Losing Tummy Fat with Moderate-Intensity Exercise


Why Is Losing Tummy Fat So Difficult?

Losing tummy fat can be hardTummy fat seems to be the scourge of our times, and losing it nearly impossible! More and more often people are joining gyms in a bid to get rid of it, or going on fad diets in an effort to regain the svelte figure they used to have. No matter what people do, however, the question on most people’s lips is “Why is losing tummy fat so difficult?”

Mainly, the reason has to do with the lifestyle we follow. We get less exercise, don’t follow a great diet, and have much more stress than our grandparents ever had.

Losing those extra pounds need not be as difficult as we actually believe, and, as with most things, it is not necessarily what you do, but how you do it that counts.

Why Do We Gain Tummy Fat?

Our body constantly goes through changes while many people have consistently high levels of stress. These two factors predispose us to weight gain, even where we do not change our eating habits.

The origin of this weight gain sits with the hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands. Their main function is to produce hormones that help us to deal with the stress response. This response is known as the neuroendametabolic (NEM) stress response.

When preparing for the fight or flight response associated with the NEM stress response, the body uses its energy reserves as it is in a heightened state of preparation to either fight or flee. The energy reserves are released as cortisol. Cortisol then mobilizes glucose, fats, and amino acids to prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping too low.

Because of long-term stress, however, cortisol and insulin levels remain high, and the additional glucose gets stored as fat. This fat is mainly stored around the abdomen. There are many more times the number of cortisol receptors in the central part of the body compared to peripheral parts such as our limbs.

But the fat does not only sit around your tummy. Research indicates that this tummy fat works like an endocrine organ and reacts to stress in much the same way, thereby compounding the problem by producing even more fat in the tummy area. You are now sitting with a major imbalance, and of course, it compromises the functioning of your adrenal glands as they are no longer in a state of balance.

Research Shows That Moderate Exercise Is Part of the Answer in Losing Tummy Fat

Exercise can reduce and keep away belly fat. A new but very small Dutch study has found that 6 months of moderate intensity exercise can reduce the belly fat that accumulates in the liver and abdomen in people with type 2 diabetes and can therefore lower their risk of heart problems, even if they do not make any other lifestyle or diet changes.

Exercise can help you in losing tummy fatThe study followed 12 middle-aged patients with type 2 diabetes who underwent 6 months of moderate-intensity exercise followed by a 12-day high-altitude walking expedition with exercise of long duration. The study participants exercised between 3 and 6 ½ hours a week and also did two endurance and two resistance-training sessions. They were told not to change their diet and eating habits throughout the study. The abdominal, epicardial, and pericardial fat volume of the study participants were then measured by using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.

Jacqueline T. Jonker, MD, from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and her research colleagues found that at the end of the study, the study participants showed decreased hepatic triglyceride (TG) content, as well as decreased amount of the fat around the heart, liver and abdomen although their heart function remained unaffected.

According to Dr. Hildo Lamb, one of the co-authors of the study, exercise-induced fat reductions in the liver are of particular importance to people with type 2 diabetes because many of whom are overweight or obese and the liver plays a central role in regulating total body fat distribution in the body.

Health experts believe that the buildup of fat in the abdomen and deep in organs such as the liver and heart, also known as visceral fat, can be more harmful than fat deposited just under the skin, because this more deeply embedded fat releases hormones and other compounds that can affect how efficiently the body breaks down calories. Visceral fat around the belly is particularly dangerous because it has been linked with far more dangerous health problems, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and even an increased risk of premature death.

The study authors noted that the major limitation of their study was the very small number of study participants. However, the study findings suggest that people with type 2 diabetes should do moderate intensity exercise in order to reduce their waistline and cardiovascular risk.

What Else Can You Do Besides Moderate Exercise for Losing Tummy Fat?

Healthy meals for losing tummy fatThe answer, simply put, besides engaging in moderate exercise, is quite a lot!

Firstly, you need to convince your body it is not in a state of starvation. You need to eat regularly (three meals per day) and have two snacks between meal times. This keeps blood sugar levels on an even keel and prevents large amounts of cortisol from forming.

Stay away from sugary snacks and caffeine, however, because they give quick energy boosts but do nothing to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Proteins and foods high in nutrients are great as they force the body to burn fat in order to metabolize them so it can gain the energy needed. Make your food choice work for you!

Besides exercise and food, we also need to take other steps to start losing tummy fat and get the adrenal glands, and thereby the body’s natural cycle, working effectively again.

This includes getting enough sleep, addressing the psychological issues causing your stress levels to rise, and doing something that you enjoy. You could also investigate natural supplements that help you adrenals function properly while addressing the issues surrounding the problem. Your extra tummy fat, once your endocrine system is fully operational once more, will start melting away. Central obesity is often associated with adrenal fatigue and its metabolic derangements. Optimizing adrenal function is a very important part of preparing the body to return to normal weight distribution.

Source: published online June, 2013 in the journal Radiology.

Losing tummy fat can be hard

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5 Comments

  • Shannon says:

    Are there other types of exercises that can stimulate the release of growth hormone?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Exercises that make use of large muscle groups can have some stimulatory effect to release GH. Push Ups and Pull Ups are therefore very good.

      Dr Lam

  • Talia Elizabeth Estervial says:

    Interesting that their diet did not change. I’d like to take the challenge.

  • Newsletter says:

    If you add some exercise of big muscle groups , such as push ups, you will stimulate the release of growth hormone which is wonderful to maintain protein and deter aging.

    Dr Lam

  • Kimmie says:

    good to know!