Feast or famine?

By

Researchers in UGA’s College of Pharmacy have discovered that alternating between a high-fat and a more nutritionally balanced diet at regular intervals may help prevent or treat obesity and its associated metabolic disorders.

For their study, scientists fed mice a high-fat diet for five days before switching the animals to regular feed for a period of one, two or five days. They repeated this cycle for several weeks and observed the effects.

They found that switching to a regular diet for two or five days between periods of high-fat intake not only helped control body weight, it also improved insulin sensitivity and prevented the accumulation of fat in the liver, two common side effects of obesity.

Mice were allowed to eat as much food as they wanted during every phase of the study. The researchers also maintained two control groups, one of which received only a high-fat diet and another that received only regular feed.

While mice that received only a high-fat diet predictably gained weight, those fed an alternating diet closely mirrored the control group that received only regular feed in terms of their body weight, liver health and glucose sensitivity.

“These results suggest that it may be possible to eat the foods you like, and to do so with pleasure, as long as those habits are tempered with periods of rest,” said Dexi Liu, the Panoz Professor of Pharmacy at UGA and principal investigator for the project.