Bye, bye, belly fat
The old advertising campaign that used the slogan â€œOils ainâ€™t oilsâ€ was spot on. Although it is highly unlikely that the ad agency creatives had body lipids (fats) in mind when they dreamed up that promotion for an engine lubricant, the saying holds true. Oils and fats are types of lipid and in your body â€œfat ainâ€™t fatâ€. Fat in different places can be of a different type and have very different effects.
Subcutaneous fat is the fat that collects in the layers just under your skin. While subcutaneous fat might not be too attractive, it is not as dangerous to your overall health as visceral fat which is the fat deep in your belly that collects around your organs. The good news is that a new study has shown how to shift that visceral fat.
For the study more than 1100 people were given a questionnaire on their lifestyle, a detailed physical examination, and a CT scan to measure subcutaneous and visceral fat. Five years later the same tests were run.
In that intervening time period the participants made changes to their diet and lifestyle to varying degrees. When the researchers compared the initial test results to the subsequent test results from five years later there were some clear results.
Increased intake of soluble fibre was found to decrease visceral fat, although not subcutaneous fat. In fact there was a dose dependent relationship between soluble fibre and visceral fat levels. For every ten gram increase in daily soluble fibre consumption there was a 3.7 per cent reduction in visceral fat. Soluble fibre comes from vegetables, fruit, beans, oats, and supplements like psyllium husks. To get ten grams of soluble fibre you would need to eat two small apples, one cup of green peas, or half a cup of pinto beans.
The other lifestyle factor that reduced visceral fat was exercise. The data showed that people who introduced moderate exercise into their lifestyle decreased visceral fat by 7.4 per cent over the five years. Moderate exercise was defined as exercising vigorously for 30 minutes two to four times a week.
Put that together and if you add a mere 30 grams of soluble fibre to your diet daily and exercise two to four times a week for 30 minutes then in five years you could reduce your visceral fat by almost 20 per cent. That sounds like a plan.