Visceral fat is deemed the most dangerous type of body fat, because of where it’s stored in the body, but it’s actually the easiest to lose. Being overweight or obese doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more likely to have lots of visceral fat. Those of a slim build can still have too much. If a person has too much visceral fat they can be at increased risk of insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease. One of the best ways to reduce visceral fat is to do a certain type of exercise.
When it comes to specifically getting rid of this type of belly fat, doing cardio is the best way forward.
A Duke University study compared the effects of resistance training to running 12 miles a week.
Results showed aerobic exercise has the biggest effect on both visceral and liver fat.
Net Doctor recommends while resistance training may not have a direct impact on visceral fat, it’s still good for increasing strength and boosting muscle tissue, which in turn helps to burn calories more efficiently.
For the best results, it says: “Combine three to four weekly sessions of 30 to 40 minutes of cardio with a resistance training routine that works on everything from core exercises to compound exercises for upper and lower body, such as a variety of squats, lunges, press ups and planks.”
Another type of exercise recommended to get rid of visceral fat is HIIT.
Dr Luke James, medical director, UK Insurance at Bupa UK, details on the health organisation’s website that HIIT, which stands for high intensity interval training, is the best type of exercise to burn fat.
The premise of HIIT is going all out and giving it everything you’ve got, for a short burst, followed by a lower intensity exercise or rest, then repeat.
Dr James explained: “Cardiovascular exercise is important for weight loss but I’d say that interval training is perhaps the best approach for fat loss – especially belly fat.
“It’s been suggested that HIIT has an effect on your hormones, particularly ones such a your belly.
“It also increases your fitness levels so you’ll notice these benefits too.
“Intense exercise also speeds up how much energy and fat you burn post exercise.”
Dr James recommends monitoring your pulse so you can tell when you’re in the fat burning zone, and if you’re not sure how to measure it there are apps and wearable measurements, like a Fitbit, available.
He added: “I’d recommend strength (resistance) exercises too. They help maintain your muscle mass and your glucose metabolism (the way your body processes sugar and uses it for fuel), which are important for managing your weight.
“Resistance training has also been shown to maintain reduced fat mass, and to act on the visceral fat in your abdominal area.”
Dr James warns about “spot reduction”, which is the idea you can target where you lose fat.
He said: “Doing only ab crunches thinking it will target and lose the fat from your belly won’t work.
“You need to take a whole body approach, not just focusing on one area of your body.”