Persistent High Fat Diet Could Change The Way Muscles Process Nutrients

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A high fat diet isn’t ideal, in fact, a ‘high’ anything diet doesn’t fit with current nutrition and health recommendations. Balance is key, meaning we should actually be aiming to consume moderate amounts of all the food groups and nutrients we need, not consuming large amounts of any food group. Recent research by Virginia Tech found that just 5 days of eating a high fat diet led to a change in the way our muscle process nutrients. The implications of these changes may mean we are more susceptible to gaining weight, obesity, and other health related issues such as heart disease. It is often thought that a little binge here and there won’t do our bodies any harm whatsoever, but this piece of research suggests differently.


Our bodies are adaptive

Thank goodness we are an adaptive species, evolution would have seen the human race off by now if we weren’t, but it seems that there is significant evidence to suggest that after a high fat diet, our muscles now adapt a little too quickly when processing key nutrients. In fact, just 5 days of eating continuous high fat foods saw the person’s metabolism change. It is the fact that it happens in such a short time frame that is most surprising, it is not at all unheard of for people to consume multiple high fat meals whilst away on holiday. So despite eating normally for 95% of the time, those 5 days out of 100 can change your body’s metabolism. The natural response of eating is for blood sugar levels to rise (even when it is only fat that is eaten), insulin allows sugar to enter the key tissue for energy, with muscle being one of the main clearinghouses of blood sugar. The sugar, or blood glucose to use its technical term is either used for energy or simply stored for later use, either way the muscle is a key component in controlling blood sugar levels. Science Daily explains that muscle approx. 30% of our total bodyweight, so if the way that it metabolises nutrients such as glucose is changed, the reverberations are felt all around the body.


Body’s ability to oxidise glucose disrupted

This change in the way the muscle metabolises (oxidises) glucose can see a reduction in the body’s ability to respond to insulin, known as impaired insulin sensitivity. The consequence of persistent impaired insulin sensitivity is diabetes and heart disease, so the implications of a high fat food binge may be as deleterious as several years of chronic fatty food intake. The researchers next port of call is to establish whether or not these metabolic changes in the muscle actually do lead to the onset of diabetes, how many times you would have to binge on high fat foods, if an excess of 5 days of high fat foods increased the risk further, or even if/ how long the metabolic shifts in the muscle take to return to normal again.



Angela S. Anderson, Kimberly R. Haynie, Ryan P. McMillan, Kristin L. Osterberg, Nabil E. Boutagy, Madlyn I. Frisard, Brenda M. Davy, Kevin P. Davy, Matthew W. Hulver. Early skeletal muscle adaptations to short-term high-fat diet in humans before changes in insulin sensitivity. Obesity, 2015; 23 (4): 720 DOI: 10.1002/oby.21031

Science Daily, (2015). Five days of eating fatty foods can alter how your body's muscle processes food. Retrieved 28th April, 2015, from

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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