HomeAnswersWhat exercise burns the most belly fat?

What exercise burns the most belly fat?

This question is about Nutrition
Elle Penner, MPH, RD
While all types of exercise can reduce body fat and improve body composition, research shows incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your exercise routine will help you burn more belly fat. 
HIIT is a type of exercise that involves alternating short bouts of intense exercise at maximum or near-maximum effort (like sprinting, jumping, and intense strength training) with short recovery periods, repeatedly until the point of exhaustion. 
High-intensity interval training differs from moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (like walking, jogging, and cycling) because it breaks down glucose that's already in your muscles for energy; whereas aerobic exercises rely on energy stored in your body from carbs, protein, fat, and the oxygen you breathe. 
Evidence suggests that while both HIIT and MICT (moderate intensity cardio training) elicit significant and comparable reductions in whole-body fat mass and waist circumference, HIIT requires ~40% less training time commitment to reach the same results as with MICT [4]. 
Another study found HIIT (both with and without resistance training) produced greater reductions in abdominal fat than moderate-intensity aerobic exercise [1]. However, other research shows that a combination of moderate-intensity, continuous exercise 2x/week and high-intensity interval training 1x/week can reduce abdominal fat by 40-48% [2, 3]. 
In summary, while all exercise can greatly benefit weight loss, HIIT may be a more effective way to reduce belly fat than moderate-intensity cardio.
workout class doing pushups

References:

  1. Dupuit, M., Rance, M., Morel, C., Bouillon, P., Pereira, B., Bonnet, A., Maillard, F., Duclos, M., & Boisseau, N. (2020). Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training or High-Intensity Interval Training with or without Resistance Training for Altering Body Composition in Postmenopausal Women. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 52(3), 736–745. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002162
  2. Mourier, A., Gautier, J. F., De Kerviler, E., Bigard, A. X., Villette, J. M., Garnier, J. P., Duvallet, A., Guezennec, C. Y., & Cathelineau, G. (1997). Mobilization of visceral adipose tissue related to the improvement in insulin sensitivity in response to physical training in NIDDM. Effects of branched-chain amino acid supplements. Diabetes care, 20(3), 385–391. https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.20.3.385
  3. Boudou, P., Sobngwi, E., Mauvais-Jarvis, F., Vexiau, P., & Gautier, J. F. (2003). Absence of exercise-induced variations in adiponectin levels despite decreased abdominal adiposity and improved insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic men. European journal of endocrinology, 149(5), 421–424. https://doi.org/10.1530/eje.0.1490421
  4. Wewege, M., van den Berg, R., Ward, R. E., & Keech, A. (2017). The effects of high-intensity interval training vs. moderate-intensity continuous training on body composition in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 18(6), 635–646. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12532