Intermittent fasting, which involves abstaining from food for a relatively short period of time, has become a popular dieting method for those looking to lose weight. However, a new study has a bit of bad news for dieters hoping to shed belly fat, noting that fasting may send the stomach fat into ‘preservation mode’ so that it is harder to lose.
The new study comes from the University of Sydney where researchers used advanced instruments to study how fat responds to intermittent fasting. The researchers looked at fat deposits located in different parts of the body during alternate-day fasting, which involves eating only every other day.
Two different varieties of fat were studied: visceral fat, the kind found in one’s midsection around the organs, and subcutaneous fat, which is the soft fat that resides beneath the skin. Compared to subcutaneous fat, the study found that visceral fat resisted releasing energy during fasting.
In addition, the researchers note that both types of fat seem to ramp up their ability to store excess calories as fat when subjected to intermittent fasting, something likely due to the body’s effort to store more energy before the next period of fasting.
Visceral fat in particular was found to go into a type of preservation mode after multiple fasting sessions, a kind of adaptation that may make it more resistant when someone is trying to lose weight. It’s important to note that the study involved alternate-day fasting and the findings may not apply to other fasting protocols or simple calorie restriction.