Written by Amanda Knaebel; posted on healthyeating.sfgate.com
If you’re packing some extra pounds around the middle, you probably want it gone quickly. Reducing belly fat is a worthy goal. Excess abdominal fat increases your risk of high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, which are major contributing factors to heart disease. Several companies manufacture belly bands — neoprene belts you wear around your midsection to supposedly reduce belly fat. It sounds like a magic bullet to weight loss, but it isn’t likely these products will actually help you lose belly fat.
Different companies make different claims about how to use their belly bands or belts. Some, such as the Tummy Tuck Slimming System, claim that simply wearing the belt for a few minutes each day will heat up your core muscles for hours, allowing your body to burn belly fat while you go about your daily routine. Others, like Danskin, claim you should wear their product while exercising to help you shed water weight. While the belts will make your midsection warmer and make you sweat, there isn’t anything about them that will burn belly fat or lead to substantial weight loss.
Putting It to the Test
Belly bands make a difference for some exercises, but not others. Research published in the European Journal of Sports Science in 2017 found belly bands were helpful for exercisers doing the lat pulldown, one-arm row and, to a lesser extent, deadlifts. But they were no help at all during other exercises, like squats. These results mean that your belly bands could help you get a better workout some of the time — but it’s not yet known whether that actually helps with fat loss.
Belly Bands Can Be Counterproductive
In some cases, wearing a belly band while exercising may actually make it harder for you to burn fat. The bands also don’t encourage muscle growth in your abdominal area. Because the belts fit tightly, they can cause you to relax the core muscles that you’d normally engage to maintain proper posture while working out, explains Pete McCall, spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, in an article for the “Los Angeles Times.” Engaging those muscles by working out without a belly band can help you burn more calories.
Healthy Way to Reduce Belly Fat
There isn’t really a way to burn fat from one particular area of your body. The best way to reduce belly fat is to lose excess weight. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, and take it easy on sugary snacks and high-calorie beverages that provide no nutrition, such as soda. Regular exercise is important, too. Burn fat by engaging in at least three 30-minute sessions of aerobic exercise per week, recommends the American Council on Exercise. Gradually increase your workout frequency to build up to 60 minutes most days of the week.