Losing Belly Fat Myth #1: Spot Reduction
First thing first, spot reduction is a myth. No amount of crunches or side-bends will “burn” fat off of your belly3. In fact, performing high volumes of abdominal exercises can hypertrophy your abdominal muscles, or make them bigger. Yep. The hundreds of repetitions of crunches and side-bend you faithfully perform may actually make your waist appear bigger instead of smaller. Pretty cruel irony, right?
Don’t be alarmed and assume that you shouldn’t train your abdominals. You absolutely should as strong abdominal muscles are critical to proper function in exercise and everyday life.
However, don’t think you’re using them to spot-reduce body fat. Remember how we said above that being in a calorie surplus leads to fat gain, and genetics help determine where you gain it? Losing belly fat is no different.
You must be in a calorie deficit to lose body fat, and your genetics (not your 1,000 crunches) will help determine where you lose that body fat.
Losing Belly Fat Myth # 2: Fat Loss Pills
Fat loss pills generally work in one of 3 ways:
- They reduce your appetite, making you feel fuller so you consume fewer calories overall.
- They reduce the absorption of nutrients (usually fat) meaning your body doesn’t absorb all of the calories you eat.
- They increase fat burning, meaning you burn more calories.
There’s no magic here. The bottom line comes down to these pills contributing to an overall calorie deficit, either by helping you take in fewer calories, or helping you expend more calories.
The question is: do these pills really work?
The answer of course, is it depends. According to this review of 12 common fat loss pills by Authority Nutrition, there are some fat loss pills shown to be modestly effective in aiding fat loss, but they often comes with undesirable side effects like irritability, anxiety, and digestive issues. However, the effectiveness of most of these fat loss pills is so minimal compared to the proven effectiveness of nutrition and exercise changes that they aren’t worth your time or your money.
Losing Belly Fat Myth #3: Waist Trainers (i.e. corsets)
Waist training is all the rage these days and despite what you may have heard from your favorite celebrity, it does absolutely nothing to help you lose belly fat, beyond maybe making it so uncomfortable to eat that you can’t eat as much as you normally would.
In case you’re not clear what “waist training” is, it’s essentially wearing a corset to cinch your waist and make it appear smaller. If you wear the corset tight enough, long enough, and often enough, it can make your waist appear smaller. The problem? Because the waist trainer does nothing to affect your body fat levels, the shrinking of your waistline is due to changes in the structure of your ribcage and displacement of your internal organs.
Let us repeat that.
If you achieve a smaller waist strictly via “waist training” and not through improvements in your diet or exercise regimen, your results are coming from structural changes to your ribcage and displacement of your organs.
Not exactly the results you should be shooting for.
These waist trainers may also contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction by placing excessive downward pressure on the pelvic floor, making them even worse for new Moms who may already be experiencing pelvic floor issues, and who may be particularly emotionally susceptible to anything that promises to shrink their waist post-baby.
That said, these waist trainers are not to be confused with supportive garments that can be helpful in restoring proper core and pelvic floor function post-delivery. Those belly bands and garments offer very light and gentle support, shouldn’t cause any discomfort, and should only be worn for short periods of times post-delivery while working to restore proper core and pelvic floor function.