Ben Greenfield is like a health and fitness encyclopedia.
He is rated one of America’s top personal trainers, one of the top 100 most influential people in health and fitness, and his podcast is a wealth of information.
His wide range of health and fitness knowledge is what sets him apart.
This comes from his background in studying everything from sports science and exercise physiology to nutrition, eastern medicine, the expert podcasts guests on his show, and his own experiences.
Ben is a former bodybuilder, triathlete, professional obstacle course racer, and collegiate athlete. Additionally, he is a New York Times Best Seller with his books Beyond Training, Boundless, and Fit Soul.
Ben’s podcast and website cover everything from strength training, fat loss, herbal medicine, bio hacks, breathing, essential oils, and saunas, of course.
Ben Greenfield, Sauna Addict
Much of Ben’s focus is on combining longevity with peak performance. It’s no wonder why this has made Ben Greenfield is a full-blown sauna addict.
Published on bengreenfieldfitness.com, his “Ten Scientifically Proven Reasons I Am Addicted To A Daily Sauna”
- Heart health & longevity
- Detoxification Of Chemicals And Heavy Metals
- Athletic Recovery
- Arthritic & Muscular Pain Relief
- Muscle Gain & Fat Loss
- Immune System Boost
- Skin Rejuvenation
- Better Sleep
- Increased Cardiovascular Performance
- Increased Stress Resilience
In a more recent Instagram post, he had a very similar list of sauna benefits:
What type of sauna does Ben Greenfield use?
Unlike many traditional sauna enthusiasts, Ben actually chooses infrared saunas over traditional saunas.
Ben is a biohacker and self-experimenter. He often combines, or stacks, multiple different modalities together to maximize results.
In a famous podcast with Joe Rogan, Ben talks about why he prefers infrared.
Ben works out, practices yoga, foam rolls, and stretches in his infrared sauna. He is able to get a morning workout or an evening relaxing session with the giant space.
Because infrared saunas are not as hot as dry saunas, you can work out in them. There are no rocks and no steam. The heat comes from infrared panels that give off infrared light.
While at a lower temperature, the main benefit of infrared saunas is light therapy.
Infrared saunas use light to create heat. Traditional saunas use a wood-burning stove or electric heater, and rocks to heat the sauna room.
Infrared saunas can heat your body directly without significantly warming the air around you because an infrared sauna instead relies upon light.
The light waves penetrate two to six inches, into your body. This healing effect allows more activation of your sweat glands compared to a dry sauna. So an infrared sauna doesn’t feel as hot as a dry sauna, but you sweat as much or more.
And you can get infrared exposure without the damaging effects of ultraviolet light from the sun.
Ben uses full-spectrum saunas. The different wavelengths are where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum.
Far-infrared is perceived as heat and is given off by the human body. It has a natural healing effect. Our bodies don’t produce near or mid-infrared.
The far-infrared light is absorbed by the water in your body, which is why it cannot penetrate as deeply as near-infrared.
Near-infrared penetrates the body a deeper, beneath the skin. This raising your core body temperature, relaxes muscles, releases nitric oxide, and stimulates mitochondrial pathways to help with ATP production.
Long story short, the combination of near and far-infrared heats you up, mobilizes toxins, and helps flush them out through sweat and your liver.
More on infrared saunas can be found here.
Ben Greenfield’s Clearlight Sauna
Ben is a huge fan of Clearlight saunas. He currently owns the Sanctuary Y model that fits 6 people.
The main reason was no EMFs. He said of Clearlight saunas, “It doesn’t microwave my body like other high EMF saunas.”
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are “invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power.”
EMFs come from cell phones, power lines, hundreds of electrical devices, fluorescent lights, etc. They can damage your DNA, harm your brain, and negatively affect reproduction.
Additionally, many of these sauna companies manufacture in China or from mills that produce wood for other needs. This wood can be filled with adhesives and glue that are not meant to be baked by infrared rays.
So instead of detoxing, you are damaging your health.
Ben uses a Clearlight infrared sauna because he, and others, have personally tested the EMF levels.
The EMFs were measured at almost 0mG in the seating area. When measuring the EMF levels directly on the heater itself (the True Wave II heater), it only registered 2.5mG. For context, he avoids anything over 3mG.
Below is from his website:
The Clearlight sauna is also full-spectrum. It provides near, mid, and far-infrared light.
This all comes with a 100% lifetime warranty from Clearlight.
How Ben Greenfield biohacks his sauna
Ben was sent a kit to assemble the sauna himself. The biohacker in Ben couldn’t resist getting more out of his sauna.
“I’m not just in there to detoxify, but also to produce a crap ton of heat shock proteins, stress resilience, and cardiovascular blood flow.”
Most of the heat escapes an infrared sauna out of the ceiling because hot air rises. Therefore the first step is to insulate your ceiling. You essentially replace the plywood on the top of your sauna with an insulation board. He added a small fan on the ceiling to blow the hot air back down.
The next step is to add two 2000 watt heaters to your sauna.
Be careful with EMFs. Many space heaters have high EMF levels. He recommends Delonghi HVY1030 because it is both affordable and has low EMF levels.
The problem with space heaters is that they shut off after reaching too high of a temperature. So Ben added a portable stove burner. Yes, the kind you cook with.
More info can be found here:
Clearlight models can also come with a halotherapy device.
Halotherapy has been around since the 1800’s when researchers realized all of the health benefits salt miners in Poland had, compared to other miners.
Salt can improve respiratory issues, making it easier to breathe in the sauna. You just dump salt into the device, and it releases microscopic particles into the air for you to breathe in.
In addition to salt, essential oils are a must. He uses warming essential oils, like peppermint and tobacco.
Ben Greenfield supplements for sauna
Another biohack Ben does is to take niacin before the sauna.
Niacin ruptures fat cells, similar to extreme, rapid weight loss.
This rupturing releases the toxins from fat cells. Then the sweating from the sauna releases these toxins through your skin and later through your stool.
It has an extreme detox effect. Niacin is a good blood flow opener, allowing your liver and kidneys to flush out toxins quicker.
He says not to go too extreme with this protocol and to really understand it first. In his article and podcast, he recommends the book where he discovered the protocol, “Clear Body, Clear Mind by L. Ron Hubbard”.
Ben’s protocol is to take niacin about 30 to 60 minutes before the sauna. The niacin Ben recommends is Niasafe from Thorne, at about 500-1000 mg.
In Ben Greenfield’s podcast episode The 5 Best Ways to Accelerate Fat Loss, number 1 on that list is niacin, infrared sauna, then cold exposure.
Then he drinks black pepper tea because piperine increases your body temperature from the inside.
While the hot black pepper tea heats you from the inside, he adds an embrocation or topical warming cream to his skin. This really warms up his muscles.
Then he takes activated charcoal to bind it all together.
Activated charcoal is charcoal that’s been treated with heat to enhance its potential to soak up toxins that enter the digestive system. Activated charcoal soaks up toxins / heavy metals that can inhibit brain function.
Not all charcoal is the same. Charcoal for grilling is full of toxins, and you should not take it. Take activated charcoal that is specifically labeled as a dietary supplement.
Ben Greenfield’s sauna routine
Ben normally does his sauna workouts nice and slow, because it’s very hot. He brings in dumbbells, kettlebells, does pushups, does yoga, etc.
He has this morning routine that he does most mornings for about 20-30 minutes, in the infrared sauna. That includes some movement and often deep nasal breathing.
He has been using these Kaatsu blood flow restriction bands in the sauna. Ben combines a yoga session, with the infrared heat and blood flow restriction bands.
This is the biohacker in Ben.
Occasionally he just listens to an audiobook or podcast, or even read a book during his sauna session.
He also does his deep tissue work. Below is a picture of him foam rolling in it.
How Ben Greenfield recovers from the sauna
The best finish to a sauna session is a cold plunge.
Cold increases norepinephrine, a hormone, and transmitter involved in focus, attention, and mood. The cold induces this release of norepinephrine as part of the fight-or-flight response.
The sauna increases blood flow, then the cold constricts blood flow. Then when you get out, you get a rush of blood flow to the brain and muscles as you warm up.
Ben said in his Fire & Ice podcast that cold shock proteins can help regenerate the brain, to some extent. He even recommends regular cold exposure if you have had concussions.
Cold also has a huge effect on inflammation and immunity. It reduces inflammation while strengthening immune cells…See Wim Hof.
He said you only need about 20 seconds of cold-water immersion in 40 degrees to get that robust norepinephrine response. You can even get benefits in less time.
Ben recommends getting cold exposure via either a cold shower, jump in a cold body of water, or even roll around in the snow.
He has a cold pool at his house, and the Spokane river to jump into.
Sauna sessions are tough on your sympathetic nervous system. It’s an intense experience.
In the morning, he tracks his heart rate variability with either a WHOOP or Oura Ring. This is to make sure he is fully recovered from the previous day. If he isn’t, he won’t do an intense sauna session.
Having said that, he said, “I’ve found with a good amount of hydration and electrolyte intake, my HRV bounces back way faster after a sauna session.”
For mineralizing after the sauna, he uses Quinton. It’s a hypertonic plasma solution. Essentially, it is microfiltered seawater with all of these minerals and trace elements.
His favorite salt is Celtic Sea Salt because it is high in minerals and low in plastics. A lot of salt, especially table salt, doesn’t have the minerals and has plastics in it.