Are abdominal exercises effective for weight loss?

Abdominal fat: not only a question of aesthetics!

A woman grabs abnominal fat

Abdominal fat is perceived as a common problem to many. It can also influence the state of a person’s health having a strong association with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Abdominal fat can be categorized into subcutaneous and visceral fat. Visceral fat is documented to be more dangerous than subcutaneous fat when considering health. The coexistence of both types increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, ictus, high blood pressure, some types of cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Abdominal fat is associated with the secretion of an inflammatory molecule that amplifies the risk of cardiovascular diseases. With this considered losing the extra fat around the torso is fundamental to improve a person’s health, unfortunately is not so easy considering the misconception of what the most effective methods are. For example, abdominal exercises are wrongly passed off as the way to obtain a flat stomach. Where as abdominal training actually results in strengthening of the muscles with a minimal fat burning effect. Therefore, to lose abdominal fat there is a need of practice a more varied exercise selection combined with nutritional adjustments.

The right combination

A girl performs abdominal crunches

Commonly, long duration, moderate intensity exercise is associated with weight loss. However, there is vast research documenting that high intensity training and strength training produce the best results when aiming to achieve a weight loss goal.

When considering nutrition, one of the necessary adjustments is to reduce sugar consumption. In fact, the excess sugar stores, mostly fructose, are associated with the accumulation of abdominal fat.

An alternative strategy is the reduction of carbohydrates within a diet. Low carbohydrate diets have been suggested to be more efficient than low-fat diets for weight loss, however this is heavily dependent on the source of food that provides these macronutrients. Moreover, eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss, in particular soluble and viscous fibers as they tend to bind to water and slow down the movement of food through the stomach with a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduction of appetite.

In conclusion, abdominal exercise is only a limited part of the habits need to reduce abdominal fat. High intensity training, strength exercise and nutritional adjustments are to be adopted together to lose extra fat around stomach.

References

  1. Burton-Freeman et al. J Nutr. 2000
  2. McClernon et al. Obesity