New research finds that your best bet for trimming belly fat is vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging or brisk walking, rather than lifting weights.
"If you are overweight or mildly obese and want to lose fat -- belly fat, visceral fat, liver fat -- vigorous aerobic training was better than resistance training," said researcher Cris Slentz, an exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
The study, announced last week, appears in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Participants in the eight-month study were assigned to one of three groups. One group walked on a treadmill on an incline for 12 miles (19 km) at 80 percent of their maximum heart rate each week; another group lifted weights, doing three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, three times a week. A third group did both workouts.
The focus on the study was on visceral fat, or "inside fat" located deep within the body around the stomach as opposed to subcutaneous fat (aka "muffin top" fat), which lies directly under the skin. Although any kind of extra padding around your waistline is considered unhealthy, too much subcutaneous fat is much more dangerous, researchers said.
Slentz stated the aerobic training group was the most successful in reducing their visceral fat, and the reason behind that is simple: intense aerobic training burns up more calories.
Another research-backed way to trim your waistline? A new study published last week suggests that a diet high in protein and dairy is an effective way to trim fat -- specifically, belly fat. That study, funded in part by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and published in the September issue of The Journal of Nutrition, compared three groups of overweight, premenopausal women who were put on different diets: low, medium and high amounts of dairy, coupled with high or low amounts of proteins and carbohydrates.