Even among fit, young women, those who have a higher ratio of abdominal fat are less efficient at burning fat when working out compared to women with less belly fat, a new French study finds.
Researchers gathered a group of 21 healthy, young active women who were at normal weights and grouped them by the ratio of their abdominal fat distribution to their lower-body fat distribution.
Subjects then road a stationary bike for 45 minutes at 65 percent of their VO2 max, meaning they weren't exercising at a high intensity.
While both groups had a similar level of fitness, those with less belly fat used stored body fat better when cycling than the women with more abdominal fat.
According to Runner's World, the findings suggest that the reduced "metabolic flexibility" signaled that, even among the young and fit, their bodies were starting to find ways to conserve fat.
The findings were published this week in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Still, while prior studies have found that abdominal fat is less healthy than, say, fat stored on the thighs and hips, the good news is that there is something you can do about it. Experts say the best way to combat belly fat is to keep exercising and reduce stress.