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When most of us think about fat, we think about the type of fat we can see in the mirror – the kind that keeps our favorite jeans from fitting just right.
However, there’s another type of fat that many of us never even consider that has a big impact on our health.
That’s the fat found in your liver.
And if you’re carrying around too much of it, you could be just a step away from severe metabolic disease, like type 2 diabetes.
Luckily, fatty liver is one of the most preventable diseases around, if you’re willing to follow a healthy diet and get your exercise.
But let’s face it…
There’s not always time for a long workout — and sometimes it’s hard to get the intensity level going to burn fat.
Luckily, researchers at Western Sydney University have some news that can help you choose the best exercise to slim up your liver…
How to slay fatty liver
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most prevalent forms of liver disease, affecting up to 30 percent of the population. It occurs when fat builds up in the liver and can lead to severe health problems, increasing your risk of heart disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer and metabolic disease.
Yet, despite its dangers, there’s very little your doctor can do for you if you develop NAFLD.
That’s why lifestyle interventions, such as losing weight and getting fit have become the focus when it comes to NAFLD prevention.
This led those Australian researchers to the question of how much exercise is really enough to keep your liver slim and trim. The team reviewed over 28,000 previous studies on the effects of exercise on liver health, with the primary analysis including 19 studies, involving 745 adult participants.
Theirs was the first review to determine the effect of aerobic exercise on liver fat by comparing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT).
The good news? Their results showed that both workouts delivered clinically significant liver fat reduction.
In fact, while MICT led to a 3.14 percent reduction in liver fat, shorter HIIT workouts offered comparable benefits with liver fat levels dropping by 2.85 percent.
Do you prefer high or moderate intensity?
Some of us can go at a HIIT workout like it’s a piece of cake. Others among us, prefer something a little moderate. And now we know that’s ok.
Because in reality, the best exercise is the one you can stick to.
Lead author, NICM Health Research Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Angelo Sabag said that regular aerobic exercise was an important management intervention, whether HIIT or MICT.
“Our review demonstrates the importance of regular aerobic exercise as an effective therapy in those at risk, with both HIIT and MICT found to improve liver fat to similar degrees.
“It is useful information to know that by training harder in less time with HIIT, you can achieve the same results as MICT, which is ideal for those with a busy lifestyle and little time.
“Another interesting finding was that even if people didn’t exercise at volumes sufficient to satisfy the recommended physical activity guidelines, they could still achieve clinically significant improvements in liver fat so long as they exercised regularly above a moderate intensity.”
How can you know if you’re at risk for NAFLD? According to the Mayo Clinic, these factors are warning signs:
- High cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Metabolic syndrome
- Obesity, particularly when fat is concentrated in the abdomen
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Underactive pituitary gland (hypopituitarism)
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HIIT for liver health – Western Sydney University
Fatty liver disease: What it is and what to do about it – Harvard Health Publishing