If you’ve tried various methods to lose belly fat, you’re not alone.
Weight loss remains a huge industry, partly because there are so many different methods. There is also no shortage of contradictory infomation about the 'right way' to lose weight.
Can red light therapy, a non-invasive natural treatment, actually help with weight loss around the belly? In this article, we take a closer look at how RLT may be able to help.
For more information, check out the BIOMAX Series panels for affordable, at-home treatment.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Red light therapy uses specialty LED devices to deliver specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to spark beneficial biological processes in the body.
The therapeutic benefits can be numerous, including reduced inflammation, better blood flow, more collagen production, and improved cellular function.
Fundamentally, red light therapy functions by stimulating the mitochondria, providing it with energy that allows it to heal and treat the body more rapidly.
Does Red Light Therapy Reduce Fat?
There are several mechanisms that make red light therapy a weight loss tool.
RLT may be more effective at treating subcutaneous fat than visceral fat. Some differences between the two are explained in more detail below.
Numerous clinical studies are cited below involving the use of RLT for weight loss treatment. There are also a number of bodily benefits that may contribute tertiary benefits to fat loss.
Subcutaneous fat refers to the ‘soft fat’ located under the skin outside the abdominal cavity. This adipose tissue can be found on the upper arms, buttocks, and thighs.
Near-infrared wavelengths are projected through the skin to target subcutaneous fat anywhere on the body.
Visceral fat is the ‘hard fat’ that surrounds the organs in the abdominal cavity. It is linked to heart disease, cancer, dementia, and diabetes. It’s much more difficult to lose visceral fat.
This is sometimes called a ‘lifestyle fat,’ and results from a poor diet and being sedentary.
A healthy diet and exercise are still the best ways to lose visceral fat.
The reduction of female hormones during menopause leads to the redistribution of body fat as well. Unfortunately, a lot of fat ends up being stored in the abdominal area after menopause.
Which Type of Fat Is Most Responsive to Red Light Therapy?
Any subcutaneous fat cells will be the first cells targeted by red light therapy.
Near-infrared light can absorb about 2” into the abdomen, which means the treatment will first target subcutaneous fat cells. When red and NIR light photons absorb into a fat cell, they cause the formation of temporary pores in the cell.
In one study, four minutes of treatment with 635nm red light wavelengths caused fat cells to release 80% of their contents, and almost all of the contents of treated fat cells were released within six minutes.
Red light also stimulates adipocyte apoptosis. This is the natural death of fat cells, and will also promote the release of lipids that can help with weight loss.
Improved Blood Flow
This is not often considered when it comes to weight loss, but poor blood flow and metabolism are actually linked. When your blood flow is poor, the metabolism may slow down, which makes gaining weight easier, irrespective of diet and exercise.
Red light therapy boosts nitric oxide production in the body. This is a vasodilator that increases the diameter of blood vessels to encourage better blood flow.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation and cellular stress contribute to metabolic dysfunction linked to obesity.
In some cases, obesity can result from low-grade systemic inflammation. Red light therapy reduces inflammation to support normal metabolic functioning and weight loss.
Reduced Insulin Resistance
Red light therapy and exercise together can reduce insulin resistance and body fat in overweight and obese adults.
In one case, 64 obese women took part in a 20-week program of exercise along with red light therapy. At the end of the study, the women reduced fat mass. They were also able to reduce insulin resistance.
Increased Lean Muscle Mass
More lean muscle mass means a higher metabolism. Red light therapy can support muscle growth, resulting in higher calorie burn when at rest. Increasing muscle mass is a key to losing weight because the maintenance of muscle burns fat. It is also key to successful body sculpting!
Red Light Therapy and Thyroid Support
A low-functioning thyroid can result in weight gain. Red light therapy can reduce the autoimmune activity in the thyroid to support normal thyroid function.
Red light for weight loss helps to control ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.” In one study, sleep-deprived adults were treated with red light therapy in the morning. This resulted in a significant decrease in ghrelin concentrations.
Sleep deprivation is associated with weight gain. Red light therapy promotes melatonin production to help you sleep better.
Further Research on Red Light Therapy and Weight Loss
In one study, twice-weekly 30-minute red light therapy was given to 40 healthy men and women for four weeks. This was for a total of eight light therapy treatments. The test subjects did not make any changes to their diet or exercise routines. By the end of the trial, subjects reported a 1-inch reduction in waist measurements.
These findings were confirmed by another study where men and women with a BMI of 25-29 received red light therapy treatments three times a week for two weeks. At the end of the trial, subjects showed a significant decrease in waist circumference of .98 inches. They also enjoyed a 1.05-inch reduction in hip measurement and a .65-inch reduction in thigh size. No other documented changes were made in the participants' diet and exercise regimen.
Two weeks after the conclusion of the treatment, the test subjects were found to have regained approximately .3 inches collectively across all of the three measured sites.
Another study used red light on healthy adults with a BMI of 25. After six consecutive weeks of treatment with 635nm red light, subjects showed a significant 4.5-inch mean decrease in combined body circumference.
These studies suggest that ongoing red light therapy could be a way to help achieve and maintain a desired weight, along with the opportunity for targeted weight loss.
“Through the consistent use of a powerful home-use PlatinumLED unit, the synergy of low-level and near-infrared red light therapy demonstrates significant promise in optimizing mitochondrial function, improving circulatory dynamics, facilitating the efficient transportation of fatty acids and oxygen to cells, all of which have the potential to contribute to fat loss.”
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Red Light Therapy and Cellulite
Cellulite is one of the main aesthetic problems with excess weight, even on the belly. Cellulite is made up of subcutaneous fat and is largely genetic. Even well-toned athletes may have cellulite.
One study showed that red light therapy can reduce cellulite. 20 female participants were divided into two groups. Group A did high-intensity treadmill training and 850nm light therapy. Group B did treadmill training only. At the end of the 3-month study, Group A showed a significant reduction of cellulite, whereas the treadmill-only group did not.
How Many Sessions Does It Take to See Results?
Everyone is different, of course. With regular use, users can experience fat loss in as little as 2-4 weeks. That is the typical duration of the studies we have referenced above.
Of course, we recommend combining red light therapy with exercise and a healthy diet, as the treatment alone is clearly not enough to compensate for overeating and a sedentary lifestyle.
Red light therapy isn’t a quick fix for any health condition, including fat loss. It works by supporting your body’s healthy biological processes at the cellular level. You may experience some fast and dramatic results, but the best results come over time with consistent use.
BIOMAX Series for Optimal Weight Loss Results
The BIOMAX Series offers one of the most advanced red light therapy treatments available.
This is partly due to its offering multiple R+ and NIR+ wavelengths. Included in these are 630nm, 660nm, 810nm, 830nm, 850nm in red light, and 480nm traces of blue.
A compact panel such as the PlatinumLED BIOMAX 450 could be used for targeted weight loss on the belly or upper arms.
A large panel such as the PlatinumLED BIOMAX 900 supports fat loss all over your body. This panel also has more power than smaller panels, to accelerate your results.
Check out the BIOMAX series, choose the one that’s right for you, and use light therapy for weight loss as part of your daily self-care regimen.