Qigong and Weight Loss

East of Dawlish Brook

17th April 2012
(Updated 6th August 2013)
(Updated 24th July 2014)

Dear Friend,

I woke up this morning planning to share with you all I know about Qigong exercises and weight loss. I’ve been meaning to write on this subject for a few months now.

But, by the time I’d finished Louis walk, I’d ended up having a major epiphany. I’m guessing you’re more interested in Qigong and losing weight than my personal moment of sudden insight about Qigong.

So how about I focus this Qigong blog post on weight loss and if it makes sense I’ll reference my personal Qigong break through as we go along?


Bear with me as I need to reference some material from one of my old notebooks. Hang on. Right, found it.

Back in 2007 there was discussion, in the school I was with, about using a Qigong exercise known as ‘Drawing The Moon’ as the basis for a Qigong weight loss program. The problem I had with this specific Qigong exercise was that no matter what I did, it caused me so much lower back pain I had to stop practicing it.

For me, that particular avenue of exploration was over, though I never did find out how the others got on with implementing this program.

You see, there was something else that bothered my about ‘Drawing The Moon’ as a Qigong solution to weight loss.

Back in 1996 when I qualified as a personal fitness trainer with the YMCA I discovered something that is not common knowledge. Want to know what it was?

Fat is not spot related.

What does this mean?

It means that sit ups, crunches and Drawing The Moon can help you to develop fantastic abdominals (if you don’t mind risking back pain), but none of them will help you to lose belly fat. You’ll have some truly epic abs muscles, but nobody will be able to see them because they’re covered in a layer of fat.

Losing weight is simple. The ‘equation’ is this:

Use more “fuel” each day than you put into the fuel tank and over a period of time you will lose weight. I guarantee it.

But there is a catch. I said simple, not easy. And if you’ve ever tried to lose weight then I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it isn’t easy. Here’s why…

If you are carrying more body weight than you would like, chances are the extra weight didn’t arrive over night. It probably came gradually over many months and years. So, realistically what do you think your chances are of losing weight, safely, healthily and sustainably in a short period of time?

You’re right, slim to none.

I don’t know about you, but when I hit 40 something changed for me. I won’t call it a mid-life crisis, that’s a bit dramatic. But I certainly felt an ‘itch‘ that couldn’t be scratched. Along the lines of:

“Is this it? Is this all I’ve achieved with my life?”

I joke with my friends that I couldn’t afford a Porsche, so I decided to get into the best shape of my life instead. 8 months later, I’m glad I didn’t get the Porsche.

How I lost 16 pounds of belly fatTake a look at the picture over there on the right. That’s my personal before and after using the techniques I’ll share with you in the rest of this Qigong blog post.

The ‘Before’ shot was taken in August 2011 and the ‘After’ shot was taken today (I never got around to taking one sooner). I know, no great ‘Wowee!’ But, listen to this.

Using the techniques I discovered back in August, it took me about three months to lose 14 pounds (6.35kg) of belly fat.

You’ll notice that I certainly wasn’t fat all over in my ‘Before’ shot. I just looked like I was six months pregnant. A scenario I discovered was very common amongst men of my age and referred to by the amusing oxymoron as: ‘Skinny Fat‘.

The real ‘Wowee!’ though is that I’ve easily (and I use that word deliberately) kept this belly fat off.

If you want to lose your excess weight, if you want to be happier, if you want to get into the best shape of your life, if you want to feel stronger than ever before and you want to achieve all of this (or even just some of it) safely, sustainably, naturally and simply. Then you’ll find the answers in the rest of this blog post.

A few weeks after my 40th birthday I began a quest to find the tools that would enable me to get into the best physical, emotional, mental and spiritual shape in my life.

I knew that my Qigong practice ticked all the boxes, but I needed something extra. Something that would allow me to lose my ‘6 months pregnant’ belly fat look.

Here’s the formula I discovered:

Qigong + Nutrition + Physical Exercise = Best You Ever

Use it and you can experience your ‘Best You Ever’ too.

Let’s look at each component of this formula in more depth.


I do believe that Qigong on its own can help you to lose weight. Especially if you’re an emotional eater. If you over-eat when you are stressed then Qigong is an excellent tool that will bring you great results. The relaxation, breathing, meditation and Energy Flow skills will help you to overcome the cause of your eating habits.

And I strongly believe that when it comes to ANY problem with an emotional cause at its root (and that’s more common than you may think) Qigong is the ultimate tool you can use to heal it.

Qigong ticks the emotional, mental and spiritual ‘best shape ever‘ boxes. But it fails when it comes to developing physical ‘best shape ever’. I’ll share the solution to this in a moment.

For me, the major draw back when it comes to relying solely on Qigong for losing weight, is the amount of time it takes to see and experience results.

9 years of teaching Qigong, has taught me that the longer it takes for a student to experience positive results from their practice, the more likely they are to give up and go back to their old habits.

For example.

Suppose we equate the journey from where you are now, weight wise, to where you want to be as a journey from Dawlish to Edinburgh.

Using Qigong on it’s own is like getting in a car and driving the 455 miles. It’d probably take you 8 hours or more.

But adding the next two parts of our formula is like having your own private helicopter waiting outside for you. You’ll arrive at your destination a whole lot quicker and in much more style. It’s time to look at…


Okay, I am an expert on Qigong, I am not an expert on nutrition (yet, I’m working on it). However I am very good at research.

Now, because I already knew that ‘Fat isn’t spot related.’ I started looking for sensible, believable advice on nutrition.

I got my degree in Computer Science and there is a term I remember called GIGO which applies beautifully to nutrition. GIGO stands for:

Garbage In Garbage Out

Eventually I found what I consider to be the best solution to nutrition. A solution that makes it easy to lose weight and fixes a lot of problems including:

  • Low testosterone levels – high testosterone is what makes a man feel like a man. According to some studies though, compared with an average male from 50 years ago todays male has up to 50% less testosterone.
  • High Estrogen Levels – Estrogen is the female hormone that increases fat around the chest and hips. If you’re a man you want this to be as low as possible. Women need estrogen but not in the levels they’re getting today.
  • High Cortisol Levels – Cortisol is one of the stress hormones. High levels increase the appetite which leads to increased weight. Cortisol also suppresses your disease fighting white blood cells, leaving the door open to other health problems. For more on this subject visit my Qigong and Stress Resistance blog post.
  • Poor Insulin Sensitivity – This reduces your ability to process carbohydrates effectively. With poor insulin sensitivity carbohydrates will make you fat.
  • Poor Digestion – Your only as healthy as your gut. Even if you’re eating the best foods available, if your gut health is compromised you won’t be getting the nutritional benefits.
  • And more…

Again, Qigong can be a powerful tool on its own for overcoming these problems. But the question is:

“How fast do you want to lose weight?”

At the end of this post I’ll give you a link to the resource I use and recommend for all your nutritional needs.

Qigong and weight loss

If you really want to quickly and radically change your body composition then you need to add element number three to the equation. It’s time to look at…

Physical Exercise

Remember how I said at the start of this post that I’d woken up planning to write about Qigong and weight loss? And how by the end of Louis walk I’d had a major Qigong epiphany?

Well here is my game changing, earth shattering, set me free sudden insight on Qigong:

Qigong Is Not A Panacea

There, I’ve said it. The cat is well and truly out of the bag and it is never going back in.

I love Qigong. Consider the following evidence:

  • 13 years of daily Qigong practice
  • 10 years of Qigong teaching experience
  • Over £18,000 invested in my Qigong education
  • Authored 4 books on Qigong
  • Created the most comprehensive online Qigong home study course available
  • Shared over 600 blog posts on this website alone.
  • I’ve been writing a Qigong newsletter in one form or another since March 2005

Listen, I still think Qigong is the most brilliant tool available for overcoming: depression, anxiety, worry and fear. I think it is without equal for improving a persons ability to thrive in spite of the stresses and strains of 21st Century living.

And, for overcoming illness and disease, for enhancing mental ability and promoting spiritual cultivation I believe Qigong, as a tool, is unbeatable.

But when you combine it with Exercise and Nutrition it becomes even more powerful and effective. I finally realised this when I started writing Smiling From The Heart.

You see I’d always mistakenly believed that it was taboo to combine Qigong with anything, especially with physical exercise.

I’ll admit. I was wrong.

“Just as a door, which is not frequently used, will rot, a person who does not exercise regularly will be sick.” Hua Tuo Famous 2nd Century Chinese Physician.

I do not believe that Qigong on its own, is an effective tool for helping you get into the best physical shape of your life.

Sure, if you haven’t done any kind of physical exercise for a decade or more, then Qigong is a fantastic place to get started.

And don’t misunderstand me, because I still have a lot of issues with the ‘no pain‘ and ‘feel the burn‘ methods of physical exercise so if you’re smart you’ll avoid this approach to exercise.

The benefits of regular exercise are well documented. But you must be careful to avoid over doing it. Too many people approach exercise as if they have a bottomless bank account. Let me explain.

If you over exercise, over exert yourself, it’s like spending $50 to gain $15 of value. Injuries are common and that can be fine if you’re young and you’ve plenty of cash in the bank account. But inevitably if you carry on like this, you’re going to end up with a deficit at some point. And that’s not good.

Injuries become more common place and take longer to heal. The stress toll on your internal organs can cause far more harm than good.

Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi Quan practiced as martial arts can be very good forms of exercise, especially if combined with Qigong. However my personal exercise of choice and one I highly recommend for those not interested in martial arts is good old fashioned, calisthenics. Yes, I’m talking about:

  • Push ups
  • Press ups
  • Squats
  • Leg raises
  • Bridges
  • Handstand push ups.

The origin of the word ‘calisthenics’ comes from the Greek kallos meaning ‘beauty’ and sthenos meaning ‘strength’. And that’s a very good description: Beauty and strength.

This type of physical exercise is also known as: Bodyweight training.

One of the many attributes of Qigong that I love is that you don’t require ANY extra equipment to practice it. A safe, clean place and enough room to stretch your arms out and that’s about it. No matter where you go or where you travel you can practice Qigong.

And the same applies to calisthenics. With calisthenics you don’t need a gym. You ARE the gym. You don’t need any weights, you use your own body weight.

After months of extensive research and trial and error I have found the very best source for a complete, safe, progressive, step-by-step program of calisthenics.

No matter where you may be starting from physically this program will help you to develop a beautiful and strong body. All you need to do is follow the instructions, put in the effort and be disciplined. Something Qigong practitioners like you and I are good at.

See the resources section at the end of this post for full details. I’ve been using it since August 2011 and have noticed significant increases in strength. I’m also much happier with the way my body looks.


My experience has led me to conclude that Qigong on its own is not fast, effective, or efficient enough to use on its own as a weight loss tool. Though it is a powerful tool for promoting weight loss if you over eat as a way of gaining emotional comfort.

In June 2011 I celebrated my 40th birthday. It marked a significant milestone in my life. After 3 months of exhaustive research into nutrition and physical exercise I began my: “Lose belly fat and gain physical strength” experiment. Through much trial and error, I can honestly say that I feel stronger, healthier and more physically attractive than I have in many years.

I believe that you can too if you follow the “Best You Ever” formula:

Qigong + Nutrition + Physical Exercise = Best You Ever

If you’d like to discover your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual ‘Best You Ever’, here are the tools I use and recommend:


Qigong – 22 week Qigong Secrets Home Study Course. The most comprehensive Qigong home study course available. You can get a two week $4.95 trial of the online version: Qigong Secrets Online you can view other Qigong options I have available here Qigong15 shop.

NutritionThe Renegade Diet: $29.95. This is the nutritional resource I depend on to keep me lean and belly fat free. If you want to improve your nutrition, overcome many dietary problems and lose weight then this is for you.

The author comes from a muscle building and strength background, so the focus of the website is on people who want to lose weight and build muscle. Don’t let this put you off, the content of the ebook is the best I have discovered.

Physical ExerciseConvict Conditioning: $39.95. Available in Hard-copy and Digital-copy. Please don’t let the name put you off.

Like most arts of value, calisthenics has also suffered from being diluted and degraded by the propaganda of fitness manufacturers who want you to believe that the only effective way to train physically is in a gym or with expensive weights or new fad ‘gizmos’.

The result is that old school calisthenics has survived in prisons, where up until recently gym equipment was not available. Let me sum it up this way: Lame title, great book!

I’m not an expert on nutrition or calisthenics (yet), but I am very familiar with the two resources I’ve listed above. So if you have any questions and you’re a client of mine please feel free to write and ask.

**Update – 6th August 2013**

Since I first wrote this article I’ve been practicing old school calisthenics as taught in ‘Convict Conditioning‘ and practicing Intermittent Fasting (IF)as taught in the ‘Renegade Diet‘ for over 2 years now.

And together with my beloved Qigong they’re working an absolute treat.

I feel stronger, I look better and I’m fitter now at 42 than I was at 22.


I’ve spoken to a lot of folks who simply don’t seem a good match for IF and over the last 6 months I’ve been researching and testing the Paleo Diet.

The best resource I’ve discovered so far on this subject, one that balances scientific evidence with easy readability by anyone who doesn’t have a degree in biology and nutrition is:

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.

You’ll find it on Amazon and I love it.

Please note, I am required by the FTC to advise you that if you click on the links in the resources section above, and you subsequently choose to purchase the product I recommend then I will receive a commission. Hope that’s transparant enough.

**Update – 24th July 2014**

Since writing this Qigong Daily post, I’ve created what I call The ZEN+ Journal.

Each month, I share my research on tools, tips and techniques you can use to live a healthier, happier and longer life.

It focuses on all the subjects covered in this post and much more.

To find out more about the ZEN+ Journal click here.

Enjoy your practice!

Just a qigong instructor





Marcus James Santer