Viscous dietary fiber consumption lowers the postprandial glucose curve and may decrease obesity and associated comorbidities such as insulin resistance and fatty liver. We determined the effect of 2 viscous fibers, one fermentable and one not, on the development of adiposity, fatty liver, and metabolic flexibility in a model of diet-induced obesity. Rats were fed a normal-fat (NF) diet (26% energy from fat), a high-fat diet (60% energy from fat), each containing 5% fiber as cellulose (CL; nonviscous and nonfermentable), or 5% of 1 of 2 highly viscous fibers-hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC; nonfermentable) or guar gum (GG; fermentable). After 10 wk, fat mass percentage in the NF (18.0%; P = 0.03) and GG groups (17.0%; P < 0.01) was lower than the CL group (20.7%). The epididymal fat pad weight of the NF (3.9 g; P = 0.04), HPMC (3.9 g; P = 0.03), and GG groups (3.6 g; P < 0.01) was also lower than the CL group (5.0 g). The HPMC (0.11 g/g liver) and GG (0.092 g/g liver) groups had lower liver lipid concentrations compared with the CL group (0.14 g/g liver). Fat mass percentage, epididymal fat pad weight, and liver lipid concentration were not different among the NF, HPMC, and GG groups. The respiratory quotient was higher during the transition from the diet-deprived to fed state in the GG group (P = 0.002) and tended to be higher in the HPMC group (P = 0.06) compared with the CL group, suggesting a quicker shift from fatty acid (FA) to carbohydrate oxidation. The HPMC group [15.1 nmol/(mg. h)] had higher ex vivo palmitate oxidation in muscle compared with the GG [11.7 nmol/(mg. h); P = 0.04] and CL groups [10.8 nmol/(mg. h); P < 0.01], implying a higher capacity to oxidize FAs. Viscous fibers can reduce the adiposity and hepatic steatosis that accompany a high-fat diet, and increase metabolic flexibility, regardless of fermentability.
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© 2014 American Society for Nutrition.