There's no shortage of gimmicks claiming to increase your calorie burn, but the truth is that the only surefire way to burn more calories is to work harder. Waist trimming belts that claim to increase your calorie burn won't deliver on that promise. To make matters worse, they may hinder your calorie burn and can even be dangerous.
The theory behind waist trimmers is that they will increase your core temperature when you exercise. This causes increased sweating, which is supposed to create a bigger calorie burn. One product claims that it works by accelerating the fat-burning energy needed to trim down love handles. Other products make lesser claims, simply claiming that they will provide water loss and aid your posture, without making any calorie-burning claims.
The truth is that waist trimmers don't burn any additional calories. Exercise physiologist Gary Hunter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham explains that these belts will, as some claim, cause water loss, but this does not burn additional calories and will not create fat loss. As soon as you rehydrate, you can expect your weight to return to normal.
Using a waist trimmer might actually reduce the number of calories that you burn during exercise. Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, explains that wearing a snug belt will support your midsection. This allows you to relax your muscles rather than engaging them. McCall says that as a result, people burn fewer calories and get less toned than they would without a belt. Hunter also notes that these trimmers can cause you to overheat, which will make it difficult for you to exercise at a high intensity and can in turn restrict your calorie burn.
Dangers from Excessive Sweating
Excessive sweating during exercise can be dangerous, especially if the sweat can't evaporate to cool your body. In the late 1990s, the NCAA banned full-body sauna suits after players died while using them to lose weight. Waist trimming belts aren't likely to be as dangerous as full-body suits, but according to Hunter, they may put you at risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. To keep it safe, wear clothing that is breathable and allows sweat to dissipate.
There are Other Risks, Too
Waist trainers exist to compress your organs, which can be unsafe and ineffective for your workout. Abdominal compression could prevent your lungs from expanding properly as you inhale, forcing you to take shallower breaths that bring less oxygen into your body. They also compress your organs, including your liver, which could harm your them over time.
About the Author
A. McDougall is an editor, writer and athlete. McDougall is a marathon coach certified by the North American Academy for Sport Fitness Professionals and an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer. McDougall has edited and written for several national magazines.