Can Neurofeedback Help With Weight Loss And Obesity?
Neurofeedback, a type of brain training, is gaining popularity as an effective treatment for a variety of mental health disorders, chronic pain, and anxiety disorders. But can it also help with weight loss?
The short answer is that neurofeedback may help with weight loss by rewiring the brain and improving brain function.
Neurofeedback training is a non-invasive and drug-free treatment that aims to improve brain function by measuring and analyzing brain waves. It works by providing feedback to the brain based on real-time changes in electrical activity. This feedback helps the brain recognize and adjust its own patterns of activity.
In this article, we’ll explore how neurofeedback can help you lose weight and the benefits of this effective treatment.
Can Neurofeedback Help With Overeating?
Research has shown that neurofeedback can be an effective treatment for individuals struggling with overeating and obesity.
In a pilot study conducted by the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, researchers reported that neurofeedback, “holds a promising potential as a feasible neurofeedback platform for modulation of cortical brain circuits involved in self-control and eating behavior…”
Another study found that people who received neurofeedback training for weight loss experienced significant changes in their brainwave activity, stress response, and mood disorders. Participants in the control group who did not receive neurofeedback therapy, did not show the same changes in these areas.
Additionally, a recent German study of adults with binge-eating disorder showed that neurotherapy, “significantly reduced objective binge-eating episodes, global eating disorder psychopathology, and food craving. Approximately one third of participants achieved abstinence from objective binge-eating episodes after treatment without any differences between treatments. These results were stable at 3-month follow-up.“
All in all, research has indicated that neurofeedback is a valuable tool for weight loss. It can help reduce cravings, food intake, and stress-related eating, as well as improve the quality of life. Plus, it may also bring about positive changes in brainwave activity and mood patterns that contribute to better health overall.
How Do I Rewire My Brain To Not Overeat?
When it comes to weight loss, neurofeedback can help you rewire your brain patterns and become more aware of how you react to food triggers.
During a neurofeedback therapy session, a therapist will work with you to identify which areas of the brain are overactive or underactive when it comes to hunger cues. To do this, the practitioner uses an EEG machine to measure electrical activity in your brain and then provides feedback based on the data. This feedback helps you gain better control of your hunger.
To get a look at your brainwaves, sensors are placed on your scalp to detect electrical signals produced by the brain. The brain waves are then analyzed and displayed on a screen, allowing you and the therapist to see your brain activity in real time.
In addition, visual and audio feedback helps to identify and track patterns that occur in specific areas of the brain as it responds to certain triggers or stimuli.
Once the over- or underactive brain areas are identified, they can be targeted during future sessions to respond differently to the same stimuli. By providing this instant feedback, the patient becomes more mindful of their own responses and is better able to control their reactions to these triggers. In this way, neurofeedback training helps to retrain the brain and modify behavior.
For example, if a patient struggles with overeating, neurofeedback therapy sessions can help them identify the root cause of their unhealthy eating habits and retrain their brain to not overeat. Or, during the session, if certain parts of your brain respond to sweets or fatty foods, neurofeedback can help you learn how to regulate your cravings for these foods by teaching your brain to be aware of them.
With practice and guidance, and understanding why the brain is reacting the way it does, the patient can learn how to recognize cravings before they become overwhelming, and then work on changing their response. In that way, they can incorporate more mindful eating habits into their lifestyle.
One of the benefits of neurofeedback therapy is that it can also help improve focus and increase relaxation when making decisions about food choices. This type of training can improve executive functions and self-control, making it easier for people to resist unhealthy foods and make healthier choices.
Furthermore, neurofeedback also can help to reduce stress and improve sleep quality, both of which are important factors for successful weight loss.
Keep in mind that the effectiveness of neurofeedback therapy for weight loss will vary from person to person. Some people may find it very helpful, while others may not see the same benefits.
How Many Neurofeedback Sessions Does It Take To See Results?
The number of neurofeedback sessions needed to see results can vary depending on the individual and their specific goals. Some people may recognize changes after just a few sessions, while others may need several months of therapy.
A typical course of neurofeedback training consists of 20-40 sessions, with each session lasting 45-60 minutes. If you are looking to make lasting changes in your lifestyle that lead to weight loss and improved health, it is important to commit as much time and energy as possible towards the process.
The good news is that most patients report feeling positive benefits from neurofeedback within a few weeks of starting treatment. The combination of regular practice and self-care can help create healthier habits that will pay off in the long run.
What Is The Success Rate Of Neurofeedback?
The success rate of neurofeedback varies depending on the individual and the study design. In general, however, research shows that neurofeedback leads to long-term improvements in health and can help reduce stress levels.
For example, studies have shown that neurofeedback can be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health disorders, chronic pain, and anxiety disorders.
To illustrate, in one metanalysis of studies done on neurofeedback for depression, older adults who received EEG neurofeedback therapy sessions for clinical depression showed significant improvements in their symptoms compared to those who received prescription medications.
Neurofeedback is also effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Additionally, as we’ve been discussing, it seems to be beneficial for weight loss as well. Researchers believe that neurofeedback can help reduce stress levels and help people become more mindful of their eating choices.
In one study, participants were asked to attend a 12-week program that included both an educational component about nutrition and regular neurofeedback sessions. At the end of the program, it was found that those who received regular neurofeedback had lost more weight compared to those who only followed the educational program.
This suggests that combining education with neurofeedback can be a powerful tool for weight loss. Neurofeedback is also effective in reducing cravings for unhealthy foods and increasing motivation for exercise, which are both key components of healthy weight management.
There is also evidence to suggest that utilizing a combination of diet and exercise, along with neurofeedback, may lead to more successful weight loss outcomes. It’s important to note however that these results are not guaranteed; different people experience different outcomes.
What Is The Downside Of Neurofeedback?
Overall, neurofeedback is a potentially beneficial intervention when used in conjunction with healthful lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity and improved nutrition.
That said, while neurofeedback is generally considered safe and non-invasive, there are some potential downsides to consider:
- Neurofeedback therapy sessions can be expensive and are often not covered by insurance.
- Additionally, some patients may experience side effects such as headaches or fatigue following a session.
- Neurofeedback sessions can be time-consuming and may require multiple visits to see results.
- It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, meaning that different people may have different results with the same treatment.
Clearly, you’ll want to discuss the potential benefits and risks of neurofeedback with your healthcare provider before starting treatment. And, while neurofeedback can be an effective tool for weight loss, you should keep in mind that it should not replace diet and exercise as a long-term strategy.
Neurofeedback is a promising treatment for weight loss and can help those who struggle with overeating and unhealthy eating habits.
While it may not be a quick fix, this form of therapy can provide significant benefits and improvements in brain function, self-control, and cognitive function. By rewiring the brain and modifying behavior, neurofeedback therapy sessions can lead to long-term weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.