Alan Answers – What Is Hypnosis for Weight Loss — And Does It Work?

Someone shared this article (Read Full Article Here) on hypnosis and weight loss with me, and I want to share some thoughts on what author Samantha Lefave had to say.

When it comes to losing weight, you already know about the usual go-to professionals: doctors, nutritionists and dietitians, personal trainers, even mental health coaches. But there may be one you haven’t quite thought of yet: a hypnotist.

It turns out using hypnosis is another road people are venturing down in the name of weight loss. And typically, it’s traveled after all the other last-ditch efforts (I see you, juice cleanses and fad diets) are tried and failed, says Greg Gurniak, a certified clinical and medical hypnotist practicing in Ontario.

This author may be behind the times. Hypnosis as a tool for losing weight has been around for a long time. Maybe longer than most “fad” diets. I was trained as a hypnotherapist in 2000, and hypnosis for weight loss was established even then. I have been working with people who want to lose weight for at least 20 years now. 

But for many people, it may be a new concept. Welcome aboard!

But it’s not about someone else controlling your mind and making you do funny things while you’re unconscious. “Mind control and losing control—aka doing something against your will—are the biggest misconceptions about hypnosis,” says Kimberly Friedmutter, hypnotherapist and author of Subsconscious Power: Use Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You’ve Always Wanted. “Because of how the entertainment industry portrays hypnotists, people are relieved to see I’m not wearing a black robe and swinging a watch from a chain.”

Yes, it seems to me as well that most of the time when hypnosis is mentioned or used in films, it is being used by the villain to get his(her) way. Hopefully, most people don’t take what they see at the movies (streaming) as real. You may also watch airplanes dropping bombs on cities, but that doesn’t stop you from flying, or living in cities. Does it?

We’ve all seen car chase in almost every movie. And yet, we don’t expect to see cars chasing each other when we are out driving.

These are movies.  These are make believe. Even movies “based on a true story” are pretty much make believe.

You’re also not unconscious when you experience hypnosis—it’s more like a deep state of relaxation, Friedmutter explains. “It’s simply the natural, floaty feeling you get before you drift off to sleep, or that dreamy sensation you feel as you wake up in the morning, before you’re fully aware of where you are and what is surrounding you.”

Yes, it is natural. I agree with that. The feeling itself isn’t hypnosis, but you can certainly expect to have a relaxing experience.

Being in that state makes you more susceptible to change, and that’s why hypnosis for weight loss may be effective.

I’m not sure about the accuracy of this sentence. I might be splitting hairs here, but the state doesn’t make you more susceptible to change. For me, it is the inner focus that makes it easier for you to make the changes you’d like to make. It is a state – not of susceptibility – but of power.

“It’s different from other methods because hypnosis addresses the cause and other contributing factors directly at the subconscious level in the person’s mind, where their memories, habits, fears, food associations, negative self-talk, and self-esteem germinate,” says Capri Cruz, Ph.D., psychotherapist and hypnotherapist and author of Maximize Your Super Powers“No other weight loss method addresses the core issues at the root like hypnosis does.”

I hesitate to talk about “causes.” If I say, “This is what is causing your weight problem,” you can always ask, “What causes that?” I love the quote I once read that goes something like: If you want to prepare an apple pie from scratch, you must first learn how to create the universe.

For over 100 years, maybe since Freud, people who work with the mind have this idea that if you find what’s causing you psychological problem, that the problem magically disappears. This has not been my experience when working with clients.

People in every profession talk about causes. Medical doctors will talk about body chemistry, metabolism, calories and such. Cognitive therapists might talk about the choices we make. Spiritual advisors or clergy will talk about your relationship with God. Energy workers talk about balancing energy. 

I don’t have answers about causes, since I’m still unsure about how the universe began, and why. So I don’t talk much about the cause of the problem. I focus instead on a person’s inner conflict. Whatever thoughts, beliefs, experiences, energies, or emotions have contributed to your struggle, there is a part of you who tells you not to eat the “bad” stuff. And there is a part of you that tells you to keep eating, no matter what!

My process isn’t about finding out how that conflict started. My process focuses on ending the conflict. Yes, my approach is different. Not necessarily because I use hypnosis. And not because I find the root causes. My approach is different because I believe that it is possible to end the inner conflict where both “sides” get to enjoy the benefits of the peace. In other words, we create a win-win situation. There is no loser in this war. 

Maybe it is impossible to end a war with no loser in the outside world. But in the inside world (the one we reach using the power of hypnosis), it is very possible. With both sides working together as winners, you become the big winner by achieving your weight-loss goals more quickly, more easily, and more effectively.

But does hypnosis for weight loss work?

There isn’t a ton of recent, randomized research available on the subject, but what is out there suggests that the method could be plausible. Early studies from the 90s found that people who used hypnosis lost more than twice as much weight as those who dieted without cognitive therapy. A 2014 study worked with 60 obese women, and found that those who practiced hypnobehavioral therapy lost weight and improved their eating habits and body image. And a small 2017 study worked with eight obese adults and three children, all of whom successfully lost weight, with one even avoiding surgery due to the treatment benefits, but of course none of this is conclusive.

“The unfortunate factor is that hypnosis is not readily covered by medical insurance, so there isn’t the same push for hypnosis studies as there is for pharmaceutical ones,” Dr. Cruz says. But with the seemingly ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs, long lists of possible side effects, and the push for more natural alternatives, Cruz is hopeful hypnosis will soon receive more attention and research as a plausible weight loss approach.

Does hypnosis work? is a trick question. Nothing works every time. There are two considerations to address before considering this question. The first is, what are the parameters of success? The second is, what about the research?


What constitutes success? Is it how much weight is lost, or how long it stays off, or is it how healthy a person is, or how they perceive their weight?

More trick questions. 

When I ask clients if they have lost weight before, most of them tell me that they’ve lost weight several times before, and then gained it back again. If you’ve ever “tried” to lose weight, you were probably successful, and maybe even successful many times! Did the diets work? Yes! Then why are you sitting in a hypnotist’s office, trying something different? Because, maybe they didn’t work. Or maybe they didn’t work for as long as you’d like. Or maybe because they worked, and they didn’t. 

That means when someone asks you, “Did your diet work?” you can answer them either way, and you will be correct. Trick question.

Your perception matters a lot when evaluating diets and such. When I talk to people who want to quit smoking, I ask them if they’ve tried hypnosis before. One person said, “Yes, and it worked great! I didn’t smoke for three whole days!” Another person told me, “It didn’t work at all, because three years later, when I was going through a divorce, I started smoking again!”

When you consider whether or not hypnosis works for weight loss, it isn’t a yes or no question. Rather, it is a yes AND no question. Does hypnosis work for weight loss? Yes and No. Can hypnosis work for weight loss? Yes!


If you have a preconceived idea about whether or not hypnosis works for weight loss, you can find the research to back you up. That is because hypnosis research is like a lot of other research. 1. We cannot account for all the variables. 2. Nothing works all the time. 

Have you ever taken Advil for a headache? I have taken it for headaches, tooth pain, gout pain, and a few other pains. After about 40 years of testing this product, I can conclusively announce: Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t! Why is that? The only answer I can come up with is that nothing works every time. That’s because each time I take Advil, the situation is different. The pain is different; I am different, and there are things that are different that I am unaware of. There are variables that change experience that we are unaware of. That is why working with the “Subconscious” is so powerful. It allows us to work with one or two extra variables in any situation.

What does this mean when considering hypnosis? 

Each hypnotist is different. Each client is different. Each situation is different. Each experience of hypnosis is different. And we don’t have the ability (or the time!) to account for all the variables.  

Does hypnosis work for weight loss? Sometimes. Can it work for you? Yes. Will it work for you? There is no reliable way to predict that. So how do you find out if hypnosis will work for you? Do it!

Who should try hypnosis for weight loss?

The ideal candidate is, honestly, anyone who has trouble sticking to a healthy diet and exercise program because they can’t seem to shake their negative habits, Gurniak says. Getting stuck in harmful habits—like eating the entire bag of potato chips instead of stopping when you’re full—is a sign of a subconscious problem, he says.

Hypnosis is a great way to get unstuck. How this happens is different for everyone. A lot depends on the approach of the hypnotist, and how you respond to that approach. And, as we’ve learned, there are those pesky variables!

Your subconscious is where your emotions, habits and addictions are located, Friedmutter says. And because hypnotherapy addresses the subconscious—instead of just the conscious—it may be more effective. In fact, a study analysis from 1970 found hypnosis to have a 93 percent success rate, with fewer sessions needed than both psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. “This led researchers to believe that, for changing habits, thought patterns, and behavior, hypnosis was the most effective method,” Friedmutter says.

Hypnotherapy doesn’t have to be used on its own, either. Gurniak says hypnosis can also be used as a compliment to other weight loss programs designed by professionals to treat various health conditions, be it diabetes, obesity, arthritis, or cardiovascular disease.

The first paragraph above is about research, and we’ve already talked about that. (The old joke is: It has been proven that 72.8932 percent of statistics are wrong!)

The next paragraph is true. There is no need to use hypnosis alone. I never tell a weight loss client what to eat, or what is “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Most of them have already been successful at losing weight. They already know how to do it. What they lack is that inner power that will keep them eating effectively for the long haul. I believe that power is released when the inner conflict is resolved. Then the whole process of losing weight, and maintaining a desired weight simply becomes easier. 

What can I expect during a treatment?

Sessions can vary in length and methodology depending on the practitioner. Dr. Cruz, for example, says her sessions typically last between 45 and 60 minutes, whereas Friedmutter sees weight loss patients for three to four hours. But in general, you can expect to lay down, relax with your eyes closed, and let the hypnotherapist guide you through specific techniques and suggestions that can help you reach your goals.

Another trick question! The only person who can answer this for you is your hypnotist. Each hypnotist will take a different approach. Each client is different. Each situation is different. Each session is different. For instance: My clients are usually in a session for about 60-90 minutes. Different. They don’t lie down. Different. 

“The idea is to train the mind to move toward what is healthy and away from what is unhealthy,” Friedmutter says. “Through client history, I am able to determine subconscious hitches that sent the client off their original blueprint of [health]. Just like we learn to abuse our bodies with food, we can learn to honor them.”

To me, the mind is only a part of the situation of weighing more than you’d like. There is also the body, the heart (emotions), and spirit. Yes, some people put emotions under the heading of “mind,” but from my experience, thoughts (mind) and emotions (heart) are two different things. They act differently, they function differently, and it is easier to change them when approached differently.

And no, you won’t be clucking like a chicken or confessing any deep, dark secrets. “You cannot be stuck in hypnosis or made to say or do something against your will,” Gurniak says. “If it goes against your personal values or beliefs, you simply will not act on the information being given during trance.”

When someone asks me if I will make them cluck like a chicken I say to them, “I could, but it costs extra.” And so far no one has been willing to pay extra! Stage hypnosis is different from weight loss hypnosis. Different goals, different activities, and a totally different situation. 

Just because people might look the same with their eyes closed on stage or in a session, it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily in the same state of consciousness.  They may not even be in the same state of hypnosis! Just as there are different states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming, I believe that the state of hypnosis is not one thing. Hypnosis may describe a continuum of mental states that are similar, but differ depending on the situation.

Instead, it’s likely that you’ll experience a deep relaxation, while still being aware of what’s being said, Gurniak adds. “Someone in a hypnotic trance would describe it as in between being wide awake and asleep,” he says. “They are fully in control and able to stop the process at any time, because you can only be hypnotized if you choose to. We work as a team to achieve the person’s goal.”

While some hypnotists (like on stage) may enjoy the illusion of control over others, the goal of the weight loss hypnotist is to help you find and use your power. 

Of course, the number of sessions needed is totally dependent on your personal response to hypnosis. Some could see results in as few as one to three, Dr. Cruz says, while others could need anywhere from eight to 15 sessions. And then again, it may not be effective for everyone.

I cannot agree with the first statement in this last paragraph, because we have learned that not all sessions are the same. (How can you compare a 45 minute session and a 4 hour session?) 

And we’ve learned that there are more variables than just the response of the client. The hypnotist, the approach, the problems, the goals, the general health of the client, etc. And these are just a few. You may go to one hypnotist, do 27 sessions, and find no results. You may go to another hypnotist, and find that after just the first session that your life is different. Of course you cannot walk out of one session 15 pounds thinner, but you may find that your emotional relationship with food has changed. That makes losing weight less of a struggle and more of an enjoyable adventure.

The only thing I’ll recommend for (almost) everyone, no matter which hypnotist you see, is to do at least 2 sessions. There are things that happen in a session that you may not notice. There are changes that happen that can be so powerful that you don’t even realize your life is different if someone else doesn’t have the chance to point it out to you. A follow up to a session is always valuable.

The very last sentence in this article bears looking at by itself. 

And then again, it may not be effective for everyone.

This is not a trick question, but a trick statement. And I believe it is there to trick you. 

This statement is almost meaningless, because NOTHING is effective for everyone. So the author is telling us nothing that we don’t already know. The author is telling us that hypnosis is the same as any other activity. Sometimes you will get results, and sometimes you won’t. 

A trip to the hypnotist is the same as a trip to the medicine cabinet, a trip to the doctor, a trip to your auto mechanic, even a trip to the supermarket! Did you ever go to the market for something specific, and they were out? That trip was not effective! Does that mean you won’t go back? Of course not. It just means on that day, for you, with the goal you had in mind, this particular supermarket could not help you. If your car doesn’t start immediately, do you junk it? Of course not!

Nothing is effective for everyone all the time.

So the author isn’t telling us anything. Or maybe she is. This is the message that I get from the last sentence, especially since she put it as the last sentence. The “last word” if you will. It may not be what she meant, but it is the message that I received:

“I, personally don’t believe that hypnosis works. I am doing this article, and talking to these people not because I want to learn about hypnosis, but because my boss assigned it to me. I don’t want to look too weird to my regular readers, or to some future boss, so I’ll leave them with the impression that hypnosis is marginal at best. That’ll save my credibility as a journalist.”

So I will leave you with a last message of my own. Hypnosis is like anything else. Sometimes it works better than at other times. It isn’t a fringe modality that New Age weirdos do. It is mainstream. It has been around for thousands of years. It is even endorsed by the American Medical Association. And, the most important thing is that, if you use hypnosis:

You have a chance to change your life, and to live your dreams.