Lack of sleep is associated with a constant increase in dangerous visceral fat

The findings of a new study from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota show that lack of sleep, combined with free access to food, increases calorie intake and, consequently, the accumulation of dangerous visceral fat.

New research shows the importance of quality sleep to maintain a healthy weight, but much remains to be done to understand all the nuances of this relationship. Today, scientists from the Mayo Clinic discovered new details of this problem, proving how lack of sleep can increase the level of visceral fat in the abdominal cavity, which is a serious threat to our health.

A new study has shown that lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of visceral fat. Depositphotos

To date, many studies have shown that there is a link between poor sleep, obesity and comorbidity. For example, poor sleeping habits have been shown to increase the risk of developing hypertension and also double the risk of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, extra sleep can lead to a calorie deficit and reduce the risk of obesity in newborns.

Despite the fact that the scientific knowledge in this field is constantly increasing, the experts of the Mayo Clinic drew attention to the fact that specific studies that study the distribution of fat in the body have not been conducted to date. New work by scientists has focused on the difference between subcutaneous fat, which is located under the skin, and visceral fat, which is located deep in the abdomen and surrounds the liver, intestines and other organs.

Visceral fat accounts for about 10 percent of most people’s total body fat, but when it accumulates excessively, it can play a disproportionate role in adverse health outcomes. This is due to the formation of a large number of chemicals that cause a wide range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and asthma.

Thus, controlling visceral fat levels is very important and the Mayo Clinic study looked at how sleep can play a regulatory role in this process.

Twelve healthy non-obese individuals (aged 19 to 39 years) underwent a randomized, controlled, cross-sectional 21-day study that included 4 days of acclimatization, 14 days of experimental sleep restriction (4 hours of sleep) or control sleep (9 hours of sleep), and a recovery period. 3 days.

Sleep deprivation combined with ad libitum (unlimited) food consumption contributes to excessive calorie intake without increasing energy expenditure. Weight gain, and in particular the accumulation of fat in the central part of the body, suggests that sleep deprivation predisposes to abdominal visceral obesity.

Throughout the experiment, participants had free access to food, while scientists monitored energy intake, energy expenditure, body weight, appetite biomarkers and adipose tissue percentage. It turned out that during the period of limited sleep, people consumed about 300 extra calories per day, while their energy expenditure remained the same. As a result, according to the researchers, the total weight increased slightly, but the amount of visceral fat increased by 11 percent.

The purpose of the experiment is to reproduce the irregular sleep pattern of shift workers, when periods of sleep deprivation alternate with periods of normal rest. Scientists have found that the effects on visceral fat persist after periods of sleep deprivation, even with weight loss, which can have a cumulative effect for many years with this routine.

“Under normal circumstances, fat is stored mainly subcutaneously or under the skin,” says Vierend Somers, head of the program. However, sleep deprivation seems to redistribute fat stores in the most vulnerable visceral area. It should be noted that although restorative sleep led to a reduction in calorie intake and body weight, visceral fat continued to increase. “This shows that lack of sleep is unrecognized, triggers the accumulation of visceral fat, and this restorative sleep, at least in the short term, does not reverse these processes.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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Source: Mayo Clinic

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