It might be tempting to cinch yourself into a waist sweat belt that promises to slim fat away from your midsection. Unfortunately, weight loss doesn't work that way. But you can lose excess body fat from your waist — and everywhere else — by making certain lifestyle changes.
Although waist belts can't make you lose weight, a few strategic lifestyle changes can prompt you to lose extra body fat.
Meet the Waist Sweat Belt
Whether you call them sweat bands, sweat belts, slimmer belts or sauna belts, most of these so-called waist sweat belts wrap around your midsection to hold heat in as you exercise. A few have their own heating mechanism and are meant to be used when you're at rest.
The problem is that there's zero peer-reviewed science to indicate that this sort of "spot sweating" helps you lose weight — and any weight you do lose from sweating just comes right back on when you rehydrate yourself.
And you must rehydrate: As the Mayo Clinic points out, water is essential for proper function of every cell, tissue and organ in your body. So wearing that sauna belt won't net you any lasting weight loss.
However, you can lose body fat — including any extra jiggling around your middle — by tweaking your diet and exercise routine to create a calorie deficit. To put it another way, you must expend more calories than you take in. That forces your body to use excess fat as fuel.
There's just one catch — you can't target that weight loss to a specific part of your body. As noted by Wentworth Institute of Technology, the idea of spot reduction, or exercising a part of your body to lose fat from that particular area, is a myth. So you can't choose to lose weight only from your belly. But if you work steadily to lose fat from your entire body, it'll come off your midsection too.
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Healthy Ways to Lose Weight
How much of a calorie deficit should you aim for? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss. That works out to a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day, although you can always aim for a lesser calorie deficit — the weight will just come off more gradually.
To estimate an appropriate calorie intake, consult the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) chart of estimated daily calorie needs according to age, sex and physical activity level. Heads up: These calorie estimates are for maintaining your current weight, not losing weight. Once you've estimated how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight, you can adjust your habits to create that calorie deficit.
For example, if you're aiming for a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day you could eat the number of calories recommended by the HHS for maintaining your weight and add 500 calories worth of physical activity to your daily routine. Or you could cut a modest 250 calories out of your diet and increase your physical activity by just 250 calories a day.
Just don't fall into the trap of starving yourself to lose weight quickly. As Harvard Health Publishing warns, your daily calorie intake should never go below 1,200 calories for women or 1,500 calories for men without a doctor's supervision. And if you're doing a lot of vigorous physical activity, you may need more calories to fuel all that movement.
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You don't have to exercise at extreme levels to lose weight. As noted by the National Weight Control Registry — an ongoing project that tracks more than 10,000 people who've lost weight and kept it off — the most frequently reported type of physical activity was walking.
- Mayo Clinic: "Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?"
- Wentworth Institute of Technology: "Why Can't I Spot Reduce Fat?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "What Is Healthy Weight Loss?"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs Per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- National Weight Control Registry: "NWCR Facts"