Can wearing a 19th century-style corset lead to real weight loss? That’s the premise behind “waist training,” which involves lacing or Velcroing yourself into a corset-like garment to “train” your waist to be trimmer. Kim Kardashian outed herself as a devotee on Instagram, and Jessica Alba has credited a corset with helping her shed baby weight. There’s also been a spike in real women who vouch that waist training has scored them an hourglass figure.
Curious, we took it to the experts—and it turns out that wearing a corset has zero to do with shedding real weight. It’s just the latest gimmick (fat burning pills, anyone?) that promises to effortlessly peel off pounds. At first glance, it does seem to have promise. “The corset physically restricts your stomach, and that can make it impossible to overeat,” says New York City nutritionist Brittany Kohn, R.D. “Cinching your waist also redistributes fat from your middle, so you look slimmer.” And since it’s so tight, you’ll sweat like crazy, and that can make you feel lighter. “But once the corset comes off, your body will quickly return to its usual weight and shape,” says Kohn.
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Like a lot of fat-melting trends, waist training can even rack up real harm. “Being compressed makes it hard to breathe,” says Kohn. “And with so much pressure on your middle, it can lead to bruising and even organ damage.” Yeah, we partly wanted to believe this one—wouldn’t it be great if there actually was a magical garment that could erase a little belly bloat? But the plain fact is, the only way to really lose weight is through diet and exercise.
By Esther Crain