According to a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology, Duke University Medical Center researchers state that the best way to burn the stubborn belly fat is aerobic exercise.
On comparing the outcomes of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and a combination of the two, researchers found that aerobic exercise was the most effective method to burn the dreaded and harmful belly fat.
The large bulge on the paunch is caused not only by the fat that layers the lower portion of the skin. Scientific communities refer to belly fat as visceral fat and liver fat. Located deep within the abdominal cavity occupying the hollow between internal organs, the fat increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.
Study lead author and Duke exercise physiologist Cris Slentz, Ph.D. says, “When it comes to increased health risks, where fat is deposited in the body is more important than how much fat you have. Our study sought to identify the most effective form of exercise to get rid of that unhealthy fat.”
The findings of the Duke study demonstrated that the visceral fat and liver fat, implicated for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, were significantly reduced by aerobic training, which also had an upper hand over resistance training at decreasing the levels of liver enzymes and fasting triglycerides, and improving fasting insulin resistance. These are the known risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
While resistance training did not lead to any significant improvements in insulin resistance or decreases in visceral fat, liver fat, and liver enzyme levels, a combination of aerobic and resistance training resulted in results similar to aerobic training alone.
Slentz says, “Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass. 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.”
As compared to resistance training, aerobic training was found to exhaust 67% more calories during the study.
The 8-month study involved 196 overweight, sedentary adults between the ages of 18 to70 who were assigned to one of three arms: resistance training, aerobic training, or a combination of the two.
While the exercises performed by the resistance group comprised three sets of 8-2 repetitions thrice a week, those performed by the aerobic group were comparable to jogging 12 miles per week at an 80% maximum heart rate. The researchers ensured maximum participation effort by supervising and monitoring the programs closely.
The training program was meticulous and extensive; however, based upon previous research experience, Slentz believes that similar results could be achieved with a more moderate aerobic exercise regime.
He says, “What really counts is how much exercise you do, how many miles you walk and how many calories you burn. If you choose to work at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat.”
Duke co-authors include Lori A. Bateman, M.S., William E. Kraus, M.D., Leslie H. Willis, M.S., A. M.S., Lucy W. Piner, M.S., Victoria H. Hawk, M.P.H., R.D., Michael J. Muehlbauer, Ph.D., Greg P. Samsa, Ph.D., Rendon C. Nelson, M.D., Kim M. Huffman, M.D., Ph.D., Connie W. Bales, Ph.D., R.D.