Waist trainers & fat-burning cream: do they really work?

Waist trainers & fat-burning cream: do they really work?

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 One of the most sought-after physical traits out there for both men and women is a small waist. The hourglass figure has been the gold standard body type for generations. But not all of us are built with perfect proportions. Weight training and dieting can only get you so far, and then it’s all genetics. But that hasn’t stopped experts and fitness brands from trying to do the impossible. 

There are tons of products out there claiming that they can snatch your waist despite your natural figure. But how do you discern the truth from the scam? Is there a product out there that can actually go beyond diet and exercise, and burn that extra bit of belly fat? We’re taking a closer look at the science behind these popular products and how they really work. 

The waist trainer is an idea that dates back all the way to the 1500’s when corsets were donned by French royalty. The contraption was made of tough metal boning and tight lace that you would strap around your shoulders and waist to give you an almost caricatured body shape. The protocol was to wear it all day for months on end to contort your midsection overtime. 

Nowadays, we’ve downgraded to simple elastic and velcro that you throw on during your workout. The products claim to reduce inches from your waistline, but this isn’t a very reliable guarantee and those inches may not have anything to do with the actual garment. It all comes down to the illusion of body recomposition.

The compression of a waist trainer around your abdomen may redistribute your fat temporarily, making your midsection appear thinner in the initial hours after you take it off. But once you go back to your usual attire, the fat will sink back to where it was before in a matter of hours or days. Usually, the waist trainer fad comes along with other weight loss efforts like diet and exercise, which will reduce your body fat on their own. You may notice that you have a smaller waist, but it’s most likely a reduction in overall body fat percentage. You lost weight, but you only have yourself to thank for that, not your waist trainer.

If your cinching up your waist to cut inches, you may be out of luck. But there are a number of other reasons to try these little corsets. They support your back and naturally improve your posture, making you look leaner just because you’re standing up straight. The compression on your stomach can actually suppress your appetite, helping you cut down on calories and lose fat. Waist trainers can also come in handy if you are prone to water retention or bloating in your midsection. The constant pressure will redistribute the stored water and make you feel more comfortable in your skin. If you find yourself feeling bloated when you travel or when your body is under unusual stress, a waist trainer may be the perfect carry-on. 

Doctors have warned against them for years because of the inherent health risks. Waist trainers can shove your organs in awkward positions and make it harder for them to function properly. In severe cases, they can even crack your ribs. Also, if you are going to wear one when you exercise, be aware that they do make it more difficult to breathe and cut down on oxygen respiration. 

Now, on to fat-burning lotions. These may be completely unheard of for most people, but I promise they’re out there. From “Abs of Steel” to “Sweet Sweat”, there are creams that can be used along with a waist trainer to allegedly chisel away belly fat. You smear the stuff on your stomach, wrap the garment over it and sweat it out. The theory behind these products is “spot reduction”. 

One of the most frustrating things about weight loss is we can’t target certain areas. You can choose workouts that target certain muscles and tone individual parts of the body, but you can’t pick a spot to lose fat. We all have problem areas that tend to hold on to weight more than others, but the proven solution is just to lose more weight overall. As you burn fat through a caloric deficit, all areas of your body, including the problem areas, will naturally reduce in size. Clinical trial studies from the most esteemed institutions in the country have proven that spot reduction just isn’t a guaranteed science based on the way the body metabolizes fat. But like I said, that doesn’t stop experts in the field from trying to crack the case.

Each cream and lotion has its own combination of chemicals that they claim are the prime concoction for burning fat, but they all rely on the same biological process: thermogenic responses. A thermogenic response literally means that your skin is getting warmer through insulation and improved circulation. The outermost layer of your skin, the epidermis, keeps our skin hydrated so that’s where you hold water. The heat from the cream makes you sweat in your midsection, forcing that surface level water to be excreted. Without the extra water, your skin will look visibly tighter. So it’s not fat that’s being burned, it’s water. 

That doesn’t mean that the cream isn’t useful. For physique competitors looking for that extra edge, fat-burning topical cream can be the secret weapon of prep. In the days ahead of a show, many competitors are already cutting water to dehydrate the skin and reveal more muscle definition. Because water is the target and not fat, the cream may actually work for them. Also, if you are a postpartum mother with loose skin from pregnancy, the cream may help you tighten those areas overtime. 

Doctors have their warnings about these creams as well. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to do a little research about the chemical content of the cream before you apply it. Customers have reported rashes, redness and irritation after using the cream, side effects that may not completely subside for several days.

The point is, topical creams and waist trainers will never replace good old diet and exercise. Something you can order online will never give you the results of plain hard work. They aren’t the get-rich-quick schemes of fitness that will allow you to cut corners. Yes, they can serve a purpose, but it may not be the purpose that’s being advertised. When you’ve already grinded and made the lifestyle changes to lose significant body fat, these supplemental items may make that tiny bit of difference you are looking for. As long as you don’t overestimate what these products can really achieve, there’s nothing wrong with a little experimenting. 

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Take it from me

Personally, I’ve never tried waist trainers or fat-burning lotions. I’ve watched my waist shrink through months of consistent diet and exercise. I’m happy with the changes I’ve been able to create the old fashioned way. I try to follow the example of many physique athletes and professional bodybuilders in my fitness journey, and only a handful of them recommend these kinds of measures. 

I have considered a waist trainer when it comes to bloating and water retention. I retain a lot of water weight around my menstrual cycle and when I travel, and I think the added pressure might help alleviate that. It’s an extra step that I haven’t been convinced enough to invest in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it out. It can’t hurt as long as you’re using them for the right reasons.

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