Updated Zaggora review (24 February 2016)
Zaggora is a clothing company based in the UK that sells a line of athletic wear (called Hotwear) that can supposedly help you burn more calories. It is sold online through their website and on Amazon.com (you can read Amazon’s customer reviews).
In 2011, I authored a Zaggora review (below) which categorically addressed all of the misleading and unsubstantiated marketing claims the company was making for the hotwear at that time.
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I’d largely forgotten about Zaggora until, in mid-2015, I was contacted by producers from Good Morning America regarding the veracity of marketing claims for Zaggora Hotwear.
After reading my original review, GMA wanted to interview me regarding two research studies which had since surfaced showing that Zaggora hotwear can make users burn more calories.
You can view the GMA clip by clicking below:
Before I evaluate the research, I should point out that the marketing claims on the original Zaggora website in late 2011 were much more brash and cavalier (which are cited in my original article). More relevant, to the best of my knowledge, there was no published research at that time to support product claims.
I received an email from Zaggora co-founder Malcolm Bell dated 26 October 2011 asking if I’d like to have a chat and discuss running some clinical trials.
I graciously declined because: 1) I didn’t see doing commercial research on neoprene (wetsuit) shorts as a worthy investment of my time; and 2) I was already sufficiently obligated with other research studies.
To be fair, I’m sure Malcolm and Dessi Bell are both nice people and I have no personal issues with either of them. However, from my perspective, I simply wanted them to be balanced and transparent in their marketing claims at that time and get rid of all the suggestive and misleading mumbo jumbo like “far-infrared rays” and “flushing out toxins that contribute to cellulite.”
When I looked at their website towards the end of 2015, I noticed they had cleaned up a lot of the hokey exaggerated claims (Thank you Zaggora) and just whittled their science down to a single “how it works” page (view screenshot here).
As of February 2016, they appear to have removed any and all references to the research studies.
Zaggora research and marketing claims 2015
As of 2015, Zaggora’s scientific evidence focuses on two studies conducted at University of Brighton (UB) and another by ETScience at the University of Southern California (USC).
Zaggora claims “both studies confirm the finding that Zaggora can increase calorie burn” and that “the UB Study tested 13 subjects in Zaggora HotPants and 13 in standard active wear and found that exercising in HotPants can increase energy expenditure during exercise by an average of 11%.”
Now let’s look at the actual numbers from the studies and put them into a practical real-world perspective.
The University of Brighton study
The University of Brighton study reported oxygen consumption during exercise from which we can calculate calories burnt.
Mean Exercising VO2 in L/min:
- Zaggora clothing = 2.11 ± 0.24
- Control clothing= 1.98 ± 0.67
- Statistical significance: P = 0.043
To convert L/min into kcal/min we need to multiply each of these results by 5. So:
2.11 x 5 = 10.55 calories with Zaggora and 1.98 x 5 = 9.9 calories per minute in the control clothing.
Therefore: 10.55 – 9.9 = a difference of 0.65 calories per minute or 316.5 vs 297 calories per 30 minutes of exercise for a difference of 19.5 calories (or approximately a 6.5% difference).
The University of Southern California study
Looking closely at the reported numbers in the USC study, it actually shows that study participants wearing the control clothing burnt 6 calories MORE than when wearing Zaggora over the 30 minutes of treadmill exercise (control = 236±44 vs Zaggora = 230±48).
The authors of the report note that under the control condition, participants had to exercise an average of 3% faster and at a 23% steeper incline on the treadmill to achieve the same heart rate range as when wearing Zaggora clothing.
The authors theorised that wearing Zaggora clothing places greater metabolic demands on the body and therefore would result in approximately a 6% difference compared to when wearing normal clothing.
Does Zaggora make you burn more calories?
So are the numbers from the studies truthful? Will you burn more calories from wearing Zaggora clothing?
In a word: yes. It is technically true that research subjects burnt an extra 6 to 19.5 calories over 30 minutes of exercise.
Are the number practically relevant in such a way that it will result in a significant amount of fat loss?
Highly unlikely. Here’s why.
If we take a best case scenario and say you will burn an extra 20 calories per exercise session wearing Zaggora, then how long would it take to burn the equivalent amount of energy stored in 1 pound (~ a half kg) of stored body fat?
There are 3500 calories stored in 1 pound of body fat, so:
3500 / 20 calories burnt per session = 175 sessions of 30 minutes each.
If you were to work out 5 days per week without missing a single exercise session then it would take you 35 weeks (8.75 months) to burn an extra pound of body fat wearing the shorts (based on 175 / 5 x week = 35 weeks).
So does Zaggora hotwear work? You’ll have to decide that for yourself based on the information presented above. If you’re hoping for major changes in body composition from Zaggora, then I’d suggest keeping your expectations in check.
Original 2011 Zaggora review
Zaggora HotPants (and similar products like Delfin Spa Bio Ceramic Anti Cellulite Shorts) employ the overarching marketing theme “wear our shorts for a slimmer, less cellulite-ridden you.”
Based on my observations, I believe many of Zaggora’s claims are leading and loosely worded which leaves the consumer with unrealistic expectations of what the product can actually deliver.
Remember that marketing is unilaterally intended to do one thing: sell product. The favourable aspects of the product are highlighted while inconvenient truths are often downplayed or omitted. I’ve always been of the mindset that consumers should receive full disclosure so they can make an educated decision in their purchases. I have no problem with consumers purchasing Zaggora Hotpants provided they have both sides of the story.
What are bio-ceramic shorts?
Zaggora Hotpants™ are the latest in a long line of slimming garments which, according to company marketing materials, are “specially designed sports shorts that contain bio-ceramic technology, which emits far infrared rays and reflects back the heat naturally generated by the body to deliver warming up of tissue deep below the skin’s surface.” Zaggora maintains this will “visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite” and trim inches off your hips and thighs, with the effect further enhanced by wearing them during exercise. This sounds impressive, but is there any merit to these claims?
Zaggora marketing claim: Bio-ceramics emit far-infrared rays (heat waves) promote deeper warming of tissue and breakdown of fat cells.
Response: The concept of ‘spot reduction,’ selectively stripping fat off specific areas of the body, remains unproven. The phrasing of this marketing claim gives me the impression that simply wearing bio-ceramic shorts will reduce fat under the skin. The heating of the muscle may alter the regional fluid compartment which might temporarily give the appearance of slimmer hips or thighs, but this should not be mistaken for fat loss.
Zaggora also claims that the effects will be enhanced by wearing the shorts while you exercise. However, this also seems to be “wishful shrinking.” A recent study by Kostek et al. (2007) investigated the impact of exercise on regional fat depots measured by both skinfold thickness and MRI technology. The salient finding was that the less accurate skinfold method seemingly showed differences in local fat stores, but this was not reflected in the comparatively more accurate MRI scan. The authors noted that exercise likely induces a “pumped up” effect in muscle which temporarily makes the skin tighter, resulting in a reduced skinfold thickness (with no change in fat tissue).
Zaggora marketing claim: Wearing HotPants “…results in much higher levels of perspiration leading to “flushing out” of toxins and edemas that contribute to the appearance of cellulite.”
Response: It may be true that HotPants result in a greater level of perspiration which, as mentioned above, could plausibly alter the skin surface appearance. However, this should not be misconstrued as “melting away the fat.” This is not that different from the concept behind those old 1970s vinyl “sweat suits” which reduced scale weight mostly in the form of fluid loss. I am unaware of any scientific evidence to date supporting the notion that you can sweat away fat localised to one part of the body.
Zaggora does not mention which “toxins” the shorts purportedly address (though I’ve got an inquiring mind and I’d certainly like to know). The “eliminating toxins” scare tactics have always made consumers easy prey and sadly far too many fall for it.
Zaggora marketing claim: Wear HotPants for “…30 minutes a day while you are doing exercise and you will feel and see the results – visibly reducing the appearance of cellulite.
Response: There is no mention of how the “30 minutes a day” recommendation was determined. The mention of “studies” confers a a scientific stamp of approval. However, Zaggora does not provide the reference or a link where the results can be independently verified. The burden of proof should be on the company to conclusively verify that the product does what the marketing states.
Zaggora marketing claim: “Whilst studies have shown they (shorts) are effective whilst not exercising, best results will be achieved when worn during a workout. HOTPANTS™ delivers best results when used in conjunction with exercise and worn consistently. The effectiveness of the product depends on the quality of your exercise routine and the consistency of use. The harder you work at it, the harder HOTPANTS™ will work at it.”
Response: This claim uses the “cause and effect vs. coincidence” marketing strategy which is very common amongst questionable slimming products. You should be aware that doing exercise, no matter what kind of shorts you’re wearing, is clearly a step in the right direction and will have an influence on overall body fat stores. ‘Exercise’ your critical thinking skills by separating cause and effect from coincidence. It is more likely that you lost fat (and scale weight) from your daily walks, hard work in the gym, non-exercise activity time, and healthy eating (cause and effect) while you just happened to be wearing HotPants (coincidence). Unfortunately, many consumers unwittingly surrender the credit for all their hard work to the latest slimming garments, dietary supplements, or questionable infomercial gimmicks like the Ab Circle Pro (which comes with a low-calorie diet).
Zaggora marketing claim: The bio-ceramics contained in the HOTPANTS™ material, contain far-infrared reflective particles, enabling the reflection of body generated heat back into the tissue. Far-infrared rays are widely used in sauna equipment and have been proven to reduce body fat content and assist with weight loss in obese patients.
Response: There is limited evidence that far-infrared saunas may help alleviate some cardiovascular conditions, but there is scant to nil scientific evidence that it can effectively reduce body fat stores. The research at this point is speculative and inconclusive at best and warrants further investigation. Moreover, it is stretching the truth to extrapolate results from sauna studies and apply them to bioceramic garments which have not been independently and conclusively shown to reduce body fat stores. As previously mentioned, a reduction in thigh or hip circumference likely stems from localised alterations in the fluid compartment, but do not constitute fat loss (which may coincidentally occur due to exercise).
Zaggora marketing claim: “What if it doesn’t work for me and I want my money back? We are happy to accept returns of unworn and new items within 30 days of purchase. Naturally, if the goods are faulty, we will exchange them. Sadly, we cannot accept returned goods that have been used on health and safety grounds.”
Response: I’m not quite certain this is much of a guarantee. You’d want to try out the shorts and see how you go, but once they’re worn, you can’t return them? I understand the health reasons for this, but my interpretation of this is that if you’re not satisfied and you want your money back, then that’s just tough luck. Something of a catch 22. Though if I’m missing something, I’m certainly open to correcting this.
The “bottom line”
The cellulite game is a billion dollar market and it seems every week there’s some new gadget, potion/pill, diet, body wrap (i.e., It Works wraps) or gimmick with “fat marketing claims” looking to separate you from your hard-earned cash. I believe the marketing claims surrounding Zaggora’s HotPants are spurious but definitely not the worst I’ve seen. The marketing is heavily “suggestive” and tends to blur the line between what consumers might expect from exercise alone versus exercise in conjunction with wearing the shorts (cause and effect vs. coincidence). Greater disclosure and transparency with scientific evidence would be helpful, though to the best of my knowledge, I am unaware of any research articles which conclusively support the efficacy of the shorts for reducing fat on the hips or thighs.
Zaggora also appears to be heavily invested into social network marketing (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) which tends to lend itself well to what I call “validation by testimonial.” While testimonials might be compelling, they are not scientific, further adding to the difficulty in verifying how “results” were quantified. I’ve seen images on the internet of women measuring their thighs over top of the HotPants, but any “girdling effect” the shorts may provide could plausibly give the appearance of a reduction in girth where in fact there is none.
In conclusion, I would discourage you from purchasing this product based on scant to nil independent evidence of efficacy. You would be better served investing your time and money into regular exercise and healthy, nutrient-rich eating – both of which have been shown to boost metabolism, reduce weight, and improve the appearance of “cellulite.” Despite our desire for easy fat loss, the old adage still holds: If it appears too good to be true then it probably is.