You've probably seen them while flicking through late-night infomercials -- belly bands that promise to give you the svelte, bikini-ready tummy you crave. But before you grab your phone and credit card, it might be worth some extra research. While many belly-band or waist-trimmer manufacturers make big claims, you could end up with an emptier bank account and little to show for it. Belly bands might have their place in the fitness world, but they probably won't give you washboard abs.
Waist trimmers or belly bands are the neoprene stretchy ab belts you might see around the gym or on TV. They have lofty claims -- most note that they use your body's heat to cause your belly to sweat more, thus producing better results and a flatter tummy. Unfortunately, you're going to need more than a sweaty belly to carve out some abs. These so-called "waist trimmers" have not been tested or found to produce a slimmer belly, which means you get a sweaty midsection for nothing. While it might make your workout clothes look a little smoother when you're wearing it, a waist trimmer or belly band probably won't create lasting results.
So if a waist trimmer isn't all that effective, maybe you'll have better success with a weight belt or band. After all, its purpose is to support your back so you can lift heavier and work harder to get those killer abs, right? Maybe not. A 2006 study published in an issue of the "Journal of the Chinese Institute of Industrial Engineers" found that while weight belts had a small effect on male lifting, it really didn't affect women's lifting capacity. Good news -- your gym bag just got a lot less cluttered.
Shapewear bands can definitely help give you a flatter stomach -- or, at least, the appearance of a flatter stomach. While wearing a shapewear band won't help you lose weight or get a skinnier stomach, it's probably the only band that will make your stomach look flatter when you're wearing it. If you have a special occasion coming up or you simply want to look better in a dress, a shapewear band that covers your midsection can give you a smoother base to work with while you're still working on your fitness.
Fitness and Alternatives
Instead of relying on gimmicks to give you the tummy you really want, hard work and a sensible diet is the best way to get there. It's the only way to create real and lasting results sans the band. Just remember that a taut belly is not the work of crunches alone. At least 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week is what MayoClinic.com recommends for a flatter tummy, combined with strength training and a diet high in fiber, low-fat dairy, healthy fats and whole grain. Ditch the late-night gimmicks and go for an ab routine that gives you results -- no credit card required.
- Journal of the Chinese Institute of Industrial Engineers: The Effects of Gender and Lifting Belt on the Maximum Lifting Capabilities of One-lift at Different Shifts and Orientations
- How I Won the Battle of the Bulge: Weight Loss Through Food Synergy; Ronald K. Theel
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking -- and Keeping -- it Off
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.