What exercise is best for banishing belly fat?
When it comes to fitness related questions. This is by far the most popular question I get asked (along with, how can I get rid of belly fat)
This is going to be a long post but, I am going to give you everything you need to know right now.
So, what’s the best exercise for banishing belly fat? Sit ups? Crunches? Lots of running? Seriously, There’s on one exercise that will target fat loss in a specific area.
This is what’s commonly known as spot reduction. In other words, thinking that training a particular body part or area will enhance fat loss in that area. Take “Bingo wings” for example. Will doing a lot of upper arm exercises help? Possibly from the point of view that muscle mass can be improved as well as muscle tone giving a more firmer appearance but fat itself won’t be drastically burned just because you’re working out that area.
In fact, a study was conducted where a group of men and women did leg presses with their non-dominant leg at 10-30% max effort (1 rep max). After doing almost a thousand reps for a total of one set (that’s endurance range). After a while, the boffins took various measurements and here’s what they found. Whilst total fat mass did drop, it was more from the torso and other parts of the body and not specifically in that trained leg. When compared to the trained leg and the non-trained leg, there was very little difference in actual fat mass meaning that training and exercise will create fat loss from across the whole body and not a specific part.
Therefore, if you want to reduce fat in a certain part of your body, then you’re going to be SOL (Technical jargon for shit out of luck) as your body is going to burn the fat from where it wants, not where you tell it to.
As for belly fat, thigh fat, bum fat, love handles and other problem areas. These areas are known to be harder to lose “stubborn” fat because of the concentration of A2 receptors. Now, without getting too nerdy here, when it comes to fat storage in the body, a lot depends on hormones, diet and receptors. Receptors work alongside hormones (hormones can trigger fat storage or fat burning too). Alpha 1 and Beta receptors promote fat burning, Alpha 2 (A2) do the opposite and slow down fat burning. Stubborn fat areas like the lower belly, love handles, hips, buttocks and thighs have high concentration of A2 receptors making fat burning harder. Simple as that.
So, what can we do about it?
You can play the waiting game and be patient but the waiting game, as Homer Simpson once said, Sucks (so let’s play hungry hippos instead!)
Or you can do something about it.
Diet and exercise will play a huge role in getting rid of fat (but you already knew that, right!)
The goal is to get rid of body fat. The body fat we want to get rid of is stored in Adipose tissue. We therefore want to maximise the use of fat stored in adipose tissue and limit the amount of fat being stored there too.
Fat is stored in adipose tissues can be mobilised to the muscle to be utilised as fuel through the blood stream. The more blood flow, the more efficient this process is. That is why exercise is important but as demands in exercise rise, the body utilises more glycogen (carbohydrate fuel) for energy than fat. This is where the “Fat burning zone” came from. The thought was, lower intensity exercise like long jogs would burn more fat because there was less demand for carbohydrates as fuel and more demand for fat. The trouble with this is that new research has found that too much aerobic exercise is counterproductive to fat burning because of protein catabolism (using proteins as fuel) and other markers.
So, what exercise is best? Ironically, Anaerobic exercise such as High intensity training, High intensity interval training and resistance training is the best for overall fat burning due to the metabolic demands, not only during exercise but after too.
Det too plays a very important role. It’s now common knowledge that a diet rich in carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods such as white flour, white rice, pasta etc is not good when fat burning is a goal. Whilst, at the right times and in moderation, they can benefit you in your fat burning goals, for most people, they’ll do more harm than good because they can promote fat storage.
So, It is important to understand carbohydrates. A simple rule of thumb is to eat carbohydrates sparingly and get them mostly from greens. Starchy carbohydrates can be eaten around training and in moderation. Of course, if you have high energy demands and performance is a big issue for you, you’ll need to adapt this but as your caloric needs rise, so will the amount of carbohydrates you eat.
Eating lean protein at every meal is also important in preserving lean muscle tissue and raising your metabolic rate
Eating quality fats too will help. Essential fatty acids such as Fish Oils which are high in EPA and DHEA can actually help mobilise the fat stored in adipose tissue to be used as energy and supplementing with a couple of grams of fish oils per day will do you wonders.
So, I hope this has helped you understand the question “How to get rid of belly fat” or fat in general better.
Of course, If you have any questions or want help in your pursuit of health and fitness, do not hesitate to get in touch with me
Sweat more, suck less and stay awesome!
Your fitness expert, Fahad