In this article we are going to explain what FIR (far infrared rays) therapy is and how it affects weight loss.
We are also going to go over most of supporting research.
If you would like to learn more about mats that emit FIR, you can check this review page that reviews PEMF mats, some of which have FIR therapy as well.
The percentage of obese and overweight people in the developed portion of the world is growing year by year.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, two out of three Americans were considered overweight or obese in the period between 2013 and 2014. (1)
Diet and exercise play a major role in controlling and eliminating the obesity epidemic.
But is that enough to make a major change?
Some experts think that it is not, and have studies with which to support this hypothesis.
A new, non-conventional approach to weight loss, called FIR (Far Infrared Rays), is showing a lot of potential for tackling this problem.
Let’s start from the beginning, and explain more about what FIR is and how it can help.
What Is FIR Therapy?
Far infrared therapy refers to the use of far infrared rays to achieve beneficial effects, both on the body and the mind.
FIR therapy can detoxify your body, stimulate natural processes, soothe and heal different ailments, support weight loss, and a lot more.
Far infrared rays are completely non-invasive and safe to use.
They are invisible to the human eye, and exist as waves of energy which can penetrate two to three inches into the human body.
Far infrared rays can travel through bone, muscle, and other soft tissue to deliver benefits to all parts of the body.
FIR therapy has been gaining momentum slowly over the past several decades.
However, this is an ancient technique that has been in use for thousands of years.
The methodology behind FIR includes slightly elevating the body’s surface temperature.
By doing this, we can boost our bodily functions on several levels.
Far infrared rays are completely natural, and ubiquitous in nature.
For example, both the sun and our bodies, specifically our hands, constantly emit FIRs.
Because of that, in Ancient China, palm healing was a proven method of treating many common diseases, which worked by passing far infrared energy from one person to another.
However, the technology has advanced dramatically since then, which means that today we have methods which are tested and proven, and serve as a reliable source of far infrared rays.
Which FIR Options for Weight Loss Exist?
Administering FIR therapy is straightforward and very easy.
It is a completely passive process, during which you can complete other tasks, if you want.
The two most common and widely-accepted methods of using FIR therapy is via FIR mats and FIR saunas.
Both have their pros and cons, but both can be equally good with which to start your weight loss journey.
What you decide depends on how much money you have to spend, how much free space you have in your home, and which effects you want to achieve.
FIR mats are usually a much cheaper, and more convenient, option, as well.
They take up very little space, and can be stored easily when not in use.
These mats usually consist of a series of copper coils that heat up your body and send far infrared rays your way.
Sometimes, they can also include different gemstones, which, when warmed, provide a variety of added health benefits.
FIR mats are available in myriad sizes and shapes, and can be flexible or rigid; you should consider these features when purchasing one.
A far infrared sauna is a small room that can fit in the corner of your home, which heats up using far infrared rays.
The sauna user sits comfortably inside, as the sauna increases their body temperature.
Weight loss and detoxification are some of the most significant benefits of FIR saunas.
Unlike conventional saunas, this type of sauna doesn’t heat up the air, but only the body of the user.
Therefore, you won’t feel the negative effects of a normal sauna, such as the stuffy air and the difficulty to breathe.
For both of these methods, half an hour a day is usually enough to achieve drastic and long-lasting weight loss results, in addition to other health benefits.
FIR and Weight Loss
FIR technology was first discovered and used by NASA, which used it as a non-invasive way of keeping their astronauts physically and mentally healthy during long space flights.
After their patent expired, the technology became available to companies which started using it commercially for weight loss.
FIR therapy helps support weight loss by promoting the body’s metabolic functions and assisting it in detoxifying itself.
Contrary to popular belief, diet and a lack of exercise are not the only causes of weight gain.
Other very common conditions can cause a person to gain weight, and FIR therapy helps to eliminate them.
Not only can FIR therapy be used on its own to cause weight loss, but it can be used together with a change of diet and exercise to maximize these habits’ effects.
By changing the body’s metabolism, we also change the way our digestive system interacts with food, and the way macro- and micronutrients are processed by the body.
After a short while, users may notice a reduction in sugar and fat cravings, and an increase in vitality and energy not only during exercise, but in the execution of daily tasks, as well.
By helping detoxify the body, FIR therapy also helps it to recover from exercise much faster, so that we can continue working out and losing weight sooner.
FIR therapy is also known to accelerate metabolism, which further stimulates weight loss.
When you lie on an FIR mat, or you sit in an FIR sauna for half an hour a day, you charge your cells with much-needed energy; this allows them to work more quickly and efficiently.
Your lymphatic and cardiovascular systems receive a boost as well, which causes your basic metabolic rate (BMR, or the number of calories your body uses in a day to keep itself alive) to increase significantly.
FIR Weight Loss Studies
Weight loss is a hot topic nowadays, worldwide.
Because of that, numerous studies have been completed aiming to prove or disprove the effects of FIR on weight loss.
State University of New York
One such study that provides evidence of the weight loss powers of FIR was conducted at Binghamton University, the State University of New York. (2)
The study was conducted in two stages.
The first stage lasted for 16 weeks, during which participants were required to sit inside an FIR sauna for 45 minutes, three times a week, at a temperature of 110 degrees.
The results showed that those who participated regularly experienced much more significant losses in body fat.
Moreover, and the reason for this is unknown, those who came in later in the day experienced greater losses than those who came in in the morning.
On average, participants lost 4% of body fat.
In the second stage, which lasted for eight weeks, participants were required to sit inside an FIR sauna for 30 minutes, five times per week, after 3 pm, at a temperature of 110 degrees.
Again, the results showed an average reduction of 4% in body fat.
However, this result was twice the rate that was observed in stage one.
Universidade Camilo Castelo Branco
Another such study was conducted in 2011, at the Universidade Camilo Castelo Branco, in Brazil.
The study examined the effects of FIR on weight loss, but it didn’t rely either on FIR mats or FIR saunas to administer it.
Instead, garments made with synthetic fibers embedded with ceramic nanoparticles were used to achieve the same effects. (3)
In the first study, serum glucose levels were used to assess the reduction in body fat, whereas this study focused on the reduction in body measurements.
The study’s participants consisted of 42 women, split into two groups – FIR and placebo.
The participants needed to wear the garments in question for at least 8 hours a day, 30 days in total.
At the end of the study, the results showed a reduction in body measurements in the FIR groups.
Scientists speculate that this reduction was caused by the improvements observed in peripheral blood flow and microcirculation.
Therefore, it is clear that FIR therapy has weight loss properties.
We should incorporate it alongside a healthy diet and exercise regimen to experience the best results.
However, it is encouraging to know that FIR works on its own, as well, since a lot of people do not have enough time to devote to regular workouts and cooking at home.
Other Health Benefits of FIR
Apart from the weight loss-enhancing properties of FIR, this holistic treatment has numerous other health benefits for the body, as well.
FIR Detoxifies the Body
One of the most powerful effects of far infrared rays is detoxification.
It has been established that FIR saunas are seven times more effective at expelling heavy metals from the body than conventional saunas.
Our body stores these toxic heavy metals by encapsulating them within water molecules.
Over time they accumulate, and can cause numerous debilitating diseases.
FIR therapy causes these water molecules to vibrate and evaporate, which then releases the toxic metals, enabling our body to get rid of them. (4)
Reduces Blood Pressure
As is commonly known, objects expand when warm, and contract when cold.
The same thing happens to our blood vessels.
By heating up your body, and increasing the surface and core temperature, your blood vessels dilate; this, then, causes a reduction in blood pressure.
A study conducted at the University of British Columbia in 2009 proves this, albeit in a limited way. (5)
Helps with Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is caused by our cells becoming depleted of energy.
This can happen due to excessive stress, too much work, too little sleep, and so on.
The good news is that FIR therapy can address that problem by recharging the cells and restoring their normal function.
In a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, patients were exposed to a total of 35 sessions of FIR, or one treatment per day.
The results were quite encouraging, and showed that FIR therapy is a viable option with which to treat CFS. (6)
Reduces the Effects of Diabetes
People with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes experience numerous health complications caused by their disease.
These patients often struggle with pain, heart issues, CFS, and so on.
However, in 2010, a study was published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine which proves that FIR therapy can help with many of these problems.
The study, conducted in Canada, consisted of 20-minute treatments applied three times per week, for a total of three months.
After the completion of the study, the patients experienced improvements in stress levels, fatigue, pain, social functioning, and overall health. (7)
FIR Helps with Back Pain
In this age of sedentary jobs and hobbies, it is no wonder that more and more people are suffering from chronic back pain.
Many try to solve their problem with painkillers or strenuous exercises, but a considerable percentage of those who try do not succeed.
Luckily, Dr. Gaze and her team found that FIR therapy can greatly help with back pain.
This study was completed in 2005, and included 50 patients suffering from chronic lower back pain.
They received FIR therapy by sitting on an FIR mat every day; the results were encouraging. (8)
In sum, far infrared therapy is a vital weapon in the battle against the growing global problem with obesity.
Studies show that an average loss of 4% of body fat is possible with regular use of FIR therapy, either through FIR saunas or FIR mats.
Most importantly, this treatment is completely non-invasive, and doesn’t require any effort from the user.
All you need to do is lie on an FIR mat or sit in an FIR sauna for 30 minutes a day to see the kilograms melt away.
In addition to weight loss, FIR therapy offers numerous other health benefits, so it is a smart and long-lasting investment for your and your family’s well-being.