Problems Using an Electronic Muscle Stimulator for Weight Loss

You can find many EMS weight loss reviews around the web, but are they really legit?

Fat burning belts for the abdominal region are very popularly-selling products around the planet these days. In fact, the industry-leading Slendertone ab belt has sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide. The Slendertone belt and similar products utilize what’s known as Electronic Muscle Stimulation, or EMS technologies to help individuals lose belly fat, develop and tone muscles in all abdominal areas, develop a stronger core and loads more – and what’s more is that it is advertised to work with nearly zero physical effort.

You just put it on and, according to the folks at Slendertone:

  • The electronic pulses stimulate the muscle tissues to naturally contract;
  • Deep, strong, yet comfortable electronic pulses engage the nerves that signal muscular contractions
  • Rectus abdominus, obliques and transversus abdominus are all effectively activated
  • Fat will burn away
  • Pounds will drop off like crazy!

But is it all true? Do EMS ab belts like the Slendertone belt really work? In a word, no – at least not nearly to the degree that the snazzy advertisements will lead one to believe. In fact, in 2002, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States charged the manufacturers of the 3 highest-selling abdominal belts with making false claims including:

  • The belts induce fat loss and size loss.
  • The belts create a well-developed abdominal region (i.e “ripped”, “washboard”, “6-pack abs”, etc).
  • The belts are as effective as sit-ups, crunches and other traditional freehand abdominal exercises.

Further research on EMS ab belts has also led to the following:

  1. In Chicago, at the Center for Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Institute, Dr. Venu Akuthota states, “In order for any of these machines to produce real muscle growth, these machines will need to send such powerful pulses that you will not be able to stand the pain they inflicted on you.”
  2. Dr. John Pocrcari at the University of Wisconsin performed an 8-week study on the real effects of EMS ab belts and found:
    • No significant changes in body fat, localised or generalised.
    • No significant changes in weight.
    • No notable increases in physical strength.
    • No marked changes in body/fat percentage.
    • No noticeable enhancement of physical appearance whatsoever.
    • No notable results – period.

It sort of looks like “fat-burning” abdominal belts that use electronic muscle stimulation technologies are not the miracle, no-effort, tight ab creators that we would all love for them to be. A couple, including Slendertone, have been approved by the FDA in the US; most haven’t. However, an approval from the FDA simply signifies that the device has been tested and proven to be safe for use – not effective at fat reduction.

What’s the bottom line about EMS abdominal belts like Slendertone?

Muscle contractions induced by EMS ab belts are simply not strong enough to develop 6-packs abs. However, it will never hurt you to increase the amount of blood flowing into your abdominal region. Additionally, the electrical currents can travel deep into the tissues. Subcutaneous muscle tissue (located under fat layers) is benefited by even mild contractions. So, it difficult to say that there is no advantages at all to using an ab belt.

No, causing mild muscular contractions in your abdominal region certainly is not a bad thing. Just don’t expect to develop rock-hard, ripped abs by wearing an electric belt. If you want abs like a washboard, the same rules still apply that have for millions of years. You’re going to need to choose your foods carefully. You’re going to need to engage in cardiovascular activity on a regular basis. And you’re going to need to get into some resistance weight training in order to develop muscle mass and speed up your metabolism.

Go ahead and wear your EMS ab belt; it won’t hurt. You can wear it as you get into a few sets of serious, deep-burning crunches!

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