Scott Nelson

The Remarkable Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Weight Loss and Fat Reduction





Losing weight and fat is one of the most common health goals, both for medical and cosmetic reasons. Few of us would turn down losing a few pounds or cutting back on some fat here or there. This article gives an overview of clinical research showing how natural red light therapy can help people lose weight, tone their body, cut back on fat & cellulite, and control obesity.

How Does Light Therapy Work to Reduce Fat?

If you’re not familiar with red light therapy, this article gives a good overview of what it is and how it works. A device like a Joovv delivers safe, concentrated wavelengths of therapeutic natural light to your skin and cells, where it reduces oxidative stress and stimulates cellular energy production (adenosine triphosphate or ATP). Not only does that help your body power itself more effectively, but researchers believe red light therapy affects adipocytes, which are cells that store fat, causing the lipids to disperse. In other words, light therapy helps the body wash away fat cells. [1]

Light therapy may work in other ways that affect fat and weight loss as well. A 2012 study in the International Journal of Endocrinology showed that light can affect hunger levels, which could help prevent the buildup of extra fat before it even begins. This study found that red light helped control levels of the hunger-related hormones leptin and ghrelin in sleep-deprived participants. [2]

Clinical Research Shows Red Light Therapy Reduces Fat and Helps with Weight Management

Red light therapy’s positive effects on fat and cellulite loss, obesity control, and cosmetic body enhancement have been seen in numerous clinical trials in recent years. And unlike many solutions promoted for weight-loss, such as medications and surgery, red and near infrared light therapy is a safe, natural, and noninvasive option to becoming healthier and more fit.

This is a brief overview of significant clinical research:

Less Cellulite: In a 2011 study on red light therapy and cellulite reduction, women ages 25-55 were divided into two groups: some did treadmill exercise + red light therapy twice a week, while the other group just did treadmill exercise. The researchers presented thermographic photographs of the changes in thigh circumference and cellulite to demonstrate that red light therapy and exercise was more effective than just exercise alone. The study concluded that treadmill exercise and red light therapy in conjunction can improve body aesthetics. [3]

Cosmetic Body Contouring: Many people trying to lose weight just want to look better in the mirror, or at the beach. A wide variety of therapies to target fat and improve appearance are called “body contouring” or “body sculpting”, some surgical, others noninvasive. But many of them don’t work, and/or produce troublesome side effects. Red light therapy is completely natural & noninvasive and has proven to be an effective option for changing the way your body looks.

Smaller Waistline, Less Girth: A study in the Journal of Obesity Surgery researched red light therapy for body contouring. This 2011 double-blind, randomized study performed light therapy at 635-680 nanometers (nm) on participants for four weeks and recorded effects on the size of their waistline. At the end of the study, participants had achieved a statistically significant reduction in waistline girth. [4]  

Targeted Fat Loss: In a similar study published in Lasers in Surgery Medicine, participants who received light therapy showed a significant reduction in overall circumference, including numerous parts of the body. Researchers concluded that light therapy can reduce the circumference of the specific areas of the body that are treated with natural light. [5]

Tighter Hips & Thighs: A 2013 study in the same journal also found benefits from red light therapy at 635 nm for contouring the hips, thighs, and waist. At the end of the trial, researchers found a mean loss of 2.99 inches in overall body size compared to the starting point. Separately, the thigh, waist, and hip areas all showed a reduction too. Researchers concluded that red light therapy at this wavelength was safe and clinically effective (Figure A). [6]

    Red Light Therapy for Weight Loss, Fat Reduction, and Body Contouring

    Figure A: Comparison of inches lost between Test Group and Placebo Group.

    Less Body Fat: A 2018 triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial assessed red light therapy’s effects on people doing endurance training. Researchers found pre-exercise treatment can “decrease the body fat in healthy volunteers when compared to placebo.” [7]

    Weight and Obesity Control: A study conducted by Brazilian researchers in 2015 assessed the effects of light therapy and exercise on 64 obese women, ages 20 to 40. One group exercised and received red light therapy treatments, while the control group just exercised. They concluded that red light therapy and exercise together were more effective than just exercise in reducing fat mass. Researchers also observed an increase in skeletal muscle mass. They wrote:

    “Our results demonstrated for the first time that light therapy enhances the physical exercise effects in obese women undergoing weight loss treatment promoting significant changes in inflexibility metabolic profile.” [8]

    A recent study published in 2018 also evaluated obese young women and found similar results. Some followed an exercise regimen + red light therapy, while the control group just did the exercise. The women who did exercise and red light therapy saw more significant changes in fat mass and insulin variables.

    Researchers concluded:

    It was demonstrated that exercise training associated with light therapy promotes an improvement in body composition and inflammatory processes. The light therapy group especially presented positive modifications of WNT5 signaling, FGF-21, and ANP, possible biomarkers associated with browning adiposity processes. This suggests light therapy is applicable in clinical practice to control obesity.” [9]

    A placebo-controlled clinical trial in 2015 noted similar improvements with obese women who exercised and were treated with red light therapy. Researchers also concluded red light therapy could control cardiometabolic risk factors in obese populations. [10]

    Health and Fitness Leaders Trust Joovv Red Light Therapy

    In addition to the clinical research, there’s no shortage of health & fitness leaders who use red light therapy for weight loss, skin health, and muscle recovery—and advise their clients and patients to do the same.

    Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, aka Paleo Mom, has analyzed the scientific literature and written about how she sees weight loss benefits from her daily Joovv use, in addition to major joint pain relief. You can see more natural health experts & world-class fitness trainers who use Joovv here.

    Conclusion: Consider Red Light Therapy for Fat Loss and Weight Management

    A major benefit of red and near infrared light therapy is the convenience of doing the treatments in your own home, with short treatment times—instead of having to go to a spa or medical clinic for expensive contouring and fat loss procedures that can lead to unwanted side effects. Even though Joovv’s new modular design isn’t specifically indicated for fat loss, you can fully customize your light therapy setup to your individual health needs as well as the space in your home. You can also check out the new Joovv Go, the first truly portable red light therapy device with clinical power like the full-body Joovv devices.

    In summary, clinical research and the accounts of many natural health experts shows that red light therapy can be an effective, safe, and natural treatment for weight loss and fat reduction, as well as an efficacious method of body contouring and cosmetic improvement.

    Scientific Sources and Medical References:

    [1] Peterson P.S., Lei X, Wolf RM. CTRP7 deletion attenuates obesity-linked glucose intolerance, adipose tissue inflammation, and hepatic stress. American Journal of Physiology. Feb 2017;10:1152.

    [2] Figueiro MG, Plitnick B, and Rea MS. Light Modulates Leptin and Ghrelin in Sleep-Restricted Adults. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2012.

    [3] Paolillo FR, Borghi-Silva A, et al. New treatment of cellulite with infrared-LED illumination applied during high-intensity treadmill training. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2011 Aug;13(4):166-71.

    [4] Caruso-Davis MK, Guillot TS, Podichetty VK, Mashtalir N, Dhurandhar NV, Dubuisson O, Yu Y. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy for body contouring and spot fat reduction. Obes Surg. 2011. Jun;21(6):722-9.

    [5] Jackson RF, Dedo DD, Roche GC, et al. Low-level laser therapy as a non-invasive approach for body contouring: a randomized, controlled study. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Dec 2009;41(10):99-809.

    [6] McRae E and Boris J. Independent evaluation of low-level laser therapy at 635 nm for non-invasive body contouring of the waist, hips, and thighs. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Jan 2013;45(1):1-7.

    [7] Miranda EF, Tomazoni SS, et al. When is the best moment to apply photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) when associated to a treadmill endurance-training program? A randomized, triple-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers in Med Science. 2018 May;33(4):719-727.

    [8] Sene-Fiorese M, Duarte FO, et al. The potential of phototherapy to reduce body fat, insulin resistance and "metabolic inflexibility" related to obesity in women undergoing weight loss treatment. Lasers Surg Med. 2015 Oct;47(8):634-42.

    [9] da Silveira Campos RM, Dâmaso AR, et al. The effects of exercise training associated with low-level laser therapy on biomarkers of adipose tissue transdifferentiation in obese women. Lasers in Medical Science. 2018 Aug;33(6):1245-1254.

    [10] Duarte FO, et al. Can low-level laser therapy (LLLT) associated with an aerobic plus resistance training change the cardiometabolic risk in obese women? A placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2015 Dec;153:103-10.

    Joovv light therapy products are indicated for use in the relief of muscle and joint pain, including arthritis and muscle spasm pain, and increasing of blood circulation, and relaxation of muscles. The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to support the safety or effectiveness of Joovv devices, or diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It's not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with your healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.

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