Fasting causes belly fat and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes


In an effort to squeeze into an super slinky dress, many of us decide to skip a meal or two.

But going without breakfast, lunch or dinner can actually make you gain weight, a study has found.

Fasting sets off a host of processes in the body which trigger fat to be stored around the middle.

This type of fat is dangerous and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, researchers warned.

They discovered that going without food causes the liver cells to stop responding to insulin – the hormone that breaks down sugar.

The liver normally produces glucose to be used by the body, such as when someone is asleep.

But stops this production when it detects insulin in the blood, such as when someone has eaten.

If it becomes resistant to insulin, it doesn’t get the signal to stop producing glucose – and keeps pumping it into the blood.
This excess glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream is stored in the body as fat.

It also damages organs and can trigger type 2 diabetes over time.

The findings suggest eating small meals often could help with weight loss, researchers said.

In the study, they fed one group of mice all of their food as a single meal, so the rodents fasted for the rest of the day.

Another group of mice were freely allowed to nibble all day long.

The mice fed just one meal developed insulin resistance, which scientists consider a tell-tale sign of pre-diabetes.
This is a condition in which levels of glucose in the blood are abnormally high, which can lead to type 2 diabetes over time.

Initially, the mice fed one meal a day lost weight compared to the mice that had unlimited access to food.

For three days, these mice received half of the calories that were consumed daily by the mice whose diet was unrestricted.
Food was gradually added so that by day six, all mice received the same amount of food each day.

As calories were introduced back into their diet, they regained weight, and weighed nearly as much as the other group of mice by the end of the study.

But the fat around their middles – the equivalent to human belly fat – weighed more than in mice that were free to eat all day long.

An excess of belly fat is associated with insulin resistance and risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Senior author Professor Martha Belury, The Ohio State University said: ‘This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people.

‘But 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.’

The mice that had been on restricted diets developed gorging behavior that persisted throughout the study, meaning they finished their day’s worth of food in about four hours and then ended up fasting for the next 20 hours.

Professor Belury said: ‘With the mice, this is basically bingeing and then fasting.

‘People don’t necessarily do that over a 24-hour period, but some people do eat just one large meal a day.’

In mice that gorged and then fasted, the researchers saw raised levels of inflammation.

They also notes higher activation of genes that promote storage of fatty molecules and plumper fat cells – especially in the abdominal area – compared to the mice that nibbled all day. The research is published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

There is a large Muslim population in the UK and the level of diabetes in some of the communities is many times higher than in the UK generally.

The UK has a population of 2.7 million Muslims, of whom 325,000 have diabetes. The South Asian population has six times the general rate of the condition.


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