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.