In order to address this issue, it’s important to explain how waist trainers work. In contrast to the restrictive, steel boned corset of the past, today’s waist trainers are made of supple latex and are – essentially – wide elasticated belts. Designed to confer killer curves, they’re touted as a weight loss and fashion phenomenon.
While corset training has been around since Victorian times, waist training is a new phenomenon, popularised by A list celebrities and – in particular – the Kardashians. Via the power of social media, our image of the ‘ideal’ figure has moved on from the athletic physique of the 90’s and early 21st century and been replaced by an hourglass silhouette, reminiscent of Jessica Rabbit and – quite frankly – an unrealistic goal for the majority of the population. But social media is swamped with success stories, and before and after images that show figures sculpted and honed to perfection.
But while there’s definitive evidence that steel-boned corsets can permanently alter body shape, do their new counterparts really work? Are waist trainers the holy grail of the fitness world or are they dangerous and – at best – only able to offer temporary benefits? Here are some key facts you need to be aware of before investing your time and money into this new fitness and fashion phenomenon:
The theory behind the claims is flawed
Manufacturers recommend that waist trainers should be worn for 8 hours a day, in particular while you’re working out. The theory is that they create thermogenesis in the body, melting away the fat and eliminating toxins and impurities from the body, via perspiration. However, there’s no scientific data to support these theories. Indeed, the success stories you see online are probably the result of eating smaller meals or the adoption of stomach-flattening foods, as the waist trainer is uncomfortable to eat large meals in. This, combined with loss of water weight via sweating will create an illusion of permanent weight loss. But you definitely won’t break down more fat. One claim that does seem to be borne out is the fact they can improve core strength – and hence your posture. So, if wearing a waist trainer helps you be more mindful of what you’re eating, as well as work harder at the gym to achieve your fitness targets, then it will help you lose weight, just not in the way that manufacturers claim.
They can redistribute the weight
Any type of compression will make you look smaller, so a waist trainer – whilst worn – will minimise your waist. However, if not fitted properly, some waist trainers will displace the fat elsewhere, leading to unsightly lumps and bumps where you previously didn’t have any issues. Make sure you select the right waist trainer for your size and shape. According to Elle Courbee, a plus size shapewear specialist, in order to maximise your chances of success, you should get properly measured and make sure you order the right size and shape for you.
They can lead to health complications
If you wear waist trainers for longer than the recommended 8 hours, at best you’ll just be uncomfortable, but at worst you could end up with serious health problems. Not only could the sweat and irritation cause skin infections, but if the trainer’s too tight you could become light headed, which is a particular concern if you plan to work out. Additionally, waist training can displace the position of internal organs, leading to heartburn and indigestion as well as more complicated issues such as kidney and liver issues. They’re particularly dangerous for young girls, whose developing bodies can be seriously damaged by the constriction.
They can damage mental health
One particular area of concern is their effect on mental health. We all relish losing weight, and fitting into those skinny jeans we’d long ago given up hope of ever liberating from the back of the cupboard. But there’s growing evidence that the waist training phenomenon is feeding into a deeper psychological issue and can be really damaging to mental health. While you’re wearing the shapewear your waist will appear slimmer, but it’s also a reminder that you’re not the perfect shape and the constant comparison could perpetuate and magnify any unhappiness you feel about your body shape. Also, seeing your waist shrink down can become addictive, leading to health problems and unrealistic expectations.
The benefits are temporary
Given the flawed science, it’s clear that wearing a waist trainer on its own won’t reshape your body. The fact that it’s made of industrial strength latex, means that it will cinch your waist size by up to 4 inches, providing powerful aesthetic benefits. However, these benefits are short lived and the inches will come back once you take it off.
Hope these pointers help you decide whether waist training’s for you. If you undertake waist training properly and use one in conjunction with a healthy diet and targeted exercise, then you’ll undoubtedly shrink your waist, but you could probably achieve the same results without the asphyxiating restriction of the waist trainer. However, if you feel pressure to attain this ‘ideal’ physique but feel your body is letting you down, then waist trainers are a great short-term solution for nights out and to help you feel more confident at the gym. In short, it’s not a quick-fix solution and you’ll need to see your waist trainer as part of your weight loss regime, not the complete package.