Researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have identified the cause of the “yo-yo” effect of slimming diets whose challenge is not to lose weight, but to maintain this weight loss over time.
These scientists have demonstrated that in mice, a high protein diet after weight loss can counter the phenomenon, via a process dependent on the intestinal microbiota, according to a new study published in Nature metabolism.
Nutrition researchers believe that after a diet that is too restrictive, the body “takes revenge” by rapidly accumulating fat. This affects appetite and thermogenesis. It is the bodily process that produces heat by consuming calories.
They engaged in some experiments on mice by setting up ten types of diets, to which they subjected rodents. They then studied the effect of refeeding after each diet on fat mass.
All data showed that refeeding (after a three-day food restriction) induced rapid fat accumulation in mice. In addition, the increased absorption of intestinal lipids contributed to the increase in post-diet fat mass.
They tested various dietary interventions aimed at preventing this increase in post-diet fat mass. After food restriction, they subjected the mice to three kinds of diets. A high protein diet, a low protein diet or a normal protein diet supplemented with essential amino acids. The results showed that the high protein diet prevented the rapid accumulation of fat mass. It even partially maintained the fat loss induced by the previous diet.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity are defined as an abnormal or excessive accumulation of body fat that represents a health risk. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and are also important factors for premature death.