Do Ab Belts Really Work For Fat Loss?

If you watch TV, you may have stumbled upon an infomercial for an electric ab burning belt of some sort.

You know the kind I mean: you strap them to your midsection, turn them on, and they begin vibrating against your stomach.

These vibrations are supposed to stimulate your muscles and give you an effortless workout. You can even wear these belts under your shirt when you work — isn’t that nice?

These devices are supposedly based on proven scientific methods for muscle stimulation that have been used for decades, a method called Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS for short).

This is done to increase the perceived credibility of these belts in the eyes of the potential consumer… YOU.

Well, do these ab burning belts really work? Or, are they far from what the ads make them out to be?

Let’s look at history and then at some science, shall we?

Ab Belt History

In 2002, the FDA actually pressed charges against several manufacturers of electric stimulation devices for making unfounded claims. Some of these claims included:

  • That the ab belts these manufacturers sold actually brought about abdominal fat loss.
  • That the workout experience these belts provide is better than regular ab exercises.

Both of these claims are simply false.

Ab Belt Science

As far as inducing abdominal fat loss, there is simply no way for this to be true.

It is a well known fact there is no such thing as spot fat reduction — you don’t lose fat from a body part you specifically train, you burn fat from all over your body.

Just because these electric belts are strapped to your abs does not mean you will be burning any belly fat.

By the way, if you listen carefully to what these ads say, they only talk about helping you tone and strengthen your abs. They don’t say a word about losing belly fat (they might get in trouble if they did).

They let the pictures of fit models plant the idea in your head without saying anything.

As far as giving you a workout experience that is better than ordinary stomach exercises, this is something that is very hard to prove.

For one thing, not all stomach exercises are created equal, some are harder than others. In addition, your workout technique also plays a key role in determining how effective your exercises are.

I wanted to see whether Electric Muscle Stimulation is really used in practice, so I consulted a physiotherapist I know, and asked her about it.

It turns out that EMS is actually used to treat injuries or severe muscular weakness. In these cases, the electric pulses can indeed be effective for rehabilitation purposes.

However, she laughed at the idea that EMS can be used for healthy people.

Apparently you would have to increase the strength of the electric pulse to a level which is likely to be too painful to bear.

Talk about a shock. The pulse that you get from these ab belts gives you an illusion of working out, but it is far from effective. It doesn’t really challenge the muscles.

How to Lose Belly Fat

If you’re looking to lose belly fat it’s time to stop falling for gimmicks.

Spend your money on a stability ball, and your time on doing full body workouts. Make sure to watch your diet as well.

This is the way to really get results.

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About John Davenport
John Davenport is the administrator of WorldofDiets.com, a site dedicated to provided extensive Diet Plans Reviews and health and fitness articles.


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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Parker, M.D. October 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Is a stability ball the same as a Swiss ball or physioball?
.-= Steve Parker, M.D.´s last blog ..Heart and Stroke Patients- Avoid Weight-Loss Drug Sibutramine Meridia =-.

Reply

Melanie October 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm

As far as I know, Steve, they are all the same thing. Perhaps someone else can correct me on that, if I’m wrong??

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Cathy in NZ October 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

those sort of ‘exercise’ and ‘health’ enhancing adverts play daily here…some are electric but most are some sort of ‘toy’ that you do something ‘effortlessly on’ and ALL ‘fold to roll under a bed’ :-)

all the people are lean, mean and muscles – both men/women always tanned!

usually you can order the ‘toy’ by an 0800# that often will include ‘an extra’ that will do xyz to your body…

I don’t think they work, but then I’ve never bothered to try :-)
.-= Cathy in NZ´s last blog ..Trekking through earlier lives =-.

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Melanie October 9, 2010 at 8:27 pm

haha Cathy… you are VERY wise not to have fallen for such adverts. I imagine many people have fallen into the trap, though. A healthy dose of scepticism goes a long way with these products, I think!!

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John October 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

Hi Cathy,
Good for you.
It seems that a lot of people are much more gullible, and these marketers know it.

Most of these ads follow a set formula which is just what sells.
.-= John´s last blog ..1000 Calorie Challenge Questions and Answers =-.

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John October 13, 2010 at 7:08 am

For most people, I believe, these machines end up being just another piece of furniture, good for hanging clothes on, not as a way to get toned.
.-= John´s last blog ..Morning Workout Before or After Breakfast =-.

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Melanie October 14, 2010 at 7:20 pm

You forgot to say, an incredibly ugly piece of furniture, John, lol

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Cathy in NZ October 10, 2010 at 2:09 am

John and Melanie

Just today, I got to see one of those machines up close…my friend picked me up to go to something in the back of her Rav was this ‘definitely folded up tool’ – apparently she was going to give it back to her friend…because she didn’t have time for it!

her friend said “no keep it I have no room for it” when I chipped in with “but on the TV it says it folds up and pushes under the bed?” she replied “yes I know but under my bed, there is not room”

never did find out if it had worked for either of them…the one who owns it is pretty darn thin, doesn’t look muscle bound. the one who should be using it well overweight! :-)

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Melanie October 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm

lol Cathy. Point proven I think!! Useless equipment :D

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Steve Parker, M.D. October 10, 2010 at 2:09 am

I appreciate your advice on doing “full body work outs.” I’ve been slacking off on exercise lately, but have been seriously thinking about starting the “Core Performance” program at home. Lots of compound exercises. It was put together by an athletic trainer who has worked with lots of professional athletes. He has a gym about 15 miles from my house, but I just don’t have time for the commute back and forth.
.-= Steve Parker, M.D.´s last blog ..Heart and Stroke Patients- Avoid Weight-Loss Drug Sibutramine Meridia =-.

Reply

Melanie October 11, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Hi Steve,
That sounds perfect, my kind of exercise program too. I like to workout at home or somewhere convenient to my home. Best wishes with that!

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Paramjit October 11, 2010 at 3:22 am

Its about time that someone clarified the myth of the “Abs Belt”. The article very nicely busts this myth. the sad thing is that a lot of people still fall for this. I like the way the advertisers smartly promote only tonning the abs and not actually burning belly fat. The consumer on the other hand is thinking that the belt burns fat. As long as there are those who want a quick fix weight loss solutions, these products will continue to sell.
.-= Paramjit´s last blog ..How You Could Lose Weight by Eating Salads Before Meals =-.

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Melanie October 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

It’s amazing how our brains fill in the blanks left by advertising, isn’t it? We think they’ve promised xyz, but really WE have been fooled.

Reply

John October 13, 2010 at 7:10 am

This isn’t done by mistake. It keeps them within the law and they use a proven system, or formula, to make us jump to the conclusion they want us to.

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crystal August 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

While you all are correct in the fact that it doesn’t burn fat, the ab belts do help tone. You’re muscles do flex and this helps to define. It is not a quick fix. Like any workout you have to do it for a while before you see results. A lean person could use the belt to help define their abs and would like their belt a fat person wouldn’t gain any benefit from the belt because abs hide under the fat. I hope this makes sense. So in short the ab belts are not for everyone and they work for specific things.

Reply

Melanie September 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Thanks for your comments Crystal.

Reply

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Wasn’t planning on using this, but it seems like it would help with weight loss. Muscle burns fat, and if muscles are being toned, wouldn’t that burn fat. I know the possible weight loss would be minimal, to the point where it goes unnoticed. Please correct me if I’m wrong, just curious.

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MARIA July 21, 2014 at 4:27 am

I have always work consistently and even though I dont really have a belly I wanted to see if the device would help me trim my abs. The device did work on me. I sort of had abbs but I did noticed the difference using the device. Now I can definitely see my abbs very trimmed and I did not changed anything else in my workout rutine or diet. I guess the device work for people already fit.

Now I am experimenting using the device in my legs, but I just started yesterday.
p.S. I bought the one that you can return in two months if not satisfied.

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