Ever wonder why obese bodies burn less calories or why dieting often leads to a plateau in weight loss? In both cases the body is trying to defend its weight by regulating energy expenditure. Until now, how this happens has been a mystery.
“Human bodies are very efficient at storing energy by repressing energy expenditure to conserve it for later when you need it,” said Alan Saltiel, PhD, director of the UC San Diego Institute for Diabetes and Metabolic Health. “This is nature’s way of ensuring that you survive if a famine comes.”
In a paper publishing in Cell on February 8, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers identify the enzyme TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) as a key player in the control of energy expenditure — or calories burned — during both obesity and fasting.
“There are two important observations that we have linked to slowing metabolism in obesity and fasting,” said Saltiel. “We’ve discovered two new feedback loops that are intertwined to self-regulate the system. Think of it like your home thermostat, which senses change in temperature to turn heat off and on.”
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