Losing belly fat – sadly, this topic has been on my mind a lot lately! Then, this article about aerobic training versus weight training came across my iPhone. For me to actually read an article that’s more than a hundred words takes a bit of effort…at least one that is on my phone. This one was not tough because it really hit home with me on a personal debate I’ve been having:
- Should I focus more on weights or stick with more running/aerobic workouts?
- Which one will help me knock down the weight more?
- Is one better? Let’s evaluate…
What did the study test?
The researchers found a group of overweight, sedentary people and tried to determine if aerobic training, resistance training or a combo of both helped them improve some lab values and fat content. To do this, participants were randomly assigned to do 8 months of an aerobic (~12mi/wk), resistance (3d/wk) or combo program.
What did the data show?
I’ve pulled an excerpt here to briefly summarize some of the info:
- 155 subjects completing the intervention. The primary outcome variables were: visceral and liver fat via computed tomography, plasma liver enzymes, and HOMA. AT led to significant reductions in liver fat, visceral fat, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), HOMA and both total and subcutaneous abdominal fat (all P<0.05). RT resulted in a decrease in subcutaneous abdominal fat (P<0.05), but did not significantly improve the other variables. AT was more effective than RT at improving visceral fat, liver to spleen ratio, total abdominal fat (all P<0.05) and trended towards a greater reduction in liver fat score (P<0.10).
What’s the take home message?
Hopefully you’re still with me here. The bottom line is that aerobic training seems to win out in terms of fat loss (and some other lab values) over both a combo or resistance program. Have to say I’m a little surprised because I thought resistance/weight training helped build muscle, which in turn helps you burn more calories. I did manage to find a quote from the lead researcher on the Duke Medical Center website that caught my eye:
“What really counts is how much exercise you do, how many miles you walk, and how many calories you burn,” he says. “If you choose to work at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat.”
I guess that makes sense that if the key to losing weight is really tipping the equation to burn more calories than you put in. Only problem is that I still feel like a balanced program is probably better if for no other reason than to avoid overtraining and condition muscles you wouldn’t ordinarily be using by simply running. The bottom line here is that it does matter WHAT you do, but you still have to DO SOMETHING to get rid of belly fat. I’ll probably continue to try to find time to fit in more weights…but won’t be putting it at the top of my list.