You’ve tried everything to lose weight, from fad diets to extreme calorie reduction methods, without any luck. Or you lost weight, but then you struggle to keep it off. You know the basics of healthy eating and exercise, but you can’t seem to shed the extra weight for some reason.
Well, meditation and weight loss could be the solution you’re looking for.
In this article, we’ll go over the research-backed evidence of how meditation can help you lose weight and share tips on supporting your weight-loss goals through mindfulness and meditation practices.
What’s Wrong With Most Weight Loss Programs?
When it comes to losing weight, traditional approaches often focus on calorie intake and exercise, meal planning, and supplement recommendations.
However, these methods can sometimes be short-term and lead to feelings of frustration and failure, and can even cause negative emotional side effects such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
It’s important to remember that losing weight is not just about the physical aspects of diet and exercise, but also about our mindset and the obstacles we may face in adopting new habits.
Focusing on our own behavior and how to change it in the long term is crucial for success in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
There has been some recent progress to address this connection mindset and weight loss with apps such as Noom.
Everything You Need to Know About Being Overweight and Obesity
Obesity is a public health concern across the globe. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 or over were overweight, and 650 million of these people were obese. This is a major cause for concern as being overweight and obese are linked to a number of severe health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain types of cancer, and more.
But before we jump right into how meditation can help you lose weight, let’s look at how obesity and weight gain occur in the first place. There are a few common factors that lead to weight gain, including:
Genetics can play a major role in obesity. Studies have shown that specific genes play a part in triggering weight gain, affecting metabolism, and influencing our eating behavior.
These genes impact how we process nutrients and hormones, affecting our appetite, hunger, and satiety.
Additionally, these genes determine our inherited traits – such as lower activity levels or a predisposition to crave foods high in fat and sugar.
The food environment can also considerably influence our weight and health. Research has shown that the availability of unhealthy foods is one of the main factors underlying obesity, as people are more likely to eat unhealthy foods if they are easily accessible.
And for people living in an area with limited physical activity options, it may be difficult to maintain an active lifestyle.
Stress can also be a huge contributor to obesity, as it is often linked to comfort eating and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Studies have found that people who experience chronic stress are more likely to become overweight or obese than those who do not.
This happens mostly because of higher levels of cortisol – a hormone that triggers cravings for sugar and sodium-rich foods.
This is probably the most well-known contributor to weight gain. Consuming more calories than your body needs can lead to weight gain over time.
And it’s not just the amount of calories that is important – what you eat also plays a role.
Eating an unhealthy diet high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and sugar can lead to weight gain over time.
4 Ways Meditation Can Help You Lose Weight
There’s no denying that weight gain is a complex issue with many underlying causes. The good news is that meditation can help you lose weight by addressing some underlying issues and helping you achieve a healthier weight.
Research points to the potential of meditation and mindfulness as effective weight loss management tools in searching for promising weight loss strategies.
1. Mindfulness-based interventions reduce emotional and binge-eating behaviors
In a literature review of 21 articles, researchers found that mindfulness-based interventions are a promising treatment for unhealthy eating behaviors such as emotional and binge eating.
The results of the various studies showed that mindfulness-based interventions significantly decreased binge eating frequency and severity, positive changes in emotional eating occurrences, weight loss, and weight maintenance.
Fortunately, you don’t need to attend a 6-month mindfulness-based program to benefit from the effects! You can try some of these activities at home to get started:
- Practice mindfulness meditation
- Try a mindful body scan
- Explore acceptance-based practices
2. Meditation encourages mindful eating habits
A review published in Obesity Journals found that mindful eating habits, including formal and informal meditation practice, were largely effective in reducing weight and improving obesity-related eating behaviors.
Mindful eating habits emphasize paying full attention to the present moment and being aware of your physical and emotional sensations when eating. This can help you become more aware of your food choices, gain control over your cravings, and make more conscious decisions about the food you eat.
Here are some ways to practice mindful eating:
- Eat slowly and savor each bite
- Focus on the taste, texture, and smell of your food
- Listen to hunger cues instead of external cues
- Check in with your body to determine when you’re full
- Focus on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future
3. Meditation and weight loss can help change the chemicals that cause obesity
Meditation has been shown to lower levels of stress and inflammation in the body by reducing the production of cortisol and C-reactive protein.
These changes can have positive impacts on our health and may even help with weight loss. Elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to an increase in abdominal fat, while high levels of C-reactive protein can be a sign of inflammation, which has been linked to a range of diseases including obesity.
By practicing meditation, we can potentially improve our overall health and well-being.
4. Mindfulness helps you maintain weight loss
The skills you learn through mindfulness practice can be an invaluable tool when it comes to maintaining weight loss. Mindful practices can help you reframe your relationship with food, become more mindful of your eating habits, and create healthier lifestyle habits in the long run.
These aren’t just quick fixes – they’re lifelong tools that can help you make healthier lifestyle choices.
Plus, studies have shown that mindfulness-based weight loss interventions increase weight loss maintenance. One study, which measured weight loss maintenance in people who had participated in a weight loss intervention, found that participants who practiced mindful eating demonstrated greater weight maintenance at the 6-month follow-up.
Mindful Practices to Help You Reach Your Weight-Loss Goals
Meditation is a great way to get started on your weight-loss journey and can help you maintain weight loss over time. Here are a few extra mindful practices to help you live a healthier and happier lifestyle:
- Mindful movement: Exercise is an important part of weight loss, but it can also be a great way to practice mindfulness. Try yoga, tai chi, or walking meditation to practice mindfulness while moving.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for weight loss, as it helps to regulate hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, which play a role in weight control. Aim to get around 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night. Try out my guided meditation for sleep for an extra boost!
- Eat with awareness: Mindful eating practices can help you become aware of hunger and fullness signals and make healthier food choices. Try to eat slowly, take breaks between bites, and savor the flavor of each meal.
- Forgive yourself: Weight loss can be challenging, and showing yourself compassion when you make mistakes is important. No need to feel bad; just make a plan to get back on track and keep going.
While meditation on its own won’t make the pounds melt away, it is a highly effective weight management tool when combined with other healthy lifestyle practices.
There is strong evidence of the relationship between meditation and weight loss. It reduces the triggers for eating such as stress and makes you more aware of what you are eating. And… it helps you keep the weight off!
By adding a few mindful practices to your routine, there’s no doubt that you will be able to reach your weight-loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way – and that’s something to celebrate!
Have you ever tried meditation for weight loss? Share the tips and tricks that worked for you below!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.