Working off those excess holiday pounds can seem daunting when you’re already balancing a busy work and family schedule. We’re all looking for shortcuts around exercise and dieting to get our perfect figure. This includes using a waist trainer to try and nudge our figures into a more feminine shape. Even men sometimes turn to these devices to try and get their abs back.

The question at the bottom line of this article is: do waist trainers work? The short answer is, not really. Compared to diet and exercise, a waist trainer cannot help you see tangible results in reshaping your figure and shedding Christmas cookie weight. However, lots of people enjoy trying them and they do have some limited benefits, so long as you use them correctly.

Read on to learn what waist trainers can do for you, as well as what they can’t. I’ll also go over how to wear them safely so your weight loss shortcut doesn’t turn into an injury.


What is a Waist Trainer?

A waist trainer is a contoured piece of fabric that you wear around your tummy under your clothes. Different brands tighten and cinch differently – some have hooks or laces – but the function is the same. It’s kind of like a girdle but whereas girdles are simply for appearance, waist trainers are cinched up much tighter. They’re trying to “squeeze” you into a different shape, after all.

When you see a waist trainer, you’ll probably think it looks a lot like a corset. You’d be right! Waist trainers are basically corsets being resold with a name that makes them sound like weight loss tools. Like corsets, they’ll give you that coveted hourglass shape that accentuates your chest and hips and “shrinks” your waist.

However, corsets fell out of fashion for one reason: they’re extremely uncomfortable to wear. Unfortunately, your experience with a waist trainer will probably be similar.


What Does a Waist Trainer Do?

Knowing that waist trainers tighten around your tummy to produce that hourglass shape, what do they do for you in the long run? The answer is, not much.

Some people report weight loss after wearing one of these for a while, but this is likely due to two factors, neither of which is a tangible loss of weight due to the trainer’s technology. More likely, they’re experiencing a loss of water weight due to sweating in a tight corset and eating less due to a lower appetite.

Wearing a waist trainer can constrict your organs and make it harder to eat, resulting in a lower appetite. That may sound kind of nice, but this is not a healthy way to lose weight. The problems with your eating habits will just come back once you’ve taken off the waist trainer. There’s a reason why devices like this suggest that healthy exercise and a good diet are part of their product’s weight loss plan. That’s the whole weight loss plan.

So, are there any tangible benefits to wearing a waist trainer? Yes, actually, there’s one. Tightening your waist, in moderation, can help you maintain better posture. Better posture is not only good for your back but also gives the appearance of weight loss by stopping you from slouching and sticking out your tummy.


Potential Complications with Waist Training

Not only does a waist trainer have no scientifically relevant effect on your weight, but it comes with risks as well. Since you have to wear it so tight that your appetite is affected, you may not take in enough nutrients to stay healthy. You may be squeezing your organs too hard, which can lead to digestive problems like heartburn.

Many people wear them so tightly that they reduce their lung capacity, leading to fatigue and lymphatic issues over time. These risks are probably not worth the minimal benefits you might get from wearing a waist trainer.


The Takeaway: Alternatives for Waist-Conscious People

Men and women can be conscious of their growing waist without buying into over-hyped shortcuts like a waist trainer. These devices have no scientifically proven benefits for long-term weight control and will only provide temporary improvements, if any. A balanced, nutritious diet and healthy exercise are the only real plan for lasting weight loss.

However, it’s okay if you just want to look thinner or have a more ideal hourglass figure. You can invest in body shapers or shapewear to help you achieve a more ideal figure without crushing your internal organs. These shapely bodysuits help you emphasize your chest and hips without suggesting that they will permanently squeeze out fat. They just look great. If you’re looking for a shortcut to looking thinner and don’t want to put in the exercise, look for something that improves your shape, without preventing you from being able to breathe.