Food and Behaviour Research

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14 April 2015 - EurekAlert - Five days of eating fatty foods can alter how your body's muscle processes food

You might think that you can get away with eating fatty foods for a few days without it making any significant changes to your body. Think again.

After just five days of eating a high-fat diet, the way in which the body's muscle processes nutrients changes, which could lead to long-term problems such as weight gain, obesity, and other health issues, a new study has found.

"Most people think they can indulge in high-fat foods for a few days and get away with it," said Matt Hulver, an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "But all it takes is five days for your body's muscle to start to protest."

Hulver and his colleagues found that muscles' ability to oxidize glucose after a meal is disrupted after five days of eating a high-fat diet, which could lead to the body's inability to respond to insulin, a risk factor for the development of diabetes and other diseases.

To conduct the study, healthy college-age students were fed a fat-laden 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 and students in this study had diets that were about 55 percent fat. Their overall caloric intake remained the same as it was prior to the high fat diet. Muscle samples were then collected to see how it metabolized glucose. Although the study showed the manner in which the muscle metabolized glucose was altered, the students did not gain weight or have any signs of insulin resistance.

Hulver and the team are now interested in examining how these short-term changes in the muscle can adversely affect the body in the long run and how quickly these deleterious changes in the muscle can be reversed once someone returns to a low-fat diet.