Can you lose weight with red light therapy?

Infrared and red technology - The edge you need for weight loss


Obesity, and being overweight in general, is a multi-faceted and very individual phenomenon. The situation that brings someone to experience weight gain is most likely very different to the next person. It is well known that what works for one person to lose weight probably won't work to help another person. It is all well and good to say eat healthy food, get some exercise and drink plenty of water but how many people out there are doing just that and not seeing results? If it was as simple as that 39% of adults in the world wouldn't be overweight [1]! 

The weight or fat amount that a person has depends on so many factors. A whole book could be written on these factors, a short informative article could never list these factors. And really, each person who is reading this article already knows what has brought them to the point of being unhappy with their weight anyway, right? Why they are reading this article is because they want to know how to address it in an effective way, of course. This article doesn't have a miracle answer unfortunately but what it will provide is information on how to get an edge and a leg-up on seeing success for weight loss when all the usual recommendations aren’t working.

Can anyone guess what obesity has in common with arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, irritable bowel syndrome and a whole host of other conditions? Being overweight often goes hand in hand with these conditions but what if the driver that causes these conditions is also causing more fat accumulation and weight gain as well? The answer to that question is inflammation!

Reduce Inflammation

Lots of people wouldn't think of inflammation as being a driver for weight gain but it has actually been shown to be an important factor. Not only can uncontrolled inflammation lead to being more likely to gain weight and having excess fat but also further promotes inflammation [2]. The inflammatory processes get confused in a body with excess fat, especially the type that sits on the belly. This results in the progression to a chronic inflammatory state [2]. Unfortunately, the types of medication that are used for reducing inflammation in inflammatory conditions don’t address this type of chronic inflammation and can also increase the risk for heart disease so they aren’t effective for weight loss [2]. For people who are following a whole foods style of eating and are trying to manage their stress levels as a way to help reduce their weight, they are already taking steps towards reducing inflammation. Another tip – infrared and red light technology will also help to address inflammation and help to lose weight! Infrared light treatment has been shown to decrease the inflammatory markers within abdominal fat tissue by up to 5 times [3]! It also found that the waist to hip ratio and subcutaneous abdominal fat thickness was significantly reduced for people receiving the treatment [4].

Increased metabolism 

Red and infrared light stimulates cellular energy. As red and infrared rays are absorbed by the mitochondria, this stimulates the production of energy in cells [5]. Increased cellular energy leads to healthier cells and better cellular performance, which reduces inflammation and better regulates cellular reproduction. Usually what is thought of as metabolism is how fast the food that is eaten is used up and how fast that fat can be burnt off when it is wanted to. What is meant by metabolism is actually thousands of biochemical reactions that are vital for the health and survival of the human organism [5]. It has been found that combining infrared light technology with an exercise program increases results, including an improved metabolism when compared to the use of exercise only. The concentration of adiponectin, a protein hormone which is a measure of regulation of blood glucose levels and fat breakdown, was more than double that of people who only exercised [5]. Exercise itself increases metabolism but it can be supercharged by combining it with infrared technology!

Support thyroid function 

Low thyroid function has been linked to excess weight gain and a slowed metabolism. Infrared light therapy helps restore normal functions in the thyroid which in turn regulates the metabolism [6]. For those with thyroid autoimmunity, it was also found to reduce this activity and reduce inflammation [6]. 

Reduce fat cell size 

Red light triggers the formation of small pores in fat cells which allows the release of fatty acids. It was found that 4 minutes of exposure caused 80% of these fatty acids to be released from the fat cells. After six minutes almost all of the fat had been released [7]. Red light also appears to stimulate the death of fat cells which may also cause the release of lipids stored within the cells [7].

Spot treatment of targeted fat removal

It is often said that it isn't possible to exercise a certain body area to reduce the fat amount in that area only. Targeted weight loss is on the wish list of almost everyone who wants to lose weight. This targeted fat removal, often known as body contouring, is a cosmetic approach that focuses on areas of the body where fat tends to settle. Usually these areas are the waist, belly, hips, thighs, and upper arms. Red light technology can help to address these 'problem areas'. It is the process of removing fat from certain areas of the body while keeping fat stores in desirable areas. Red light therapy appears to have some ability to do this since it has the ability to energise the treated areas cells and encourage that area to have a natural fat-burning mechanism work more efficiently. 

In a study assessing the ability to spot-reduce excess fat stored around the waist, hips, and thighs of participants, the combined loss was an average of 3.51 inches [8]. These people had no change in exercise or diet. When light technology studies are compared, there is some high-level evidence that shows it to be effective in body contouring [9]. As well as targeted treatment, often reductions are found in untreated areas as well. As a bonus, cholesterol and triglyceride level benefits have also been discovered during these studies [9]. 

Skin firmness

What about those who are starting to see results but are worried about saggy skin? Sagging skin – how frustrating!! After working hard to get healthy, exercise and eat well, the excess fat has been replaced by excess skin!! How unfair is that!! Infrared and red light technology can help with that too!! The key to how this light will help with skin firmness with weight loss is due to its ability to stimulate collagen formation. The combination of red and infrared light demonstrated efficient and safe skin rejuvenation with an increase in collagen content within the skin [10]. 

The most important thing to remember is that body size, fat amounts, the roundness of a bum or the jiggliness of thighs and bellies has no impact whatsoever on the worth of a person! It is important to embrace health and well-being over body size. Eat healthy food, move that body, drink lots of water but also practice self-care, address emotional problems and seek out support!! Infrared and red light technology isn't a miracle for weight loss but it can provide that extra edge to get to that desired goal! 


[1] World Obesity Organisation, Prevalence of obesity, Australian Government, 2019, 


[2] Cruzan Morton, C., Obesity and Inflammation: The Relationship Heats Up, Harvard Medical School, April, 2007, 


[3] Yoshimura T.M., Sabino C.P., Ribeiro M.S., Photobiomodulation reduces abdominal adipose tissue inflammatory infiltrate of diet-induced obese and hyperglycemic mice, Journal of Biophotonics, December, 2016, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27635634/

[4] Elnaggar R.K., A Randomized, Controlled Trial on the Effectiveness of Photobiomodulation Therapy and Non-Contact Selective-Field Radiofrequency on Abdominal Adiposity in Adolescents With Obesity, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, November, 2020, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32141112/

[5] Sene-Fiorese M., Duarte F.O., de Aquino Junior A.E., Campos RM, 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 in Surgery and Medicine, October, 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26220050/

[6] Candas Ercetin, Nuri Alper Sahbaz, Sami Acar, Firat Tutal, and Yesim Erbil, Impact of Photobiomodulation on T3/T4 Ratio and Quality of Life in Hashimoto Thyroiditis, Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery, July, 2020, https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/photob.2019.4740

[7] Avci P., Nyame T.T., Gupta G.K/, Sadasivam M., Hamblin M.R., Low-level laser therapy for fat layer reduction: a comprehensive review, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, August 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3769994/

[8] Jackson R.F., Dedo D.D., Roche G.C., Turok D.I., Maloney R.J., Low-level laser therapy as a non-invasive approach for body contouring: a randomized, controlled study, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, December, 2009, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20014253/

[9] Reza Nassab, MBA, MSc, FRCS (Plast), The Evidence Behind Non Invasive Body Contouring Devices, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, March/April, 2015  https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/35/3/279/200894

[10] Wunsch A., Matuschka K., A controlled trial to determine the efficacy of red and near-infrared light treatment in patient satisfaction, reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, skin roughness, and intradermal collagen density increase, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery publication, February, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/

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