Most of us have been there. We found a diet tip that seems to have done the trick. We’ve lost enough weight to feel proud, but when there’s just a little more to go, the weight loss stalls.
What gives? It turns out, it might not have as much to do with what you’re doing, but more to do with what’s inside you—your microbiome. NPR recently summarized the science behind the impact of your microbiome on weight loss.
Here’s what we found out.
There are billions of bacteria in your gut that can determine how you digest food; this population of gut bacteria is known as your microbiome, and its exact makeup is unique to you. And, it turns out, which bacteria live in a person’s microbiome could provide the answer as to why some individuals succeed in their weight loss efforts, while others struggle.
Bacteria serve a critical purpose in keeping our guts healthy. They eat what our bodies do not eat. In the process of absorbing some of our food, certain microbes produce byproducts that we then digest. These byproducts become another source of caloric intake that we typically do not account for when counting calories.
It’s estimated that between 5 and 15 percent of the calories we absorb come from our microbial digestion process, and not the food we eat. While this would have been beneficial in times where food was scarce, for many people today, it’s more of an annoyance.
A new study suggests that a certain mix of bacteria may be more efficient at creating extra calories to digest, so they put it to the test. A small study group of low-calorie dieters were monitored over a three month period. They found that people who lost at least five percent of their body weight had different gut bacteria than those who did not lose the weight.
The most successful dieters had one commonality: an abundance of a bacteria known as Phascolarctobacterium. The ones who hit a snag and couldn’t lose the weight had more of a bacteria known as Dialister. Both serve different purposes for our health, but having an abundance of the latter can make dieting tough.
It is estimated that between 5 and 15 percent of the calories we absorb come from our microbial digestion process, and not the food we eat. While adding calories through digestion would have been beneficial in times where food was scarce, it’s a source of annoyance for today’s dieters.
While the study is small (only 26 participants), it does provide a look into the impact of microbiomes on weight loss. Many scientists believe it’s worth taking a deeper look at the ways bacteria affects dieting. In a few years, we could better succeed at long term weight loss by simply changing our gut bacteria.
Curious to learn more? Read the entire article here.