Can Vaseline Burn Belly Fat Or Is This Some Crazy Myth?

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: February 15, 2024
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As a personal trainer, I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked about crazy ideas to lose weight fast.

But when I heard about using vaseline for losing belly fat while you sleep, I thought this was a new level of craziness.

Skepticism aside, I decided to look into the concept of vaseline and plastic wrap and how they might impact weight loss. And with the help of a physician, I did some extensive research into the scientific literature.

Let’s see if you can lose belly fat overnight with vaseline.

Quick Summary

  • Vaseline does not contribute to weight loss or calorie burning, debunking the myth of its effectiveness in reducing belly fat.
  • Applying vaseline and wrapping the body in plastic leads to sweating, but this is due to skin's inability to cool rather than fat loss.
  • A calorie deficit, where more calories are burned than consumed, is essential for weight loss, as supported by a study published in PubMed.
  • Personally, I find the idea of using vaseline for weight loss to be a clear example of how quick fixes are often misleading and ineffective.

Does Vaseline Help You Lose Weight?

Woman applying vaseline

No, vaseline doesn’t help you lose weight or even burn calories.

In all my years of working as a personal trainer, I’ve seen a lot of people recommend creams and lotions that can help you lose belly fat.

In my experience, creams and lotions promising weight loss are ineffective.

True weight loss requires boosting your metabolic rate, a process not achievable through any 'magic' cream, despite claims about certain herbs and micronutrients.

I did find one study on a branded cream, but the important thing is that the test subjects achieved weight loss because they were walking and exercising, according to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology [1].

The doctor collaborating on this research confirmed that such weight loss claims often stem from flawed studies.

Next, we'll delve into the science and explore the belief in overnight belly fat loss with vaseline.

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How Do People Use Vaseline For Weight Loss?

People apply vaseline and plastic wrap to areas like the abdomen, thighs, and arms, hoping the increased heat will reduce belly fat.

However, the resulting sweat is not from boosted metabolism but from the skin's inability to cool itself effectively, according to the Healthfully [2].

I actually tried this out as part of my research. And what I found was that whether I used vaseline or not, the amount of sweating under the plastic seemed to be the same.

To me, it seems like all that sweating might have caused some diminished brain power, as there is a big difference between temporary loss of water weight and actual weight loss that results in a flat stomach.

What Does Science Say About It?

A woman with different spot of vaseline on her belly

There is absolutely no reliable scientific evidence that petroleum jelly and plastic wrap will help you lose belly fat overnight. My research and practical experience confirm the lack of scientific evidence for vaseline's effectiveness in belly fat loss.

And I would go one step further to say that it won’t do anything for additional calorie burning during exercise [3].

Contrasting popular myths like using vaseline for weight loss with medically approved topical treatments highlights a significant gap in effectiveness and safety, with FDA-approved products offering scientifically backed benefits unlike home remedies.

The belief that heat and sweat from vaseline use equate to increased metabolism is unfounded.  My research revealed that claims of creams aiding in belly fat loss are based on flawed studies lacking proper control groups.

These studies often combine the use of creams with diet and exercise, which are the real contributors to fat loss.  Any immediate weight loss seen after using vaseline and plastic wrap is merely from sweating, typically reversing as water weight returns shortly after.

The psychological allure of quick-fix solutions like applying vaseline for belly fat loss underscores a broader societal trend, where the desire for immediate results often overshadows the importance of sustainable health and weight management strategies.

Dangers And Side Effects

The scarcity of scientific research on using vaseline and plastic wrap for belly fat loss means there's limited information on potential risks.

However, the doctor I collaborated with pointed out a significant concern: excessive sweating from plastic wrapping can lead to water retention and, in severe cases, dehydration, posing serious health risks [4].

From my observations, excessive use of vaseline and plastic wrap can lead to skin issues and discomfort.

“Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in, meaning your body doesn't have enough water to carry out its normal functions.”

- Angela Joseph, Writer at Healthfully.com. 

Does Vaseline Work During Exercise?

Wiping Vaseline lotion on her belly

Vaseline does not aid in burning extra calories during exercise. It's not a secret solution for stubborn fat loss.

In my fitness sessions, I've noticed no extra calorie burn from vaseline use during exercise.

Be skeptical of studies claiming topical creams accelerate belly fat loss during exercise.

Often, these studies involve participants who exercise and apply a cream, but lack a rigorous double-blind control group.

This suggests that it's the exercise, not the cream, that leads to fat loss.

Better Options For Effective Weight Loss

The very first thing you need to achieve a flat belly is to stop eating junk like fried food and sugary drinks.

Then reduce your calorie intake so that you have a deficit and burn more calories than you take in, based on the study published in PubMed [5].

As a trainer, I advise focusing on diet and regular exercise for effective belly fat loss.

Do thirty minutes of physical activity a day, and head to the gym three days a week for some solid aerobic workouts. 

There is only one way that you can lose weight overnight, and that is with a nighttime fat burner. These can boost metabolism rates while you’re resting, but they won’t make you slim in a few days.

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FAQs

Can You Apply Vaseline Every Day?

Yes, you can apply vaseline every day as long as you don’t develop any skin reactions. Just don’t expect it to help you with losing weight or allow you to burn fat more effectively.

Does Vaseline Make You Sweat More?

No, there is no scientific evidence that vaseline will make you sweat more. The fraudulent vaseline weight loss theory also involves wrapping the body in plastic, and it’s the plastic that causes sweating.


References:

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jocd.12801
  2. https://healthfully.com/why-wrapping-your-stomach-in-plastic-wrap-to-lose-weight-is-a-really-bad-idea-4984492.html
  3. https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/working-out-while-wrapped-plastic-good-weight-loss/
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18025815/
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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