Busy lifestyles call for busy schedules and more often than not, a busy schedule is synonymous with a skipped meal. Think again! A recent study concluded that one should never skip meals when attempting to lose weight. Meal skipping can result in a number of physiological miscues which all lead towards abdominal fat gain.
A research team from the Ohio State University in collaboration with Yale researchers attempted to understand the impact that different eating schedules had in mice. The researchers therefore split the lab mice into groups, where one study group was allowed to repeatedly nibble throughout an entire day while the other group only received meals once every 24 hours.
The results showed that the mice included in the group that had only received their food once every 24 hours, in a single meal, developed insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is one of the signs of prediabetes, as the liver is no longer capable of correctly responding to insulin signals. Instead of turning glucose production off, an insulin-resistant liver continues to unload extra sugar in the bloodstream.
In the end, this glucose is stored as fat.
According to Martha Belury, lead author of the story, in the case of the mice group which had fasted throughout the day and only received one meal, everybody had become “gorgers”.
“Even though we took the mice off their diets after a few days, they would still gorge,” she said.
The research team began by feeding one group half of the daily calories that the control group had been given. Gradually, researchers added calories so that on the sixth day, all mice were receiving the same amounts of food.
As opposed to the control group, those mice which had been on restrictive diets had developed gorging behavior which did not end once they began receiving proper amounts of calories.
Gorging followed by fasting was correlated with specific metabolic modifications. These included severe drops and spikes in insulin production, inflammation and higher activation of specific genes which code fat molecule storage.
Low-calorie diet and restricting diets do, initially, offer results. The dieter begins by shedding some pounds (most likely water weight), only to gain the weight back when returning to normal eating habits.
This yo-yo effect is familiar to many of us. However, the mice included in the study didn’t only regain the weight they had initially lost. The animal’s metabolisms began to shift. After having developed insulin resistance in their livers, the mice’s bodies began storing the calories they were eating differently than before.
Even when the researchers returned the mice to normal diets, the mice would still store the ingested calories as adipose tissue (fat).
This fat was mostly stored around the mice’s middles- the equivalent, authors say, of human belly fat.
In humans, excess abdominal fat is correlated with a variety of issues, from insulin resistance to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The authors concluded that weight loss, if attempted, should be achieved by a diet involving small, regular meals spread evenly throughout an entire day. Skipping meals is definitely counterproductive and results in more fat gain.
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