Latest News & Research: 28 November 2017

This week: A festive flavour to fuel fat loss • How exercise sustains fat loss achieved through dietary changes • Cardio fitness fights heart disease + more

How exercise sustains fat loss achieved through dietary changes

Consuming fewer calories is the way in which most people go about losing weight, and in the short term it may appear effective.

In 4 out of 5 instances, however, the dieter regains all the weight lost within a few years (if not sooner).

One of the explanations for this is that when energy intake is restricted, the body compensates by slowing down its metabolism. Research has previously found that when dieters add moderate intensity exercise, like a brisk walk, their metabolism does not slow down as much as when they diet alone.

Researchers from the University of Alabama took this one step further by applying the concept of higher intensity interval training to a calorie restricted diet in mice, and found that it both preserved muscle mass and positively impacted the way the body uses glucose for energy.

Study leader Eric Plaisance, PhD, said; ‘This study has important implications for how we guide people through weight loss and help them keep the weight off.’

A festive flavour to fuel fat loss

Christmas may not typically be considered the time of year in which most of us burn more calories, but a timely new study has found that cinnamon, that most festive of spices, may speed up metabolism and burn fat.

Researchers from the University of Michigan treated fat cells from both mice and humans with cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its flavour.

The resulting change in certain genes and enzymes that boost lipid metabolism caused them to speculate that cinnamon may induce thermogenesis, a process that causes cells to burn stored fat.

Lead study author Jun Wu concluded; ‘Given the wide usage of cinnamon in the food industry, the notion that this popular food additive, instead of a drug, may activate thermogenesis, could ultimately lead to therapeutic strategies against obesity that are much better adhered to by participants.’

Cardio fitness fights heart disease…

A new study has highlighted the importance of cardio fitness in protecting against heart disease.

Data relating to cardio fitness and to blood analysis (blood triglyceride/high-density lipoprotein ratio, or TG:HDL ratio) was collected from more than 40,000 men over three decades.

The researchers from The Cooper Institute in Dallas, US, found that even when study subjects had a high TG:HDL ratio, those with a moderate-to-high level of fitness had a lower mortality risk than those with lower fitness levels.

Lead study author Stephen Farrell, PhD, commented; ‘Regardless of whether the blood TG:HDL ratio was low or high, having at least a moderate level of fitness provided some protection from CHD death when compared to having a low level of fitness.’

…but triathlons may increase risk of heart problems for men

Higher levels of cardio fitness may well be good for heart health, as reported above, but another study has shown that men with extreme training regimens have a higher risk of developing myocardial fibrosis, a heart condition that can lead to heart failure.

In a study of 85 triathletes of both genders, German researchers found that 18% of the male study subjects had evidence of myocardial fibrosis in the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle. There was no evidence of the condition in the female study subjects.

The collected data showed that those with the condition had a history of having undertaken significantly longer total cycling and swimming distances, and at greater intensity, than the athletes without evidence of myocardial fibrosis.

Lead study author Jitka Starekova, MD, said; ‘Although we cannot prove the exact mechanism for the development of myocardial fibrosis in triathletes, increased systolic blood pressure during exercise, the amount and extent of race distances and unnoticed myocarditis could be cofactors in the genesis of the condition. In other words, repetition of any extreme athletic activity may not be beneficial for everyone.’