Can Tapping Help You Lose Weight?

Some claim this psychological practice can help you drop pounds quickly. A dietitian weighs in.

October 12, 2021
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Photo by: humonia/Getty Images

humonia/Getty Images

Ever heard of "tapping" your way to weight loss? You’ll find media reports that people have lost a lot of weight — like 30 pounds in 5 months — by following this technique. The theory behind tapping (also known as Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT) is that tapping certain areas of your body when you feel stressed can help relieve it. For example, if you stress eat, the followers of this psychological technique claim that you can use it in order to help curb your stress eating. Here’s more about tapping for weight loss and if this is something you should try.

What Is Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping?

Jessica Ortner, author of The Tapping Solution, describes this method on her website as an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which is a stress relief technique that combines principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and psychology. Ortner claims that tapping can decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) and because stress is linked to issues like anxiety, weight gain and sleep problems, tapping can help alleviate all these issues and also help you lose weight.

The tapping technique asks the participant to focus on negative emotions, like unresolved problems or something they're worried about. Focus on this issue while using your fingertips to tap 5 to 7 times on nine specific points on your body. Tapping on these specific points (called meridian points) supposedly sends signals to the brain letting it know that it is safe to relax.

Does It Work?

There are a few studies that link tapping as a technique to help reduce stress. A 2020 study published in the American Psychological Association examined stress levels before and after 60-minutes of group interventions using EFT (tapping), psychoeducation, and no treatment. The results showed that the tapping group showed statistically significant improvements in anxiety, depression, and overall severity of symptoms. This group also had a significant decrease in cortisol compared to the control group and psychoeducation group. Researchers concluded that tapping may help reduce stress for a short period of time.

Although some research backs up tapping to help with anxiety, how the claims jump to weight loss is unclear. One study highlighted on Ortners website as the first study to use brain scans to find the link between tapping and food cravings. The research was done at Bond University in Australia and the study hasn’t been published as of yet.

Should You Try It?

Tapping on various parts of your body to help alleviate stress isn’t harmful, so feel free to try it. However, it should be noted that there is very little to no research on tapping for weight loss. What’s most concerning about this method is that food and nutrition isn’t discussed anywhere. Weight loss certainly has psychological aspects, but there is also a big food and nutrition component to it. Having proper nutrition education and understanding better choices to eat, healthier cooking techniques, and portion sizes must be discussed with any technique when dealing with weight loss. Without even a mention of food or nutrition, the idea of just tapping to lose weight is just silly.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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