Does Hot Yoga Burn More Calories?

September 01, 2015

Does Hot Yoga Burn More Calories?

Myth: Hot yoga burns more calories because of your body's rising core temperature.

Reality: You are not torching calories just because you are sweating! Sweat is pouring down your face as you’re trying the hottest new (and Insta-worthy) workout trend: hot yoga.

Your matching cheetah print Under Armour outfit may be soaked and salty, fingers and toes sliding on the foam yoga mat and face turning the most unattractive shade of red, but that’s okay. You’re torching double the amount of calories during your hot yoga session, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, it’s simply not true.

Before you ditch hot yoga completely, learn what’s what with calorie burn and the actual benefits of this extremely sweaty exercise (and at the very least, it’s still a killer Instagram post #hotyoga #bikramyoga).

Why Hot Yoga is Not Helping You Lose Fat

Hot yoga, or bikram yoga, is a form of yoga that typically consists of 26 poses practiced in a room with a temperature between 95 to 100 degrees. This 90-minute workout claims to burn up to 1,000 calories in one session. While this could be true, it’s important to understand the difference between losing water weight and shedding actual fat.

Water weight is usually lost quickly but gained back equally so. When reducing calorie intake, the body releases glycogen to get needed energy. Since glycogen also holds onto water, once it is burned, the body releases the water as well resulting in the water weight loss.

On the other hand, shedding body fat is the tortoise to the hare that is water weight loss. This slow and steady method succeeds by consistently burning more calories than you consume. One pound of fat is 3,500 calories (or roughly four Chipotle burritos.)

Unless you’re a fan of yo-yo weight loss, recognize that losing water weight is not fat loss. You may weigh less but your body composition is not improved, and in a day or so of normal eating your body will likely return to its normal weight.

Essentially, be the tortoise. It will help keep the weight off in the long run.

So, What Are the Benefits of Hot Yoga?

Don’t step on the mat with unrealistic expectations, but do expect to reap the benefits of reduced stress, increased flexibility and potential weight loss.

In order to shed pounds with hot yoga (or any exercise), calories burned during the exercise must exceed your calories consumed for the day. Cardio-based workouts, such as running, cycling and swimming, may speed up weight loss more so than hot yoga. However, the sweat-packed flexibility workout does prep the brain to make healthier choices in the kitchen.

This mind-body awareness helps gain control of the “calories in versus calories out” equation. Hot yoga may not torch double the amount of calories, but it can train your mind to make healthier choices and stop you from over consuming later, which is still pretty great if you ask me!

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