A common misconception is that fat is intrinsically bad but you need a healthy amount to function. Fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs and supports cell growth, among other things. However, an accumulation of visceral fat spells bad news because it lurks near vital organs in the body.
After conducting a comprehensive sweep of credible studies, the researchers found that aerobic training of moderate or high intensity has the “highest potential” to reduce visceral fat in overweight males and females.
These results suggest that an aerobic exercise program, without a low-calorie diet, can effectively reduce the belly fat, the researchers concluded.
What counts as aerobic training?
Aerobic activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
“One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing,” explains the NHS.
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- Brisk walking
- Water aerobics
- Riding a bike
- Doubles tennis
- Pushing a lawn mower
According to Harvard Health, strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight visceral fat.
“Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat,” the health body adds.
Other key tips for losing the belly fat
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can maximise the benefits of physical activity.
Good sources of protein include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.
You should also pay attention to portion size, and emphasise complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), advises Harvard Health.
“Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help,” says the health body.
Scientists also hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat, it adds.