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Nurturing Mind & Body: The Best Meditation for Weight Loss

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMarch 4, 2024

Many Americans get discouraged about losing weight due to unfamiliarity with everyday challenges and often return to unhealthy habits. From 2011 to 2012, 34.9% of US adults were obese.

In hopes of promoting a healthier weight, the search for the best meditation for weight loss has become more popular. According to the National Health Interview Survey, the use of meditation among US adults surged from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017, marking a more than threefold increase.
However, the best meditation for weight loss isn't a one-size-fits-all fix but a personalized journey toward inner balance and health. In this article, we will discover how the best meditation for weight loss can be a reliable partner in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • The most effective meditation for losing weight isn't the same for everyone. It's a personalized path toward finding inner harmony and good health.
  • Mindfulness meditation aids in strengthening the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for resisting unhealthy food choices.
  • Positive visualization has been shown to increase strength during workouts, potentially leading to more effective weight loss.
  • Deep breathing techniques stimulate core muscles and activate various body functions, leading to a faster metabolism and weight loss.
  • Pranayama, or yogic breathing, increases metabolic rate, resulting in more effective calorie utilization and reduced fat storage.
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Can Meditation Help Weight Loss?

Studies show that meditation can be helpful for people dealing with overweight or obesity. However, it doesn't directly cause weight loss.

Losing weight isn't just about food choices. It's often harder to change how and why you eat. An expert from Harvard Medical School highlights that a key advantage of mindfulness for weight loss is its ability to help individuals identify emotional eating.

Different forms of meditation offer unique benefits and techniques that can support individuals on their weight loss journeys. Let's take a closer look at these strategies!

What Types of Meditation are Best for Weight Loss?

There are several types of meditation, and each approach carries its own set of techniques and benefits, making it crucial to find the one that resonates most with you.

In this section, we will look at various forms of meditation and how they can support your weight loss journey. Understanding these practices will empower you to select the one that aligns best with your preferences and goals.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness stands out as one of the widely practiced meditation techniques. It comprises two essential components:

  • Attention - This aspect centers on fully engaging with your current experiences. It involves focusing on your breath, thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions.
  • Acceptance - A component that focuses on observing feelings and sensations without passing judgment. Rather than immediately reacting or responding to thoughts and emotions, the goal is to acknowledge them and allow them to pass naturally.

Mindfulness works in two ways. First, it helps strengthen the part of our brain that helps us resist unhealthy foods. This part is called the prefrontal cortex.

Second, mindfulness helps us understand why we eat the way we do and gives us the power to change those reasons. Both of these things are important for breaking old eating habits. Mindfulness meditation benefits fitness by enhancing self-control, self-awareness, and cognitive function.

“To change your body, you must first change your mind.” ~ Toni Sorenson

A review from 2017 looked at 15 studies and found that, on average, people who practiced mindfulness lost about 9.26 lbs in weight. In a separate study with 46 obese adults, it was found that adding mindfulness meditation to a standard weight loss program was more effective. This group lost an additional 6.17 lbs, likely because of better eating habits and self-control.

Now, you might be curious about how to engage in mindfulness meditation. There are three simple yet effective ways to seamlessly integrate this practice into your daily routine.

1. Mindful Eating

Mindful eating starts by tracking your eating habits for a few days, noting when, where, and what you eat. Look for patterns, like stopping at a favorite fast food spot after work or indulging in a heavy meal to reward yourself after a busy week.

Additionally, be aware of the emotions tied to your eating. Ask yourself if you're eating out of boredom, stress, restlessness, or loneliness. Recognize any guilt associated with indulging in less healthy options.

Paying attention to these feelings is crucial. Ignoring or masking them can keep you stuck in unhealthy patterns.

Here are some additional tips for mindful eating:

  • Eliminate distractions and focus solely on your meal.
  • Consume your food slowly to give your brain time to recognize when you've reached satiety.
  • Drink water before meals to stay present and reduce calorie intake.
  • Savor the eating experience, paying attention to taste, smell, and appearance.
  • Tune in to your hunger level and differentiate between physical and emotional eating.
  • Maintain regular meals and small, healthy snacks to keep your metabolism active.
  • Serve smaller portions and listen to your body's hunger cues to prevent overeating.

✅Pro Tip:

Opt for smaller plates and utensils when serving and eating your meals. Experts explained that changing the size of plates may influence how we perceive fullness and how much we eat. This could be linked to the Delbeouf illusion, a visual trick where one object's size is influenced by its relation to another object.

2. Mindful Exercising

Meditation not only gives you focus and concentration, it’s also a good boost of motivation. It allows your body to listen and cater only to what it needs, bringing your body into balance.

During your workout, pay attention to the sensations of your body in motion. For instance, during a mindful walk, be aware of the breeze on your skin, the textures under your feet or hands, and the various scents in your surroundings.

3. Mindfulness Meditation

Meditation enhances your powers of observation, bringing clarity as your thoughts calm. Here’s how to meditate for weight loss:

  • Find a Comfortable Location - Locate a tranquil and cozy spot. Sit in a chair or on the ground, ensuring your head, neck, and spine are upright but relaxed. Wearing loose and comfortable clothing can also enhance your focus.
  • Consider Getting a Timer - Meditation often leads people to lose their sense of time. A timer allows you to immerse yourself fully in practice, free from distractions related to time, and remove any temptations to interrupt and engage in other activities.
  • Concentrate on Breathing - Gain consciousness of your breath, aligning with the experience of air flowing in and out of your body with each inhalation and exhalation. Observe the change in temperature as you inhale compared to when you exhale.
  • Observe Your Thoughts - When thoughts arise, refrain from disregarding or repressing them. Instead, acknowledge them, maintain a state of calm, and rely on your breath as a point of focus.
  • Give Yourself a Break - If you notice your thoughts drifting away into realms of anxiety or hope, simply take note of your mind's direction without passing judgment and gently redirect your focus back to your breathing.
  • Download an App to Guide - If you find it challenging to engage in mindfulness meditation independently, various mobile applications can guide you in your meditation sessions.

💡Did You Know?

Meditation apps are predicted to increase at a yearly average rate of 9.83% from 2023 to 2028. This is anticipated to lead to a market size of around $7.08 billion by 2028.

Aim to meditate regularly for optimal results, ideally daily or every other day. Over time, your mind will become even more settled, making it easier to stick to your weight loss plan.

If you find it difficult to concentrate during a meditation session, the next form of meditation will help you with that problem.

Visualization

Visualization is a meditation practice involving utilizing one's senses and imagination. The purpose is to establish a mental connection with various elements, such as emotions, specific locations, actions, or objectives.

A study that explored the impact of positive visualization on strength training showed that those who practiced positive visualization significantly increased the weight lifted compared to those who did not. The visualization group had a 10-15 lb. increase, while the control group only had a 5 lb. increase.

🎉Fun Fact:

In an experiment from Carnegie Mellon University, 51 volunteers were divided into three groups and asked to imagine eating a certain amount of M&Ms before consuming any.

Surprisingly, those who had imagined eating the most M&Ms ate less from the bowl than the other two groups. The conclusion was that imagining eating the M&Ms led to decreased appetite, similar to the effect of actually consuming them.

Understanding this mind-body connection can be valuable for promoting overall health and wellness.

You might be curious if this meditation can reduce belly fat. The best answer is to try it by following the simple steps below.

  1. Find a comfortable position and imagine yourself in a place that gives you peace.
  2. Use an affirmation to initiate any change you desire, whether shifting a habit, belief, food preference, overcoming an addiction or anything else. Just ensure the words you choose are positive and set in the present moment.
  3. Visualize your preferred physique and immerse yourself in the sensation of being in that body. Feel your skin snug, muscles firm, belly flat, and a sense of contentment.
  4. Slowly shift your focus towards the future. Envision situations that you want to happen. Witness yourself becoming fitter, healthier, calmer, and more confident.
  5. As you imagine yourself in the future, looking exactly how you want to be, think of this future as a force pulling you towards success.
  6. Finally, bring that clear image of your future self back to your body. Picture this future self-becoming you right now. Feel the new you you’ve just created, charging every cell of your body with success.

Having explored visualization meditation's calming effects, let's shift our focus to another powerful practice.

Pranayama

Practicing pranayama involves breathing techniques that work your core muscles and stimulate different body parts. This activity also activates certain areas in your brain, which sets off a coordinated response in your nervous system.

This increased activity affects many critical bodily functions, like how your hormones work and how you burn energy from food. This leads to a faster metabolism, causing you to use more calories and store less fat, ultimately losing weight.

In a study by Hampton University, 60 overweight students were divided into two groups. The first group practiced 40 minutes of deep pranayama breathing four times a week for three months, resulting in a 5.7% decrease in Body Mass Index (BMI) reduction. Meanwhile, the control group's BMI slightly increased. This highlights the positive impact of pranayama on BMI.

The lungs play an important role in weight loss by eliminating carbon dioxide and water, which are byproducts of triglyceride metabolism. So, by increasing your breathing, you may be able to enhance the process that leads to triglyceride metabolism and weight loss.

📕Definition:

Triglycerides are a kind of fat that circulates in your bloodstream. They're stored in fat cells and are released by hormones for energy when you're not eating. Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is healthy. Typically, your doctor will assess high triglyceride levels as part of a cholesterol test, also called a lipid panel or lipid profile.

To get you started on your weight loss journey, here’s a list of some pranayama techniques:

Kapalbhati Pranayama

This breathing technique targets belly fat through active exhalation. This process engages abdominal muscles, aiding in fat removal and toning. Additionally, deep inhalation boosts oxygen flow, enhancing metabolism for effective weight management.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Find a relaxed and comfortable meditation position.

2. Position your hands on your knees, either freely or in the Gyan mudra.

Source: Jagran

2. Close your eyes and take a slow initial breath in.

3. Start exhaling vigorously, ensuring you feel the inward motion of your belly with each exhale.

4. If you're new to this, maintain this breathing pattern for 2-3 minutes. For more experienced practitioners, you can extend the duration.

🔔 Reminder

After your practice, refrain from being in cold water or overly air-conditioned environments.

Anulom Vilom Pranayama

Anulom vilom, known as ‘alternate breathing,’ enhances metabolism and activates endocrine glands. Additionally, it aids in detoxifying the blood, ensuring that oxygenated blood can efficiently reach the muscles storing fat.

To practice alternate breathing for weight loss, follow these steps:

  1. Sit comfortably on your mat with a straight spine.
  2. Place your left hand freely or in a specific gesture on your knee.
  3. Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril.
  4. Then, close your left nostril with your index finger and exhale through your right nostril.

Bhramari Pranayama

Bhramari technique aids in weight loss by boosting the production of serotonin, a hormone that helps alleviate stress. Since stress is a common factor in weight gain, bhramari supports weight loss efforts.

It also helps address respiratory issues, encouraging deep breathing and supporting metabolic functions.

Here’s how to practice bhramari pranayama:

  1. Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position with your spine upright and shoulders relaxed.
  2. Close your ears using your thumbs, and at the same time, close your eyes with your ring and middle fingers.
  3. Begin to inhale and exhale slowly, producing a sound like a bee's. Let the vibrations be felt throughout your body.
  4. After completing 7-8 rounds, gently release your fingers and lower your hands. Feel the soothing hum resonate throughout your entire body.

🩺A Doctor’s Note

Ensure not to insert your thumb into your ear canal and avoid applying pressure on the outer ear cartilage (pinna).

Final Words

Meditation doesn't directly lead to weight loss, but incorporating meditation for weight loss can help us better understand our minds and bodies.

The journey towards a healthier weight is deeply personal, and the best meditation for weight loss varies from person to person. It's wise to try out practices that suit your preferences and goals.

Mindfulness meditation helps with self-control, while visualization aids mental conditioning and promotes a positive body image. Pranayama techniques offer a holistic approach, activating core muscles and metabolism and aiding detoxification.

Integrating one of these practices into our daily routines can enhance our mental and physical well-being. The key to lasting change lies within us, and choosing the best meditation for weight loss can jumpstart this positive journey.

FAQs on Best Meditation for Weight Loss

How often should I meditate for weight loss?

Consistency is key. Aim to meditate daily for at least 10-20 minutes. This regular practice will help establish a routine and allow you to reap the full benefits over time.

Can meditation cure obesity?

No. Meditation alone cannot cure obesity. However, meditation can help you in your weight loss journey.

Can meditation help with anxiety and depression?

Yes. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore suggested that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety and depression.

Do I need to be checked by a doctor before I practice meditation?

Yes. Even though meditation is usually safe. It is best to consult with your doctor before you start.

Can meditation for weight loss replace physical exercise?

Meditation offers numerous benefits. However, even the best weight-loss meditation is not a substitute for regular physical activity. Combining meditation with a balanced diet and regular exercise regimen is the most effective approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Is there a specific time of day considered the best for meditation for weight loss?

While there's no definitive "best" time, many find morning meditation beneficial for setting a positive tone for the day. However, consistency matters more than the specific time.

Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Virtual weight loss solution
A personalized GLP-1 medication program delivered to you via our partner Korb Health
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • Free consultation; program starts at $269/mo
  • Checkmark Inside Circle.Customized online program and wellness coaching
  • Prescription medications and supplies shipped to your door
Learn more