In a new study, researchers found what happens to fat deposits during intermittent fasting (every second day), with an unexpected discovery that some types of fat are more resistant to weight loss.
They found that intermittent fasting triggers a cascade of dramatic changes, depending on the type of fat deposits and where they are located around the body.
They discovered that fat around the stomach, which can accumulate into a ‘protruding tummy’ in humans, was found to go into ‘preservation mode’, adapting over time and becoming more resistant to weight loss.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Sydney.
In the study, the team examined fat tissue types from different locations to understand their role during every-other-day fasting, where no food was consumed on alternate days.
The fat types where changes were found included visceral “belly” fat, which is fat tissue surrounding our organs including the stomach, and subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin and is associated with better metabolic health.
The trauma says that while most people would think that all fat tissue is the same, in fact, the location makes a big difference.
The findings showed that both visceral and subcutaneous fat undergo dramatic changes during intermittent fasting.
During fasting, fat tissue provides energy to the rest of the body by releasing fatty acid molecules.
However, the researchers found visceral fat became resistant to this release of fatty acids during fasting.
There were also signs that visceral and subcutaneous fat increased their ability to store energy as fat, likely to rapidly rebuild the fat store before the next fasting period.
The team says it was possible that a history of repeated fasting periods triggered a preservation signaling pathway in visceral fat.
This type of adaptation may be the reason why belly fat can be resistant to weight loss after long periods of dieting.
The researchers say it should be noted that findings from the intermittent study may not apply to different diet regimes such as the 5:2 diet (fasting 2 days out of 7) or calorie restriction, which is common in people wanting to lose weight.
One author of the study is Dr. Mark Larance.
The study is published in Cell Reports.
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