People sometimes wrap an abdominal sweatband around their stomach in the hope of burning abdominal fat and flattening their tummy. There isn't any scientific evidence to support this practice, however, and it can have some adverse effects, so it isn't recommended.
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In fact, sauna belts and body wraps, which are similar to abdominal sweatbands, are listed as being unproven and potentially dangerous weight-loss aids on the Michigan state government's health and wellness website. You'll be better off following a balanced reduced-calorie diet and increasing the time you spend exercising.
Potential for Weight Loss With an Abdominal Sweatband
An abdominal sweatband makes you sweat more, so any weight you lose is likely to be water weight, which will come back when you drink water after your workout. In fact, these bands may make it even harder to lose fat, as they make it harder to use your abdominal muscles, limiting the number of calories you burn.
Also, if your sweatband makes you feel overheated, you might actually end up doing less exercise and burning fewer calories. It isn't possible to spot-reduce by losing weight just from your stomach, so these sweatbands won't help you get the coveted six-pack abs.
Heated vs. Unheated Sweatbands
There are a number of versions of abdominal sweatbands. Some types are heated to help produce even more sweat, but it's better to avoid these due to reports that some people have suffered burns while using them. Remember, sweating more doesn't mean you're losing more weight, just that you're losing fluid and may be more likely to become dehydrated.
Importance of Exercise
Simply wearing the abdominal sweatband isn't likely to produce any significant results. It's meant to increase the amount you sweat as you exercise, so product labels suggest wearing it while exercising.
Increasing the time you spend exercising, even without a sweatband, can help you lose weight. For the best weight-loss results, aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and at least two strength-training workouts each week, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Each strength-training session should target the major muscles of the body.
Potential Risks of Using an Abdominal Sweatband
Although the sweatbands may cause increased perspiration, they don't allow the sweat to evaporate and cool your body, which could result in dangerously-high body temperature, an electrolyte imbalance, dizziness, weakness, confusion or death.
Having your stomach tightly wrapped may cause your organs to move and may limit the flow of blood to your organs, including the intestines and kidneys, which could cause health problems.
A Healthier Way to Lose Weight
The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories through your daily activities than you eat. You need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit for each pound of weight loss, which means getting about 500 fewer calories each day — by eating less or moving more — to lose 1 pound per week.
A few strategies can make cutting calories a little easier, as they help you feel full while eating fewer calories. Both fiber and protein can help increase satiety, so include some of each in every meal or snack. Foods that have a high water content, like broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables, are bulky without containing a large number of calories. Starting your meal with one of these foods will help fill you up so you eat less.
Limit fatty and sugary foods, as these are high in calories but low in nutrients, and aren't usually very filling. Avoid sugary drinks such as soda, sweet tea and juices; quench your thirst with plain, calorie-free water or water with a splash of lemon or lime juice.
- Go Ask Alice!: Working Out While Wrapped in Plastic -- Good for Weight Loss?
- Nurse Talk: More Fitness Flops!
- Michigan Health & Wellness: Red Flags
- American Council on Exercise: So, You Want to Spot Reduce? Here’s How
- WomensHealth.gov: Physical Activity (Exercise) Fact Sheet
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition