Does Sauna Help You Lose Weight?

does sauna help you lose weight

Saunas have been a popular relaxation method for centuries, with many people claiming they can help with weight loss. However, the truth is that saunas don’t directly cause weight loss, at least not fat loss. Although you may lose some water weight through sweating, it’s not a long-term solution.

But looking into it deeper, sitting in a sauna, especially after a workout, can significantly impact your body’s metabolism, muscle-building, and fat-burning processes. This effect is attributed to hyperthermic conditioning, which conditions the body to withstand higher temperatures, independent of aerobic activity.

Incorporating sauna sessions, even just 30 minutes twice a week, can substantially improve endurance, muscle recovery, and metabolic health. The underlying mechanisms include enhanced blood flow, a rise in heat shock proteins, and better oxygen delivery to muscles and organs. This contributes to the effectiveness of saunas in weight loss strategies.

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The Scientific Mechanisms Behind Saunas and Weight Loss

Let’s start by diving straight into the deep end with some scientific evidence of how saunas can help with fat loss.

Understanding Hyperthermic Conditioning

Hyperthermic conditioning, or the process of exposing the body to extreme heat, plays a pivotal role in metabolic and cellular adjustments.

This includes the dilation of blood vessels, leading to increased blood flow and plasma volume. A key element in this process is the activation of heat shock proteins (HSPs). These universally found proteins in all cells respond to stress, like high heat, ensuring proteins within the cells maintain their structure.

Research Insights on HSPs and Metabolism

Research highlights the significant impact of HSPs on recovery and metabolism.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training examined 25 individuals who underwent sauna sessions.

The results were notable: core body temperature rose by 0.8°C, heart rate increased by 22-23 beats per minute, and blood pressure dropped. Intriguingly, norepinephrine levels, crucial for fat burning, spiked by 58%, and HSPs in cells surged by 53.9%, confirming the role of saunas in boosting HSP levels.

Muscle Recovery and Growth Through HSPs

HSPs are directly connected to muscle recuperation and growth.

They not only stabilize cellular structures for better nutrient use but also draw amino acids to repair damaged areas, aiding in muscle building. HSPs are also key in preventing muscle loss during inactivity, such as when recovering from an injury.

Enhanced Physical Performance and Endurance

Heat acclimation, a result of regular sauna use, significantly boosts endurance and efficiency. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that athletes, after an eight-day heat acclimation regimen, reduced muscle glycogen use by 40-50%, indicating improved muscle perfusion and efficiency.

Additionally, sauna use twice a week led to a 7.8% increase in red blood cell count in endurance athletes, corresponding to a 32% increase in endurance capacity.

The Scandinavian Tradition of Saunas and Weight Loss

The use of saunas for weight loss is a traditional practice that has been popular in Scandinavian countries for centuries. While sauna sessions may result in temporary water weight loss, it is important to note that it is not an effective method for long-term weight loss.

Sauna use can have several short-term health benefits, including detoxification, improved skin health, increased heart rate, and stress reduction. Additionally, sauna sessions can help mitigate muscle aches and enhance muscle recovery, making it a popular post-workout activity.

However, it is important to note that sauna use does not have a direct impact on weight loss. While it may result in minor calorie burn, sustained weight loss requires a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet.

The table below visually depicts the various aspects of health and weight maintenance that may be influenced by traditional sauna use:

Health AspectsImmediate EffectsLong-Term BenefitsConsiderations for Weight Loss
Sweat InductionDetoxificationSkin Health ImprovementTemporary Water Weight Loss
Cardiovascular ResponseIncreased Heart RatePotential Blood Pressure RegulationMinor Calorie Burn
Muscle RelaxationMitigation of Muscle AchesEnhanced Muscle RecoveryNo Direct Weight Loss Impact
Stress LevelsReduction in CortisolBetter Stress ManagementIndirect Support for Weight Management

In conclusion, while sauna use can have several health benefits, it should not be relied upon as a sole method for weight loss. Incorporating regular exercise and a healthy diet is crucial for sustained weight loss and overall health.

Understanding How Saunas Work

Saunas have been around for centuries and have evolved into various types, each with its unique way of heating. The most traditional saunas are the Finnish-style and Turkish steam baths, while the more contemporary option is the infrared sauna. In this section, I will delve into the different heating methods of saunas and clarify the common misconception of saunas as a weight loss solution.

The Dry Heat of Finnish-style Saunas

Finnish-style saunas are known for their dry heat environment, which is achieved by wood-burning stoves or electric heaters. The temperature is usually high, while the humidity is low, resulting in extensive sweating. However, it is a misconception that this sweating leads to significant calorie loss.

Turkish Saunas and Their Steamy Environment

Turkish steam baths, on the other hand, create a highly humid climate using steam generators. This environment is sometimes referred to as a “steam room weight loss” setting, but it only leads to loss of water weight and not actual fat reduction.

The Emerging Trend of Infrared Sauna Use

Infrared saunas heat the body directly using light waves, resulting in a different kind of wellness sensation. Despite the cooler ambient air, sweating still occurs, and the sauna carries the same minimal weight loss benefits as the other saunas, primarily related to fluid loss.

To clarify the weight loss benefits of saunas, it’s essential to understand that they primarily assist in shedding water weight rather than reducing body fat. The table below provides a comparative perspective on traditional and modern sauna types, highlighting their key distinctions:

FeaturesFinnish-style SaunaTurkish Steam BathsInfrared Sauna
Heating MethodWood-burning or Electric HeatersSteam GeneratorInfrared Light Waves
Main BenefitTradition of Dry HeatMoist Heat with Steamed AirDirect Body Heating without Air Warming
Typical Weight LossWater WeightWater WeightWater Weight and Slight Caloric Burn

In conclusion, while saunas offer various wellness benefits, it’s important to approach them with realistic expectations, acknowledging that they mainly assist in shedding water weight and not as a standalone solution for weight loss.

Does Sauna Help You Lose Weight?

Whenever I hear people talk about saunas, particularly regarding weight loss, I am intrigued by the idea that sitting in a room filled with hot air can contribute to weight management. The question, “does using a sauna help you lose weight?” often comes up in discussions about health and wellness strategies. My exploration into this subject suggests that there are certain sauna weight loss benefits, although they may not be as one might initially presume.

Let’s delve into the heart of the matter: can sauna help with weight loss? The simple answer is that while saunas may offer some advantages in your weight loss journey, it isn’t quite the magic solution some claim it to be. The primary effect of using a sauna is increased sweating, which naturally leads to water weight loss. However, this type of weight loss is temporary in nature. Once you rehydrate, which is necessary to maintain good health, the weight typically comes right back.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note the sauna’s potential impact on heart rate. Like a form of light cardio, the sauna’s heat can cause an increase in heart rate, leading to a slight uptick in calorie burn. While this isn’t insignificant, the calorie expenditure isn’t comparable to that of high-intensity workouts or strength training. Therefore, relying solely on a sauna for significant calorie burning and weight loss would not be effective.

Here’s a straightforward comparison that highlights the effect of saunas on weight loss:

Aspect of Sauna UseImpact on Weight Loss
Sweating in saunaTemporary water weight loss
Elevated heart rateMarginal calorie burn increase
Rehydration post-saunaImmediate weight gain
Comparison with exerciseLess effective for significant fat loss

I must emphasize that a sauna should not replace regular exercise and a balanced diet if the goal is long-term and sustainable weight loss. However, as part of a comprehensive health regimen, a sauna might provide supplementary benefits that can enhance one’s wellbeing.

In summary, the sauna may contribute only partly to your weight loss strategy, but it’s certainly worth considering for other health benefits it may provide, such as relaxation and improved cardiovascular functioning. Just remember, hydration remains key to enjoying the sauna’s full potential safely.

The Temporary Weight Loss Effect of Saunas

Many individuals turn to saunas in hopes of achieving weight loss, yet the effects are often misunderstood. While it’s true that stepping into the heat of a sauna can result in immediate weight reduction, it is crucial to recognize that this is predominantly a temporary change. Let’s dive into the science behind the fleeting water weight loss associated with sauna use and the importance of hydration in this context.

Water Weight Loss Through Sweating

As the body is engulfed by the warm embrace of a sauna, internal temperatures rise, blood vessels dilate, and sweat begins to bead across the skin. This thermoregulatory response is the body’s natural way to cool down, powering an escalation of perspiration that can swiftly become profuse. In each sauna session, this leads to a measurable decrease in water weight, which is often mistaken for fat loss. However, it’s essential to understand that the shed pounds reflect the temporary weight loss sauna sessions induce, primarily stemming from the body’s loss of water through sweat.

Rehydrating After Sauna Sessions

Emerging from the searing heat of a sauna, attention must immediately turn to rehydration. The weight loss benefits of sauna use are closely tied to the body’s balance of fluids, and rehydrating for weight loss becomes a pivotal factor. Prompt replenishment of liquids is not only vital for counterbalancing the temporary nature of water weight loss but it is also a cornerstone of prudent sauna practice. Insufficient hydration can lead to an array of health concerns, while proper hydration after sauna sessions supports the body’s metabolic functions, playing a critical role in overall weight management and recovery.

It is my responsibility to highlight that the pursuit of weight loss should be executed with a comprehensive strategy in mind. Sauna and weight loss can coincide, but the sauna’s role is supportive at best. Focusing on an integrated approach that includes consistent hydration, balanced nutrition, and regular physical activity will yield sustainable results far beyond what the transient effects of a sauna can offer.

The Heart Rate and Calorie Connection in Saunas

Many individuals stepping into a sauna may wonder about the potential benefits it might have on their weight loss efforts. If you’re considering incorporating sauna sessions into your fitness routine, understanding the impact on calorie burn and heart rate is essential. While sauna for weight loss might seem a tempting shortcut, the physiology behind it reveals a more complex interaction.

When I relax in the embracing warmth of a sauna, the increase in heart rate is one of the first signs that my body is responding to the intense heat. It’s akin to a gentle caress to the cardiovascular system, similar to the response received from moderate exercise. However, it’s this very increase, along with the accompanying sweat, that leads to a mild calorie burn in sauna sessions.

The experience, especially notable in infrared saunas, can contribute to a higher calorie burn compared to traditional ones. Although statistics and studies may cite the loss of approximately one pound of water from sweat, which is associated with calorie burning, these numbers can’t be touted as a definitive method for weight loss. The heart’s workings are subtle, and while the tick in heart rate is tangible, the transition of this effect into actual calorie burn requires further evaluation.

ActivityTypical Calorie BurnHeart Rate Increase
Moderate Exercise200-400 calories per hour50-70% of maximum heart rate
Infrared Sauna Session100-200 calories per hour30-60% of maximum heart rate
Resting60-80 calories per hourNo significant increase

Understanding the above context is imperative for anyone looking at sauna use as a road to weight loss. While the sauna experience does offer a slight uptick in calorie expenditure, its integration should be as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, regular exercise and a balanced diet.

From my own experience, coupling a sauna session with an active lifestyle has been optimal. It might enhance overall wellbeing and potentially contribute to a more comprehensive weight management strategy. But it’s important to do so with care and awareness of the body’s hydration needs, to mitigate the risk of dehydration.

Dehydration Risks of Sauna Use for Weight Loss

Many individuals turn to saunas for the perceived benefits of weight loss, often without recognizing the sauna health risks, particularly dehydration from sauna. The warmth and sweating induced in a sauna, which some wrongly assume to directly equate to fat loss, can lead to a concerning loss of body fluids. Harvard Medical School advises that one pint of fluid can be lost even during a brief sauna session, making it imperative to understand hydration and weight loss.

Recognizing the Signs of Dehydration

Staying vigilant for the signs of dehydration can prevent potential health complications. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Extreme thirst: A clear signal that the body requires more fluids.
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness: Suggests inadequate blood volume and pressure.
  • Infrequency in urination: Indicates that body fluid levels are too low.

Understanding these symptoms is key to effective sauna use and to mitigating any adverse effects of dehydration.

Hydration Strategies for Sauna Sessions

Maintaining a strategic approach to hydration can greatly enhance the benefits of your sauna experience:

Hydration StageStrategyBenefits
Before SaunaDrink 1-2 glasses of waterPrepares the body’s fluid levels for increased sweating
During SaunaSip water lightly as neededHelps to replace fluid loss in moderation and avoid feeling bloated
After SaunaRehydrate with water or an electrolyte drinkRestores fluid balance; replenishes any electrolytes lost through sweat

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that any weight loss from sauna use does not come at the expense of your health. Importantly, staying hydrated in the sauna can contribute to a weight management plan that aligns with your overall health and wellness goals.

The Relationship Between Sauna Use and Heart Health

As we delve into the interconnection between sauna use and cardiovascular well-being, it’s imperative to recognize the array of potential sauna benefits for heart health. The enveloping warmth within a sauna’s confines has a profound effect on the body’s circulatory system, leading to improved circulation that many wellness enthusiasts seek. Furthermore, research suggests that regular sessions can contribute to lower blood pressure, making saunas a potential ally for those managing hypertension. Let’s examine these effects more closely.

Potential Benefits for Circulation and Blood Pressure

The heat from a sauna bath induces vasodilation, where blood vessels widen, enabling blood to flow more freely, thereby enhancing improved circulation. This process can also lead to a natural and gentle reduction in blood pressure, a notable benefit for millions who grapple with hypertension.

Aspect of Heart HealthEffect of Sauna Use
Blood Vessel FunctionEnhancement through vasodilation
Circulatory ImprovementIncreased blood flow and circulation
Blood PressurePotential reduction in systolic and diastolic values
Cardiovascular EnduranceImproved adaptability to physical stress

Precautions for People with Heart Conditions

While the relationship between heart health and saunas is largely beneficial, I am keenly aware that venturing into these high-heat environments should be approached with caution, particularly for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions. Cardiac safety in the sauna is paramount; thus, consulting with a healthcare professional is advised. The American Heart Association asserts the significance of understanding how one’s heart might respond to the demands of a sauna, especially when medications or circulatory issues are factors to consider.

  • Seek medical advice before starting sauna sessions.
  • Be cautious with temperature fluctuations.
  • Monitor how your body responds during and after the sauna.
  • Stay hydrated to maintain optimal heart function.

By such measures, we can help to align the benefits of sauna use with heart conditions, while safeguarding against undue risk.

Realistic Expectations for Sauna Weight Loss

As someone exploring effective weight loss strategies, I’ve learned it’s essential to have realistic sauna weight loss expectations. It’s widely acknowledged that while saunas are a pleasant addition to a wellness routine, their contribution to weight loss primarily involves transient water loss rather than an actual reduction in body fat.

Understanding what to expect from sauna use is crucial; it allows you to pair this practice with a balanced approach of nutrition and physical activity for a more potent effect on your overall health. Let me walk you through some key points to remember:

  • Temporary weight reduction seen post-sauna is often just water weight, which will replenish once you rehydrate.
  • A sauna session can slightly increase your calorie burn, akin to the effects of a light exercise routine.
  • To turn sauna sessions into an asset for your weight loss journey, consistency in a healthy diet and exercise is paramount.
Weight Loss FactorRole of SaunaRole of Lifestyle Changes
Caloric DeficitMild increase in calorie expenditure during useMajor contributor when achieved through diet and exercise
Fat ReductionMinimal impact, does not target fat lossEffective when combining reduced caloric intake with strength training
SustainabilityShort-term water weight lossLong-term weight management through ongoing healthy habits
Overall HealthBenefits relaxation and detoxificationImproves longevity and quality of life

In summary, while integrating sauna sessions can offer numerous health enhancements, they should not be the standalone solution for weight loss. Instead, we should view them as a complementary practice to a rigorous and mindful lifestyle that includes mindful nutrition and physical activity. It’s about calibrating our expectations of sauna use and combining them with proven methods to sculpt the body we aspire to have.

Complementary Weight Loss Strategies with Sauna Sessions

As we delve into the synergistic relationship between sauna use and weight management, it’s vital to emphasize the role of moderate exercise as part of a comprehensive sauna weight loss regimen. When I pair my sauna sessions with a routine of moderate physical activity, I notice a significant enhancement in calorie burning—a perfect complement to the warm embrace of the sauna.

Incorporating Moderate Exercise

The ritual of combining moderate exercise and sauna sessions can not only boost my overall calorie expenditure but also supports muscle tone and cardiovascular health. The sauna’s heat acts as an excellent precursor or wind-down to my regular workouts, which can range from brisk walking to cycling, furthering sauna use benefits and propelling me closer to my weight loss objectives.

Strength Training alongside Sauna Use

Moreover, intertwining strength training with sauna sessions can profoundly contribute to my muscle tone and strength. I’ve found that when I prioritize compound movements like squats and presses on my strength training days, the subsequent relaxation in the sauna feels even more rewarding. The ability of the sauna to help relax my muscles post workout contributes to a faster recovery, preparing me for the next session with vitality.

Below is an insightful breakdown of a weekly regimen that masterfully intertwines various workouts with sauna use, illustrating how to harmoniously integrate these for enhanced weight loss and muscle toning:

DayModerate ExerciseSauna DurationStrength Training
Monday30-min Cycling15 minsUpper Body
Wednesday20-min Swim15 minsLower Body
Friday25-min Jog15 minsFull Body

Other Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss

While many people flock to saunas for their weight loss potential, the benefits extend far beyond the realm of the scale. Saunas can play a significant role in the body’s detoxification in sauna, offering sauna cleansing benefits that sweet out toxins accumulated in the body. Beyond purification, these sanctuary spaces also provide profound stress reduction and contribute to hormonal balance, which is vital for maintaining overall well-being. Let’s dive into how sauna sessions can enhance our lives beyond the pursuit of weight loss.

Detoxification and Cleansing Through Sweat

One of the touted sauna benefits is its ability to aid the body in flushing out impurities. As we sweat in the high-heat environment, our skin—the body’s largest organ—releases excess salt, dirt, and pollutants, including heavy metals. This process can relieve the burden on our kidneys and liver, making sauna sessions a worthwhile addition to our health regimen.

Stress Reduction and Hormonal Balance

The serene ambiance of a sauna invites tranquility, helping to melt away the stressors of daily life. Saunas have been linked with decreased cortisol levels—the body’s primary stress hormone. In contrast, they may increase the production of endorphins, often referred to as ‘feel-good hormones,’ which can induce a state of relaxation. This hormonal recalibration is just one of the many sauna relaxation benefits that can extend into our everyday lives.

Exercise Capability and Respiratory Function Enhancement

Regular visits to the sauna can have a noticeable impact on respiratory function and improved exercise capacity. Sauna bathing can, over time, lead to more efficient lung function, promoting an increased intake of oxygen which is crucial during physical exertion. This adaptation can indirectly contribute to weight loss by enabling a more vigorous and sustained exercise routine. With these advantages, optimizing our health through thoughtful sauna use can be transformative.

In closing, the scope of sauna benefits reaches well past the chase of shedding pounds, marking saunas as powerful allies in our overall health and wellness strategy. From detoxification in sauna, to stress reduction, and even to improved physicality, the rewards of incorporating sauna sessions into our lives are indisputable.


Summing up the insights gathered, it’s evident that while the sauna experience can play a role in facilitating temporary weight loss, primarily through the loss of water weight and slight elevation in calorie expenditure, it’s a misconception to view it as a standalone weight loss strategy. To really harness sauna weight loss facts, I’ve found that incorporating these heat sessions into a multi-faceted health regimen is key. This means embracing a well-rounded diet, regular physical activity, and diligent hydration—components that together, create an effective sauna use scenario.

The sauna’s health benefits extend beyond the scale, providing cardiovascular enhancements, psychological stress reduction, and support for the body’s natural detoxification processes. These health perks reinforce the notion that saunas can serve as a valuable addition to holistic wellness practices. In my perspective, understanding and practicing effective sauna use involves recognizing its worth as one cog in the wheel of a comprehensive lifestyle strategy aimed at achieving optimal wellbeing.

Maintaining mindfulness about the potential risks, such as dehydration, is crucial for ensuring safe and beneficial sauna sessions. Before I weave saunas into my own health routine, I intend to seek advice from a healthcare professional, ensuring that every steamy retreat supports, rather than undermines, my overall health objectives. So, if you’re contemplating incorporating saunas into your life, remember to consider the full spectrum of sauna health benefits and approach its use with balance and informed caution.


Can sauna help with weight loss?

Sauna use can lead to temporary weight loss due to the loss of water weight through sweating. While it does slightly increase calorie burning due to an elevated heart rate, it is not sufficient for significant or long-term fat loss. A balanced approach to health and weight loss, incorporating diet and exercise alongside sauna use, is recommended for those looking to reduce body weight.

What are the weight loss benefits of a sauna?

The primary weight loss benefit of using a sauna is the temporary loss of water weight from sweating. There is a minor increase in calorie burn because the heat causes an increase in heart rate, akin to the effects of light exercise. However, for long-term weight management, saunas should complement a regimen that includes a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

What is the Scandinavian sauna experience?

Scandinavian sauna culture entails using dry heat saunas as part of regular wellness routines. Traditional Finnish saunas, for example, utilize wood-burning stoves to heat stones, creating a low-humidity, high-temperature environment for sweating and relaxation. Although the weight loss benefits seen in these scenarios are primarily temporary, the practice is deeply integrated into local lifestyle for its overall health benefits, including relaxation and improved circulation.

Are there different types of saunas?

Yes, there are several types of saunas, including Finnish-style saunas that provide dry heat, Turkish steam baths with a high-humidity environment, and infrared saunas that use light waves to heat the body directly. Despite these variations, all saunas essentially induce sweating and elevate heart rate, leading to temporary water weight loss and a small amount of calorie burn.

How does a sauna cause water weight loss?

When one is in a sauna, the high heat causes the body temperature to rise. In response, the body sweats to cool down. This excessive sweating leads to a reduction in water weight, which is easily replenished once an individual hydrates post-sauna session. This form of weight loss is only temporary and should not be construed as a method for losing fat.

Why is it important to rehydrate after a sauna session?

It is crucial to rehydrate after a sauna session because the body loses a significant amount of water through sweating. Replenishing fluids helps prevent dehydration, which can lead to health risks and will counteract the temporary water weight loss experienced during the sauna. Adequate hydration is also essential for maintaining body temperature and essential bodily functions.

Does sauna use burn calories?

Sauna use can result in a slight increase in calorie burn due to the body’s effort to cool itself, which causes the heart rate to rise. However, the number of calories burned during a sauna session is not comparable to what is burned during active exercise, making sauna use alone an ineffective method for weight loss.

What should I be aware of in terms of dehydration risks when using a sauna for weight loss?

When using a sauna for weight loss, be mindful of dehydration risks. Symptoms include extreme thirst, dizziness, and less frequent urination. It is important to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after sauna sessions to replace lost fluids and to pay attention to signs of dehydration.

Are there any sauna benefits for heart health?

Yes, saunas can be beneficial for heart health. The heat from a sauna can improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and expand blood vessels, similar to the effects of moderate exercise. Regular sauna use has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and improved heart health. However, individuals with heart conditions should consult with a healthcare provider before using a sauna.

What precautions should people with heart conditions take when using a sauna?

People with heart conditions or those taking heart medications should seek advice from their healthcare provider before using a sauna. They should avoid rapid transitions between hot and cold temperatures to prevent blood pressure fluctuations. Monitoring one’s body response and exiting the sauna if discomfort occurs is also crucial to minimize health risks.

How can I effectively use a sauna as part of my weight loss strategy?

Effectively using a sauna as part of a weight loss strategy involves pairing sauna sessions with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Moderate-intensity workouts, strength training, and ensuring proper hydration can enhance the benefits of sauna use, support muscle tone, and contribute to a healthier body composition.

What other health benefits are associated with sauna use beyond weight loss?

Beyond temporary weight loss, sauna use is associated with several other health benefits. These include aiding in detoxification by sweating out toxins, reducing stress and promoting hormonal balance due to the relaxing effect of the heat, and possibly improving respiratory function and exercise capacity. These benefits can indirectly support weight loss by encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

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Jussi Yli-Korhonen

Jussi is an online marketing expert, an entrepreneur, and the founder of Jussi is a sauna-loving guy from Finland, the birthplace of saunas. The traditional wood-fired saunas are his favorite but he's visited dozens of different types of saunas in over 20 countries.

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