New York: If you are dieting with a size zero figure in mind, think again! Researchers have found that skipping meals can ultimately result in abdominal weight gain.
"This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people," said senior author of the study Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University in the US.
"But you definitely do not want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss," Belury explained.
In the study, mice that ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers.
When the liver does not respond to insulin signals telling it to stop producing glucose, that extra sugar in the blood is stored as fat.
These mice initially were put on a restricted diet and lost weight compared to controls that had unlimited access to food.
The restricted-diet mice regained weight as calories were added back into their diets and nearly caught up to controls by the study's end.
But fat around their middles - the equivalent to human belly fat - weighed more in the restricted-diet mice than in mice that were free to nibble all day long.
An excess of that kind of fat is associated with insulin resistance and risk for Type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
The research was published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.