Red Light Therapy for Weight Loss and Cellulite Reduction at HomeLast Updated:
Many people begin red light therapy to treat skin or other health conditions and realize additional unexpected health benefits, including assistance with weight loss and cellulite reduction.
Red light therapy can stimulate your metabolism, burn fat, and reduce cellulite. It can also decrease your appetite and help you reach your peak physical fitness and performance levels. Better physical fitness and performance accelerate the effects of a healthy diet and exercise program.
Red light therapy can help you achieve your physical appearance, weight loss, and fitness goals.
Table of Contents
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Red light therapy signals bodily change at the cellular level.
Red wavelengths are administered to your skin, penetrating the energy-production centers of your cells (called mitochondria). The mitochondria stimulate your body to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is your body’s primary “currency” for biochemical energy transfer. In simpler terms, your cells are prompted to generate more energy.
Increased energy within your cells triggers the production of fibroblasts, specific connective tissue cells which create collagen and elastin (proteins that keep your body tissue healthy and supple, and your skin firm and elastic). Fibroblasts are critical to bodily change and the healing process.
Red light therapy elevates oxygen flow to cells, hydration, circulation, and the ability of cells to avoid inflammation. These factors are closely linked to adipocytes (fat cells) and your body’s natural potential to destroy them.
How Does Red Light Therapy Help With Weight Loss?
The increased cellular energy and performance stimulated by red light therapy improve the efficiency of your body’s natural fat-burning functionality. Your cellular metabolic rate is accelerated, so you burn more calories and lose more fat.
Red light reduces inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation is linked to obesity, so its reduction prevents the growth of further fat cells.
Thyroid function is closely related to body weight. The thyroid is a gland that produces certain hormones in your body, many of which are linked to metabolism and weight gain or loss. Red light therapy assists with proper thyroid regulation.
Red light therapy promotes a healthy sleep pattern, which is essential for maintaining bodily energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, or even if you sleep too much, it is nearly impossible for your body to sustain a healthy exercise and fitness regime.
Red light therapy also serves to suppress your appetite, making it easier to manage food cravings and eat healthily.
These benefits of red light therapy work together to help you burn fat and lose weight.
What Does Red Light Do to Fat Cells?
Red light causes pores to form within fat cells, effectively killing them. In response to red light, lipids (fatty acid compounds) are expelled and dispersed from fat cells. Red light also stimulates adipocyte apoptosis, which is the natural death of fat cells.
Because your cells are more active, glucose oxidation is increased. Glucose is another name for blood sugar. Glucose is burnt more efficiently via red light therapy, ridding your body of waste products more quickly.
Improved circulation also helps your cells dispose of unneeded waste more expediently.
Does Red Light Melt Fat?
Red light therapy does indeed dissolve fat cells, but it works better in conjunction with proper diet and exercise than completely on its own. If you consume more calories than you burn (even while undergoing red light therapy), you will still gain weight (or stay the same, if caloric intake equals calories burned).
Red light therapy will help you burn more calories and lose weight faster, but you still need to be mindful of the calories you ingest, and you must exercise and stay active to burn calories on your own.
The best weight loss plan involves these factors working concurrently, helping you lose weight as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you have reached a virtual plateau with your weight loss and fat-burning efforts, red light therapy can provide just the boost your diet and exercise regime needs. Treatment will accentuate your efforts and bring you to the next level you’re striving for.
What are the Different Types of Red Light, and Which is Most Effective for Burning Fat?
Red LED Light
Red light refers to short red LED wavelengths, typically 630 to 700 nanometers (nm) long. A nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter.
Visible to the human eye, short red light penetrates the body to a depth of about eight to 10 millimeters, reaching the mitochondria of skin cells. Red light is on the “long end” of the visible spectrum of light. It does not create heat, although you might experience a mild warm sensation on your skin during therapy.
Red light is best suited for treating skin conditions, inflammation, and accelerating wound healing. There are no adverse side effects to short red light, and it cannot burn your skin or damage any underlying body tissues.
Infrared light is invisible to the human eye. It is higher on the spectrum than red light, and it feels hot on your skin (similar to sunlight). It is classified as light energy, but you can only feel it and cannot see it. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as infrared heat.
Since the light spectrum is continuous, there is no fixed metric starting point for infrared light. No exact wavelength determines where it begins, but it is widely believed to be around 900nm.
As wavelength increases, so does the depth to which the light penetrates your body. Infrared light can penetrate up to 2.5 centimeters beneath your skin. This is around three times the depth to which short red light wavelengths can penetrate.
Unlike short red LED light, infrared light is thermal energy. It has the capability of burning your skin and causing eye or other bodily tissue damage. It must be administered diligently. Infrared light is used mainly to treat serious conditions such as traumatic brain injury, severe pain, Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, and to enhance the effects of chemotherapy.
Near-Infrared light represents the “gray area” between short red and infrared light. The spectrum of near-infrared light is generally understood to be about 700 – 900nm. Again, the specific beginning and ending points on the continuous light spectrum are not written in stone.
The visibility of near-infrared light varies. It borders on the high end of the red light range and the low end of the infrared light range; therefore, it is virtually invisible at the bottom of its range and potentially visible at the top of its range.
Near-infrared light penetrates more deeply into your body than red light, but less deeply than infrared light. It is safer than infrared light because although it borders on the thermal range, its potential to burn your skin or cause deep tissue damage is much lower. While red light therapy has no adverse side effects and infrared has potentially serious ones, near-infrared falls somewhere in between.
As long as near-infrared light is administered safely and carefully, great benefits can be realized with minimal risk of adverse effects.
Muscle healing, neurological recovery, and infection treatment represent common uses of near-infrared light therapy.
What is the Most Effective Red Light Wavelength for Burning Fat?
All red light wavelengths can have some effect on fat-burning but to different extents.
Because short red LED wavelengths only penetrate the skin to a maximum of 10 millimeters, they will only affect fat cells that reside closely beneath the skin. This is actually where the greatest content of body fat is stored, so red light can help burn fat to a great capacity.
To more significantly improve body composition, though, it is necessary to penetrate to a deeper cellular level. The ratio of muscle to fat and overall metabolism can only be sparked if cells further beneath the skin’s surface are activated to change.
Infrared light can be effective for cellulite reduction and fat-burning, but its level of penetration is, in most cases, more than necessary to achieve the desired results.
Near-infrared light is a strong form of therapy for burning fat. It is a powerful tool for promoting deep tissue healing and reducing inflammation. It reaches fat cells that reside deeper than the cellulite layer, thereby increasing the total fat-burn.
The red wavelengths that deliver optimal fat-burning are 630nm and 660nm. Anywhere in the 630 – 700nm range is effective, but these specific wavelengths are especially effective in a combined treatment plan with near-infrared light.
810, 830, and 850nm are the optimal near-infrared wavelengths to use in a broad-based therapy plan including both red and near-infrared light.
Thus, the optimal fat-burning therapy is a combination of short red light and near-infrared light, using 630, 660, 810, 830, and 850nm wavelengths in synergy. Each individual will have a unique ideal formula that provides the best results.
What About Blue Light for Weight Loss?
Blue light is much lower on the spectrum of visible light than red. Its wavelengths are only approximately 380 – 500nm. Since the effectiveness of light therapy depends upon how deeply the wavelengths can penetrate the body, blue light will have only a minimal effect on burning fat (if any).
Blue light waves may have a minor effect on cellulite since it is directly beneath the skin, but red light (even short red wavelengths) will always be more effective.
Can Red Light Burn Stubborn Belly Fat?
Yes. A combination of red light and near-infrared light creates a successful recipe for burning belly fat. Other stubborn body fat that is difficult to target through diet and exercise alone is also alleviated. This includes your thighs, buttocks, hips, upper arms, and any other trouble spots.
Red light can address any problem areas that are specific to your needs.
How Does Red Light Therapy Combat Cellulite?
What is Cellulite?
Cellulite is subcutaneous fat, meaning fat that is located immediately beneath your skin. It frequently has a lumpy, dimpled texture that resembles cottage cheese. It is a persistent type of fat that is very difficult to shed through diet and exercise alone. Cellulite is the result of an accumulation of unhealthy collagen, elastin, and excess fat in the layers of your skin.
The most common bodily locations for cellulite are the thighs, abdomen, and buttocks; however, cellulite can be found almost anywhere on the body, including breasts, upper arms, and even the face and neck.
Cellulite is more common in women than in men. It is most apparent in people who are already overweight, but it can occur in anyone.
Cellulite is related to weight, fitness, age, hormone levels, and heredity. Because cellulite has so many potential origins, diet and exercise alone do not profoundly counteract it. It is a stubborn and frustrating condition for many.
What Does Red Light Therapy Do to Cellulite?
Because red light therapy boosts fibroblast growth, it replenishes healthy collagen and elastin levels. This builds wholesome connective tissue and creates firmer, more elastic skin, thus reducing the appearance of cellulite.
Poor circulation is also a leading contributing factor of cellulite. Red light therapy increases the quality of circulation, creates stronger connective tissue, fighting cellulite on yet another level.
Can Red Light Elevate Your Fitness Ability and Performance?
Yes, red light therapy helps your body build muscle and accelerates muscle recovery after a workout.
Because cellular energy is elevated, all bodily functions are performed more efficiently. This includes exercise! Increased cell oxygenation and blood flow lead to better muscle performance and heightened endurance.
The better your workouts, the more productive they are, and the closer you will be to your ultimate weight loss and bodily appearance goals.
Why is Red Light Therapy More Effective Than Other Supplemental Methods of Fat-Burning and Cellulite Reduction?
A healthy, balanced diet combined with exercise is the primary way to lose weight. Supplemental treatments other than red light therapy include surgical options such as gastric bypass, liposuction, injectable skin fillers, and topical skin-firming creams designed to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Surgery is highly invasive, and only appropriate for severe instances of morbid obesity. Liposuction is a valid option for cellulite and fat removal, but it is also highly invasive, expensive, and it does nothing to assist with healthy weight loss.
Skin filler injections require a long-term commitment and unlimited time and financial investment. You cannot administer this treatment at home, so you must return to a medical facility for unlimited, repeated appointments. The effects are very limited both in appearance and duration. The return on your investment of time and money is extremely limited.
Topical treatments can achieve only minimal success in cellulite reduction. They do not penetrate the body to any significant level and they do not activate change in cellular activity.
Red light therapy is the only treatment that triggers change at the cellular level and significantly activates your body’s natural, internal healing functionality. Best of all, it is easily self-administered at home and you need only purchase your devices once.
How Long Will the Effects of Red Light Therapy Last On Cellulite and Weight Loss?
No external procedure or treatment will keep cellulite at bay and unwanted pounds off forever. The only way to experience lasting results is to continue with healthy eating habits and a regular exercise program. Continuing red light therapy along with a good diet and fitness program will help you maintain weight loss and stave off cellulite.
What Devices Are Available for At-Home Red Light Therapy?
Depending upon which body areas you want to target, various devices might be appropriate.
- Beds — If you have cellulite in several areas and are trying to lose weight overall, a bed is a good full-body option for overall effect. Beds are, however, significantly more costly than light panels and other devices.
- Light Panels — Light panels are available in a range of sizes, including full-body panels that you stand in front of. Smaller panels are available for more targeted use if you are honing in on one or more specific problem areas.
- Hand-Held Devices and Wands — Since cellulite and weight loss are not usually concentrated in very small areas, panels are typically a better option. Wands are more suited to skin conditions or wounds that are in a smaller, centralized location on your body.
Red light therapy devices come in a range of wavelength options, some with a combination of various wavelengths including red and near-infrared. These panels allow for flexibility in treatment and provide the optimal therapy for weight loss and cellulite reduction.
Does Scientific Research Prove the Effectiveness of Red Light Therapy on Weight Loss and Cellulite?
Yes. Several clinical studies confirm that red light therapy boosts metabolism, burns fat, and reduces cellulite.
- Body Contouring Using 635-nm Low-Level Laser Therapy (opens in a new tab)
- LLLT for Fat Layer Reduction (opens in a new tab)
- Efficacy of LLLT for Body Contouring and Spot Fat Reduction (opens in a new tab)
- Infrared LED Illumination Applied During Treadmill Training (opens in a new tab)
- Low-Level Laser Therapy for Body Contouring (opens in a new tab)
- Low-Level Laser Therapy at 635nm for the Waist, Hips, and Thighs (opens in a new tab)
- Phototherapy Use in Reducing Body Fat Related to Obesity in Women (opens in a new tab)
You can achieve great success contouring your body, burning fat, and losing weight through red light therapy. This treatment is a revolutionary breakthrough for anyone trying to shed excess pounds or reduce the appearance of cellulite. It is especially beneficial for those who have achieved minimal success or plateaued with diet and exercise alone.
Red light therapy on its own will not burn fat or reduce cellulite as much as a healthy weight loss program paired with red light therapy. Combining these elements will propel you toward your fitness, weight loss, and bodily appearance goals.