In the study, two groups of rats were either given constant access to either a healthy food or junk food, while another group cycled between the two diets, receiving healthy food for four days and junk food for three days, over 16 weeks. A variety of metabolic markers were analyzed, including body weight, fat mass, insulin and leptin.
At the end of 16 weeks, rats on the cycled diet were 18% heavier than the rats on the healthy diet. In addition, the rats who were fed the junk diet food had reduced levels of microbial species which metabolize flavonoids, which have been linked to weight loss.
Researchers also established that the microbiota of cycled rats was nearly identical to the microbiota of rats on the junk food diet, with both groups’ microbiota being substantially different to the rats on the healthy diet.
Head researcher, Professor Margaret Morris, the Head of Pharmacology at UNSW said, “While these findings are yet to be replicated in humans, those who are strict with their diet during the week may be undoing all their good work by hitting the junk food over the weekend.”
Professor Morris believes that “The study suggests certain gut microbiota, including Ruminococcus and Blautia, may be promising targets for future therapeutic strategies to treat metabolic disorders”.
Source: University of New South Wales. “Weekend binges just as bad for the gut as a regular junk food diet, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2016.www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160120112112.htm