There’s the idea that performing ab exercises helps you lose belly fat.
A common symbol of health is a muscular abdomen.
Is there just one way to lose belly fat?
An Overview Of The Core Muscles
The muscles in your core region perform a variety of functions.
They protect organs, provide support, and assist with movement.
The four muscles include the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, external oblique, and internal oblique.
Differentiating Between Abdominal Fats
Abdominal fat is a common health concern for many people, as it can be linked to ailments such as diabetes, heart disease or metabolic syndrome. (1)
Not many people are aware of the fact that there are two differing types of abdominal fat.
Found above your organs, in the abdominal cavity.
This kind of fat also influences hormones in the body and puts many processes of disease into motion.
Found between the skin and the muscles.
This is fat that you can physically touch, though having a healthy amount of this type of fat will not drastically increase your propensity for disease. (4)
All in all: There are two distinct types of abdominal fat, subcutaneous and visceral.
Having A Six Pack And Losing Weight Are Two Different Things
We all know that working a muscle group is key to help maintain its strength.
Despite this fact, exercising a certain muscle group will not reduce the amount of fat present over said muscle group.
For the abdominal muscles, the presence of subcutaneous fat is what stands in the way of your skin and muscles
If you want to look in the mirror and see a six-pack on your abdomen, losing the subcutaneous fat will be the first step. Only after losing this fat will your toned abs shine through.
All in all: To have a visibly toned abdomen, you need to lose the subcutaneous fat between your muscles and skin.
Wait, Can Ab Exercises Help You Lose Belly Fat?
No, ab exercises will not inherently work away your belly fat better than any other sort of exercise will.
Though it is a common belief that focusing on this muscle group can disproportionately encourage abdominal fat loss, much of the current science suggests that this notion is entirely false.
What is Targeted Fat Loss?
When thinking about how to lose belly fat, many people look to target fat loss. Target fat loss is based on the idea that when you work out a specific area, you will lose fat only in that particular area.
While working out a particular area is beneficial for the muscles, this doesn’t translate to targeted fat loss.
In a study on people doing consistent ab exercises over the course of five weeks there was no correlation found between this sort of activity and the loss of subcutaneous abdominal fat. (5)
This is not a finding limited to belly fat either, in a study done on arm training it was shown that participants were working off fat on their body as a whole rather than just on the arms being trained. (6)
Studies Don’t Support This…
There are, however, other studies with contradictory results.
Another study done on arm training in participants showed that fat was disproportionately reduced in the trained spots. (7)
A similar study supporting this theory was done on whether or not fat being located near the muscles being trained was being worked off faster than the fat in areas surrounding resting muscles.
Though these few studies did confirm findings that fat near the working muscles reduced more than that near non-working muscles, the majority of evidence points to the contrary.
All in all: You can’t lose belly fat in targeted areas; it naturally comes off the whole body during exercise.
How To Lose Belly Fat With Exercise
When exercising, you’ll notice an increase in metabolism and calorie burning. Cardio helps burn visceral fat on the abdomen. (8)
An essential part of exercising for weight loss is in consistency, with making high-intensity workouts a part of your daily routine. (11)
Many find success with doing even as little as 20 minutes of intense training only three times per week. (12)
The exercise you would be doing will build muscle mass, a process which encourages your body to shed more fat.
Try Alternative Exercises to Lose Belly Fat
This exercise type is structured by short periods of very intense training that lead to longer periods of less intense training.
Though this is an effective strategy for weight loss, it is not the only effective strategy. If you start walking daily, you will still be losing more weight than if you weren’t.
All in all: High-intensity interval training helps you lose belly fat compared to other exercise routines.
Diet Is Everything to Lose Belly Fat
Many people try to compromise in weight loss by exercising, yet keeping their dietary habits the same.
However, it is a fact that getting all the nutrients you need on a daily basis is just as important as exercising regularly.
The most common dietary change to lose belly fat involves removing processed or sugary foods.
It would be beneficial to look to a high-protein diet as a replacement for a diet high in sugar content.
Studies suggest that a high-protein diet can not only aid in weight loss, but also prevent diabetes and reverse pre-diabetes. (19)
Another important thing is to make sure what you’re eating is a real, whole food as opposed to something processed.
The list of nutrients commonly lost in processed foods includes things like vitamins, minerals, and even fiber.
Research confirms that diet and exercise is essential if you want to lose belly fat.
“Yogurt: The ultimate flat belly food, with active bacteria that is just so good for the gut! A trick I use is to eat a couple spoonfuls of yogurt multiple times throughout the day to keep me feeling satiated and constantly digesting.” states Amanda Russell, Founder and Chief Editor of Fit Strong and Sexy.
All in all: The key points of a healthy diet are cutting out processed foods and consuming a moderate amount of calories
The REAL Way To Lose That Belly Fat
By this point, it’s evident that doing a myriad of crunches in your spare time will not shed any excess belly fat you may have.
One of the most useful tools for fat loss can be a high-intensity exercise routine.
A healthy diet is also monumentally important when you’ve set out to lose weight.
The key to lose belly fat centers around boosting metabolism and reducing caloric intake.
(This article was originally posted on DietSpotlight by Summer Banks on January 29, 2018)