Wrapping your belly with plastic might seem like a new weight loss trend, but it has been under practice for centuries. However, the craze got a new life when the “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara promoted it in a US Weekly interview.
But does this mean you can use a Saran or plastic wrap to lose belly fat?
There’s very little research or studies about the effectiveness of body wraps for weight loss. To make matters worse, using a saran wrap can also have side effects.
What is a Saran Wrap?
Saran is a type of plastic wrap that’s typically used as a food wrap. However, some people wrap it around their belly to burn fat and get a slimmer waist.
The Best Way To Use the Wrap
Usually, oil or mask is applied on the skin before wrapping it with the Saran or plastic wrap. (1)
Many also cover the wrap with warm blankets or compressive bandages for better results. Wraps that include clay, creams, mud, or lotions need to be in place for 30 to 90 minutes. After removing the wrap, rinse the area with water and apply a moisturizer.
How Do the Wrap Claim to Help?
These wraps can help you lose a few pounds, make your skin smooth, and get rid of cellulite in 30 to 90 minutes.
It sounds logical that a wrap can help your skin feel smooth because of the oil or mask, but losing pounds or getting rid of cellulite feels skeptical.
If you lose weight or your belly feels slimmer after using the cling film, it is because of dehydration and not fat loss. However, these results are temporary, and you will probably return to ground zero once you rehydrate.
What Does Research Say About Saran Wrap?
There are no studies to prove the effectiveness of Saran wrap on weight loss or cellulite. The majority of evidence comes from other types of body wraps. So, there aren’t any unbiased studies backing the benefits of Saran wrap for weight loss.
Are Saran Wraps Safe to Use as Body Wraps?
Using the wrap for more than 90 minutes in one go can cause clogged pores, bacterial or fungal infections, and skin rashes. Other side effects include:
When used as body wraps, cling films trap heat, causing excessive sweating and dehydration. Water loss can cause loss of blood volume. As blood circulates oxygen, lower blood volume means lower oxygen available for the cells. All this can result in dizziness, weakness, or headaches. (2)
Exposing Skin to Harmful Substances
Saran wrap is made of polyvinyl chloride, which might harm your skin. Many experts believe that long-term use of polyvinyl chloride can trigger allergy episodes in many individuals. It might also damage other organs. (3)
Affects Your Libido
Excess pressure on your stomach can put unnecessary tension on your internal organs and negatively affect your libido. Plus, it might cause erectile problems in men.
Excess heat from wrapping your belly can cause a burning sensation. It can be uncomfortable and harm your skin.
Pressure on your stomach might result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems.
Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s
Some plastic wraps contain aluminum, which can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. A study on rats suggests that prolonged exposure to aluminum triggers the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. (4)
Exposure To Harmful Substances
Saran wrap is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that might have a harmful effect on the liver, bones, spleen, and kidneys. PVC may also increase the risk of cancer. (5)
Moreover, substances you use with the wrap may induce cold heat to the area, affecting the skin.
What Can You Do Instead?
If you are planning to lose weight and tone your belly, diet and exercise are your best bet.
Follow A Calorie Deficit Diet
It involves consuming fewer calories than you burn, allowing your body to burn the stored fat for energy. Working out can help ramp up the calorie-burning process.
If you’re unsure about your calorie requirement, check out our convenient online calculator here.
In a weight loss program, it’s best to include whole foods (vegetables, fruits, lean meat, seeds, legumes, beans, and nuts) in your diet and avoid processed and packaged foods.
Check Out: Calorie Deficit Calculator
It’s no secret exercise helps you burn calories. Experts recommend getting 150 minutes of exercise a week or 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week. (6)
You could use a body wrap while training as it can help you lose weight by ramping up your core body temperature.
Some physical activities that might help you achieve your weight loss goal:
Furthermore, exercise lowers your risk for various health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart attack.
Other Tips That Might Help
Some tips to lose belly fat include:
- Drink matcha tea as it can help fat burn faster
- Try intermittent fasting
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Add more protein to your diet
- Avoid sugar or sugary drinks
Types of Body Wraps
Other types of body wraps include:
- Slimming wraps that include herbal products or lotions
- Heat wraps that involve applying heat cream on the skin before using the wrap
- Detoxing wraps to remove toxins from the skin
- Infrared body wraps
Can you wear a body wrap overnight?
While many people use the wrap overnight, it is better to avoid this practice. Using the wrap for a long time could result in dehydration and skin problems.
How long should you wear a Saran wrap?
As there isn’t much scientific evidence, it’s difficult to determine how long one should wear it. The common practice involves wearing it for 30 to 90 minutes.
Are body wraps dangerous?
They might be dangerous if used for a long time as they can result in dehydration, and stomach and digestive problems.
Is sleeping with Saran wrap around your stomach effective for weight loss?
Sleeping with a Saran wrap might cause temporary weight loss, but it is due to water and not fat loss. Once you rehydrate, the weight will come back.
A Saran wrap can nourish your skin and make it smooth. It might also help with temporary weight loss and a slimmer waist, but these effects are due to dehydration. You’ll be back to ground zero as soon as you rehydrate.
If you want to shed weight for good, you should focus on following an effective diet and training program and leave the cling film to athletes who need to shed water pounds quickly to make weight.
- Santos Moreira, J., Melo, A., Noites, A., Couto, M. F., Melo, C. A., & Adubeiro, N. (2013). Plaster body wrap: effects on abdominal fat. Integrative medicine research, 2(4), 151–156.
- Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439–458.
- Jaakkola, J. J., & Knight, T. L. (2008). The role of exposure to phthalates from polyvinyl chloride products in the development of asthma and allergies: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental health perspectives, 116(7), 845–853.
- Effect of aluminium-induced Alzheimer like condition on oxidative energy metabolism in rat liver, brain and heart mitochondria.
- Fralish MS, Downs JW. Vinyl Chloride Toxicity. [Updated 2021 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.
- Yang Y. J. (2019). An Overview of Current Physical Activity Recommendations in Primary Care. Korean journal of family medicine, 40(3), 135–142.