Visceral fat sits precariously next to vital organs in the body, such as the liver and intestines. When visceral fat accumulates in this region, it can raise your risk of chronic complications, such as heart disease. Fortunately, exercise can target and eliminate the harmful belly fat.
A total of 39 studies involving 617 subjects were included.
The researchers found that HIIT significantly reduced total, abdominal, and visceral fat mass, with no differences between the sexes.
A comparison showed that running was more effective than cycling in reducing total and visceral fat mass.
High-intensity (above 90 percent peak heart rate) training was more successful in reducing whole body adiposity (medical term for obesity), while lower intensities had a greater effect on changes in abdominal and visceral fat mass.
“HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to decrease fat-mass deposits, including those of abdominal and visceral fat mass,” the researchers wrote.
“There was some evidence of the greater effectiveness of HIIT running versus cycling, but owing to the wide variety of protocols used and the lack of full details about cycling training, further comparisons need to be made.”
Key dietary tips
To maximise the benefits of regular physical activity, you should eat a healthy, balanced diet.
“Protein can be a helpful way to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do,” explains Bupa.
“So if you include a lean source of protein, such as skinless white chicken, in your meals you may find that you’re not as hungry, and so eat less.”
According to the health body, you should make sure you include protein with each meal.
Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.
“And remember that a portion of protein is about as big as the palm of your hand,” adds Bupa.