Scientists and thinkers have studied the unconscious for hundreds of years – the part of the brain where things like memories and motivation occur.
You may have heard of advertisers who use subliminal messages to influence people’s thoughts and behavior. You may even wonder if people can use subliminal messages or other phenomena of the mind like hypnosis for weight loss.
This article explains how people or therapies can use subliminal messages for weight loss and whether these methods have a scientific background.
Subliminal messages are stimuli such as sounds or images that are too weak or too fast for most people to be consciously perceived.
Although they are below the threshold of human consciousness, they can still stimulate the brain and influence behavior (1, 2, 3).
In other words, the human brain could perceive subliminal messages and respond to them without even realizing them. For this reason, subliminal messages have often been used as an easy way to influence people’s thoughts and encourage them to change their behavior.
People have tried using subliminal messages to change many behaviors, including quitting smoking, exercising more often, increasing self-esteem, and even losing weight.
Subliminal Messages and Weight Loss
Two main pathways in the brain regulate food and drink intake in humans (4, 5).
The homeostatic path encourages you to eat when your body does not have the energy it needs to perform its most basic functions.
On the other hand, the hedonic path can override the homeostatic path and cause hunger, even if your body has sufficient energy.
Although both depend on neural pathways in your brain, the hedonic path is specifically triggered by things like stress, thoughts, emotions, and things you perceive like advertisements.
In short, it seems that unconscious cues can influence different eating behaviors (6, 7, 8, 9).
Hence, some people wonder if they can use subliminal messages to manipulate their brain pathways and promote weight loss.
Subliminal messages are visual and acoustic cues that are given at levels below the threshold of human perception. Although people cannot consciously see or hear these messages, they can still affect the brain pathways.
Proponents of subliminal news weight loss programs make many claims about them. Some say these programs help people achieve their weight loss goals by reprogramming the subconscious mind to replace negative beliefs with positive beliefs.
These programs come in many forms and forms. You can find audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, MP3s, digital apps, YouTube videos and more that promise promising weight loss with the help of subliminal messages.
Some subliminal weight loss programs also use hypnosis, positive affirmations, and guided meditations, or similar practices, to help focus the mind.
Many use background music or binaural beats to relax the mind and prepare it for the subliminal messages.
Binaural beats are an auditory illusion in which two tones, one in each ear, cause the brain to perceive a beat. Some people use them for meditation.
How to use them
The best way to use subliminal weight loss messages depends on which program you choose. Most programs have specific instructions.
Many recommend listening to audio while lying down with your eyes closed while others direct you to listen while you work on other activities. Some programs specifically instruct users to listen to the audio messages just before bed or while they sleep.
If you’d like to try using subliminal weight loss messages while listening to music, there are some programs that put messages under Music.
Music-based subliminal weight loss programs use instrumental music, binaural tones, or nature sounds to accompany the subliminal weight loss messages.
Many types of subliminal weight loss programs are available. Depending on your preferences, you can find visual or acoustic programs to use while sleeping, listening to music, or working on other activities.
Subliminal weight loss messages can sound like an easy way to lose weight. However, there is little scientific evidence of its effectiveness as a weight loss tool.
An analysis of studies from 2018 looked at how weight control cues affect food intake. It was found that the use of subliminal cues did not affect food intake (10).
Scientists have done very few rigorous studies on the use of subliminal messages for weight loss. Many of the studies were small and most did not measure weight loss directly.
A much older study from 1992 compared weight loss rates in three groups of women classified as overweight. One group heard subliminal weight loss messages, one group heard a placebo, and one group heard no messages (11).
After 5 weeks, all three groups of women had lost a similar amount of weight. The women who heard the subliminal messages did not lose weight much differently than the other groups (11).
The researchers concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence that listening to subliminal messages could help people lose more weight than they would without the messages (11).
However, they suggested that listening to subliminal messages might make people more aware of their weight (11).
Possible benefits of subliminal messages
There is not enough research on the subject to draw many conclusions about the specific benefits of subliminal weight loss messages.
Still, there is evidence that subliminal messages may indirectly aid, or at least influence, weight loss goals and some of the behaviors that often accompany them.
In a recent experiment, the results of the diet were assessed in 29 volunteers exposed to visual subliminal messages. The scientists concluded that processing subliminal food messages can affect diet performance (12).
In 2014, a small study of 13 people found that those who were exposed to positive visual subliminal messages prior to exercise participated in a cycling routine longer than those exposed to negative visual aspects (13).
However, a 2009 study concluded that subliminal messages of words related to exercise resulted in higher food intake immediately after viewing the messages (14).
An older study exposed people to visual subliminal messages that included nutrition-related keywords. It found that people on a diet paid less attention to foods that triggered the hedonic brain pathway, such as: B. those with high sugar and fat content (15).
In 2012, a study concluded that consciously and unconsciously looking at keywords related to food and nutrition can have a significant impact on the future behavior of some people who are on a diet (16).
The effectiveness can vary
Some research suggests that the effectiveness of subliminal messages can depend on many other factors, such as:
- the medium used – audio or video (17)
- a person’s individual goals (18, 19)
- past cultural experiences (20)
- Hunger and Abundance (21)
- Personality Traits (22)
- Motivation (22)
- the ability to self-regulate (23)
Therefore, subliminal weight loss programs may not work the same for everyone.
While research shows that there are relationships between subliminal messages and health-related thoughts and behaviors in certain people, it is too early to say how effective subliminal messages are specifically for weight loss.
To get the most out of a subliminal weight loss program, choose a program that appears believable.
Subliminal weight loss programs are not regulated, and there is no guarantee that the company has actually layered subliminal messages in the promised audio or video content.
Read all of the program’s instructions carefully.
Many programs contain disclaimers that indicate that a person will notice the greatest weight loss benefits from exercising and eating healthy, in addition to following the subliminal messaging program.
To get the most out of a program, you may also want to take steps to improve your diet and physical fitness habits.
Before committing to any subliminal weight loss messaging program, there are several that you should thoroughly research. The effects of subliminal messaging can vary greatly depending on your beliefs and needs. So choose one that you think will suit you well.
Some advocates of subliminal messaging have long promoted it as a safe, easy, and effective way to lose weight.
Some early research suggests that subliminal messages can influence thoughts and behaviors around food and nutrition. However, other research has found that subliminal messages containing weight loss cues have no effect.
The research is mixed and there isn’t nearly enough research on the subject.
Hence, the jury is still undecided as to whether subliminal messages can help you lose weight. It may have benefits for some people, but there are no guarantees.