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Weight Loss This product promises to electrocute your fat away

But does it really work? We asked an expert.

  • Published: , Refreshed:

We've come a long way since the Thigh Master. But even though we've known for years that you can't spot-reduce fat, some companies are still trying to make it happen.

Enter a new Indiegogo campaign raising funds for TrimX, a product that claims to zap fat using gel pads that you wear during your workouts. These pads send a low electric current into the targeted “fat zones,” like your lower belly or thighs.

The creators say that TrimX “activates lipolysis and reduces adipose tissues.” In layman’s terms: It allegedly breaks down fat in the areas you wear it on.

The device’s creators say the claims are based on clinical science, stressing that this is different from products you may have seen before. “It is very important to see TrimX as a novel device, which should not be put in the same category as commercial products [like] ab belts and toners,” says Luc Mainville, president of LUMA Life and founder of the TrimX.

Experts are skeptical though. “As as a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist, I don't believe that this technology is effective,” says Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and advisor to Promix Nutrition.

He explains: “Your body does not draw fat from one area when it needs energy from stored fat, it draws from the whole body," says Matheny. "You can train a specific muscle group or area and add lean muscle, but you cannot selectively lose body fat from [one specific] area.” (Torch fat, get fit, and look and feel great with Women's Health's All in 18 DVD!)

Still, Mainville says that clinical studies over the last 12 years have shown that electricity can spot reduce fat. In one study, published in 2011 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, electrical stimulation was applied to isolated human fat cells from 10 women in vitro (a.k.a. in a test tube or petri dish, not in the human body). The researchers concluded that electrical stimulation can indeed break down fat cells in vitro.

In a second unpublished study paid for by TrimX , researchers asked a group of nine women to wear the TrimX device during 30 aerobic workouts over 10 weeks. They also asked a group of 13 women to do the same workouts without the device.

The researchers found that both groups lost the same amount of fat overall, but TrimX users lost much more fat in the areas they targeted with the wearable—466 percent more than the group who did not use the technology. So, they concluded that adipotronics stimulation (stimulating fat cells using electricity) could lead to targeted fat loss.

However, the small sample size of these studies make the results less groundbreaking, says Matheny. “If [the study is] not peer-reviewed and published in a reputable scientific journal, like the second unpublished study, there isn't strong evidence to support their claim,” Matheny says. He adds that 10 or so subjects is a very small sample, which means there are many variables that could have affected the results and aren't accounted for.

Matheny says that the product probably isn’t dangerous, but stresses that targeted fat loss just doesn't work. Instead, he recommends that anyone looking to lose fat in a specific area try to lose weight overall with diet and exercise. Then, he says, you can use strength moves targetting the area you want to improve to add lean muscle. That is a much more effective way to look leaner.

The product is expected to ship to Indiegogo backers in June 2017.

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