Carrying around a little extra muffin top? That fat layer at a healthy weight is known as adipose tissue and can help your body store energy and hormones, cushions all of your organs, keeps you protected from the elements, and produces other hormones related to weight gain/loss.
Deep abdominal fat and the fat around your organs is known as visceral fat, which is different from the fat just under your skin known as subcutaneous fat. The more belly fat (visceral or subcutaneous) you have, the higher your risk for conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The hormones involved in fat storage and loss include (but are not limited to): glucose (energy source), insulin, leptin, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, tumor necrosis factor alpha (an inflammatory marker), and interleukin-6 (another inflammatory marker). These are important to take note of when trying to maintain a healthy weight or lose that extra muffin top.
What else is important? Turns out, vigorous aerobic exercise is more important than weightlifting for fat loss according to the August 2011 American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism because of the calorie burning effect.
The participants in this study were not going for a leisurely stroll on their lunch break nor were they claiming to be "on their feet" all day running errands, chasing kids, or on the job. Those in the aerobics-only group were on an inclined treadmill doing the equivalent of 12 miles/week at 75 percent peak VO2. This is not to say that resistance training is not important because it is! Just remember your cardio when it comes to fat loss.
If you don’t have a treadmill then take your aerobics outside and get moving! Find a hilly location and start walking briskly. The same applies to the local high school football stadium -- walk or run up and down the bleachers. In your neighborhood, walk for a block then jog for a block and repeat.
At home, alternate jumping jacks with jumping rope and marching in place. Hop on an elliptical machine and vary the resistance up and down to simulate an incline. Buy or borrow an exercise DVD as you can find everything from Zumba to aerobics and interval training to suit your mood.
Use that vigorous exercise to burn up your belly fat, then resistance training to trim and tone it up!
1) Adipose Tissue: From Lipid Storage Compartment to Endocrine Organ. Web. 6 Sept, 2011.
2) The Effects of Aerobic versus Resistance Training on Visceral and Liver Fat Stores, Liver Enzymes and HOMA from STRRIDE AT/RT: A Randomized Trial. Web. 6 Sept, 2011.
Reviewed September 7, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Malu Banuelos