Fat Underneath your Belly - Intermittent Fasting and Hidden Visceral Fat

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Fat Underneath your Belly - Intermittent Fasting and Hidden Visceral Fat - Thomas DeLauer

Study - Nutrition Journal

Examined the effects of IF plus CR (with or without a liquid diet) on body weight, body composition, and CHD risk

Obese women (54) were randomized to either the IFCR-liquid (IFCR-L) or IFCR-food based (IFCR-F) diet

The trial had two phases: 1) 2-week weight maintenance period, and 2) 8-week weight loss period

During the 2-week baseline weight maintenance period subjects were requested to maintain a stable weight and continue eating their usual diet


During the weight loss period, body weight decreased by ~3.9kg (4.1%) in the IFCR-L group and by ~2.5kg (2.6%) in the IFCR-F group

Visceral fat was reduced in the IFCR-L (0.7kg) and IFCR-F (0.3kg) groups after 8 weeks of treatment.

However, abdominal subcutaneous fat was not affected by either intervention

Concluded that there, “was modest weight loss in both the IFCR-L and IFCR-F groups after 8 weeks of treatment… [we] observed that the addition of liquid meals to the protocol

Resulted in greater weight loss (IFCR-L group: 4.1% weight loss versus IFCR-F group: 2.6% weight loss)”

Study - Nature Communications

During fasting the body adjusts to the absence of nutrient ingestion so researchers tested the relevant metabolic parameters in mice fed ad libitum (as desired) or fasted for 24 hours

24-hour fasting stimulated a substantial shift from carbohydrate to fat-based fuel

In other words, fasting suppresses ingWAT thermogenesis by inhibiting PRDM16

It was also found that fasting induced the expression of miR-133a - suggests that PRDM16 is a direct target of miR-149-3p in subcutaneous ingWAT

Fasting stimulated a set of visceral-selective gene transcripts but decreased the expression of genes related to the thermogenic programme

This ‘whitening’ of subcutaneous adipocytes intuitively makes sense, because it not only reduces heat production but also reserves energy to supplement visceral fat during fasting

Therefore, cold exposure and fasting, two different physiological stimuli, lead to nearly opposite phenotypic and functional changes in subcutaneous adipocytes to maintain the energy balance

The study showed, in addition to the capacity of 'browning' to defend against hypothermia during cold exposure, the subcutaneous depot is also capable of 'whitening' to preserve energy during fasting to maintain energy balance, via miR-149-3p-mediated regulation of PRDM16

24-hour fasting triggered a depot-specific pattern of changes in both lipogenic and lipolytic genes in mice, indicating preferential mobilization of lipids in visceral depots compared with subcutaneous fat pads

Fasting stimulated a set of visceral gene transcripts but decreased the expression of genes related to the thermogenic programme, presumably to preserve energy

**By alternating 24-h cycles of fasting and ad libitum feeding, they found that the visceral fats decreased

Mice fasted for 24 to 72 hours and were then subjected to refeeding for 72 hours

Fasting markedly reduced their body weights and the lost body mass was restored after 3 days of refeeding

However, the speed of weight recovery was higher during the initial phase of refeeding (24 h) than during the latter stages

Food intake during 24 h of refeeding was much greater than at 48 and 72 h of refeeding, which suggested that the rapid increase of body weight might be attributed to hyperphagia at the initial phase of refeeding

After fasting for 24 h, the percentage of visceral WATs was reduced (eWAT, −33.5%; mWAT, −37.6%), while there were no changes in the masses of the ingWAT and iBAT


1) Klempel MC , et al. (n.d.). Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23171320

2) Fasting induces a subcutaneous-to-visceral fat switch mediated by microRNA-149-3p and suppression of PRDM16. (2016, May 31). Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms11533

3) Plasticity of adipose tissue in response to fasting and refeeding in male mice. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5217231/

4) Fasting induces a miRNA-mediated subcutaneous to visceral fat switch. (2016, 1). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/nuso-fia060116.php
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