Diet & Nutrition

Intermittent fasting may actually make shedding belly fat harder


Intermittent fasting is one of the few ‘diets’ that has strong evidence behind its ability to help you lose weight sustainably. But a new study suggests diets can affect fat loss differently.

Dietitians are fond of intermittent fasting and it’s quickly become one of the most popular ways to shed the kgs in a sustainable way.

But a new suggests it may not be so good if you’re planning on tackling belly fat, as researchers discovered the visceral fat that lives within your abdominal cavity to protect various organs goes into “preservation mode”, actually making it resistant to weight loss.

“This was unexpected,” lead author Dr Mark Larance, of the Charles Perkins Centre told The Age.

“[It shows] diets can affect different fat depots differently.”

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Fasting works by kickstarting a process called lipolysis, where fatty acids are released into the body to provide energy. But not all fat is equal.

Visceral fat, at high levels, can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is located under the skin all over our bodies and its loss is most notable when someone begins to lose weight.

“We’ve opened up a whole bag of new things we need to follow up on,” Dr. Larance continued.

“For example, chronic calorie restriction and the ketogenic diet, the visceral fat could be doing the same thing. It demonstrates… that [abdominal fat] might be harder to lose depending on what diet you’re on.”

Many who try to lose weight often hit a point where they stop, despite exercising and eating better.

Dr. Larance suggested this study may indicate a reason for that.

“It could mean that switching dietary regimes may provide that beneficial effect,” he said.

The observations were made in mice, but scientists have examined the effects of intermittent fasting in rodents before.

Physiologically we’re quite similar, but mice possess a metabolism four to five times faster so researchers can observe faster changes.