Compression Garments for Weight Loss

Close up of a corset
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Compression garments can give the illusion of weight loss. Borrowing from the whalebone corsets of old, they shape your body into a thinner shape by restraining your fat. Some brands of compression garments claim they help with actual weight loss, but those claims are dubious.


How They Work

A compression garment, as the name implies, exerts pressure on your body to give it a different form. They are made from stretch fabrics such as Lycra and Spandex. When you put on one, the stretch fabric squeezes the body it surrounds. According to womens' health clearinghouse Mama's Health, different cuts of compression garments shape the body differently. This gives you the shape you want.

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Some manufacturers of compression garment claim to accelerate weight loss through sweating. This is true and false. Like all tight clothing, compression garments will make you perspire more in the area where you're wearing them. As any wrestler will tell you, sweating will cause immediate water weight loss. Unfortunately, as fitness coach Ben Cohn notes, that lost water weight goes right back on as soon as you rehydrate to a healthful level.



Another weight loss method claimed by compression garments is micromassage. Micromassage is the exertion of gentle, constant pressure on your body as it moves. According to Cohn, little evidence supports the idea that this accelerates weight loss. However, micromassage can break up cellulite. Though this doesn't help you lose weight, it can make the weight you have look more attractive.



A third way that compression garment manufacturers claim to accelerate weight loss is through compression. Although compression garments give the illusion of weight loss by shaping your body, Cohn reports that no evidence shows that it translates to permanent weight loss in any way. In fact, the artificial support of your body tissues might even slow your weight loss by allowing support muscles in the area to atrophy.


Athletic Support

Cohn notes one way in which compression garments can help with weight loss. Compression garments built for athletes, rather than as a cosmetic garment, can improve athletic performance. They do this by improving circulation and giving muscles additional support. Better athletic performance can motivate you to exercise more and more exercise is a proven method for losing weight.



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