Trying to burn belly fat? Intermittent fasting may be hampering progress, study suggests


Hoping to get rid of unwanted belly fat? If your diet involves intermittent fasting, abstaining from food for several hours at a time, may be hampering your progress in shedding fat around this area of ​​the body, the findings of a new study suggest.

In the study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia and published earlier this week in the journal Cell Reports, researchers found that visceral abdominal fat, the fatty tissue that surrounds organs, including the stomach, is particularly resilient. to the release of energy during intermittent fasting. . In other words, this type of fat goes into “conservation mode” to protect your energy in anticipation of the next period of fasting, possibly making it harder to shed unwanted belly fat.

For the study, conducted with mice, the researchers “examined the types of fat tissue from different locations to understand their function during fasting every other day, where no food was consumed on alternate days,” according to a news release on the findings.

They found that two types of fat, visceral, the type mentioned above, as well as subcutaneous fat, which is found just under the skin and is associated with better metabolic health, “undergo dramatic changes during intermittent fasting,” said Dr. Larance. lead author of the study, in a statement.

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During a fast, fat tissue acts as an energy source for the body by releasing fatty acid molecules. In the study, however, the researchers found that visceral becomes resistant to this release of energy during periods of fasting, suggesting that visceral fat “can accommodate repeated bouts of fasting and protect your energy reserve,” he said. Larance.

“This type of adaptation may be the reason that visceral fat can be resistant to weight loss after long periods of dieting,” he added.

Mice were used in the study because their physiology is similar to that of humans. However, their metabolism is much faster, allowing the researchers to observe changes in a faster period of time, compared to if they had conducted a human trial.

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The researchers used specialized instruments to examine “more than 8,500 proteins located in fat stores, creating a catalog of changes that occurred during intermittent fasting, using a technique called proteomics,” or studying all proteins, according to the statement. He adds: “It was through proteomics that the research team was alerted to the main cellular changes caused by intermittent fasting and, after further analysis, highlighted the visceral fat conservation mechanism in action.” .

It is important to note that the study focused on alternate-day fasting, and Larance cautioned that the findings “may not apply to different diet regimens, such as the 5: 2 diet (fasting 2 of 7 days) or restriction of calories, which is common in people who want to lose weight. “

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That said, “the results lay the foundation for future studies, which will analyze the molecules responsible for why visceral fat is resistant to energy release during fasting and will help determine which diet plans would be most beneficial for metabolic health.” .

“Now that we have shown that ‘belly fat’ in mice is resistant to this diet, the big question will be to answer why and how we can best address it.” Larance questioned, noting that more studies are needed on this topic.

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