Do Alternative Slimming Therapies Work?
Everyday we hear about a new slimming therapy. We are bombarded with countless slimming aids and quick fixes, from slimming pills to slimming belts and even weight loss slippers. Do they work? If they did, would there be a need for so many alternatives?
Creative marketing and imaginative reasoning make it difficult for one to judge if the remedies are genuine. The best way to answer the question is to ask a very basic question:
Does the therapy or slimming tablets create an energy deficit? Apart from physically removing the fat, as in liposuction or through surgical means, the only way to lose fat is by creating an energy deficit, where the individual’s energy expenditure exceeds the intake. To make up for the deficit, the body burns the stored fat.
Let’s look at some of the more popular quick-fix offerings and quickly determine if they are responsible slimming tips:.
Are Creams and Belts Effective Slimming Aids?
Manufacturers have made various claims regarding the mechanism of action for slimming creams, from dissolving fat to burning excess fat to reducing food intake. Even if these claims were true, remember that it is infra-abdominal fat (the fat surrounding your organs) that is strongly linked to health risks, and the creams are unable to penetrate that far.
If you were to apply a tight bandage around a part of your body and later remove it, you would notice that the area that had been bandaged is “indented”. This is because prolonged compression squeezes interstitial fluid (the fluid surrounding our cells) away from the area. With a slimming belt or wraps, the whole body is “bandaged” with cellophane. But if the whole body is bandaged, where is the interstitial fluid going to be squeezed to? The fluid is removed by the kidneys and ends up in the urine. Hence, you end up lighter, except that you have lost water rather than fat, and when you take your next drink, your weight goes back to where it started. Slimming wraps do not create an energy deficit, so fat is not removed from the body.
These claim to work by breaking down fat cells, thereby releasing the fat into the bloodstream. If the machines were capable of breaking down fat cells, wouldn’t they do the same to skin cells, since the ultrasound waves have to travel through the skin before reaching the fat layer? Why is it that the skin and other tissues beyond the layer of fat cells remain intact while the fat cells conveniently disintegrate?
If the machine were capable of breaking down fat cells, wouldn’t its use be licensed to qualified medical practitioners only? The ultrasound machines used by and licensed to physiotherapists for treatment have higher energy levels, but nobody claims that they damage cells or that they are effective for weight loss. And even if we assume that the ultrasound treatments do break down fat cells, is it fair to assume that the body would then “excrete” the released fat rather than store it somewhere else in the body, especially if there is no energy deficit?