7

For whom doesn't know, EMS definition:

Electrical Muscle Stimulation, also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses.

Recently I bought one belly EMS belt(like this one) that works very well(it really contracts my abdomen muscles with shocks).

My main objective is to lose weight and reduce my waist circumference. On internet refferences it is kind of obscure(some people says it works and some don't). So, does anyone have a experience about it? Does this EMS's equipments really works for what it intended to?

  • Love your avatar, btw. – Robert Kaucher May 2 '12 at 20:02
  • 1
    It contracts your abdomen, but doesn't really do any work. Muscles need resistance to truly do some work, as in the kind of resistance you get when you try to lift your body against gravity in sit-ups. I have my doubts about whether it'll work just sitting down – Ivo Flipse May 2 '12 at 20:18
5

NEMS work to stimulate muscles that are weak and that are not able to attain a full contraction without additional stimulus. Once you can achieve a full active muscle contracttion, as @Ivo says, you want to actively exercise the muscle and add resistance to achieve further strengthening.

The NEMS does produce a muscle contraction, so in that respect, your abdominal muscles are "working" when you wear a unit. If you actively contract along with it, you will get a better contraction. It can remind you to contract your abs. But according to the FDA

While an EMS device may be able to temporarily strengthen, tone or firm a muscle, no EMS devices have been cleared at this time for weight loss, girth reduction, or for obtaining "rock hard" abs.

Also, electrical stimulation units can also be contraindicated for people with pacemakers, metal implants or medical conditions such as cancer.

If your primary goal is to lose weight and reduce your waist circumference, focus on your diet, exercise (cardio with HIIT and resistance training), and avoid prolonged sitting - get up and move frequently. Track your percentage of body fat in addition to your waist circumference to assess your progress.

The following q/a's should help you with your goals to start losing weight and reducing your waist circumference:

  1. What exercises should I perform to reduce fat on a specific area of my body?
  2. How can an overweight engineer get back in shape?
  3. Optimal exercises for an abdominal workout
3

Weight loss is a simple formula calories consumes < calories used. I would seriously doubt that these things could generate sufficient muscular contraction to assist in actual weight loss. I've used these before and I can honestly say that they may assist creating "muscle tone" in the same way dynamic tension type exercises do, but none of those compare to the calorie burning provided by a combination of both cardiovascular and resistance exercise.

If you consider the amount of force produced by running on a tread mill for one hour (burning only about 200 calories) and the amount of contraction these devices generate you can clearly deduce that they will not be able to significantly help you in losing weight and losing weight is certainly 80% of having a firm, defined abdomen.

1

The answer is yes, it is possible to reduce the thickness of subcutaneous fat, if the layer is is not too thick. But probably no, to the literal wording of the question, as while the fat mobilization is biochemically observable, it is unlikely to be of a sufficient magnitude that it could be easily observable on the scales.

There is research showing that lipolysis may be increased adjacent to contracting muscle. The study was with voluntary muscle contractions in overnight-fasted adult males, but presumably EMS-induced contractions may work equally well.

Reference: Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. Credit for literature search: Lonnie Lowery, PhD | 02/01/11

1

Yes and no, which can be a matter of perspective.

This is a fairly popular paper on spot reduction,

(@belosol has already referenced this but I want to expand on it.)

Lyle McDonald wrote a pertinent view on this paper. Quoting him,

based on the measured changes in blood flow and lipolysis, the researchers estimate that, in 30 minutes of local exercise, an additional .6-2.1 milligrams (one milligram is one thousandth of a gram) per 100 grams of adipose tissue adjacent to contracting muscle was mobilized.

Let me put that in context. First let’s assume that you’re carying a whopping 5 kg (11.1 pounds) of fat in a specific area.

If local exercise can mobilize 0.6-2.1 milligrams of fat per 100 grams of fat mass, that works out to:

          0.6-2.1 mg/100 grams * 1000 grams/kg * 5 kg = 30-105 milligrams of fat.

         Or 0.03-0.1 gram of extra fat mobilized in 30 minutes of activity.

Now, a single pound of fat (0.454 kg) contains about 400 grams of fat so our hypothetical 11.1 pounds of fat contains 4,440 grams of fat. And 30 minutes of local activity mobilized at most 0.1 gram of fat. Whoo hoo. You’ll be ripped in about 1000 years.

To take it even further, there are 48, 30 minute intervals in a day.

So, if you were to wear an EMS device on the stomach all day you would (theoretically) burn 4.8 grams of fat in that area (48 * 0.1).

4.8 grams is 0.01 pounds.

Thus,

  • After 10 days you'd burn 0.1 pounds
  • After 100 days you'd burn 1 pound

If you only wore the device half the time, then you'd double the amount of days.

200 days to burn 1 pound of fat, while having to wear something on your stomach 12 hours a day?

Point being, practical considerations will trump the theory.

         Important general point

This if often the case with exercise science, and nutrition, trends / gimmicks / research.

I distinctly remember around the time this paper on spot reduction was published green tea being a huge "it" supplement, due to fat loss properties. If you read a little though, you'd find green tea could help burn more fat...an extra 80 calories a day.

Hey, we often want fat-loss clients to have a longterm point of view, but worrying about 80 calories is excessive.

With nutrition, you'll often come across statements like "eating broccoli decreases one’s chances of getting cancer by 50%," and say you and your friend both have a 1% chance of getting cancer but your friend eats a lot of broccoli.

Thus, your friend’s chance of getting cancer is .5%, or half of yours.

Great…at the end of the day you still only have a 1% chance of getting cancer and your friend only a .5%. (This is also referred to as absolute versus relative risk.)

In the weight-loss world, 99% of what you'll read may have nuggets of truth behind them, but in practical terms are all but useless to the everyday person. Whether that be due to implausibility of implementation or the average person not caring about a half a percent difference.

It can be interesting to learn about, but if one is trying to lose weight, time and energy is much better utilized on cooking at home and getting some exercise.

0

Long ago when they first came out I got one that worked for mucels tone. I had a 6 pack under my fat. I only know it was true because I could see them while doing a crunch. In short. Yes mucel definition will be there but weight loss is minimal.

Extra fact: I did not exercise or diet. Took about 3 or 4 months. However, I was 150 and I am female. Maybe lost 10 Lb at most. May have been turning the fat to mucels. Not sure.

They are suppose to be better now. I say give it a try.

  • Welcome to the site! This is really more of a "me too" answer, rather than an actual evidentiary one. I would encourage you to take the tour and read the help center to get a better idea of how to answer. – JohnP Jun 22 '18 at 19:46

protected by JohnP Jun 22 '18 at 19:44

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