Is hypnosis beneficial for weight loss?


Hypnosis is a technique that practitioners can use to help people change unwanted thoughts or behaviors. Some evidence suggests that this method may be an effective strategy for helping some people lose weight. However, more research is needed to determine if this is a beneficial long-term option.

Hypnosis usually involves a highly trained therapist bringing a person into a relaxed state using therapeutic words, phrases, or techniques. It may also involve guided relaxation, self-talk, visualization, or music. When a person is in this altered state of consciousness, they may have a heightened sense of focus in which their mind is more open to change.

Proponents suggest that these techniques allow a person to tap into resources within themselves that they cannot reach when fully conscious. Some research suggests that hypnosis is beneficial for weight loss. Some people may find that hypnosis helps them make appropriate dietary changes, eat fewer calories, and exercise more regularly.

In this article, we will discuss what hypnosis is, how effective it is for weight loss, and other tips for maintaining a moderate weight.

Hypnosis is a process in which specially trained clinicians guide individuals to a highly focused and relaxed state of mind. The Society of Psychological Hypnosis defines it as a state of consciousness involving focused attention and an increased ability to respond to suggestions.

According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), a person is not under the control of the hypnotist but instead accesses their own innate abilities. With a relaxed state of mind, a person may be more receptive to a health professional’s suggestions for lifestyle or diet changes. Clinicians who use hypnosis can offer individuals help in successfully losing weight.

According to a 2021 review, hypnosis may be a safe and effective adjunctive treatment to help with weight loss. A 2018 meta-analysis also suggests that hypnosis is very effective for short-term weight loss, although the authors acknowledge the lack of research on its long-term effects.

A 2020 study indicates that hypnosis can lead to weight loss and dramatic changes in leptin levels in obese people. Leptin is a hormone that helps control food intake.

In a Randomized Controlled Trial 2018, regular users of self-hypnosis reduced their calorie intake more significantly and lost more weight than those who did not use this technique. Those in the hypnosis group lost an average of 9.6 kilograms (kg) over a year, compared to 5.6 kg among those in the control group. People who learned to use hypnosis but did not practice it regularly lost an average of 6.5 kg.

Although evidence suggests that hypnosis may offer short-term benefits for weight loss, scientists conclude that more research is needed on the long-term effects of hypnosis as a possible treatment option for obese people.

Practitioners can use hypnosis to help people bring about psychological and physiological changes in three main ways:

  • use mental imagery to help a person visualize themselves accomplishing their goals
  • present ideas or suggestions that are consistent with what a person desires
  • unconscious exploration to determine if past events or experiences are causing a personal problem in making positive changes

Individuals can also learn the technique of Self Hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is similar to mindfulness techniques and meditation.

The cost of hypnosis varies depending on the state a person lives in, insurance coverage, and fees set by the practitioner. Most insurance companies cover 50-80% of the cost of individual therapy, but only if a person receives treatment from licensed professionals.

ASCH provides an online search tool to help people find a certified hypnosis professional.

A hypnotist will clarify a person’s treatment goals and explain the process of hypnosis.

A 2018 meta-analytic review notes that people with obesity can receive hypnosis as a stand-alone treatment or alongside other forms of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

The practitioner will usually begin with a hypnotic induction, a process that guides a person into a hypnotic state. Most inductions require the person to focus their awareness on an object or their own breath. During the induction, the The practitioner can use a soothing tone of voice and colorful words or phrases to help a person feel relaxed.

Once a person has entered a relaxed state of mind, the principles of hypnosis indicate that they are more open to new ideas. At this point, the clinician will make suggestions and affirmations to achieve weight loss.

In a Randomized Controlled Trial 2018, only habitual self-hypnosis was associated with greater weight loss. However, the practice improved participants’ satiety, inflammation levels and quality of life after 12 months.

The benefits of hypnosis for weight loss include helping a person improve their overall health and reduce their risk of certain health problems. These conditions May include:

Hypnosis is a voluntary, generally safe, and potentially effective process that involves a person and a therapist working together to bring about positive change.

Hypnosis works best for people who are ready to change and who believe hypnosis can help them achieve their goals. A clinician cannot force a person into hypnosis or make them do something against their will. A risk of hypnosis is that it won’t always work for everyone.

Additionally, people with mental health complications, such as psychosis or a personality disorder, may be advised to avoid using hypnosis, as it may worsen their condition.

For best results, the ASCH recommends that those interested in hypnosis choose a properly trained and licensed practitioner with good credentials.

A person may wish to begin their weight loss journey by consulting a clinician for advice on how to lose weight safely. According to National Heart, Lung and Blood Institutethe most productive areas to focus on are changes in diet and physical activity that can lead to long-term weight change.

Weight loss advice can include a combination of dietary changes, exercise, and behavioral changes.

Dietary changes

Weight loss strategies may involve making more nutritious food choices. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend:

  • eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables
  • choosing lean or low-fat dairy and protein sources
  • using natural oils, such as olive oil, rather than processed oils
  • avoiding highly processed foods such as chips, cookies, cakes, and fast foods
  • incorporate legumes and nuts into meals
  • measure portion sizes
  • count calories or use weight loss apps
  • drink a glass of water instead of snacking, as thirst can sometimes feel the same as hunger
  • minimize liquid calories, such as those from alcohol and sodas
  • try one weight loss program

Exercise tips

According to National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. To lose or maintain weight, a person may need at least 300 minutes per week of aerobic activity. Here are some examples of physical activities:

  • while walking
  • hiking
  • jogging
  • dancing
  • ride a bike
  • Pilates
  • yoga
  • swim
  • bodybuilding
  • group exercise classes

Making time for physical activity and exercising with a friend can help a person reach their weekly exercise goals.

Learn more about the benefits of exercise and how to get started.

Behavioral changes

In addition to hypnosis, a person can see a counselor or dietitian or join a support group to help them adopt behaviors that can help with weight loss. Some behavior changes include:

  • take at least 15 minutes eat a meal to give the brain time to send satiety signals
  • record food intake in a food diary or app
  • practice self-hypnosis, mindfulness and meditation regularly
  • using non-food rewards to celebrate weight loss
  • adjusting routines to limit overeating or snacking triggers

Hypnosis is a technique that specially trained practitioners use to help a person enter a highly focused state of mind. In a hypnotic state, people are more open to suggestions for therapeutic change. As such, hypnosis could be a tool to help some people lose weight.

Research suggests that people who use self-hypnosis more frequently may lose more weight and develop better eating habits than those who use it rarely or not at all.

However, there is little evidence on the benefits of hypnosis for maintaining long-term weight loss. As such, it is advised to only be used alongside other weight loss strategies, such as a nutritious diet and regular exercise.


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