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The #1 Exercise That's Best for Reducing Belly Fat, Says Doctor

Want to melt as much fat as quickly as possible? It's time to ramp up your intensity.

There's no denying that exercise is crucial for losing weight and leaning out, and while all forms of exercise are helpful in keeping you active and well, there happen to be a few exercises in particular that are most beneficial in targeting the belly region and blasting fat.

Michael Mosley, MD, the inventor of The Fast 800 Diet, knows the importance of regular activity and cardio in particular—when you're getting your rate up fast and can really break a sweat.

When you're looking to burn belly fat and work your core and abdominal muscles, which happen to be the trickiest area to shed weight in, staying consistent in your regular workouts and leading an active life is key.

While we cannot say that exercise will get rid of belly fat unless there are other measures in place (think: diet, regular sleep and lower stress levels), it can be beneficial in speeding up the weight loss process and preventing weight gain in the future. And it lowers risk of disease later in life, since you're limiting visceral fat, which is the fat found in the belly, according to research.

"While exercise alone will not help you lose the stubborn fat from round your middle, it can be crucial for helping reduce the risk of re-gaining fats as well as lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity," he said over interview with Express. To learn the best exercise for melting fat—and to learn some great workouts to try—read on. And for more great exercise advice, don't miss the Secret Side Effects of Lifting Weights for the First Time, Says Science.

The Best Form of Exercise for Blasting Belly Fat? HIIT Training

woman doing a burpee

The best forms of exercise for melting fat the fastest are those that are high in intensity and can torch calories in the shortest duration of time. Running and cycling are two excellent choices, as well as walking as a means to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and get those steps in; however, the greatest form is high-intensity training, also known as HIIT.

"Research has shown the extraordinary impact that ultra-short bursts of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) can have," said Mosley. Plus, it's the most effective and easiest way to include it in a regular busy schedule (which we all have, right?). You can definitely squeeze a HIIT workout in between social gatherings, mealtimes with the family, work appointments and more.

HIIT requires moves that include jumping work, such as squat jumps and tuck jumps, as well as weighted moves that include cardio, such as manmakers and kettlebell swings, since they will spike your heart rate in seconds but also strengthen muscle and burn fat simultaneously.

So, together it's a full-body workout that can bring major results, especially the belly region, as these moves are activating your core muscles.

You can take it up a notch by adding in specific core moves, like planks or plank jacks for that added cardio or renegade rows with weights, which are also done in a plank position. And for more great exercise tips, don't miss The Secret Tricks for Convincing Yourself to Exercise, Say Experts.

Science Agrees

man pushups

According to a meta-analysis of more than 786 studies published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, interval training is vastly more effective at reducing body-fat percentage compared to moderate exercises, including walking and jogging. "Interval training and [moderate-intensity continuous training (MOD)] both reduce body fat percentage," conclude the researchers. "But interval training provided 28.5% greater reductions in total absolute fat mass than MOD."

In another meta-analysis published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) "significantly reduced total, abdominal, and visceral fat mass, with no differences between the sexes," while also noting that exercise that forced people to exceed "90% peak heart rate" (in other words: it's really intense exercise) was the most effective in losing weight. "HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to decrease fat-mass deposits, including those of abdominal and visceral fat mass," the researchers conclude.

"HIIT is an extremely effective and efficient form of exercise, elevating your heart rate quickly and burning a significant amount of calories in a short amount of time," Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN, an exercise physiologist and author of The Micro-Workout Plan: Get the Body You Want without the Gym in 15 Minutes or Less a Day, once told us. "In addition to torching major calories in a short time frame, there is an additional 'afterburn effect,' where your body continues to burn calories after your workout as it attempts to return to homeostasis." And for more great healthy living advice, don't miss the Unexpected Side Effects of Working Out in the Morning, Say Experts.

Yet, Fitness Cannot Work Alone

healthy diet

While exercise is important, it is about 20 percent in terms of making a difference in belly fat. Nutrition is that 80 percent. The best advice he has is to cut back on sugar, even found in fruit—just stick to eating fruit in moderate servings to get that natural sweetness but not going overboard, as it's high in sugar and carbs, both of which can prevent weight loss in the belly region.

According to Mosley: "Replace processed carbs like white bread, fries, and pasta with slow-release energy sources, such as brown rice or quinoa. He continued, "Two things will surprise you: the amount of sugar you were consuming unaware, and the speed at which your belly fat will begin to tame itself."

Added sugar is a no-go, so steer clear of sweets and processed junk, like cookies and white bread and go for those natural sources when that sugar craving strikes. Together with exercise, you'll find the best results and enjoy sustainable change.

Here Are Some Great Routines to Try

hiit workout

Want to try your hand at some great HIIT routines? Give one of these a go!

Isadora Baum
Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy. Read more about Isadora
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