Surprise, surprise: There's no real way to "train" your waist. But that reality hasn't stopped such celebrities as Jessica Alba, Amber Rose, and various Kardashian sisters from wearing and showing off their waist trainers. Unfortunately, like many other "weight loss" products hawked by celebrity stars, waist trainers aren't what they're cracked up to be. And yes, they can be bad for you.
Risks of prolonged waist trainer use include crushed organs, fractured ribs, and compressed lungs, Marie Claire reports. And Christopher Ochner, Ph.D., weight loss and nutrition expert at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, tells the magazine people have actually passed out while wearing waist trainers.
"It just crams all of your organs together," health and wellness expert Dr. Tasneem Bhatia tells USA Today. "So over a long period of time, wearing it too much and too frequently, it can cause damage, too."
Meanwhile, spinal surgeon Dr. Paul Jeffords says these products have other side-effects. "My focuses as a spinal surgeon are the musculature effects and what effect [it has] on the spine, the bones, the ligaments, the nerves. And certainly, there can be some significant side effects with the prolonged use of [this] type of devices."
Other critics include Stephan Ball, associate professor of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, who tells USA Today waist trainers don't even make one lose weight. "Quick fixes are what Americans want, and, unfortunately, they typically are what I call quackery," he says. "You aren't going to lose body fat by cinching the waist, you're going to lose by exercise and watching what you eat… There is no physiological reason why [a waist trainer] should work. It's a perfect example of people being more worried about appearance than good health."
And Richard Cotton, exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, IN, agrees. "They work to provide you with a slimmer look, but they don't do anything to actually reduce body fat."
Even worse, Cotton says, waist trainers can weaken one's core strength. "And that's not really a good thing, because of lack of muscular stimulation, so they could be harmful in that manner," he adds.
Our advice? Ignore the celeb-endorsed fads and stick with the tried-and-true ways of losing weight: diet and exercise. That regimen may not be fun or fast… but at least it won't cram your organs together!