Fire & Ice: Tips, Tricks & Biohacks To Maximize The Benefits Of Sauna, Hyperthermia, Cryotherapy & Cold Thermogenesis.

Affiliate Disclosure

hot and cold therapy
Fitness, Lifestyle, Podcast, Recovery

How do hot and cold therapies work?

Exactly how hot should your sauna be?

What are the benefits of dry vs. infrared saunas?

Is there anything you can use to heat up your body or enhance detoxification more during the use of heat?

How about how cold a cold shower or cold bath should be?

What kind of hacks increase fat loss in response to cold thermogenesis?

Does cryotherapy really “blunt the effects of exercise?”

In this extremely comprehensive overview of all things heat, hyperthermia, sauna, cold, cryotherapy, and cold thermogenesis, you'll discover everything you need to know about enhancing performance, cognition, fat loss, cellular resilience, detoxification, anti-aging, and much, much more. You can consider this podcast to be your ultimate resource on all things hot and cold therapy.

In this special “solosode” from Ben, you'll discover:

-How Ben got started using hot and cold therapy…6:25

  • Grew up in northern Idaho, where he was homeschooled
  • Spent lots of time outdoors and reading books as a child
  • Played tennis in college at the University of Idaho
  • Became interested in biomechanics and bodybuilding, managed wellness facility
  • Sauna used to help maintain weight as a bodybuilder
  • Sweat, blood, tears, creatine, protein shakes, caffeine – Ben's “stack” in college
  • Competed in Ironmans for 10-12 years
  • Used cold thermogenesis before fully understanding the benefits of it

-Ben's sadistic foray into hyperthermia…10:40

  • Hyperthermia is increasing in popularity for getting rid of disease, pathogens, etc.
  • Hyperthermia chamber used to treat cancer at the Swiss Mountain Clinic
    • Inducing a fever
    • Common treatment is ~3 hours
    • Ben eventually “tapped out” due to the level of discomfort
  • Article: Hyperthermia in Cancer Treatment

-The endurance benefits of heat…15:15

  • Lower resting heart rate by increasing blood volume
  • Sauna sessions give a similar effect to the banned drug erythropoietin
  • Optimize blood flow to the heart, skin, etc.
  • Get in the sauna after an exercise session to get the effect
  • Glycogen-sparing effect:
    • Allows your body to more efficiently hold on to carbohydrates during exercise
    • Burn more fat as fuel during exercise
  • Studies (here and here) in hyperthermic conditioning in athletes show that muscle glycogen usage is reduced by 40~50% compared to before heat acclimatization, due to increased blood flow and glucose delivery to the muscles
  • Improves thermoregulatory control (body is more efficient at cooling itself)
  • Less lactic acid in the muscles when involved in regular sauna practice
  • Article: Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners.

-Muscular benefits of heat…19:00

-Longevity benefits of heat…26:45

  • Brief exposure to heat treatment increases the lifespan of flies and worms by up to 15%
  • Hormetic response that increases heat shock proteins is associated with longevity
  • Protects DNA, inhibits telomere shortening

-How heat (or leaving heat) promotes brain health…27:35

-Tips and tricks to enhance your sauna experience…35:25

-How cold affects the brain…43:00

-Inflammation and immune system benefits of cold…49:50

  • Norepinephrine that's released inhibits many inflammatory pathways (TNF-α​)
  • Also decreases macrophage inflammatory proteins (MIP-1), produced by immune cells, and can cause arthritis and other inflammatory-related conditions
  • Improves the integrity of the blood-brain barrier (BBB)
  • Doubles glutathione reductase, increases superoxide dismutase
  • Inhibits collagenase activity
  • Decreased pain response to injury

-The effects of cold on aging…53:15

  • Aging causes the production of immunosenescence
  • Increased lymphocyte numbers (white blood cells)
  • T-killer cells decrease naturally with age
  • Thymosin-α​ 1 peptide

-Cold's effects on fat loss…54:20

-Performance and recovery…58:25

  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines activated right after exercise (exercise-induced inflammation)
  • Macrophages released are associated with muscular atrophy you get with strength training
  • Extreme cold immediately after exercise may not be advisable
  • 15 minutes exposure to 50 °F after running can increase PGC1-α (mitochondrial biogenesis)
  • Timing and dosing are key:
    • Allow body time to produce inflammatory response
    • Save the 10-minute ice bath for 2 hours after exercise
  • Cryotherapy after tennis practice

-Tips and tricks to enhance cold thermogenesis…1:03:45

-And much more!

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

– Podcasts and articles:

– Food & Supplements:

– Studies:

– Other resources:

Episode sponsors:

Kion Colostrum: With winter in full swing and the gut-busting holidays approaching, it's a great time to start taking colostrum as insurance. You can get Kion Colostrum and save 20% off your first order when you use my link.

Joovv: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. For a limited time, Joovv wants to hook you up with an exclusive discount on your first order. Just apply code BEN to your qualifying order. 

Water and Wellness: The best solution for clean and safe drinking water. Water and Wellness also offers an amazing line of essential water additives such as Quinton Marine plasma which contains over 78 trace minerals and elements from the ocean to help restore your biological-terrain. Get 15% off your order when you use discount code GREENFIELD.

Butcher Box: Bacon for life is back! Butcher Box delivers healthy 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork directly to your door on a monthly basis. All their products are humanely raised and NEVER given antibiotics or hormones. Bacon for life is back!

Got a question for me about hot and cold therapy? Leave a comment below, and I'll reply!


Ask Ben a Podcast Question


28 thoughts on “Fire & Ice: Tips, Tricks & Biohacks To Maximize The Benefits Of Sauna, Hyperthermia, Cryotherapy & Cold Thermogenesis.

  1. Abhinav says:

    Ben sir your work is great
    you are doing an amazing job I have been trying your special shower routine also applying your training and fasting methods in my daily routines.
    I have height issues I am 5 feet 3 inches my age is 17 and my body weight is 58.5kg.
    Sir it would be a great help if you could tell me that are their any chances of increasing my height or not

  2. Freida says:

    So many people have no clue that fast hair growth shampoos (obviously without any sulfates, parabens or DEA) exist. Folks can now experience longer hair and have more options. Surely worth searching. Whether you’re exploring hair loss, damaged hair, avoiding scalp disorders, fast hair growth, hair and scalp care generally, similar ideas become relevant. As a general rule, you have to steer clear of hair treatments and products that include chemicals like parabens, DEA or sulfates. What’s healthy for your hair is good for your skin as well. For obvious reasons the content on this page is so useful for multiple reasons. It stays away from the accustomed traps and pitfalls too many fall into- getting ineffective alternatives. Thank you!

  3. Adam Borg says:

    Ben,

    I was wondering if you have found any research on cold or hot therapy and it’s affects on Ulcerative Colitis? I have tried using cold showers in the past and had a flare up and am not sure if it was a coincidence or if it may have been induced by the cold. Curious on your thoughts about this. Thank you!

  4. Alex from Norway says:

    Hi Ben, Thank you for the resources! About the ice bath/swimming outside: Whats your thoughts about going under with your head when its -10 degrees celsius? And if you do it, is it at the start or end?

    Thank you so much!

  5. Meagan says:

    I have horrible circulation and low HRV and really want to try this but it’s so painful on my toes and hands. I live in the tropics so cold showers, walks and swims aren’t an option. Is there an in between from the 1hr at 16c and 20 seconds at 4c? I’d like to work up to getting colder. Frankly 16c would probably feel cold to me but I couldn’t fit an hour into my day so it’s not practical.

  6. So I’ve searched everywhere possible to locate information on or pertaining to thinning hair and cold therapy. I’d consider myself a well educated trainer however.. when I do cold showers more than once per week I notice thinning hair. I quickly realized it could be a constriction effect of blood flow to my scalp. So now I only do vagus nerve and down but still notice significant thinning. The only thing I can think of is the large bundles of androgen receptors in my legs and covertion complications of dht from testosterone. I quantify properly and this is the only line I can draw to a possible outcome other than just a poor stress response to it. Although I’m efficient at handling the cold…any ideas?

  7. greg says:

    Hi Ben

    Does a hottub have the same effects as Sauna? Is there disadvantages to having water heat vs dry heat? Like not sweating as much?

    Thanks for the info!

    Greg

    1. Eeva says:

      Hi Greg,
      I wondered the same and researched a few studies done on the subject. I seems that all heat therapy modularity, such as the sauna and hot tub, produce similar health benefits. You can find here my article in which I compared the health benefits of the sauna and hot tub
      https://kenkohacks.com/2020/12/04/hot-bath-super-biohack/

      Additionally, the hot tub may have a potential for additional benefits, if you add to the water things like minerals and hydrogen tablets. I’d recall that Ben briefly discussed this in one of the recent Q&A episodes.

      Kindest regards,
      Eeva

      1. greg says:

        HI Eeva

        Thank you for the reply! I have been searching the internet for studies that do comparisons between saunas and hot tubs. Dry heat vs. wet. Your article is great and I like the stacks, I will try a few.

        I still wonder why Ben mentions alternatives to Cold water immersion like cold walks (air), but doesn’t mention alternatives to Saunas (dry heat ) such as hot water therapy? (hot tub or jacuzzi)

        Anyways, thanks again for the info!

        G

  8. Lisa Laehy says:

    Thanks for a super informative talk! Two questions: what’s the ideal time frame to stay in broad spectrum IR sauna (we have same one as yours) — so how long and at what temperature? Like my son I eel stresses himself to the limit, going 45 min at 150 degrees. He’s dizzy etc.

    Other, does cold plunge undermine benefits of IR sauna session? I suspect your answer is same as with exercise. Depends on how cold and how long…

  9. Chris Sargent says:

    Is there any downside to jumping into the cold tub immediately after using the sauna? Could it possibly blunt the effects of the sauna?

  10. Diane James says:

    Ben, one phenomenal podcast. This is a complete and thorough distillation of all the information that I need to inspire me to improve and maintain both my heat and cold practices. Your ability to communicate effectively while walking on a treadmill, nonstop, for over an hour is truly impressive. Thank you for this.

  11. Scott Christensend says:

    Great episode as always! I’ve been listening to you for a long time so I thought this would be a rehash of previous podcasts…but as always you dazzled me with some new tips as well as the deeper science on what’s going on.

    One question that I’ve had for awhile pertains to heat shock proteins generated through sauna. Would follow up cold shower possibly blunt the benefits of sauna induced heat shock protein generation? I practice and love both and like the sauna after glow but am curious as to whether a post-sauna ice shower would negate some of the benefits of the heat.

    Thank you very much for all your excellent research and ability to communicate so effectively.

    Scott

    1. Brad says:

      No one knows the answer to your question with certainty. The answer as to whether a cold shower would blunt the effects of sauna is likely “no.” Mixing sauna with a cold plunge is more common in Finland. Most or all of the large sauna studies showing health benefits come out of Finland. Some of the participants in these studies undoubtedly do a cold plunge post sauna.

  12. John Liscio says:

    Hi Ben.
    I’ve been doing an online course w Wim Hof and am 6 weeks in. I’m taking 30 sec cold shower followed by hot followed by 2 1-2,min cold. I live on Lake Champlain in VT so on the weekends I plunge for 2 1/2 min in the lake. I also own and have in my house a HOCATT ( you mentioned in a podcast you where in one in (NYC). I am wondering what my next step is as you mentioned the shower alternating hot and cold. But most importantly I am wondering the next step in using the cold and hot therapies in conjunction with each other. It is advantageous to go into the HOCATT after a lake plunge? Of should I use the HOCATT as a sauna without the O3 (if one uses the O3 then one is not supposed to shower). Basically, I am asking how to best combine hot and cold therapies together to obtain the best results and what steps going forward I should take. I am an avid listener of your podcasts. Ty

  13. Aditya Shetty says:

    Hi. I want to know the comparison and long term effects if any of the far infrared sauna. Ideal temperature for use of that and how it compares to the dry sauna and near infrared saunas.

    I tried listening through but the topics are not being tackled in a linear fashion and tough to assimilate the necessary info.

    Regards

    Aditya

    1. Brad says:

      Hi Aditya:

      Ben likes infrared, but he is a bit biased since he is either sponsored by, or affiliated with, an infrared company.

      I tend to follow Dr Rhonda Patrick’s advice on Sauna. She is probably the lead researcher on Sauna benefits in the U.S.

      The large sauna studies finding health benefits use traditional steam saunas, not infrared. That’s probably one of the reasons why Dr. Rhonda Patrick recommends traditional steam saunas instead infrared. Dr. Patrick has also stated that you need to stay in an infrared sauna longer to obtain an equivalent benefit. The recommended temp for sauna use is 174 F degrees measured at face level for at least 20 minutes. Infrared saunas do not typically reach that temp level.

      https://podcastnotes.org/found-my-fitness/rhonda-patrick-sauna/

      1. Aditya Shetty says:

        Thank u so much. Yes this helps. Unfortunately for home use the only practical solution seems like a infrared sauna. Looks like its gonna be longer cooking times.. 😬

      2. Meagan says:

        Mind you he does “hack” his sauna to get to the temps Rhonda refers to so I think he’s just getting the best of both worlds. Heat and light.

  14. Paul says:

    Transcript please

  15. Robert Martin says:

    Hey Ben,
    Thank you for the great information here and every week that you produce a new podcast. I am 53 year old male who previously owned / operated a CrossFit gym. I am much more into my longevity these days as apposed to what my Fran time might be. I took your Longevity Blueprint course on Mindvilley and pretty much are following the daily/weekly/monthly routines that you laid out in that program.
    My question has to do with the timing of the Sauna/workout/cold therapy. Should I be waiting 2 hours after my Sauna to do cold therapy? Should I be doing cold therapy first thing in the morning, then workout, then Sauna? Or can I do all three in a row – workout-sauna-cold therapy? My workouts are the short tabata’s that you recommended. My cold therapy is the 20/10 shower routine.
    Thanks for any guidance here.
    Rob

  16. Michael Waldenberger says:

    Ben, Thanks so much for bringing great subjects every week… we have steam room and was wondering if you get the same benefits as a sauna which I understand is mostly dry heat as opposed to steam heat .

    1. Brad says:

      Hi Michael.

      The temp of a steam room is less than a steam sauna. The effective amount of heat of stress you feel in steam room is usually equal to or greater than a sauna. The reason for this is that your body absorbs heat must faster in a steam room compared to a steam sauna due to the added moisture. Temp absorption is much faster with moisture (e.g., compare walking outside in 33 degree weather to jumping in a 33 degree lake).
      While I am not aware of any studies on this, I would hypothesize that it is possible to get the same heat shock benefit in a steam room and perhaps in a shorter time (depending upon heat of the steam room and flow of steam)

    2. Nick says:

      The biggest issue with steam is the water. You must be hypervigilant to purify and sanitize the water before it’s pumped into a steam room. Otherwise, you’re inhaling chlorine (or chloramine) gas and creating an ideal environment for microbial growth.

  17. Shannon says:

    Will have to read transcript. Listening while you are trying to catch breath is distracting.

  18. Frank Dawson says:

    Please include transcript option always – can’t sit through pod.

  19. Leslie says:

    I listened and did not hear the ideal temperature for the sauna. Can someone help me out?

    1. Aditya Shetty says:

      Yes. Nor could I. It’s not very well laid out. Pls can we ahve the transcript option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *