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Fat moves fast

By David Butler Science and the world, Education for all 19 Aug 2014


I am an avid collector of information that can change behaviours. Rummaging through my clippings (being old fashioned I like to have clippings) I came across a piece by Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times from May 2012 reporting on research led by Fredrik Karpe and Keith Frayn at Oxford University.

Karpe and his team reported that the average person can add two to three teaspoons of fat to their waist within hours of eating. The fat in a meal gets quickly into the lymph system and into the blood within an hour of eating, and then into short-term fat stores around the waist.

This is a nugget, maybe more metabolic than neuroscience, but still a worthwhile, short, educational narrative. It means that when you go out to a restaurant any fat eaten at the start of the meal is already on your hips or tummy when you walk out. My previous concept was that fat kind of slowly made its way to my porky bits in few days and if I did something after a fatty meal, I could head it off!!

For some, including me, this information nugget is as powerful for helping me lose weight than any exercise.

-David Butler


PS: There is also a bit of good news from the researchers, in an open access article published in Physiological Reviews, Thompson, Karpe, Lafontan and Frayn (2012) review the effects of Physical Activity and Exercise in the Regulation of Human Adipose Tissue Physiology, they note:

A single bout of exercise stimulates adipose tissue blood flow and fat mobilization, resulting in delivery of fatty acids to skeletal muscles at a rate well-matched to metabolic requirements… There is a period following an exercise bout when fatty acids are directed away from adipose tissue to other tissues such as skeletal muscle, reducing dietary fat storage in adipose. With chronic exercise (training), there are changes in adipose tissue physiology, particularly an enhanced fat mobilization during acute exercise… Epidemiological observations support the idea that physically active people have relatively low fat mass, and intervention studies tend to show that exercise training reduces fat mass. (Emphasis added)


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