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HomeNUTRITIONCould conventional dieting promote fat gain over the long term?

Could conventional dieting promote fat gain over the long term?

In my previous articles I explained why calorie restrictive dieting may not work for everyone, firstly fad diets often work as a temporary weight loss plan which promises dramatic results across often unrealistic timeframes and secondly restricting the types of food we are eating can make us crave them even more resulting in a yoyo effect. 95% of people who lose weight through dieting regain it in across 1 to 5 years. Recent studies have discovered that restricting calorie intake can also impair the mitochondrial (powerhouse of the cell) function in adipose tissue causing more fat to accumulate.

Magdalena Marvell is a Nutritional Practitioner and Founder of the Persea Clinic which helps support clients who want to optimise their health in areas such as gut health, hormonal balance, skin conditions, weight management, family nutrition. To find out more about her work please visit

Around ten million billion mitochondria account for about 10% of our total body weight1. They’re important cellular powerplants responsible for cellular energy production. Our bodies use both neurotransmitters and hormone signals to tell the mitochondria what to do in order to keep us alive.

A group of scientists in University of Helsinki discovered that the functioning of mitochondria can be associated with obesity. Recently they concluded that a diet based on calorie restriction may negatively affect the metabolic pathways of mitochondria in adipose tissue.

Studies suggest that damage to the mitochondria after extensive dieting may be the cause of fat building up again after weight loss.

Two groups following a calorie restrictive diet were compared with two groups on weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery in the study. Their weight loss and metabolism were monitored throughout the study with a biopsy taken from their adipose tissue at the beginning and the end of the trial.

The analysis conducted that dieters on calorie restricted diets had reduced function of mitochondria in the adipose tissue compared to those who lost weight via bariatric surgery who showed significant improvement in the function of mitochondrial genes and increased activity of mitochondrial metabolism. Although the weight loss improves many metabolic changes such obesity and diabetes it is believed that patients with weight loss from bariatric surgery and regular diet are better protected from re-gaining weight than those on a calorie restrictive diet. This was associated with better recovery and improved activity of the mitochondria in the adipose tissue2.

What this appears to show is that by extreme dieting we may actually cause more damage to our cellular metabolism promoting adiposal tissue (fat) to creep back up soon after the weight loss. Yet another reason to promote a healthy way of eating to shed the kilos over a realistic timeframe!

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