All right, time’s up. Put down the barrel of carbs and step away; it’s time to lean out and unveil the fruits of your labor. According to new research, trimming belly fat not only uncovers your killer abs but also improves blood flow throughout the body, resulting in improved performance and muscle growth.

The research comes from a Johns Hopkins University study, presented at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association. Sixty men and women, with an average starting weight of 215 pounds, were followed over a six ­month period as they lost weight through a combination of daily exercise and either a prescribed low­ carb or low­fat diet of equal caloric value. Both groups gradually cut belly fat over the course of the study, taking regular arterial health tests throughout. In the end, no matter which diet the subjects adhered to, circulation and arterial function improved across the board alongside decreases in belly fat, pointing to a strong relationship between the two.

Arteries are responsible for pumping blood through the body and shuttling oxygen
 and important nutrients to the muscles. Thus, improving your arterial health means morphing your body into a more efficient muscle­ building machine—not to mention a leaner, better ­looking one.

It’s also worth noting that over the course of the six months, those subjects who ate a low­carb diet lost more weight than the low­ fat group, and at a faster pace—almost 30 pounds over six months, compared with the 18.7­pound average loss experienced by the group eating low­ fat meals over the same period. Your take­ away: Get your ass in a cutting cycle, lower the proportion of carbs in your diet, and pick up a fat burner to speed the process on your way to better performance.


Reference: K.J. Stewart et al., American Heart Association meeting, San Diego, March 13, 2012.