A meta analysis was performed on 61 separate studies showing preferential loss of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) relative to subcutaneous abdominal fat (SAT). Factors examined included percentage weight loss, caloric restriction, exercise, BMI, follow-up time, gender and baseline VAT/SAT.
Percentage weight loss was the only variable that predicted preferential loss of VAT. Modest reductions in weight resulted in a greater percentage of VAT reduction. With greater weight loss the effect was lost. Very low calorie diets produced preferential loss of VAT for about 4 weeks, after which they also lost that effect.
The preferential loss of VAT during the initial stages of a diet explains the metabolic benefits of modest weight loss.