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Increase muscle mass and fight fat and obesity

When we increase muscle mass thanks to physical exercise, we are fighting fat and therefore obesity and its consequences by accumulating in excess in the deposits of subcutaneous adipose tissue.

The Spanish Obesity Society (SEEDO) indicates that if muscle mass is crucial to understanding obesity, muscle strength is one of the keys to trying to deal with this disease.

The muscle is able to store fat pathologically when the subcutaneous adipose tissue has exceeded its expansion capacity; but, in addition, muscle is a metabolically active organ and is primarily responsible for basal metabolic expenditure.

“When we increase muscle mass, through an exercise program, the energy expenditure associated with the maintenance of vital functions rises, and an increase in energy expenditure at rest induces an accumulation of less fat mass”, the teacher emphasizes Jonatan Ruiz from the University of Granada and member of SEEDO.

By activating the muscle through exercise, “this increases energy expenditure and favors the mobilization and use of adipose tissue”, he points out.

In addition, with intense physical activity, muscle secretes molecules known as myokines that communicate with multiple organs and tissues, including fat (improving, for example, insulin sensitivity).

muscle mass
Jonatan Ruiz, Ramón y Cajal researcher at the Faculty of Sports Sciences, at the University of Granada (UGR). Photo provided.

White fat, brown fat

In mammals, adipose tissue is primarily found in two forms: white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown or brown adipose tissue (TAM). These two tissues have opposite roles in energy metabolism.

According to the researcher, the white fat “has the ability to store energy in the form of triacylglycerol and to release it in the form of free fatty acids and triacylglycerols,” while brown fat “has the ability to oxidize glucose and lipids and dissipate energy in the form of heat”.

Therefore, the capacity of the brown or brown fat to metabolize energy and oxidize glucose and lipids “makes it a target tissue for potential therapies to fight obesity, diabetes and associated pathologies”.

Excess caloric intake is generally stored as triglycerides in subcutaneous adipose tissue.

When the capacity of subcutaneous adipose tissue to expand is exceeded, lipids are deposited in visceral tissues and other organs and tissues such as the liver or skeletal muscle that are not designed to store fat, a process known as fat storage ectopic

In the case of an excessive accumulation of triglycerides in the hepatocytes, hepatic steatosis is induced, an important public health problem due to its high prevalence and its relationship with the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease, points out the SEED.

Epicardial fat

Fat hormones can also act on the cardiovascular system, causing inflammation, fibrosis and contractile changes.

An increase in the accumulation of epicardial fat favors its infiltration into the myocardium, interrupting the connection between cardiomyocytes and electrical conduction.

“Dysfunctional epicardial fat is a risk factor and progression of cardiovascular disease”, she emphasizes doctor Sonia Eiras, from the Institute for Health Research of Santiago de Compostela (IDIS).

“The quantity, but also the quality of epicardial adipose tissue – he explains – are associated with hemodynamic, metabolic, structural and functional cardiac changes.”

Diseases such as obesity or type 2 diabetes mellitus and even aging are associated with greater accumulation of epicardial fat and cardiac dysfunction.

Epicardial fat also undergoes differential structural, hormonal, and metabolic changes at different stages of cardiovascular disease, which allows prognostic stratification and patient management.

“This clearly indicates that the quality, rather than the quantity, of epicardial fat is an indicator of the burden of dysfunctional cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Eiras, who recalls that “epicardial fat can produce pro-inflammatory, pro-atherogenic proteins , pro-fibrotic and/or pro-arrhythmic”.

In obese patients (with or without diabetes), strategies based on lifestyle change (diet and/or exercise) or new hypoglycemic agents could reduce epicardial fat content and improve its metabolic, regenerative and functional activity.

In the aging population or with cardiovascular disease associated with low energy expenditure or an increase in pro-adipogenic factors, more individualized strategies adapted to the treatments, risk factors and comorbidities of each patient will be required.

In recent years, new anti-diabetic drugs have demonstrated their effect on epicardial fat reduction and cardiovascular benefit.

However, the IDIS expert postulates, “other additive mechanisms based on its regenerative and metabolic functionality could explain the existing difference in the cardiovascular benefit with other similar therapeutic strategies”.

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