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Keywords:

  • adipose tissue;
  • diet;
  • fatty liver;
  • insulin resistance;
  • postmenopausal;
  • weight

Abstract

Objectives

Ectopic fat accumulation in liver and skeletal muscle may be an essential link between abdominal obesity, insulin resistance and increased risk of cardiovascular disease after menopause. We hypothesized that a diet containing a relatively high content of protein and unsaturated fat [mainly monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)] but limited carbohydrates and saturated fat would reduce lipid content in liver and muscle and increase insulin sensitivity in postmenopausal women.

Subjects

Ten healthy, nonsmoking postmenopausal women with a body mass index (BMI) >27 (28–35) kg m−2 were included in the study.

Interventions

Participants were instructed to consume an ad libitum Palaeolithic-type diet intended to provide approximately 30 energy percentage (E%) protein, 40 E% fat (mainly MUFAs) and 30 E% carbohydrate. Intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) levels in calf muscles and liver triglyceride levels were quantified using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) before and 5 weeks after dietary intervention. Insulin sensitivity was estimated by homoeostasis model assessment (HOMA) indices and the euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp technique.

Results

Mean energy intake decreased by 25% with a weight loss of 4.5 kg. BMI, waist and hip circumference, waist/hip ratio and abdominal sagittal diameter also decreased significantly, as did diastolic blood pressure (mean −7 mmHg), levels of fasting serum glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL/HDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B (ApoB) and apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1), urinary C-peptide and HOMA indices. Whole-body insulin sensitivity did not change. Liver triglyceride levels decreased by 49%, whereas IMCL levels in skeletal muscle were not significantly altered.

Conclusions

A modified Palaeolithic-type diet has strong and tissue-specific effects on ectopic lipid deposition in postmenopausal women.