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.
Ten healthy, nonsmoking postmenopausal women with a body mass index (BMI) >27 (28–35) kg m−2 were included in the study.
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.
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.
A modified Palaeolithic‐type diet has strong and tissue‐specific effects on ectopic lipid deposition in postmenopausal women.