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If ever there was a warning sign about future health problems,  it’s a bulging middle. That’s because underneath the wobbly bits (subcutaneo...




If ever there was a warning sign about future health problems,  it’s a bulging middle. That’s because underneath the wobbly bits (subcutaneous fat), we also get below-the-muscle visceral fat which wraps itself around our internal organs and pumps out chemicals called cytokines linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Belly fat has also been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, dementia and even gallstones. The good news is that it is one of the easier fats to shift. Here’s what you need to know.


Kilojoule-cutting isn’t the sole solution to shedding belly fat as you’ll also lose muscle mass, and it’s important to maintain that mass as we age. Also, dieting can paradoxically increase fat storage so focus on vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and lean proteins, which help in the battle against belly fat. Here is what researchers recommend:

➤ An apple a day. Increasing your daily soluble fibre intake by ,just 10g can reduce visceral fat
by 3.7 per cent, shows a US study. An example of 10g of, soluble fibre is two small apples plus one cup of green peas and one half cup of kidney beans.
➤ Cut down on carbs. In a US study one group ate a diet with 55 per cent carbs and the other received only 43 per cent carbs. Those on the lower carb diet lost 11 percent more deep abdominal fat.
➤ Go PRO. A study in Japan found regular consumption  of the probiotic Lactobacillus  gasseri, present in yoghurt and  kefir, reduces abdominal fat. The study found that taking very small amounts of the probiotic for 12 weeks decreased belly fat by 4.6 per cent.
➤ Brown is better. Cutting out white bread, but not brown, is linked with lower gains in abdominal fat, say Spanish researchers.
➤ Ii's good to be green. Drinking green tea resulted in a significant reduction in visceral fat, according to a study from Peking University in China.
➤ Bye-Bye bacon and butter. Eating excess saturated fat, found in foods such as butter, bacon and palm oil, appears to cause a greater increase in belly fat than polyunsaturated fat, from fish, nuts, sun?  ower and olive oils, says Swedish research. Over-consumption of saturated fats seems to turn on genes that increase belly fat storage and hamper insulin regulation.


High intensity interval training (HIIT), is great for improving fitness, but researchers say the best way to get rid of belly fat is regular continuous aerobic exercise. Even better, the latest research from University of Sydney confirms that aerobic exercise at any level will have benefits in reducing belly fat and those benefits begin the moment you step out of the door and get your heart rate up. Keating, who conducted the research, says:

➤ The longer, harder and more often you exercise, the greater the benefits. Groups who did low-intensity exercise four times a week or medium-to-high-intensity exercise three times a week lost more visceral, subcutaneous and liver fat than groups who did only three low-intensity sessions a week. But all three groups got benefits, s owever unfit or busy you are, it is worth doing something.
➤ Aim for at least 240 minutes a week of low-to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 135 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise. Exercising for at least 30 minutes continuously will give best results but if you can only fit in two 15-minute bursts that’s better than nothing.
➤ If you’re a jogger or walker, a study by Duke University Medical Center found that completing at least 27km per week leads to a loss of both visceral and subcutaneous fat.
➤ The more exercise you do the better the results, so the best exercise to choose is the one you’ll enjoy and commit to. It’s worth also considering additional benefits. If you’ve got painful joints, choose swimming and cycling. To build bone mass, choose skipping. If you’re anxious and stressed (which can also increase belly fat) get outdoors and try bushwalking.
➤ If you have impaired glucose tolerance/insulin resistance, high-intensity interval training has been shown to be very effective, although fast intervals are not the best  solution for belly fat if exercising for a short time only. An indoor cycle or circuit training class would be a good option.
➤ The worst thing you can do is nothing. The Duke University study found that a group of non-exercisers experienced a visceral fat gain of almost nine per cent in just six months.