Obesity is more than just a sheer question of aesthetics and its damaging effects do not show on a scale only. One of the invisible effects of being overweight or obese is having fatty organs.
What does a “fatty organ” mean?
You should worry about the fats in the organs if you are overweight and if you have a lot of fat around your waist (visceral fat). The fat inside the organs is not visible with a naked eye, but being overweight and having a large tummy can be a “good sign” that there are droplets in the cells of your organs that normally contain very small amounts of fats. So it’s not just the visible fat under skin, not just the big belly – you can have triglycerides inside the cells of your liver, heart and pancreas.
Why is this important?
Having fatty liver (called “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”) or other fatty organs tremendously increases the possibility of developing series of diseases and is connected to insulin resistance.
A group of Israeli scientists published results of an interesting study, where they tested different life-style modification approaches to decreasing the problem of fatty organs.
278 individuals were observed for a year and a half. They were split into two groups: one was getting a low-fat diet, the other group’s diet consisted of low carb foods. Each of these groups was further split into work-out group and non work-out group.
What helps with fatty organs?
The results were hardly surprising, yet quite informative if you still believe in the “balanced diet” mantra, promoted by official dietary guidelines. Low-carb nutrition decreases the amount of fat hidden in the liver, heart and pancreas, along with visceral fat in general. The effect is even greater if low-carb nutrition is combined with the exercise. One of the findings is extra interesting: not depending on general weight-loss, just the fact of decreasing the fat in the organs and visceral fat improves the general levels of blood lipids. The decrease of visceral fat deposits also beneficially affects the insulin sensitivity. The main new finding is, however, that there seem to be two types of fat deposits: the first react to the sheer weight-loss (regardless of the life-style modification that led to it) and the others that reacts to specific way of losing weight (Gepner et al., 2017).
The take-away messages are quite important:
- eating fat doesn’t translate to having too many fat deposits – just the opposite;
- to improve chronic disease factors losing weight is not enough: it has to be through low-carb nutrition, as only low-carb diet decreases fat deposits inside the vital organs.
GEPNER, Y. et al. 2017. Effect of Distinct Lifestyle Interventions on Mobilization of Fat Storage Pools: The CENTRAL MRI Randomized Controlled Trial. Circulation, vol., no., pp., 10.1161/circulationaha.117.030501
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