Fasting Could Lead to Abdominal Weight Gain

Intermittent fasting - the practice of alternating periods of fasting with periods of "feasting" - has gained popularity in recent years among dieters.

But a new study suggests that skipping meals could actually lead to abdominal weight gain - a particularly dangerous type of fat that can cause or exacerbate metabolic syndrome.

In the study, researchers compared the health of mice who ate one large meal per day and fasted the rest of the time to mice that had unlimited access to food.

The mice who fasted developed insulin resistance in their livers, which causes extra sugar in the blood to be stored as fat. These mice did lose weight, but their abdominal fat weighed more than the belly fat in the mice who had free access to food.

Are small meals better?

According to Martha Belury, senior author of the study and professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University, the study supports the idea that small meals spaced evenly throughout the day may be helpful for a healthy weight.

"You definitely don't want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss," Belury said.

In the mice that had one meal per day, researchers observed several metabolic issues that were linked to insulin fluctuations: higher inflammation and the activation of genes that promote fat storage in the abdominal area, namely.

"Even though the gorging and fasting mice had about the same body weights as control mice, their adipose depots were heavier," Belury concluded. "If you're pumping out more sugar into the blood, adipose is happy to pick up glucose and store it. That makes for a happy fat cell -but it's not the one you want to have. We want to shrink these cells to reduce fat tissue."

Source: Ohio State University

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