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How to reduce visceral fat: 12-week yoga intervention shown to combat the belly fat


Fatty tissue generally falls into two subcategories – visceral and subcutaneous. The latter (the fat you can see) is benign compared to the former, which lurks near vital organs in the body. Luckily, you can reduce the harmful belly fat by making healthy lifestyle interventions.

A wait-list control group is a group of research participants who receive the same intervention or treatment as those in the experimental group but at a later time.

The patients in the yoga group participated in an average of 30 hours worth of supervised yoga practice.

The yoga intervention consisted of an initial full-day workshop, followed by two weekly 90-minute classes of traditional hatha yoga over a 12-week period.

Hatha yoga broadly covers most forms of yoga practice. It involves breath, body, and mind, and classes are usually 45 minutes to 90 minutes of breathing, yoga poses, and meditation.

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So, what did the researchers find out?

The yoga participants abdominal circumference was significantly reduced in comparison to the participants on the waiting list.

There were also differences observed in the waist/hip ratio; body weight; body mass index (BMI); body fat percentage; body muscle mass percentage; mental and physical well-being; self-esteem, subjective stress; body awareness; and trust in bodily sensations.

In their concluding remarks, the researchers said: “Yoga is safe in this population and can be recommended as a technique for combating abdominal obesity in women.”

Other effective exercise interventions

Most of the focus to date has been on aerobic exercise training.

Studies have shown that you can help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with both aerobic activity, such as brisk walking.

According to Harvard Health, strength training (exercising with weights) has also been shown to reduce the belly fat.

“Spot exercises, such as sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles but won’t get at visceral fat,” the health body adds.

In addition to exercise, it is vital to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

As Bupa explains, if you want to reduce your belly fat, you’ll need to burn more calories (energy) than you consume, and eat the right kinds of food.

The health body recommends the following dietary tips:

  • Make sure you eat a balanced diet. Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg each day, and include higher-fibre starchy foods in meals
  • Have some reduced-fat dairy or soya drinks fortified in calcium
  • Eat more beans, pulses, fish and eggs
  • Eat small amounts of unsaturated oil
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water each day
  • Avoid adding salt or sugar to your meals.

It places particular focus on eating protein, which can make you feel fuller for longer.

Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.


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