In episode 120 of his video series, Dr. Larson discusses:
Have you ever wondered why it’s harder to burn fat as we get older? Researchers wrote an article that looked into that question, and it was recently published in the journal Nature Medicine. They wanted to know what it is about older adults that makes it more difficult to burn fat. Researchers, in this particular study, did a fat biopsy and evaluated microscopic physiological features to exam why it is harder for older adults to burn fat.
And the results boiled down to this – the rate of lipid adipose removal goes down as we get older. That led the researchers to question if there is more fat accumulation, if it gets stored as fat more easily, or if it is the rate at which fat is burned, that leads to weight gain. The answer they found was that the rate of fat burning decreases as you age. Therefore, it is harder to tap those fat reserves. While the fat continues to accumulate, according to things like genetics, how many calories you consume, and what you eat; it is the rate at which the fat is mobilized and burned that is the problem.
After knowing this, some suggestions can be made about how we incorporate things into our diet to mitigate fat accumulation that can accompany aging. It leads clinicians, like me, to consider whether there are things we can do, as we get older, to decrease the chance of excess fat accumulation. And the results of this study have implications to help devise ways to help older adults burn belly fat.
Another study published, at the beginning of the summer, in Nutrients, holds promise to combat fat accumulation as we age. Researchers in that study set out to look at something very specific. They evaluated overweight older adults, 65 and over, who also had physical challenges. The participants they chose walked slow and had some physical decline. What the researchers did was test the effectiveness of time-restrictive feeding on fat accumulation. For this study, intermittent fasting was a type of time-restrictive feeding.
The protocol was that they extended the overnight fasting period of the participants. The subjects were allowed to ease into the fasting period to reduce any hardships. The study ran for four weeks. On days one to three; the subjects fasted from 12 -14 hours a day. From days four through six; they fasted for 14 to 16 hours per day, and for days 7 to 28; they fasted for 16 hours per day. The point was to increase the amount of time that the participants fasted by holding off eating in the morning. For many, noon was their first meal. When questioned, post-study, a lot of people thought that it was totally doable.
They were highly compliant, and there was a very strong desire to stick with it after the study concluded. The subject participants wanted to continue to do it well after it ended. The results were clear and highly related to the first study. The participants lost an average of almost six pounds in just four weeks. By just making a difference in the time window they ate; they lost weight without making any other changes.
Intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, was largely effective to reduce fat accumulation in this older population. People around the world are now averaging eating about 14-16 hours a day. With that amount of blood sugar and insulin; it is no wonder that we are putting on weight. As we get older, mobilizing fat becomes even more difficult. Fasting, or intermittent fasting, is free and easy, and compliance is high.
DR. CHAD LARSON
If you engage in it, results show that it works when you do it for 14-16 hours a day. I do suggest, however, that you build from day to day to get acclimated to it. There are many different ways that you can do it. The best part of these results is that these were older adults. And after engaging in the intermittent fasting, their walking speed increased too, improving their overall physical health. They were able to overcome physical challenges in just four weeks.
You can imagine that it would get better as they continued the fasting protocol over time. And the study proves that fasting is an excellent way to counter the first study’s results that fat accumulation happens as we age. Fasting is just one tool we can use to overcome fat accumulation and to increase fat burning. I will keep reading the studies and reporting the information. And until then…keep it real.