Red light therapy and weight loss – Nutrilight Shop

Red light therapy and weight loss

It's a bit unclear why body composition improves with red light therapy (RLT), but there are a few theories and it's likely due to at least two factors.

It's a bit unclear why body composition improves with red light therapy (RLT), but there are a few theories and it's likely due to at least two factors. For one thing, it seems that the fat cells simply release fat, which can then be burned, if you don't lie on the couch and let the fat cells take it up again, of course. It thus requires a certain amount of exercise to really utilize the effect, but even if you don't actually increase your physical activity, RLT has a certain effect on body fat. Namely, the mitochondria will be affected by the treatment so that their ATP production increases, and this costs energy. This, in turn, will give various biological processes more energy, which is one of the reasons why red light therapy has all the properties attributed to it.

There are many studies on the subject, but one of those that showed the most dramatic effect is one conducted on 64 overweight women aged 20-40. The study lasted for 20 weeks and included three training sessions per week with both burning and strength training, as well as red light therapy in the group that would receive it. The results can be seen in the image below, but body fat decreased by an average of 11.26 kg in those who received red light therapy, which is more than double that of those who did not receive treatment. I don't know of any method or aid that has the same effects, at least not if they are to be healthy at the same time. It was also interesting that the hormone adiponectin, which is released by body fat, increases during light treatment. It has a protective effect against metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, which was also seen in the study. A very nice bonus was that the muscle mass of the treated subjects increased by 0.6 kg, while it decreased in the other group by 1.3 kg. After all, the muscles are metabolically active and will in themselves help you keep your body fat at a desirable level. In addition, they are linked to longevity and health, so that is a welcome consequence.

Weight loss

Can red light therapy provide weight loss even without exercise?

In the study mentioned, overweight women at a relatively young age were allowed to exercise with or without red light treatment. Their relatively large excess of fat and young age means that you can expect a relatively large weight loss, especially in combination with exercise. But what happens if you try to lose weight without exercising? Many overweight people are not used to exercising and may not even get to the gym due to low self-confidence or reduced mobility. We may also be dealing with lazy people who simply cannot "bear" exercise or prioritize it. Whatever the reason, it is interesting to know if you can achieve weight loss with LED lights alone, and it has been investigated. In one study, 60 obese adults were given LED light therapy using one of three different schemes (1). It was either three times a week for four weeks, twice a week for six weeks or once a week for twelve weeks. All lost waist circumference and body weight, but the standouts were the middle group, who lost an average of 1.1kg of body fat. The study does not tell whether perhaps a treatment a day for 20 weeks would be even better, but I suspect that, as both the frequency and the treatment time matter. I would like to see a study with a daily treatment for a year to really draw conclusions about the red light treatment and body weight. This is how you use the lamps for general health, and in addition, the weight gains are erased if you stop using the lamp, so a long-term approach is important.


The word suggests that it is not only about weight loss, but also about the contours of the body. It is perhaps a healthier goal than simply losing weight, since muscle mass should be maintained as far as possible. After all, RLT has the effect that the fat decreases while the muscles increase. When it comes to the studies around "contouring", the results are a bit scattered and some seem almost too good to be true. A South Korean study showed that a single treatment could reduce abdominal fat by 18% and the double chin by 26% at a follow-up 12 weeks after treatment (2). I ask myself if it is even possible since it was a single treatment. In my decades as a nutritionist, I have never seen similar results from either diet, exercise or other efforts. Possibly, surgery can produce results that can be compared to these, but with that said, it is "peer-reviewed" research that has been published in a respected journal.

However, if you choose to disregard this study, there are quite a few more that show slightly more moderate and perhaps credible results. In one study, one treatment was given a week for six weeks, during which the circumference around the waist, buttock, thigh and abdomen was measured weekly (3). The definition of a successful treatment was set at 4.5 inches (11.43 cm) and fully 72% of subjects reached the goal. The average reduction was actually a whopping 5.4 inches (13.72 cm) and over 80% of participants were satisfied with their results. Note that the participants did not make any pronounced changes to their lifestyle in general, but the entire measured effect was attributed to RLT, although I would have liked to have seen a control group. In another similar study, 86 subjects were given a treatment every other day for two weeks (4). Their result was 7.59 cm less girth if you combined the measurements for the waist, crotch and both thighs. Other studies have also shown similar results (5, 7) and it has also been possible to see a reducing effect on cellulite (6, 8).

  1. Ivana T. Croghan, Ryan T. Hurt, Darrell R. Schroeder, Shawn C. Fokken, Michael D. Jensen, Matthew M. Clark & ​​Jon O. Ebbert. Low-level laser therapy for weight reduction: a randomized pilot study. Lasers in Medical Science volume 35, pages 663–675 (2020).
  2. Ik Jun Moon 1, Jae Won Choi 1, Chang Jin Jung 1, SeokHwan Kim 2, EunSoo Park 3, Chong Hyun Won 4. Efficacy and safety of a novel combined 1060-nm and 635-nm laser device for non-invasive reduction of abdominal and submental vessels. Lasers With Sci. 2022 Feb;37(1):505-512. doi: 10.1007/s10103-021-03288-z. Epub 2021 Apr 2.
  3. Carl R Thornfeldt 1, Paul M Thaxton 2, Carl S Hornfeldt 3. A Six-week Low-level Laser Therapy Protocol is Effective for Reducing Waist, Hip, Thigh, and Upper Abdomen Circumference. 2016 Jun;9(6):31-5. Epub 2016 Jun 1. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.
  4. Elizabeth McRae 1, Jaime Boris Independent evaluation of low-level laser therapy at 635 nm for non-invasive body contouring of the waist, hips, and thighs. Lasers Surg With . 2013 Jan;45(1):1-7. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22113.
  5. Mark S Nestor, Matthew B Zarraga, Hyunhee Park. Effect of 635nm Low-level Laser Therapy on Upper Arm Circumference Reduction: A Double-blind, Randomized, Sham-controlled Trial. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012 Feb;5(2):42-8.
  6. Michael H Gold 1, Khalil A Khatri, Kelley Hails, Robert A Weiss, Nathalie Fournier. Reduction in thigh circumference and improvement in the appearance of cellulite with dual-wavelength, low-level laser energy and massage. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2011 Feb;13(1):13-20. doi: 10.3109/14764172.2011.552608.
  7. Mary K Caruso-Davis 1, Thomas S Guillot, Vinod K Podichetty, Nazar Mashtalir, Nikhil V Dhurandhar, Olga Dubuisson, Ying Yu, Frank L Greenway. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy for body contouring and spot fat reduction. Obes Surg. 2011 Jun;21(6):722-9. doi: 10.1007/s11695-010-0126-y.
  8. Elliot Lach 1 Reduction of subcutaneous fat and improvement in cellulite appearance by dual-wavelength, low-level laser energy combined with vacuum and massage. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2008 Dec;10(4):202-9. doi: 10.1080/14764170802516680.

Author: Fredrik Paulún

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