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Exercise Changes How Our Body Handles Saturated Fat, Study Finds

British scientists appear to have discovered another benefit of exercise: it could help our bodies better use certain types of fat. In a new study published this week, researchers found that endurance athletes burned saturated fat much better than sedentary people with type 2 diabetes – a distinction that also emerged in the diabetic group once they started exercising.

The research was carried out by scientists from the University of Aberdeen. They wanted to unravel a particular biological mystery, known as the athlete’s paradox. Studies have shown that endurance athletes and type 2 diabetics both tend to store higher amounts of fat in their muscle fiber cells than others, although they are otherwise very different. Athletes are generally at much lower risk of cardiovascular disease than diabetics, for example, and generally have high insulin sensitivity (by definition, people with type 2 cannot respond to or produce insulin effectively ).

To better understand how this phenomenon occurs, researchers recruited 29 male endurance athletes and 30 diabetic patients for an experiment.

First, the volunteers were injected with small amounts of different fats intravenously and their thighs were scanned with MRI to see how these fats were used by muscle cells. They also underwent a biopsy of thigh muscle cells and baseline measurements of their metabolism. Then the volunteers switched lives for the next eight weeks, with the athletes avoiding their usual physical activity routine and the type 2 diabetics undergoing endurance training, to the point of exercising five hours a week. After the eight weeks, the same tests were repeated.

Researchers found that athletes’ bodies stored higher levels of saturated fat in their muscle cells than those of diabetics, but they were also very efficient at burning them. Conversely, the bodies of diabetics stored more unsaturated fats in their muscles, but burned both types of fat less well. After the swap, however, the two groups began to mirror each other, with the exercising diabetics now storing and burning saturated fat about as well as the deconditioned athletes.

The team’s conclusions, published Wednesday in Nature Communications, are based on a relatively small sample. Further studies will therefore be needed to confirm what the team discovered here. But plenty of research has shown the many ways exercise can improve our health, so it’s certainly possible that this is one of them.

“These results are completely novel and highlight how staying fit and active improves saturated fat metabolism as a direct benefit of exercise,” said the study’s lead author, Dana Dawson, chair of cardiovascular medicine. in Aberdeen, in a study. statement of the University.

Besides better fat burning, researchers also found that people with diabetes lost weight, increased their insulin sensitivity, and lowered their cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar levels once they started exercise – so many good reasons for anyone not to exercise.

“When it comes to being active, it’s important to get into a routine that you enjoy and can stick to,” said Bryan Williams, scientific and medical director of the British Heart Foundation, in a statement from the university. “Try to get up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling.”

News Source : gizmodo.com
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