Can Waist Trainers Help You Lose Weight

The ’80s are back, and the waist trainer—a modern version of the whalebone stays or tight-cinch girdles women have been selling to narrow their midsections for centuries—has become a new must-have. The elastic waistbands, fastened with zippers, Velcro or a phalanx of eyelet hooks, are being touted by shapewear companies and social media influencers as more than just strategies for smoothing out special outfits. Waist training, the theory goes, is essential for shedding pounds and sculpting stubborn cores.

The truth is that waist trainers may have some temporary benefits but don’t do much to help you lose weight or tone your core in the long term. In fact, cinching your waist too tightly with waist trainers or any other type of compression garment can have the opposite effect by weakening your abdominal muscles and slowing your metabolism.

When it comes to a healthy weight loss diet, the most effective way to get the results you want is by limiting your calories and exercising regularly. The best way to do this is with a combination of strength-training exercises, cardiovascular workouts and stretching. Adding in some plyometric exercises—workouts that combine jumping, twisting and rapid changes of direction—is also helpful. And if you really want to boost your results, a nutritionist can help you develop a plan that will maximize your results.

But as for the waist trainers that squishes your midsection into an hourglass figure, the reality is that it’s impossible to irreversibly mold your body in that manner. Unlike your teeth, which can be trained to fit in a certain position over time, the fat, organs and flesh around your midsection cannot be trained into a different shape.

In addition, a waist trainer that is worn too tightly can restrict your lungs to the point where it becomes uncomfortable and saps your energy. Continuing to wear a waist trainer that’s too tight can even lead to fainting due to a lack of oxygen circulating in your blood.

While you may see some initial weight loss by wearing a waist trainer, it’s likely that this is from water weight rather than actual fat loss, Vargo says. You can also make your belly look smaller when you wear a waist trainer because it makes your abdomen muscles appear thinner by compressing them. But once you take your waist trainer off, the muscles will return to their original size and the initial fat loss will be lost.

As for a postpartum waist trainer, it’s not safe for that either, says Fried. After you have recovered from childbirth, a waist trainer that’s too tight could cause uterus prolapse, in which the uterus falls down into the abdomen. That can be painful and lead to complications such as a hernia or infection. If you have a health problem like IBS or another condition that requires you to eat bland foods, wearing a waist trainer can be very uncomfortable. It can irritate your stomach and intestines and prevent you from getting enough nutrients to support your health.

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