Why Is Belly Fat the Last to Go?

While it may feel as though it's the hardest to lose when it's your problem area, belly fat, also referred to as visceral fat, actually comes off a little faster than subcutaneous fat, which is the fat on your thighs. In addition to helping your clothes fit better, losing visceral fat is also better for your health, improving blood sugar and lipid levels (see reference 1 under Introduction para 1).

Losing Belly Fat

Visceral fat may be more metabolically active than subcutaneous fat, according to a January 2008 review study published in the "International Journal of Obesity." (see reference 2 under Discussion para 7). When you initially reduce your caloric intake for weight loss, your body may turn to the fat in your belly as a source of energy because of its proximity to the liver, say the authors of the 2009 article (see reference 2 under Discussion para 7). However, as you continue to lose weight, belly fat loss slows down as your body starts to draw on the subcutaneous fat stores in other areas of your body for energy (see reference 2 under Conclusions para 1).

Diet and Exercise

A combination of diet and exercise may be most effective at helping you lose belly fat. A March 2005 study published in "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" investigated the effects of exercise and diet on visceral fat loss in a group of postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes (see reference 3). This study found that adding aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or jogging, to a calorie-controlled diet helped the women lose 13 percent of their visceral fat, compared to 7.5 percent with diet alone (see reference 3 under Discussion pg 1516 column 2). Consult your doctor before starting any weight-loss or exercise program.

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