The Cold Hard Facts: 5 Sauna and Ice Bath Myths

By PJ Nestler | Wed May 15 2024

We swear by the power of contrast therapy at XPT — it’s a cornerstone of the XPT Studio experience because it’s a proven science. The true physiological benefits of sauna and ice bath sessions are widely supported by peer-reviewed research, but misinformation is hard to avoid with any promising health practice. To help you understand how saunas and ice baths actually impact your well-being, we’re putting these widespread myths to rest. 

Myth #1: Sweating in the sauna is a great way to detox 

It’s satisfying to work up a sweat in the sauna, but contrary to popular belief, you won’t be flushing out toxins in the process. Sweat is made almost entirely of water with tiny amounts of salt and trace metals. When it comes to detoxifying your body, your liver, kidneys, and intestines do the heavy lifting, not your sweat glands. 

Myth #2: The more you sweat, the better the sauna session

The main role of sweat is to control your body temperature by cooling you down. Everyone’s body reacts differently to heat, so the amount of sweat you produce in the sauna isn’t a reliable measure of success. The sauna’s benefits come from other reactions to heat, like the release of heat-shock proteins that heal stress-damaged cells. Sweat is a good sign that your body’s heat response is kicking in, but it doesn’t offer any additional health advantages. 

Myth #3: Time in the sauna drives weight loss

You might see the number on the scale go down after spending time in a sauna, but it’s just a reflection of lost water that you’ll replenish as soon as you rehydrate. And while extreme heat does increase your metabolic rate, it’s not enough to make a noticeable difference. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the only tried-and-true methods for driving substantial weight loss. 

Myth #4: Extreme cold helps you burn calories

In an ice bath, your body works hard to warm you up by shivering and tightening muscles. This increase in activity causes a slight metabolic jolt. However, if your goal is to burn calories, a simple walk is far more effective. To achieve even a minor boost in calorie burn from an ice bath, you would have to stay in the cold for an unrealistic amount of time. Ultimately, the small metabolic increase from an ice bath isn't significant or practical enough to effectively burn calories.

Myth #5: Ice baths are less effective than cryotherapy chambers

While a cryotherapy chamber’s -200°F temperature might sound impressive, ice baths at 45°F are actually better at cooling your body. Water’s high thermal conductivity means it can quickly pull heat from your entire body, lowering skin, intramuscular, and core body temperatures for greater benefits. In contrast, cryotherapy’s cold air only penetrates the skin, offering mostly surface-level results. 

Empowerment through education

We’re committed to helping you make informed decisions about the practices we promote. Understanding both their strengths and limitations is the key to incorporating them into your routine with confidence and clarity. 

At XPT Studio, we strictly offer best-in-class sauna and ice bath equipment so our members can reap the full rewards of contrast therapy. You’ll only see traditional saunas that can reach beyond 185°F and self-cooling Plunge tubs that dip below 45°F in our facilities. 

Click here to learn more about the powerful sauna, ice bath, and breathwork sessions available at XPT Studio. 

Recommended Reading