Do Waist Trimmers Really Work? We Examine The Science

Losing belly fat and getting a slimmer waist are two common goals amongst people who are unhappy with their bodies. And when people want to change something about themselves they don’t like, they tend to turn to easy fixes such as waist trimmers to help them reach their goals as quickly as possible.

But what are waist trimmers, and do they really work? Waist trimmers are tight-fitting garments that are worn around the midsection to help the waistline appear more defined. Waist trimmer companies claim that wearing one can help promote weight loss and change the shape of your body, but these claims are largely disproven by doctors and researchers.

Waist trimmers are not only ineffective at helping you lose weight but can also cause significant damage if worn incorrectly. If you want to slim down, you’ll be better off eating in a calorie deficit, following a well-structured fitness routine like the ones you can find in the Fitbod app, and getting in more steps during the day.

In this article, I’ll go into more detail about what exactly waist trimmers are and the claims they make about how they can change your body. I’ll also analyze some research regarding waist trimmers and offer alternatives for you to consider instead.

What Are Waist Trimmers?

Waist trimmers are garments or large belts that are worn tightly around the midsection. People (mostly women) wear them either under their clothes during the day to give the appearance of a slimmer waist or hourglass figure or to help them sweat more during workouts in the hopes of boosting fat loss efforts.

Waist trimmers are typically made out of neoprene and have boning, often made out of steel, to help give them structure. They can be fastened with velcro, hook and eye closures, or laces. When they are tightened, they pull the midsection in as much as possible.

Because waist trimmers are uncomfortable to wear, most brands recommend starting off with wearing them for just an hour or two per day and gradually increasing the amount of time you keep them on.

Need a workout program? Try Fitbod for Free.

What Claims Do Waist Trimmers Make?

Some of the most common claims that waist trimmers make are:

  • Weight loss and fat burning
  • Changing the shape of the waist
  • Correcting posture and reducing lower back pain

1. Weight loss and fat burning

One of the main benefits that waist trimmer brands tout about their products is their ability to help you lose weight and burn fat.

This is largely due to the waist trimmer raising your core temperature and making you sweat more. Because waist trimmers are uncomfortably tight, you may also not feel like eating much when you wear one, which can promote weight loss.

However, this weight loss is temporary and mostly due to water weight from sweating and not being able to eat as much. Any weight you do lose will come back quickly if you stop wearing a waist trimmer consistently and start eating more food again.

Related Article: How Do Fat Burners Work? (And, Are They Actually Effective?)

2. Changing the shape of the waist

Having to cinch the waist trimmer temporarily gives the illusion of a slimmer waist while you wear one. Many waist trimmer brands also claim that their products can train your waist to maintain its new shape permanently if worn over the course of several months.

But according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, if you’re already at a healthy weight, waist trimmers do nothing to change the shape of your body — at least not permanently. Like weight loss, any changes in your waist that you see from a waist trimmer will disappear once you stop wearing it.

3. Correcting posture and reducing lower back pain

Another claim that waist trimmers make is that they can help improve posture. This is due to the fact that they keep your core tight while you’re wearing them, which helps you stand up straighter.

However, wearing a waist trimmer for a long period of time can weaken your core muscles because they stop working on their own to help keep you upright. As well, if you wear a waist trimmer long enough, you may develop a dependence on it and lose your ability to stand up straight on your own.

Waist trimmers also claim to reduce lower back pain, but this is a result of you not being able to slouch or hunch over when you’re wearing one. They’re nothing more than a band-aid solution that will only help ease your backaches while you’re wearing them. If you don’t do anything else to strengthen your core, your back pain will eventually return.

Related Article: 17 Resistance Band Ab Exercise For A Strong Core

Three Waist Trimmer Studies

three waist trimmer studies

There aren’t many scientific studies on waist trimmers, but the ones that do exist largely point to their ineffectiveness and the negative impacts they can have on your body.

One study in 2018 showed that waist trimmers can cause shortness of breath, excessive sweating, and pain in the midsection. The subjects who wore a waist trimmer reported a large decrease in maximum voluntary ventilation, or the amount of air that you can inhale and exhale during a 12-15 second interval, while wearing it.

Another study done in Sweden set out to examine whether or not corset wearing (a practice similar to waist training) could help individuals sustain their weight loss following a low-calorie diet. The participants were asked to wear the corset for 12 hours a day, seven days a week but were considered compliant if they wore it for at least five hours five days a week.

Only about 20% of the subjects were able to keep up with corset wearing after three months, and they only experienced an extra 2kg (roughly 4.4lbs) of additional weight loss compared to the group that didn’t wear a corset.

In addition, a study published in 2020 analyzed an occurrence of acute lower extremity ischemia (a sudden decrease of blood flow to the lower limbs) in a woman who recently had liposuction. As it turns out, the woman had also worn a waist trainer in the days following the procedure, which scientists believe contributed to the development of this condition.

It’s important to note that his woman also had several other risk factors before the procedure, including a history of obesity and heavy smoking. She may have had complications from the liposuction even if she didn’t wear a waist trainer — but it certainly didn’t help.

Related Article: How Much Weight Can You Lose in 60 Days (The Healthy Way)

Do Waist Trimmers Work? 

While waist trimmers can work to temporarily help your waist appear smaller, there isn’t much evidence that they can provide long-lasting results. And despite what you’ll find when you do an internet search for waist trimmer results, they don’t actually work for long-term fat loss.

If you do an internet search for waist trimmers, you’ll likely find reviews from hundreds of people claiming that waist trimmers helped them lose weight and improve their figures. But if you pay attention to what they say, you’ll see that people often wear them in addition to starting a workout regimen and following a healthier diet.

These disclaimers are also often included in the descriptions of waist trimmer products, and that should tell you that these companies know their products don’t work. In fact, one waist trimmer company was sued several years ago for making false promises and guaranteeing weight loss results that customers didn’t experience.

Takeaway: Waist trimmers don’t work for long-term weight loss and are nothing more than a fad. If you want to achieve long-lasting, sustainable results, getting more active and eating a healthy diet are two of the best things you can do.

Related Article: Best Fat Loss Workout Plan For Females (Complete Guide)

Are There Risks To Wearing Waist Trimmers?

There are several risks to wearing waist trimmers. While many of them are the result of excessive or incorrect use, it’s still important to be aware of how they can affect your health.

Due to how tight they have to be, and depending on what material they’re made out of, waist trimmers can cause discomfort in the abdominal region. This includes digestive issues such as constipation, gas, and acid reflux.

Other minor but notable risks of wearing waist trimmers are skin conditions such as acne, rashes, or bacterial or yeast infections. These conditions are the result of your sweat’s inability to evaporate. It instead gets trapped on your skin, and these issues can take a long time to clear up if you don’t treat them and/or continue to wear a waist trimmer for a prolonged period of time.

Wearing a tight waist trimmer also makes it difficult to eat, and your body may have a harder time absorbing nutrients from whatever you do eat because of how it repositions your inner organs.

If a waist trimmer is too tight, it can restrict your ability to breathe properly. This can lead to your passing out if your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen.

For this reason, waist trimmers should not be worn when you’re working out unless you’re wearing a lightweight one that says it can be worn during exercise (but even then, you may be better off wearing something else if you’re looking for something to help you sweat more).

A more serious risk of wearing waist trimmers is pelvic organic prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues surrounding the organs in the pelvic region are weakened, causing the organs to drop lower into the pelvis.

Postpartum women have an even increased risk of pelvic organ prolapse if they wear a waist trimmer since the core muscles are already weakened from pregnancy and childbirth.

Waist trimmers can also cause severe organ damage by reducing blood flow to them. If waist trimmers are worn for long enough, this damage can be permanent.

Another serious risk of waist trimmers is meralgia paresthetica, a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and burning along the outer thigh. It occurs when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, the nerve that supplies sensation to the skin on the thigh, is compressed.

If you come down with meralgia paresthetica after wearing a waist trimmer, it may go away on its own in a few months once you stop wearing it. But you may also need corticosteroid injections or prescription medicine to help ease the symptoms.

Related Article: How Much Weight Can You Lose in 60 Days (The Healthy Way)

Should You Use Waist Trimmers?

Most of the risks associated with waist trimmers that I discussed above are only seen from extreme or incorrect use. But that still doesn’t mean you’d see any long-term benefits from them, and I don’t recommend wearing one.

As you saw above, some studies have shown that the differences in weight loss in individuals who wore a corset (which is a bit more extreme than a waist trimmer but still similar in theory) and those who didn’t was only 4.4lbs. Personally, I don’t think wearing an uncomfortable garment for 12 hours a day is worth it just for assistance in losing an extra 4lbs.

The only time I’d suggest wearing a waist trimmer is if you want to wear it under a tight outfit for a special event — but even then, other products are available that are more comfortable to wear and less damaging to your body.

Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try Fitbod for free.

Waist Trimmer Alternatives

1. Shapewear

If you’re just looking for a temporary solution to help you look slimmer when wearing a tight-fitting outfit, you could wear a waist shaper instead of a waist trimmer.

Waist shapers are made out of spandex and nylon. Some have boning in them just like waist trimmers, but it’s made out of plastic, which is more flexible than the steel inserts used in some corsets and waist trimmers.

And while waist shapers are designed to be compressive, they’re not meant to be worn as tight as possible like a waist trimmer is. They’re still uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, but they’re not quite as stifling as a waist trimmer.

2. Ab Exercises

ab exercises

Exercises that target the abs are more effective at slimming the waist over the long term than wearing a waist trimmer. These include planks, hanging knee raises, ab wheel exercises, and weighted cable crunches.

However, it’s important to understand that you can’t spot reduce, or lose excess fat from one specific area of the body (in this case, the midsection). Eating a nutritious diet, lifting weights, and getting at least 7,500 steps per day are all more effective ways to lose fat all over. You can also check out the Fitbod app if you need help creating a full-body workout routine.

You should also note that based on your genetics, you may still always carry some extra fat in your midsection. You can’t change where your body stores fat or alter the natural shape of your body, and even if you’re very lean, you may not be able to achieve an hourglass figure.

Related Article: Ab Day At The Gym: How To Do It Properly + Sample Program

3. Sweat More

One of the reasons why waist trimmers tout weight-loss claims is that they make you sweat more, which helps you lose some water weight.

But you can simply wear an extra layer of clothes or turn up the temperature in your gym (if you work out at home) to sweat more if you’re looking to drop some water weight quickly.

Related Article: What Is The Best Cardio for Abs? 13 Examples

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Waist Trimmers Burn Fat? 

Waist trimmers do not burn fat. Any weight loss that you achieve from wearing a waist trimmer is water weight due to sweating more or consuming less food.

Do Waist Trimmers Help Lose Inches? 

Waist trimmers alone will not help you lose inches. They can temporarily make it look like you’ve lost inches, but the best way to do that is to eat in a calorie deficit, lift weights, and get at least 7,500 steps per day.

Do Waist Trimmers Work Without Exercise?

Waist trimmers do not work without exercise. Many brands state on their websites that following a proper diet and exercise routine is necessary for the best results. 

Do Waist Trimmers Work For Love Handles?

Waist trimmers can help smooth out your midsection when worn under form-fitted clothes, but they will not help you lose your love handles for good. You cannot spot reduce, or lose weight from just one area of the body. Losing your love handles will require a calorie deficit and a consistent workout routine.

Final Thoughts

Waist trimmers are nothing more than a gimmick that promise weight loss and an improved figure but do not live up to their promises. In addition, waist trimmers can cause organ damage, nerve damage, skin irritation, and difficulty eating and breathing. The temporary results aren’t worth the potential health risks.

You also can’t spot reduce, or lose fat from one specific area of your body. Getting a slimmer waist will require you to lose fat from all over, which is best done by eating fewer calories than you burn throughout the day and being more active.

About The Author

Amanda Dvorak

Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.