Infrared workouts, like those associated with the HOTWORX infrared sauna or infrared heat therapy, have various health benefits, including potential fat-burning effects. Here's how some proponents suggest that infrared workouts might potentially contribute to fat burning:
Increased Heart Rate: Infrared workouts often involve physical activities, such as hot yoga or exercises in heated saunas. The elevated temperature can increase your heart rate and make your workouts more intense and the infrared energy can speed up your metabolism. Increased heart rate during exercise can lead to greater calorie expenditure, which, if combined with a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you consume), and/or intermittent fasting, can contribute greatly to fat loss.
Infrared heat helps to improve blood circulation. Improved circulation aids in the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues, which enhances your exercise performance. Better performance during workouts can help you burn more calories and reduce body fat.
Let’s take a deeper look into the science of how this actually works.
Your body oxidizes fat through a process called beta-oxidation, which is a series of chemical reactions that break down fatty acids into energy. This process primarily occurs in your cells' mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. Some studies suggest that exposure to infrared radiation improves the function of mitochondria, which are the cellular structures responsible for energy production. Enhanced mitochondrial function can potentially lead to more efficient fat oxidation during physical activity, and here is the sequence of how it works:
Mobilization of Fatty Acids: Before fat can be oxidized, it needs to be released from storage sites in your body, such as adipose tissue (fat cells). When your body needs energy and insulin levels are low (e.g., during fasting or exercise), hormones like adrenaline and glucagon signal fat cells to release fatty acids into the bloodstream.
Transport to Cells: Once released, fatty acids in the bloodstream are bound to a carrier protein called albumin and transported to various cells throughout the body, especially muscle cells and liver cells.
Entry into Mitochondria: Fatty acids cannot enter the mitochondria directly. Instead, they are broken down into two-carbon units in the cytoplasm in a process called beta-oxidation. Each cycle of beta-oxidation removes two carbons from the fatty acid chain, producing one molecule of acetyl-CoA.
Krebs Cycle (Citric Acid Cycle): Acetyl-CoA molecules produced in beta-oxidation enter the Krebs cycle (also known as the citric acid cycle or TCA cycle) in the mitochondria. In the Krebs cycle, acetyl-CoA is further metabolized, leading to the production of ATP, NADH, and FADH2.
Electron Transport Chain: The NADH and FADH2 generated in the Krebs cycle feed electrons into the electron transport chain, a series of protein complexes in the inner mitochondrial membrane. As electrons move through the chain, energy is gradually released, and this energy is used to pump protons across the membrane, creating an electrochemical gradient.
ATP Synthesis: The flow of protons back into the mitochondrial matrix through ATP synthase generates ATP, which is the primary energy currency of the cell.
Oxygen Consumption: It's important to note that the process of beta-oxidation and subsequent energy production in the mitochondria requires oxygen. Oxygen serves as the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain. Without sufficient oxygen, this process is impaired, leading to the production of less ATP and potentially causing a buildup of toxic byproducts.
The overall process of oxidizing fat is highly regulated and can vary depending on factors like the availability of glucose, insulin levels, and the specific energy demands of your body at any given time. Fat oxidation is a critical mechanism for providing energy, especially during periods of fasting or endurance exercise when glucose levels are low.
After fat is oxidized (broken down) in the body to produce energy, the components of the fat molecules are metabolized and ultimately eliminated through various physiological processes including breathing, sweating and excretion, all of which can be accelerated and made more efficient through the use of infrared fitness training.
It’s time to make the fat scream as you burn it out of your body with IR!