How to lose visceral fat: The best time of day to work off the dangerous belly fat

Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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Health scientists at the Universities of Bath and Birmingham discovered the optimal time to exercise in order to help burn the internal belly fat – the kind that cushions next to important organs. Here are the results. Dr Javier Gonzalez said: “Our results suggest that changing the timing of when you eat in relation to when you exercise can bring about profound and positive changes to your overall health.” The six-week trial involved 30 men classified as “overweight” or “obese”.

They were split into two intervention groups and one control group:

  1. Those who exercised before breakfast
  2. Those who exercised after breakfast
  3. A control group who made no lifestyle changes

By the end of the experiment, one group “burned double the amount of fat” than the other.

The men who exercised before eating breakfast lost a lot more visceral fat than those who exercised after breakfast.

This visceral fat loss was attributed to “lower insulin levels during exercise”, as people have fasted overnight.

It was concluded that people who exercised first thing in the morning, before breakfast, used more fat from their tissues and muscles for fuel.

The researchers want to investigate this finding further by including women in their next clinical trial.

Dr Gonzalez added that exercising before breakfast didn’t lead to “any effect on weight loss”, only on internal fat levels.

This, however, “did dramatically improve their overall health”, which Dr Gonzalez explained.

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“The group who exercised before breakfast increased their ability to respond to insulin,” he said.

This is thought to potentially lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Dr Gonzalez considered this result “remarkable”, considering “the only difference was the timing of the food intake”.

“Both exercise groups lost a similar amount of weight and both gained a similar amount of fitness,” he added.

The group who exercised before breakfast had greater key proteins in their muscles.

These key proteins help transport glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles.

This is why exercising before breakfast, hypothetically, could help minimise the risk of diabetes.

Meanwhile, those who exercised after breakfast surprisingly didn’t have a better insulin response than the control group.

Co-author Dr Gareth Wallis said: “This work suggests that performing exercise in the overnight-fasted state can increase the health benefits of exercise for individuals.

“[This is] without changing the intensity, duration or perception of their effort.

“We now need to explore the longer-term effects of this type of exercise and whether women benefit in the same way as men.”

The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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