Excess fat poses a threat to your general health, irrespective of where it is found in the body, but abdominal fat spells particular trouble. The fat is located deep within your belly near vital organs, hiking your risk of developing metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It is therefore imperative that you make healthy lifestyle decisions to stave off the threats posed by visceral fat build-up.
Engaging in regular exercise offers a surefire way to burn the harmful belly fat, and, while the benefits of engaging in aerobic exercise are well understood, research also backs using an overlooked gym equipment to attack visceral fat.
Research presented at the European Congress on Obesity revealed that vibration plates, if used optimally – in combination with a calorie restricted diet – were more successful at long-term weight loss and shedding the fat around their abdominal organs than those who combined dieting with a more conventional fitness routine.
A vibration plate or ‘power plate’ is a machine that you stand on while it sends high-speed vibrations through your whole body.
The equipment is designed to stimulate your muscles at a much higher rate than normal, accelerating the strengthening and toning process.
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Commenting on their findings, the study’s leader, Dirk Vissers, a physiotherapist at the Artesis University College and the University of Antwerp in Belgium, said: “These machines are increasingly found in gyms across the industrialised world and have gathered a devoted following in some places, but there has not been any evidence that they help people lose weight.”
He continued: “Our study, the first to investigate the effects of vibration in obese people, indicates it’s a promising approach. It looks like these machines could be a useful addition to a weight control package.” said the study’s leader, Dirk Vissers, a physiotherapist at the Artesis University College and the University of Antwerp in Belgium.”
To evaluate the visceral fat-burning benefits of using these machines, Professor Vissers and his colleagues studied the effects of the Power Plate in 61 overweight or obese people – mostly women – for a year.
The intervention lasted six months, after which the scientists advised all the volunteers to do the best they could with a healthy diet and exercise regime on their own for another six months.
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Body measurements, including CT scans of abdominal fat, were taken at the beginning of the study and after three, six and 12 months.
The researchers divided the volunteers into four groups: one group was prescribed an individually calculated calorie restricted diet, a second group received the same diet intervention, with the addition of a conventional fitness regime, a third group got the diet intervention plus supervised vibration plate training instead of conventional exercise, and the fourth group received no intervention.
There were no significant differences between the groups in obesity and abdominal, or visceral, fat at the start of the study.
“Over the year, only the conventional fitness and vibration groups managed to maintain a five percent weight loss, which is what is considered enough to improve health,” Prof. Vissers said.
However, the vibration group lost 47.8 square centimetres of visceral fat during the first six months and still had a loss of 47.7 square centimetres at 12 months.
A marked improvement over the conventional fitness group, which observed a visceral fat reduction of 17.6 square centimetres in the conventional fitness group in the first six months, but by the end of the year, it was only 1.6 square centimetres less than at the beginning.
Emphasising the benefits, the diet group had a visceral fat loss of 24.3 square centimetres after six months and 7.5 square centimetres after a year.
In his concluding remarks, Prof. Visser said: “These are very encouraging results, but it doesn’t mean people trying to lose weight can ditch aerobic exercise and jump on the vibration plate instead.”