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Indulging in Fatty Foods Causes Muscles to 'Protest'

Apr 20, 2015 03:45 PM EDT
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You may think that indulging in fatty foods every once in a while isn't so bad for your health; but think again. New research shows that treating yourself to a couple of cheeseburgers, fries and donuts for even just a few days can cause your body's muscles to "protest."

Specifically, after just five days of eating a high-fat diet, the way in which the body's muscle processes nutrients changes. This could lead to long-term problems such as weight gain, obesity, and other health issues, according to new findings published in the journal Obesity.

"Most people think they can indulge in high-fat foods for a few days and get away with it," researcher Matt Hulver said in a statement. "But all it takes is five days for your body's muscle to start to protest."

When we eat, our blood glucose levels rise, and muscle is mainly responsible for clearing this glucose - either breaking it down for energy, or storing it for later use. Since muscle is vital for glucose metabolism, if our body's normal metabolism is altered it can have dire consequences on the rest of the body and can lead to health issues.

During the study, Hulver and his colleagues fed healthy college-age students a high-fat diet that included sausage biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and food loaded with butter to increase the percentage of their daily fat intake. A normal diet is made up of about 30 percent fat, whereas the students had diets that were about 55 percent fat. Their overall caloric intake remained the same as it was prior to the high fat diet.

The researchers collected muscle samples to see how it metabolized glucose differently when on a high-fat diet. They found that the manner in which the muscle metabolized glucose was altered, although the students did not gain weight or have any signs of insulin resistance.

"This shows that our bodies are can respond dramatically to changes in diet in a shorter time frame than we have previously thought," explained Hulver. "If you think about it, five days is a very short time. There are plenty of times when we all eat fatty foods for a few days, be it the holidays, vacations, or other celebrations. But this research shows that those high-fat diets can change a person's normal metabolism in a very short timeframe."

Next, Hulver and his team plan to examine how these short-term changes in the muscle can adversely affect the body in the long run, and if they can be reversed once someone returns to a low-fat diet.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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