Diet high in a certain fat may help weight loss
Scientists say that following a diet high in a particular
type of fat may increase metabolism and help people to lose weight. This
is according to a study published in The Journal of Lipid Research.
Researchers from Texas Tech University say their findings could lead to
the development of supplements and a diet regime that could speed up
metabolism while reducing muscle fatigue.
The researchers say that the skeletal muscles of those who suffer from
obesity contain a particular enzyme, called SCD1, that is able to break
down saturated fats.
SCD1 works by converting saturated fat into monounsaturated fat, which
is easier to metabolize.
Usually, the liver produces this enzyme dependent on the fat content of
the food consumed, the researchers say, and fatty adipose tissue
produces the enzyme constantly as a way of regulating itself.
An overweight man with a tape measure around his waist
Researchers discovered that an enzyme found in the skeletal muscles of
obese individuals, SCD1, increased metabolism and energy in a mouse
study and could lead to human diet supplements.
However, the researchers say the enzyme is also produced in muscle that
is heavily exercised, or the skeletal muscle of obese individuals.
To determine the exact mechanisms of SCD1, they decided to genetically
modify mice so that their muscles would continuously produce the enzyme.
SCD1 increased metabolism and energy
The researchers then compared the skeletal muscle of
the genetically modified mice with that of wild mice.
The genetically modified mice demonstrated high levels of
polyunsaturated fats, compared with the wild mice, particularly linoleic
acid that can only get into the body through diet. This meant that the
modified mice were consuming more food.
However, the study showed that the modified mice weighed less and had
increased exercise ability, compared with the wild mice.
Ched Paton, assistant professor of nutritional biochemistry in the
Department of Nutrition, Hospitality and Retailing at Texas Tech
"We found in the genetically modified animals that they had a
hypermetabolic rate. They were increasing their energy consumption, and
they experienced greatly increased exercise capacity."
Enzyme causes 'uncoupling' in
From this, the researchers wanted to look deeper into
what was happening in the skeletal muscle.
They found that increased SCD1 alongside increased food consumption
produced more linoleic acid in muscle tissues.
The acid then triggered part of the muscle cell's DNA, which in turn
encouraged cells to create more mitochondria, as well as "switch on" a
protein that prompts the cell to burn up excess energy from the extra
food as heat. The researchers call this "uncoupling."
Potential for new diet supplements
Prof. Paton notes that their findings could lead to
supplementation within a human diet in order to achieve the same
"You can't change the human genome, but that gives us
insight if you could activate the same part of the DNA in human in
skeletal muscles that burn off excess energy as heat instead of storing