The Waste…sorry I mean Waist-Trainer.
Expectation: Fat loss (mid-section area) vs. Reality: Fluid loss (mainly water weight), reduced breathing capacity and waste of money.
This “gadget” has become too popular and every time I ask people who wear it why they are wearing it, they answer one of the following:
A: “ I don’t know, I saw this chick promoting it, so I am assuming it works.”
B: “It makes me sweat so much! So…more sweat, more fat loss.”
C: “I like to feel that compression on my stomach.”
You should know that in order to promote fat loss, being in a caloric deficit (while consuming an adequate amount of protein) should be your number one target. Then, we need to combine it with progressive resistance training and potentially some cardio.
Your adherence and patience will determine the success of the process.
Example: You are wearing your brand new waist trainer and you’re noticing the number on the scale dropped (yay). Does that mean that you have successfully lost fat (assuming that you have no idea if you are on a caloric deficit or not)? NO. Most likely this is due to fluid loss (mainly water) through perspiration rather than loss of fat. Weight you might get back as soon as you drink water.
There is a substantial difference between Total Body Weight (Body Mass) and Body Composition. Total Body Mass is simply your total Body Weight, while Body Composition is the relative amount of Fat Free Mass (FFM), Fat Mass (FM) and Water expressed in % of your total Body Weight. Manipulating Body Composition is way more complex than just wrapping a belt around your stomach. There are many variables such as Training Stimulus, Nutrition, recovery and Hormonal Profile that will determine your outcome (Barakat et al. 2020).
Let me give you an example to better understand the difference:
Subject 1) 180 lbs. at 25% Body Fat.
Subject 2) 180 lbs. at 12% Body Fat.
Same Body Mass (Total Body Weight) but totally different Body Composition.
Did you know that by wearing a “waist-trainer” you are compressing:
A: The digestive system. The pressure can cause the acid build up in your stomach to go right back up into your esophagus. If you suffer from acid reflux, definitely not a great idea, huh?
B: The liver and the kidneys. By putting them in an unnatural position you could compromise their long term functions.
C: The diaphragm. By reducing its ability to fully contract and relax, you could limit your lungs from fully expanding and consequently reduce your breathing capacity.
In 2018 a small study reported a decrease in MVV (maximum voluntary ventilation) while wearing a waist trainer. MVV is the maximal breathing capacity. If we reduce our breathing capacity–especially during resistance training– how can we bring in more oxygen? Oxygen is fundamental for every metabolic process, especially for lipid oxidation. Unfortunately, there aren’t many studies out there yet, so hopefully we will soon have even more evidence.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: prioritize what matters the most: Nutrition - Training - Sleep.