evening: For some folks, ending the day with a nice sauna session and a shower works best. Just make sure you grab some snacks before going to the sauna. 

We have an in-depth guide on what is the best time to use the sauna. Check it out

Conclusion

While there are many health benefits of using the sauna, there are drawbacks too. For instance, eating immediately before using the sauna could cause light-headedness and nausea. That’s why you should give your body 30 mins to an hour to digest the food before stepping into the sauna. And you should avoid going to the sauna empty stomach. 

(Featured image by Engin Akyurt from Pexels)

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