The desire to lose belly fat is a popular one for aesthetic reasons, but loss of belly fat is imperative for many on a medical level. Abdominal obesity frequently indicates a high level of visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat between your internal organs. A high level of visceral fat puts an individual at risk for insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and an unhealthy relationship of “good” to “bad” cholesterol. This visceral fat is associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

 

Two recent studies examined methods and effectiveness in the reduction of abdominal fat – one in terms of abdominal exercises, or “spot reduction,” and the other in terms of the effectiveness of aerobic versus resistance training.

 

In the first study, researchers looked at the ability of abdominal exercise alone to decrease abdominal fat. A claim frequently made by exercise equipment companies, “spot reduction” has been a highly debated topic as to its actual impact.

 

Study participants were given seven abdominal exercises to perform five days per week for six weeks. At the beginning and end of the study, body composition, abdominal endurance and anthropometrics were measured. Exercises performed included bent-knee sit-up, lateral trunk flexion, leg lift, oblique crunch, stability ball crunch, stability ball twist, and abdominal crunch.

 

After six weeks it was determined the exercises contributed to an increase in abdominal endurance, but there was no change in amount of abdominal fat. Researchers recommended the addition of aerobic activity to make a difference in an individual’s amount of abdominal body fat.

 

In a related study from Duke University Medical Center, researchers compared the body fat burning ability of aerobic versus resistance training. The study concluded aerobic exercise reduced visceral fat and liver fat. Resistance training alone was not able to create the same effect. Resistance training paired with aerobic training resulted in a similar outcome as aerobic training alone.

 

The researchers also looked at the effect of the exercises on insulin resistance and reducing triglyceride levels and found aerobic training to have a greater effect.

 

In conclusion, the dangerous body fat that lines our internal organs is best reduced by aerobic activity. While abdominal exercises and resistance training will increase strength and muscular endurance, for the sole purpose of reducing abdominal fat and decreasing risk for disease, aerobic training is the most effective strategy.