Saturday, 14 September 2013

Formostar Wrap at Alkaline Spa and Clinic: the lazy way to burn 1200 calories

I love beauty therapies that are discovered by accident - that were originally made for a medically purpose but were found to have 'beautiful related' side effects. The Formostar wrap is one such device. Infra red has been show to reduce pain and inflammation and so this device was originally designed for treating arthritis sufferers or people with muscular injuries or pain. The side effect that was noticed from these treatments was fat/weight loss around the treatment site. So, naturally, the Formostar wrap then found it's way into the beauty industry as a weight loss tool. 

The Formostar wrap is comprised of plastic panels that can be wrapped around certain body parts which then allow infra red light waves to pass into the body. The waves are able to penetrate around 4-5 cm below the skins surface. It is then claimed that the treatment stimulates the body’s natural metabolism, with effects similar to an intensive cardiovascular workout. Unlike the fluid loss experienced through sweating during exercise, weight loss is achieved through the excretion of fat and increased enzyme activity within the tissues; and the burning of calories as energy. Alkaline Formostar can help you burn off up to 1,200 calories in a single session. It is recommended that you have a series of 8 sessions to maximise results.

The contraption that powers the infrared

The plastic panels that get wrapped around you.

My experience with the Alkaline Formostar Wrap
I am always willing to be a guinea pig in the name of beauty and so was quite intrigued to try this. I tolerate heat well. In fact, I have always been quite sensitive to the cold but fairly oblivious to the heat (the one exception being that New Years day in 2006 when the weather topped 47 degrees Celsius in Sydney. With a hangover from the night before that had to have been one of the most unpleasant days of my life!). The first thing you do is change into the PJs provided. You then lay down on the bed and get tightly wrapped with the silicon panels. I had my thighs, hips/bum, stomach and arms wrapped. I could have had my boobs wrapped if I wanted them reduced; however, after a total of 21 months breast feeding my kids have pretty much sucked all the fat out of them anyway so I opted to leave them.

All wrapped up
You then get covered with a blanket and the session begins. To simulate real exercise the first 20 minutes are fairly easy, not too hot then he heat increase for the final 20 minutes. I was chatting away with my therapist so tolerated it well as I didn't really notice the heat too much but you can see from how red my face is that it did get really hot. Occasionally you get hot spots where the heat feels too intense - it starts to feel quite prickly. They tell you to inform them as soon as you get that feeling then they quickly unwrap you, put a towel over that area, then re-wrap you. The towel doesn't diminish the effect of the infrared but takes away the burning sensation. I got the sensation in my legs but once the towel was applied it was fine again.

Nice and snug and cosy and all wrapped up (see my bright red face)
Throughout the session you are sweating like never before so they bring you in a cup of alkaline water. I ended up downing two of those. I am not the best water drinker (I think I get so distracted chasing adter the kids I simply forget to drink water throughout the day so thought I should replenish my fluids before I forgot).

Throughout the session I felt fin and enjoyed the hot sensation. However, afterwards I had an intense headache and felt somewhat nauseated. This was due to dehydration with a bit of hunger mixed in, as both symptoms vanished after I had lunch and another drink of water. By that afternoon I felt back to my normal self.

My disgustingly sweaty post wrap pants!

Did I lose any weight?
As you know, I have been on a weight loss journey for the last 3 months, following the Bodytrim program (here is my most recent post and at the end is a link to every post in the series if you wanted to read about my journey). I tested the Formostar wrap fairly early in my Bodytrim journey (week 2 to be exact). I weighed myself before the session and again afterwards and had lost 400g but you can see from how wet my clothes were, a heap of the weight loss was sweat. I then weighed myself again the following morning, once I had spent the day rehydrating, and I was still down 200g so it is likely that a 200g weight loss can be attributed to the Formostar Wrap. Over that whole week I lost 700g so am guessing (as it would never be possibly for me to definitely know what my body is doing inside) that 500g of weight loss could be attributed to the Bodytrim diet and the extra 200g was probably due to the Formostar wrap.

I have tried to find some scientific research that confirms that you actually do burn 1200 calories in a session but have struggled. Most of the studies I found are from people who sell the Formostar systems so are not neutral. One American group bought a machine and then used it whilst testing how much the metabolic rate increased. After a 30 minute session, they found that they burnt 67 calories. The company then refuted that finding saying that as the Formostar doesn't cause your heart rate to rise, you can't measure for a raise in metabolism with the traditional methods.

Some sites even claim that the infrared wrap liquefies fat cells and that the liquid fat is then released from the body - this would be quite worrying if it were true as it would put you at huge risk of heart attack (the liquid fat could clog arteries). If you are going for this sort of treatment and your therapist tells you the infrared will liquefy your fat then run for the hills as they don't know what they are talking about. I am pleased to report that the therapist I had at Alkaline really knew her stuff. I actually asked her whether the Formostar wrap liquefies fat and she said 'God no, you wouldn't want to do that' (or something like that...I'm paraphrasing as it was a couple of months ago!).

As I haven't been able to unearth any scientific articles that support the claims that the Formostar wrap can help you burn up to 1200 calories in a single session, I have to go with my gut and my gut feeling is that it wouldn't be possible to burn that amount. The average women requires around 2000 calories/day so I just can't see how it would be possible to burn 60% of your days calories in 30 minutes. However, I do believe that it can aid in weight loss. The fact that this technology was discovered as an unexpected side effect (the fat loss, that is) when it was being used to treat pain makes me think that it is causing some amount of weight loss or burning of fat.

I think that the Alkaline Formostar wrap could be a good compliment to your weight loss journey. I know in my title I said that it was a lazy way to burn up to 1200 calories but, in reality, if you are just going to use the wrap in isolation and for the rest of the week be a junk food eating couch potato then you will not see any results. However, with a healthy eating plan and addition exercise it may just accelerate your weight/fat loss results. They recommend that you complete a series of 8 sessions - if you did do that I guess you could expect to lose around 1.5kgs.

You can experience the Alkaline Formostar wrap at the Alkaline Spa, Potts Point. A single session is $110; series of 8 is $750; or a series of 15 is $1,300. I just want to say that my experience at the Alkaline Spa was exceptional. My therapist was so knowledgeable (I couldn't stop talking to her as I just wanted to learn everything that she had to say) and the whole experience was a very enjoyable one for me.

Have you tried any devices to accelerate your fat or weight loss? Did you have success with such device?

All opinions are my own and I received no remuneration for this post. The Formostar Wrap session was provided for consideration.