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Sweat bands may help you lose a few inches, but they'll just come right back. Focus on healthy eating and exercise instead.
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Also called sweat belts or sauna belts, sweat bands take one of two forms: a plastic wrap that encompasses your midsection, holding heat in as you exercise; or a similar belt with its own heating mechanism, meant to be used when you're idle. Although these "fitness aids" may actually help you lose a few inches, it's just a temporary effect of all the water you've sweated out. As soon as you rehydrate, the weight -- and inches -- will come right back.
It's a Mini Sauna Suit
Despite the svelte-sounding name, sweat bands -- also called sauna belts -- are actually pretty large, covering most or all of your torso. Although they're not as all-encompassing as an old-school, head-to-toe sweat suit, they work on the same general principle. Sweat is your body's natural cooling mechanism. So when the sweat band keeps your sweat from drying and cooling you off, it prompts your body to sweat even more.
Losing Water Weight
That sort of excessive sweating can take pounds and inches off quickly, but only because you're dehydrating yourself. As soon as you rehydrate -- a critical part of fueling your body for more exercise -- you'll put the weight and inches right back on. If you choose not to hydrate in an attempt to maintain the weight lost, your blood chemistry may alter due to reduced blood volume and you may be at increased risk of heat strain. Your body may feel weak -- even during gentle exercise. And in very extreme cases, dehydration can even cause death.
A sweat band can do more than give you false hope. Wearing a snug wrap around your belly can actually keep your core muscles from engaging, notes American Council on Exercise spokesperson Pete McCall. So not only are you not getting the promised weight loss when you work out with a sweat belt, you're also missing out on some of the potential benefits of your workouts. The self-heating belts go one further, with some customers complaining of blisters and burns from the mechanisms.
Doing It the Right Way
Although sweat bands can't offer true, sustainable weight loss and may actually do you harm, you can lose inches in a healthy way. Focus on a nutrient-rich diet and increase your time -- and intensity -- spent doing cardiovascular exercise. As you get both diet and exercise under control, the pounds and inches will start to melt away. And as tempting as it might be to reach for "instant weight loss" gadgets like a sauna belt, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you're more likely to keep the weight off if you lose it steadily -- at a rate of around 1 to 2 pounds a week.
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