It’s official, the Mediterranean diet is the one you want if you want to ditch stubborn belly fat.
According to the CENTRAL trial, it’s the best at getting rid of liver fat which is the most dangerous type of weight to store around the midsection.
Professor Iris Shai of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, led the team of researches who studied 278 obese people.
The participants were split into two group; half followed the Mediterranean diet and the other half went low-carb, but both had a similar calorie intake. They stuck to their eating programs for 18 months, with an MRI scan measuring body fat distribution before and after.
The group on the Mediterranean diet ate small portions of red meat, moderate amounts of poultry and fish, and lots of fresh vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
The low-carb group’s only instructions was to limit their total fat intake to 30 per cent of daily calories, keeping to 10 per cent saturated fat max and no more than 300mg of cholesterol per day.
Both groups experienced overall weight loss, but the people following the Mediterranean diet had less fat around the liver, heart, and pancreas.
Not surprisingly, researchers also confirmed that exercise also helped melt abdominal fat. It’s the kind of fat you don’t want to carry, it’s linked to metabolic syndrome that can cause high blood pressure and cholesterol, stroke, peripheral artery disease and heart attack.
Those on the Mediterranean diet had a average 11 per cent decrease of fat around the heart and their visceral fat was down a whopping 25 per cent. There was a one to two per cent decrease of fat in, and around the pancreas, which was also significant for health outcomes.
The most important result was a 30 per cent reduction of liver fat. When you team that with overall weight loss, it means that group had significantly reduced health risks commonly associated with obesity such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“Reduction in liver fat is a better predictor of long-term health than reduction of visceral fat , which was previously believed to be the main predictor,” Shai explained in a press release.
“The findings are a significant contributor to the emerging understanding that for many obese individuals, excess liver fat is not merely a sign of health risks associated with obesity, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but is likely also a cause.
“Healthy nutrition, while also maintaining consistent, moderate weight loss, has a much more dramatic impact on levels of body fat related to diabetes, heart disease and cardiovascular disease than we previously thought.”