Aerobic exercise burns belly fat

Aerobic exercise is your best bet when it comes to losing that dreaded belly fat, a new study finds.

When Duke University Medical Center researchers conducted a head-to-head comparison of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and a combination of the two, they found aerobic exercise to be the most efficient and most effective way to lose the belly fat most damaging to your health.

This isn't the fat that lies just under your skin and causes the dreaded muffin top. Belly or abdominal fat – known in scientific communities as visceral fat and liver fat – is located deep within the abdominal cavity and fills the spaces between internal organs. It's been associated with increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.

"When it comes to increased health risks, where fat is deposited in the body is more important than how much fat you have," says Duke exercise physiologist Cris Slentz, Ph.D., lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Physiology. "Our study sought to identify the most effective form of exercise to get rid of that unhealthy fat."

The Duke study showed aerobic training significantly reduced visceral fat and liver fat, the culprit in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Aerobic exercise also did a better job than resistance training at improving fasting insulin resistance, and reducing liver enzymes and fasting triglyceride levels. All are known risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

Combination of exercise is best

Resistance training achieved no significant reductions in visceral fat, liver fat, liver enzyme levels or improvements in insulin resistance. The combination of aerobic exercise with resistance training achieved results similar to aerobic training alone.

"Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass," says Slentz. "But if you are overweight, which two thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories." Aerobic training burned 67% more calories in the study when compared to resistance training.

The eight-month study followed 196 overweight, sedentary adults (ages 18-70) who were randomised to one of three groups: aerobic training; resistance training or a combination of the two.

The aerobic group performed exercises equivalent to 12 miles of jogging per week at 80% maximum heart rate. The resistance group performed three sets of 8 – 12 repetitions three times per week. All programmes were closely supervised and monitored to ensure maximum effort in participation.

While the training programmes were rigorous and substantial, Slentz says their previous research leads him to believe similar results could be achieved with a more moderate aerobic exercise program.

"What really counts is how much exercise you do, how many miles you walk and how many calories you burn," he says. "If you choose to work at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat."

(EurekAlert, August 2011) 

Read more:

Belly fat versus bottom fat

Diet & nutrition

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 646 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 3497 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 742 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.20
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
21.30
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
18.70
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.22
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Platinum
1,012.08
0.0%
Palladium
1,618.86
0.0%
Gold
1,928.39
0.0%
Silver
23.60
0.0%
Brent Crude
86.66
-0.9%
Top 40
74,766
+0.4%
All Share
80,791
+0.4%
Resource 10
77,871
-0.4%
Industrial 25
103,872
+0.7%
Financial 15
16,281
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE