Does Hypnosis for Weight Loss Really Work?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Weight loss might seem like a purely physical pursuit—eat healthier foods, adjust your calorie intake, move more and the pounds come off, right? But the brain can also be a powerful tool for weight loss. Having the right mindset can help you achieve the kind of long-term, sustainable success you've been working so hard to achieve. If you have trouble summoning the willpower and mental focus to stick to a diet and exercise plan, you might have considered trying hypnosis—but does it really work?

The Skinny on Hypnosis

Also known as hypnotherapy, hypnosis is the practice of using guided relaxation and meditation to achieve a trance-like state, with the goal of making the subject more open to suggestions. Some people prefer to visit a therapist for an in-person session, while others seek out "remote" hypnosis using online videos or CDs.   

Common goals of hypnosis clients include quitting smoking or drinking alcohol, getting better sleep, improving relationships and banishing fears and phobias. In weight-loss hypnosis, the guidance would be geared toward resisting certain foods and staying active. Although the research is lacking as to its effectiveness, many people claim that hypnosis has helped them to curb cravings and adhere to healthier lifestyles.
No two hypnotherapists are alike, which means every session will be different. SparkPeople member SAPHRAEL shares her experience with weight- loss hypnosis here. During the three-hour session, the hypnotist guided SAPHRAEL through several visualization exercises. For one of them, she imagined entering a cabin with buttons and levers that controlled her cholesterol, blood pressure, metabolism and fat storage, then adjusted them to the desired levels. For another, SAPHRAEL was instructed to take a mental snapshot of what she thinks success would look like, and then to add colors, sounds and smells before "delivering" the picture to her future self.

SparkPeople dietitian Becky Hand says that if hypnosis is used to aid weight loss, it should be combined with other strategies. "Hypnosis is more effective when used along with a weight-loss program focusing on food intake, exercise and environmental control," she says. Hand also points out that this type of therapy is usually more effective for things like quitting smoking, as the cues are given to stop the behavior. "With eating, you can't give a cue to stop altogether," she points out. "There is no way to use hypnosis to only eat 1,400 calories daily, for example."

Weight loss therapist Dr. Candice Seti agrees that hypnotherapy should be a supplementary activity, not the primary approach to weight loss. "While it can certainly help, it doesn’t address the elements that are needed for true and lasting change—namely, nutrition, exercise and behavioral adaptations," she says. "If someone is considering hypnosis for weight loss, I would urge them to make sure it is a means of supporting their other efforts and not their sole focus."

Sparkers Share Their Hypnosis Stories

"In short, [hypnosis was a] huge waste of time and money.The effects wear off […] bottom line, it was education around what goes on the plate that got my weight off." REDSHOES2011
"I was hypnotized in 2006 and lost over 100 pounds. I went to a seminar, never expecting it to work, and through the first year, I kept waiting for it to wear off. It still hasn't. I did buy the CD and listened to it every night when I went to bed—I think that was a big help, and I will still listen to it when I need some reinforcement. I think it is the best kept secret to weight loss—and I never expected it to work. I had a friend who went with me [and] it did not work for her, but she did not keep up with the CDs. It really depends on the individual." PEDALPUSHER
"I have found that using a hypnosis DVD is slightly helpful for me. Using it regularly helps with portion control a bit. It doesn't tell me to eat (a certain) amount of calories, [but rather] it tells me to eat until I am just satisfied and to stop before I feel stuffed. It also tells me that I enjoy exercise and like the way it makes me feel. Listening to the short refresher sessions regularly helps me maintain a positive attitude about making the good choices I intellectually know I should make, but sometimes don't have the willpower to make consistently. No miracles, but a little mental lift." ONLINEASLLOU
"I have a weight-loss hypnosis app on my phone and I listen to it most nights as I go to sleep. The whole thing lasts about 50 minutes, but within 10 minutes I'm asleep. As with most hypnosis, the messages get through to your subconscious even when you're asleep. I can definitely tell the difference when I listen to it for several nights in a row. I snack less and don't think about food as much." EMSR2D2

"More than 20 years ago, I used a self-hypnosis tape to lose weight. It wasn't magic. It just changed my internal monologue about food and exercise and health. Then one day, I was walking down the street, I saw a guy chomping on a doughnut and thought to myself, 'That's disgusting! How can he do that??' To me, it was like he was eating worms or something. But I loved doughnuts, so what had I been thinking in that moment? I stopped using the tape at that point, because the thoughts were not truly mine. I have now managed to change my internal monologue about health on my own, and I feel better about that." EABHA70
"I had regular weekly sessions for almost two months. It worked for about one day (after each session), then it wore off. If I could have afforded (and had the time) to do it every day, maybe it would have worked, but it was expensive. Wish I had that money back. I did find that it was very helpful for quitting smoking, however." OUTDOORGAL1
"I am currently doing hypnosis and have lost 20 pounds in two months. It is a nine-month program and I am going twice a week. I also listen to the CDs twice a day. After the first week, I noticed I was walking away from desserts, drinking less and eating more fruits and vegetables. If I do have something sweet, I struggle with just having a "taste" and still want to eat the whole thing—but if I don't start, I don't crave it. I haven't had a soda, drinking only water. I cook more and eat out less. I have better focus, sleep better and am calmer. I find it very relaxing and am able to focus on what I need to do." K10WOLF

4 Tips for Choosing a Hypnotist

If you're thinking about hopping on the hypnotherapy train, keep these tips in mind:
  1. Make sure he or she is legit. In most states, there is no regulation of the practice of hypnosis, which means therapists aren't required to get any type of certification. Other states, however, do have some regulations. Check here to see if your state requires hypnotists to have a license. Either way, it's best to choose a provider who has licensure and certification. The National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists is a good place to start the search.
  2. Look for a weight-loss specialist. If your goal is to train your brain to shed pounds, you probably don't want to use someone who specializes in treating phobias. Try to find a hypnotherapist who has experience and proven results in helping clients with weight loss.
  3. Meet the therapist first. As with any kind of therapy, it's important that you have an easy rapport with the chosen expert. Before investing your time and money in hypnotherapy sessions, request an in-person meeting to ensure that you feel comfortable discussing personal information with the hypnotist.
  4. Temper your expectations. While it's great to be open to the idea of hypnosis as a supplement to a diet and exercise regimen, don't expect it to be a miraculous shortcut to shedding pounds. Slow weight loss is the key to achieving long-term success.  
Have you ever tried hypnosis for weight loss, or would you consider it?

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VHAYES04 1/1/2021
Ty Report
EVIE4NOW 5/19/2020
interesting Report
CECELW 4/6/2020
kind of interesting...i guess Report
1CRAZYDOG 4/2/2020
I find any type of relaxation helps in the weight loss journey. Report
I have never tried a hynotist and don't believe I ever would consider it. Report
Thank you for the information. Report
It helped me. Of course it can only make you do something you really want to do. Report
This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing all of this information with Us! Report
I tried this, both group and private sessions. The private sessions were useless. So it’s definitely key to connect to connect with the therapist. If I could find the tape of the group session, I believe this would help as a supplementary aid, but not as the main driver. I really liked the approach and attitude of the group presentation. The private sessions were very negative and therefore not helpful for me; suggesting I associate my favorite unhealthy food with eating baby poop! Really?!?! Report
I hate to be out of control and fight anesthesiologists I can't imagine this would work for me I will stick to Spark and education & exercise Report
Would like to know more about this Report
Not trying this Report
Actually hypnosis doesn't work while you sleep. You don't "absorb" anything while asleep & you might as well be listening to crickets chirp. Report
So, I've been trying "Darren Marks" self-hypnosis iphone app, and I'm liking it alot. I've been listening to his weight loss hypnosis, and I find it relaxing me, and even after listening to it for 30 days, (and this is important) it hasn't pissed me off :-) I thought i would get tired of his voice, but the opposite is true.

It's hard to tell if its helping me lose weight, but this time I think I'm doing better than ever before. I'm losing slowly, but I'm making changes that I think I can keep going in the future. Is hypnosis helping? I don't know for sure, but I know that I'm going to keep trying it.
could help Report
I didn't use it for weightloss, but to reduce anxiety during a second cataract surgery where they don't really put you under. I was well-known at the surgi-center for the patient who had a panic attack (despite the liquid demerol) and flailed about the operating room. Hypnosis work and I was thankfully more adult during the second surgery. Report
thanks for posting wonder if it will work for me Report
whatever works Report
Interesting article...something to think about. :) Report
Thank you for the info. Report
Interesting. Thank you. Report
I think like most weight loss tools, hypnosis will work for some people, but not for all. I'm intrigued by it, but I'm not sure how to find the right hynotherapist. I think it would work for me. I've purchased a hypnosis App by Darren Marks which is very helpful at relaxing me, and so I have hope that it will work for weight loss too. I have an interesting relationship between headaches and eating, and I have been "treating" my headaches through food, so I'm hoping that hypnosis will help me change that. Report
I wonder if it really works? Report
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
- Aristotle Report
I did this and though it gave me a nice tape to listen to afterwards that is relaxing it did little to change my behavior. Overall it was not an effective investment. Report
I went to a hypnotherapist for almost a year, going once a month. I enjoyed the sessions, how relaxing they were and especially the visualization techniques, and I did lose about 30 lbs. But after a while, I felt like I plateaued and wanted to try something else instead. Now I do CrossFit. I still believe that if you just have a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. Report
Definitely an issue to fully research before trying. Report
I tried hypnotherapy for weight loss. The session was absolutely wonderful - I have never been more relaxed in my life - but it didn't accomplish anything as far as curbing my appetite or "loving" exercise. Oh well.
Interesting info. Report
if only was true for me.... Report
Interesting article Report
Have to say I'm incredibly sceptical of this! Report
I know people it worked for and many who gained the weight back Report
Tried the self-hypnosis method with mixed results. It was best at curbing cravings for the high calorie low nutrient foods like candy. Report
Interesting, Thanks! Report
If it works, why not! Report
I tried it and nothing happened. I may need to give it another shop; Report
My husband was hypnotized to quit smoking. It has worked for him for over 20 years. Report
I have been curious about whether or not hypnosis would work. Report
I have done hypno and it works... Report
works a little stopped and you found another solution SPARK Report
helpful Report
I think hypnosis can be beneficial. In 2012 I purchased a 9 month program from Positive Changes. The program consisted of individual as well as group sessions. The group sessions had a short lecture on various health topics followed by the hypnosis (called an acceleration). The individual sessions were recorded for future use. I still have those CDs. While I was attending regularly I a word positive and was even making progress in changing my mindset which was my main goal. They even allowed to me to extend my time beyond the 9 months without payring extra. I had no illusions that I would just suddenly stop wanting chocolate. I lost weight but I liked the way I felt and looked forward to seeing people there. When the facility closed in 2013, I told myself that I would keep using the CDs and I did for a bit but then I stopped and the weight came back. Like many things I've tried, when I was committed, it worked and when I wasn't, it doesn't.
Sounds like hypnosis isn't a one size fits all weight loss tactic, really nothing is. Do what works for you. Report
A huge waste of my money over the decades both in person and with endless cds. Report
Very interesting.................Thank You. Report
I've used a Darren Marks hypnotherapy app that I really liked. It was both for relaxation and weight loss. I found it very helpful in addition to other tools. Report
Hi, I'm Elizabeth.

My friend has just been hypnotized to help her lose weight. But she still eats cakes and sweets she says, shes lost 1 stone in weight in 3 weeks. But I cant see how as she is eating just as much if not more, I wouldn't waste my money, can't you join weight watchers or slimming world, you'll get lots of help and support, and you get to make new friends too.

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