Through the sweat and heat, your body’s system adapts to the sauna's new environment. In a sauna that’s heated to 185 degrees, skin temperatures rise to 104 degrees within minutes, and the average person will lose a pint of sweat — both being big changes for the body. As your heart pumps and your body works to keep you cool, it needs the right preparation and nourishment to work optimally, so you can reap the benefits of your sauna session.
What exactly do we mean?
For starters, your body needs sufficient hydration and energy from food, but that doesn’t mean stuffing yourself with a big meal before the sauna. It’s a balance.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through some of the ways to nourish your body before and after your next visit to the sauna to feel your best.
3 Ways to Nourish and Cleanse Your Body
Giving your body the proper preparation it needs for sauna and making sure it recovers well after are both crucial steps to the benefits you’ll receive and how you’ll feel from your session.
- Be wary of drinking too much caffeine before sauna
Ah coffee — that magical, fragrant, delicious cup of Joe! It’s often the midweek pick me up we need and a morning must for a lot of us. If your schedule only allows for sauna time in the morning, or it’s your preferred time of day for a session, we recommend staying on the cautious side and not overdoing the caffeine. Maybe just have one cup instead of two? Caffeine and sauna are both known to elevate heart rate, so the combination may end up being a little too intense and will hinder you from really enjoying your time in the sauna.
If you can’t fathom ditching the caffeine, try swapping a cup of coffee for a cup of green or black tea instead. Green tea and black tea both have less than 100 milligrams of caffeine compared to the 95 to 200 milligrams that coffee has.
- What you should eat before a sauna session
As a rule of thumb, for pre and post sauna, we like foods that are low in processed sugar, high in fiber, and have healthy fats.
Before the sauna, you want to eat something that will give you an energy boost without making you feel lethargic and full. For that reason, we love fruit! Eat them raw or blend your favorites up in a smoothie.
Fruit has a high concentration of vitamins and high water content, which are both beneficial to the body before entering the sauna. Fruits like pineapple, peaches, and grapefruit have upwards of 90 percent water per volume, so they give you that needed boost of energy along with hydration.
After the sauna, we feel cleansed and refreshed, and we tend to crave foods that are healthy and nourishing. Quinoa is a great option as it is high in fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, antioxidants, and vitamin E. To get some healthy fats in, avocados are a winner in our book!
- Hydration station
We can’t stress this enough! When you sweat in the sauna, your body can lose up to a pint of fluid, so it’s important to make sure you’re making up for lost water and electrolytes.
Before the sauna, we recommend drinking 1-2 glasses of water to prep your body for the upcoming sweat sesh. After the sauna, you want to continue to drink water, but you also want to replenish those key minerals and electrolytes lost like magnesium, sodium, calcium, and potassium. Each of these elements is crucial for balancing internal fluid levels, as well as regulating muscle and nerve activity.
- Salt intake
Loss of sodium is a big one here. There’s a stigma around ingesting salt and how much is healthy, but in reality, most of us actually aren’t getting enough salt.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the correlation between sodium intake and cardiovascular events, like stroke and heart attack. The likelihood of health problems was high in people who consumed less than 2g of sodium per day, with the lowest rate of events being at about 5g per day of sodium intake. This number is more than double what is recommended by the AHA, FDA, and CDC.
Our bodies need salt, and it's especially important to replenish it after sweating a lot in the sauna.
Here at Sauna House in Asheville, NC, we have salt and electrolyte mixes you can try between the sauna and the cold plunge if you’re interested. You can also make your own electrolyte-rich beverage at home with this recipe.
3 cups of purified water (or coconut water)
½ cup freshly squeezed citrus juice
1 tbsp. Raw honey
¼ tsp. Himalayan salt
Put it in a mason jar or your favorite to-go cup and you’re ready to go!
We hope this gives you a little insight and inspiration on how to nourish your body for your next sauna experience. If you have any other questions about what to eat or how to enhance your experience, feel free to ask a member of our staff.