Inspiration

The Power of Tapping for Weight Loss: A Research Review

Written by: Nick Ortner

Did you know that among the many benefits of Tapping is weight loss?

We at The Tapping Solution believe Tapping is an extremely powerful tool for creating lasting change. And that includes aiding in weight loss efforts! It can help us release stress, process stuck emotions, create healthy habits, find motivation to stick with change, establish loving relationships with our bodies, and so much more.

And the great news is that Tapping for weight loss isn’t just some hearsay thing. There’s a ton of research to back this up!

I know I’ve shared bits and pieces and gone into a few of the scientific studies before, but today I wanted to gather all of the research on the subject into one place, so you can see just how much amazing evidence there is to support Tapping as a weight loss tool.

Here’s what the science has to say about Tapping for weight loss

There have been several scientific studies conducted on Tapping for weight loss, and more are being conducted year after year. So far, the results have been very encouraging.

When people go through EFT Tapping intervention programs for weight loss (often delivered over the course of several weeks), the data shows that they improve significantly. Specific factors that show improvements after Tapping include:

  • Weight
  • Food cravings
  • “Power over food”
  • Restraint from food cravings
  • Emotional eating
  • Uncontrolled eating [1-9]

After learning Tapping, people lose weight, they no longer have as intense of food cravings, they show more restraint around food, and they gain freedom from emotional eating. Studies have confirmed time and time again that Tapping can lead to some really amazing results and powerful changes in people’s lives!

It’s awesome to know that the science is backing up what so many people know to be true: Tapping is a powerful weight loss tool.

Here are some highlights from the research if you are curious about some of the specifics:

  • A 2016 study found that EFT was comparable to CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) at reducing food cravings. [1]
  • In a 2018 study, 76 participants went through a six-week Clinical EFT course focused on improving emotional eating and treating emotional triggers associated with food. The results showed that during the course, participants lost an average of one pound per week. Between when the course ended and the one-year follow up, participants continued to lose weight – about two pounds per month! The data also showed improvements in restraint with food and “power over food.”[2] 
  • A 2019 study with 200 participants showed that after just a 4-day EFT Training workshop, craving levels went down by 74%. Wow! [3]
  • A 2020 study found that EFT could help people after bariatric surgery to improve their eating habits. When treated with EFT, people noticed improvements in emotional eating and uncontrolled eating, for example. [4]
  • In a 2022 study, a Tapping program for weight loss helped participants lose an average of about 13 pounds over six weeks. [5]

If you want to read the studies yourself, scroll down to the “References” section where you’ll find links to all of these studies and more!

Beyond weight loss – Tapping improves mental health, too

In addition to changing the numbers on the scale and reducing the intensity of food cravings, Tapping has also been proven to help people who are overweight to improve their mental health. 

Several studies have shown that Tapping interventions help people who are overweight to feel less depressed and less anxious. [5,6,7,10,11]

This is so important, because our mental and physical health are tightly connected. When your mental health is in a better spot, you’ll be more likely to take care of yourself, to feel your best, and to successfully engage in healthy, sustainable behavior change.

Tapping leads to long-term, sustainable results

One of the very important (and exciting!) things to note about the research on Tapping for weight loss is that the data shows Tapping leads to long-term, sustainable changes. It’s not about a quick win or losing a bunch of weight fast only to gain it back a little while later.

With Tapping, we see that the improvements are maintained over time.

In the studies referenced above, when researchers followed up with the participants six months later, or a year later, or even two years later after the initial Tapping intervention, they found that the participants’ weight was still down (or decreased even further than it was at first!). Their cravings were still lower, and they still felt better in terms of depression, anxiety, and mental health. [2,4,5-9]

Most weight loss approaches (all those diets and exercise programs out there promising fast results) only offer band-aid solutions that don’t work in the long term. Tapping is different. It is a technique that leads to change for good.

Tapping helps address the root of the issue (stress, emotional triggers, limiting beliefs, old patterns, and so on), so that you can make sustainable changes in your life and feel truly empowered when it comes to your eating and lifestyle choices. 

If you want lasting results, Tapping will help you get there. I’ve seen it happen time and time again for real people, and the research is here to confirm it.

Now, you might be wondering, “Why is Tapping so helpful for weight loss? Why on earth would Tapping on stress and emotions help me lose weight?

Let’s take a moment to understand how tapping can help, and what this all has to do with stress.

Stress and weight gain go hand in hand

There’s a lot of data out there linking high levels of stress to weight gain.

Stress can make it easier to fall into unhealthy behaviors, and on top of that it also can create physiological changes in the body that contribute to weight gain.

For example, when we are stressed, levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise. Studies have shown that high levels of cortisol actually impair weight loss efforts. Cortisol can increase our appetite and boost sugar cravings, and it is even linked to abdominal obesity! [12-15]

And on the flip side of all that, stress-reduction techniques have been proven to help people lose weight. [16-17]

There’s a whole lot of detailed science we could get into here. But let’s just stick to the basics for now. The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to engage in unhealthy behaviors and the more your body takes a toll. A person with a stressed-out body and a stressed-out mind is more likely to hold onto excess weight.

So, the more you can release stress, the healthier your mind and body will become. And the healthier your mind and body become, the more likely you’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight.

Luckily, there’s this great tool I know about that helps you release stress (and even lower cortisol!) so you can feel your best… that’s right, it’s Tapping!

Tapping produces real changes in the brain that support weight loss

Research on Tapping shows that Tapping actually helps the brain to turn down the biological stress response. In fact, it has been shown to reduce cortisol levels by 43%. [18]

As we learned above, we need to learn to relax our minds and bodies if we want to be successful with weight loss efforts. And Tapping is a super effective tool for actively turning down the body’s stress response. 

Now, if what I’ve shared already isn’t enough to get excited about, there’s more! Tapping is also linked to changes in brain activity that can support weight loss. 

A really cool study from 2019 used brain imaging to learn more about what happens when people use EFT Tapping.[19]

Dr. Peta Stapleton and colleagues scanned people’s brains before and after a four-week EFT intervention. Before the Tapping, parts of the brain that trigger cravings were “lit up” and active when people looked at photos of food. But after Tapping, those same areas of the brain were no longer lit up. When people looked at pictures of food after they Tapped, the brain areas associated with cravings were no longer as active. [19]

This suggested that the brain actually “rewired,” thanks to Tapping, helping people feel less pull towards cravings. So cool, don’t you think? I knew that Tapping could help with cravings… but even I was surprised to see it show up on brain scans so clearly like that!

You can learn more about this intriguing study here.

Tapping resources to support your weight loss journey

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that there is some powerful research going on around Tapping for weight loss. 

We’ve seen that Tapping can lead to real results for people trying to lose weight (dropped pounds, reduced cravings, improved mental state, and so much more), and on top of that we’ve also seen that there are some powerful changes that go on in the background (changes in cortisol levels, altered brain activity, and more) that support weight loss goals.

If you’ve been struggling with weight, body confidence, or maintaining good health, it’s time to give Tapping a try.

I encourage you to check out my sister Jessica’s book, The Tapping Solution for Weight Loss & Body Confidence. This book is seriously life-changing, and it walks you through the entire process so that you feel supported and empowered every step of the way.

Make sure to also check out the resources we’ve put together in The Tapping Solution App.

We’ve got a whole category for Weight Loss & Body Confidence, designed to support you in feeling empowered and inspired to make healthy choices from a place of self-love. From addressing deep-seated beliefs, to cravings, to motivation, these sessions are here to support your vision of cultivating a healthy body while boosting your confidence along the way. 

Here are some of the meditations you can find in the app to support you:

  • Master Weight Loss Manifestor
  • Releasing Weight Loss Anxiety
  • Cravings Busters
  • Critical Self Talk
  • Love and Accept Your Body
  • Motivate Me to Eat Better
  • I’m Stressed About My Weight
  • Limiting Belief Buster: I Never Stick with Anything 

And here’s a little something different to add to your self-care toolbox. Try our Weight Loss and Body Confidence Active Transformational Meditation (ATM) in the app. With ATMs, there’s no Tapping, just listening along and letting your conscious and unconscious mind benefit from positive ideas and uplifting stories. It’s perfect for when you want something to listen to when you are in your car, or doing the dishes, or otherwise going about your day-do-day routines.

I truly believe that Tapping could transform the way you live your life, the relationship you have with your body, and your health. Feel free to reach out for support along the way, and let us know the benefits you notice once you start Tapping!

Until next time…

Keep Tapping!

Nick Ortner 

References

  1. Stapleton P, Bannatyne AJ, Urzi KC, Porter B, Sheldon T. Food for Thought: A Randomised Controlled Trial of Emotional Freedom Techniques and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the Treatment of Food Cravings. Appl Psychol Health Well Being. 2016;8(2):232-257. doi:10.1111/aphw.12070
  2. Church D, Stapleton P, Sheppard L, Carter B. Naturally Thin You: Weight Loss and Psychological Symptoms After a Six-Week Online Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Course. Explore (NY). 2018;14(2):131-136. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2017.10.009
  3. Bach D, Groesbeck G, Stapleton P, Sims R, Blickheuser K, Church D. Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X18823691. doi:10.1177/2515690X18823691
  4. Stapleton P, Clark A, Sabot D, Carter B, Leech K. Portion perfection and Emotional Freedom Techniques to assist bariatric patients post surgery: A randomised control trial. Heliyon. 2020;6(6):e04058. Published 2020 Jun 23. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04058
  5. Church D, Stapleton P, Raynor D. Skinny Genes’ Six-week, Online, Clinical Emotional Freedom Techniques Program: Durable Weight Loss and Improved Psychological Symptoms. Adv Mind Body Med. 2022;36(1):13-21.
  6. Stapleton P & Stewart M. Comparison of the effectiveness of two modalities of group delivery of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) intervention for food cravings: Online versus in-person. Open Journal of Social Sciences. 2020;8(2):158-181. doi:10.4236/jss.2020.82014
  7. Stapleton P, Roos T, Mackintosh G, Sparenburg E, Sabot D, Carter B. Online delivery of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the treatment of food cravings and weight management: A randomised controlled trial. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine. 2019;4(4). doi:10.21926/obm.icm.1904065
  8. Stapleton P, Lilley-Hale E, Mackintosh G, Sparenburg E. Online Delivery of Emotional Freedom Techniques for Food Cravings and Weight Management: 2-Year Follow-Up. J Altern Complement Med. 2020;26(2):98-106. doi:10.1089/acm.2019.0309
  9. Stapleton P, Sheldon T, Porter B. Clinical benefits of Emotional Freedom Techniques on food cravings at 12-months follow-up: A randomized controlled trial. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment. 2012;4(1):13-24.
  10. Stapleton P, Bannatyne A, Chatwin H, Urzi KC, Porter B, Sheldon T. Secondary psychological outcomes in a controlled trial of Emotional Freedom Techniques and cognitive behaviour therapy in the treatment of food cravings. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017;28:136-145. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.06.004
  11. Stapleton P, Church D, Sheldon T, Porter B, Carlopio C. Depression symptoms improve after successful weight loss with emotional freedom techniques. ISRN Psychiatry. 2013;2013:573532. Published 2013 Jul 28. doi:10.1155/2013/573532
  12. Jackson SE, Kirschbaum C, Steptoe A. Hair cortisol and adiposity in a population-based sample of 2,527 men and women aged 54 to 87 years. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017;25(3):539-544. doi:10.1002/oby.21733
  13.  Steptoe A, Kunz-Ebrecht SR, Brydon L, Wardle J. Central adiposity and cortisol responses to waking in middle-aged men and women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004;28(9):1168-1173. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802715
  14. Epel E, Lapidus R, McEwen B, Brownell K. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001;26(1):37-49. doi:10.1016/s0306-4530(00)00035-4
  15. Yau YH, Potenza MN. Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol. 2013;38(3):255-267.
  16. Carrière K, Khoury B, Günak MM, Knäuper B. Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2018;19(2):164-177. doi:10.1111/obr.12623
  17. Paltoglou G, Chrousos GP, Bacopoulou F. Stress Management as an Effective Complementary Therapeutic Strategy for Weight Loss in Children and Adolescents with Obesity: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Children (Basel). 2021;8(8):670. Published 2021 Jul 31. doi:10.3390/children8080670
  1. Stapleton P, Crighton G, Sabot D, O’Neill HM. Reexamining the effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychol Trauma. 2020;12(8):869-877. doi:10.1037/tra0000563
  2.  Stapleton P, Buchanan C, Mitchell I, McGrath Y, Gorton P, Carter B. An initial investigation of neural changes in overweight adults with food cravings after emotional freedom techniques. OBM Integrative and Complementary. 2019;4(14):10-21926.


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