|Whether the "alternate-day high fat diet" is in fact an alternative to "training low and competing high", which you can also tweak like this, appears questionable to me, but it is certainly interesting.|
Believe it or not, this is not totally wrong. What is wrong, though, is that the increase in mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation capacity, which is an adaptive response to the lack of other energy sources, will translate into direct fat loss. Eventually, you will still only lose weight and body fat if you are in a caloric deficit: high carb, low carb or no carb - personal preferences and parameters may determine which one works best for you, but eventually both work.
But I am getting off an a tangent. The actual question in today's SuppVersity article is after all not, whether a high fat diet allows for easier, faster or more reliable fat loss than a balanced or high carb diet. No, the question for today's SuppVersity article is: "Can an Alternate Day High Fat Diet Provide Turn You into a Fat Burning Machine?"
A hilarious idea, right? Well, I would probably have said the same before I had read a recent study from the Waseda University in Japan (Li. 2016). In said study, Li et al. tried to elucidate whether they would be able to get the same improvements in mitochondrial enzyme activity and protein content others have observed in rodents on high fat diets without the concomitant long-term intra-abdominal fat accumulation, and ever-increasing insulin resistance, and obesity. Put simply, Li et al. wanted to know if a small tweak to the diet would be able to "induce increases in mitochondrial oxidative capacities in skeletal muscle without intra-abdominal fat accumulation and body weight gain," as it would "offer many advantages" to endurance athletes (Li. 2016). Their hypothesis was that
- feeding a high fat diet every other day would trigger the increase in free fatty acids (FFA) that's necessary to produce the desirable increases in mitochondrial capacity, while
- feeding a regular (low fat) diet on the other day would help to ameliorate (or even better block) the accumulation of intra-abdominal fat mass.
|Figure 1: Visceral (epididymal) fat mass, plasma glucose, fatty acid and insulin levels and relative difference to control (above bars); mind the multiplicators that were necessary to plot all data in a single graph (Li. 2016).|
|Figure 2: Levels of markers of mitochondrial oxidative capacity after the treatment period (Li. 2016).|
- Burke LM. Fueling strategies to optimize performance: training high or training low? Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Oct;20 Suppl 2:48-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01185.x.
- Li X, Higashida K, Kawamura T, Higuchi M. Alternate-Day High-Fat Diet Induces an Increase in Mitochondrial Enzyme Activities and Protein Content in Rat Skeletal Muscle. Nutrients. 2016 Apr 6;8(4). pii: E203.