There’s no such thing as a perfect diet and it’s unrealistic to expect that you could eat totally healthy 100 percent of the time.
However, when it comes to the times that we tend to stray from our healthy eating habits, whether it’s while we’re on vacation for a few days or during the holidays, we might want to pay special attention to the amount of fatty foods we consume.
Researchers at the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recently found that changes in the way our muscles process nutrients take place even after just five days of eating a high-fat diet. Their work was published in a recent article in an online version of the journal Obesity.
According to the study’s authors, those changes could potentially lead to long-term issues like weight gain, obesity and other related health issues.
The study, which was sponsored by the American Diabetes Association and the National Institutes of Health, monitored healthy, college-age students who were fed high-fat diets including foods like sausage, biscuits, macaroni and cheese and dishes with large amounts of butter. Their daily caloric intake remained the same as before the experiment, except it was composed of about 55 percent fat, which is about 25 percent higher than the normal amount of about 30 percent.
The researchers collected muscle samples after five days, and while none of the students gained weight or showed signs of insulin resistance, the results revealed that the manner in which their muscles metabolized glucose had been altered.
“This shows that our bodies can respond dramatically to changes in diet in a shorter time frame than we have previously thought," said Matt Hulver, an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Put simply, when we eat, our blood glucose levels increase and our muscles play a large role in absorbing and metabolizing that glucose. They can break it down for instant energy or store it for use at a later time. According to Hulver and his team, if that process is altered, it can pose negative consequences for the rest of the body as well as contribute to several health issues, especially diabetes.
Although this was one small study, the results still serve as a reminder that while treating ourselves to less nutritious and even high-fat foods is OK every now and then, it’s important to consistently maintain healthy eating habits because negative changes can take place in our bodies even after just a few days of falling off track.