Belly fat is a source of energy that’s burned during a workout. Which means that the more you exercise the more belly fat gets burned. Especially relevant, a signaling molecule called interleukin-6 or IL-6 triggers the transfer of energy from belly fat to muscles being exercised and who desperately need the energy.
This mechanism was recently demonstrated when obese adults using exercise bikes saw a decrease in their visceral abdominal fat. Most noteworthy, though, was the demonstration clearly showing that IL-6 was responsible for the loss of belly fat.
In fact, visceral fat surrounds internal organs in the abdominal cavity. Furthermore, visceral fat is really bad for you because it is responsible for cardio-metabolic diseases, cancer, dementia, and mortality. Most of all, visceral abdominal fat is responsible for your apple shaped body.
First and foremost, IL-6 regulates energy metabolism and stimulates breakdown of fat. Moreover, the amount of IL-6 released depends directly on the intensity and duration of the exercise. Furthermore, the amount of IL-6 released is, also, inversely related to the availability of glycogen in the muscles. Consequently, when your muscles are starving for glycogen, huge amounts of IL-6 is released and vice versa.
In fact, huge amounts of IL-6 is immediately released during long duration exercises. For example, in treadmill running, IL-6 levels increased significantly 30 min after the start, with peak levels being attained after 2.5 hours of running. In other studies, where IL-6 was not measured during the running but at several times after completion, the greatest IL-6 levels were found immediately after running stopped, followed by a rapid decline.
Incidentally, IL-6 is released by contracting skeletal muscles. After being released, IL-6 enters the blood stream. Next, IL-6 is absorbed by the liver and adipose tissue. In the liver, IL-6 triggers the conversion of glycogen to glucose, which gets sent back to the muscles via the circulating blood. While, in the adipose tissue, IL-6 breaks down fat into free fatty acids. And the free fatty acids, in turn, get sent back to the muscles via the circulating blood where they are converted into glucose.
Especially relevant, magnetic resonance imaging that was used to measure visceral fat tissue, after the workout, showed noticeable loss of visceral fat. Paradoxically, using a weight scale to measure weight loss is misleading because exercise also increases muscle mass while decreasing visceral abdominal fat. Therefore, to see the effect of exercising on visceral abdominal fat, it is better to use a tape to measure waist circumference.
In conclusion, the type of exercise is not as important as the ability to exercise with intensity (as in sweating) and duration. Furthermore, you have to manage your calorie intake if you want to keep the gains you made and continue to lose belly fat (see infographic).