June 1, 2011 -- It's summer, and that means skirts, shorts and bathing suits that show a little more skin and may make you more conscious of your weight. You could exercise and eat less to lose a few pounds, but two new fitness products claim you can lose inches just sitting still or lying down.
First, caffeine-infused leggings that claim to take 2 inches off your hips and more than an inch from your thighs just by wearing them for 5 hours a day for 21 days.
The Lytess leggings cost $50 to start with (their shapewear line is more expensive). There are styles that offer slimming and contouring like a pair of Spanx and others that are just like soft bike shorts without the shapewear element.
When I try them on they smell like fruit, not coffee. Wear them for 2 hours and my legs don't feel invigorated or tingly. I am very sensitive to caffeine and I feel no buzz from any infusion of caffeine. I tried them on at 4 in the afternoon and had no trouble sleeping that night.
But is there any science that would support the idea that caffeine rubbed on your skin will help you look thinner or feel skinnier?
Exercise physiologist, Samantha Heller says no. "I have not seen any studies in the peer review medical literature about these pants. Wearing a ring or a pair of pants or some kind of bracelet really is not going to help you lose weight. It may be a reminder that you want to skip the cookies you're about to eat, but overall it's not going to change your physiology enough for significant and healthy weight loss."
Lytess, the maker of the caffeine pants, uses graphics in its promotional videos claiming 46 percent fat loss in areas of the thighs and buttocks, and yet when we contacted the company it said the following: "The clinical tests that Lytess has performed have shown average slimming results of 0.2" and maximum results of 2.1" on hips and 1.2" on thigh within 21 days. These tests have been performed by an independent ISO 9001 laboratory on a panel over 34 individuals who were required not to change their life style which means: no diet, no exercise while wearing their leggings."
Lytess does clarify that it doesn't claim anything about weight loss, only size reduction and smoother skin. And that the company has sold 3.5 million pairs of the pants in France to satisfied customers.
Planet Beach, a franchise of spas, is promoting a device called the Slim Capsule that it says will burn an extra 500 calories just by lying down in it for 30 minutes.
The Slim Capsule heats your body up to 180 degrees although your head is outside of the unit and stays cool.
I try it by first applying a spot-reducing cellulite cream provided to trouble areas like thighs, hips and buttocks. I wear a papery suit that is intended to retain heat around the body.
The capsule opens like some sleep pod from "Star Trek" and I get in to begin the treatment.
I ask Kevin Nunez, owner of the Planet Beach franchise we visit in Brentwood, Calif., about how this heat differs from a sauna.
"A sauna is pulling water weight from the skin and dehydrating the body," he says. "The use of the infrared heat in the slim capsule helps to reset the metabolic rate, increase cardiovascular circulation and help the body burn more calories."
But exercise physiologists ABC spoke with say there are no major studies or research showing increased heat or infrared heat as a key to weight loss or fat reduction.
In fact, Samantha Heller says it can be dangerous
"Exposing yourself to extreme heat for 20 to 25 minutes can really increase your risk for dehydration, it can increase your risk for heat stroke, other adverse reactions to heat where your body is unable to cool itself down," she says. "You have to be very, very careful. It can interact with certain medications, medical conditions, something you have to be very, very careful of before you decide this is what you want to do."
And even though it claims the device will burn 500 calories, the company that makes the slim capsule says: "The focus for the client using the Slimline pod should be wellness, restful rejuvenation and thermal exercise leading to a cleansing feeling and inch loss, not necessarily weight loss!"
After my 30 minutes in the Slim Capsule at Planet Beach I am sweaty, thirsty and ready for a shower. After reviewing the science and the experience of both weight loss products, I think I'll just stick with healthy eating and jogging a few times a week.