Aerobic exercise beats strength training in trimming belly fat, according to the November issue of Nutrition Action magazine, put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
This conclusion was based on a study of 150 overweight, sedentary, middle-aged men and women with high LDL (bad cholesterol) or low HDL (good cholesterol) assigned to aerobic training, strength training or both.
Those in the aerobic training churned out the equivalent of 12 miles a week at a vigorous pace on treadmills, elliptical trainers or stationary bikes. For strength training, participants did three sets of eight exercises, with eight to 12 reps per set, three days a week.
After eight months the folks who did just strength training lost only subcutaneous (below the skin) abdominal fat. In contrast, those who did aerobic training – with or without strength training – lost deep belly fat, subcutaneous belly fat, and fat from around the liver. What’s more, they were less insulin resistant. Their insulin was more effective at admitting blood sugar into their cells.
Nutrition Action suggests that readers combine aerobic exercise (to lose the most fat and curb insulin resistance) with strength training (to minimize the loss of muscle that occurs with aging).
Completely anecdotally I can confirm this in my own experience. Back in January I wrote How I Lost 50 Pounds in 52 Weeks.
Although, as I said in the piece, I was literally flying by the seat of my pants, my combination of aerobics with strength training did result in a loss of 10 inches on my waistline – from 44 to 34 inches. I can’t attest to any of the medical observations regarding insulin as I didn’t use a doctor or physical trainer, but the belly fat loss is incontestable.
To read another blog item on the dangers of belly fat, click What About Central Obesity.
It is worth noting for anyone considering taking up this aerobic challenge what I learned at the lectures on osteoporosis last week (see previous posts). Namely, that weight-bearing exercise can have a positive effect in fighting osteoporosis. So, it may be better to do your cardio exercises on a treadmill (weight-bearing exercise) as opposed to an elliptical machine, exercise bike or rower (not weight-bearing exercise).