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Based on the article published in last edition’s Weight Loss column, we know there’s a strong link between weight management and our gut bacteria. We also know that probiotics have been associated with positively altering the gut microbiome. So, is it safe to say that supplementing with a probiotic can help us lose weight? Let’s take a look at the research. In 2015, a systemic review and meta-analysis published in Nutrition Research identified 4 of 368 studies that were randomized controlled trials with adequate data assessing the efficacy of probiotic supplementation as a weight loss treatment. Results found no significant effects of probiotics on body weight or body mass index (BMI) when compared to placebo. Yet, researchers called for more “rigorously designed” randomized controlled trials with larger sample sizes to draw more accurate conclusions. Fast forward three years to a review and meta-analysis study published in Obesity Reviews. The study…

We now know that a calorie deficit isn’t the end-all-be-all solution for losing weight. But why is this, and why do so many of us struggle to shed extra pounds? While poor diet is usually the number one culprit for stubborn excess body weight, a recent molecular finding sheds light on why weight loss may be so challenging. In a July 2019 study published in Cell, scientists uncovered a protein which resides on fat cell surfaces that plays an integral role in weight gain and loss. During times of stress, such as during dieting, excessive exercise, and overeating, the protein (RAGE, or receptor for advanced glycation end products) shuts down fat burning mechanisms. This protein could hold the answer for why it’s challenging to lose weight and even more challenging to keep weight off long term – especially when we’re trying our best by cutting calories and increasing our physical…

The gut microbiome & its relation to weight loss There’s lots of hype surrounding the gut microbiome and weight loss. Studies show that when transferring microbial samples from obese individuals to germ-free mice, the mice gain weight, illustrating that the gut microbiome can play a role in determining weight. In fact, the more we study the microbiome, the more we realize that our gut bacteria hold the key to many functions and metabolic pathways associated with weight management. Gut bacteria: Influence how much dietary fat is absorbed by the intestines, affecting fat storage.Play a key role in inflammation, producing lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Mouse studies show that when mice are given LPS, they gain weight equivalent to the weight gain from a high fat diet.Protect against inflammation by helping to maintain a strong gut barrier. The specific species involved in gut barrier function include Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia. Increasing the integrity of the…

A microbe discovered 15 years ago shows promise in reducing health risks associated with overweightness and obesity in those struggling to lose weight. A study published this month in Nature Medicine used an oral supplementation of Akkermansia muciniphila, a bacteria that breaks down proteins in the intestines, containing ten billion colony forming units (CFUs) in 32 overweight and obese patients. After three months of supplementation, blood markers for liver dysfunction, body inflammation, and total cholesterol were reduced, while insulin sensitivity was improved. Those taking the oral formulation also experienced a 5-pound weight loss. While weight loss was not statistically significant over the time of the study, metabolic markers were significantly improved. Researchers conclude that A. muciniphila is well-tolerated, safe, and could be a meaningful tool in improving the health of obese and overweight patients. Takeaway: While A. muciniphila supplementation may seem worthwhile for improving health parameters in overweight individuals, keep…

Does exercise help you lose weight? Of course it does… right? Well, maybe not. As the research piles up on exercise and its true contributions to weight loss, it turns out that while exercise has astounding benefits for health, it may not actually move us closer toward our weight loss goals – and too much exercise could in fact sabotage our goals altogether. Let’s delve into the research and find out more. Burning more calories than we consume (or the “move more, eat less” philosophy) is the gold standard for weight loss. Yet, studies show that this formula doesn’t always work. Exercise contributes only a small amount to our overall daily calorie expenditure, making it challenging to create a meaningful calorie deficit for weight loss. There are three components that contribute to energy expenditure: 1) Food digestion, 2) Basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the set amount of baseline calories your…

Glenn had been on various antibiotics for cystic acne for seventeen years. His skin would initially respond well, but after a year or two the cystic lesions would return, and his dermatologist would switch him to a different antibiotic. Ten years after he first started taking antibiotics Glenn began to have persistent loose stools and weight loss. He experimented with cutting out dairy and tried to increase his calories, but no matter what he ate, he still had diarrhea and trouble gaining weight. Evaluation of his digestive tract eventually revealed a diagnosis of celiac disease, and he was put on a gluten free diet (GFD), which he adhered to strictly. His doctor reassured Glenn that after a few months on the GFD his diarrhea and weight loss would improve, but two years later nothing had changed. Repeat evaluation showed the signs of celiac disease had completely resolved, and his small…

Overview Intermittent fasting (IF) – typically defined as anywhere from 12 to 18 hours without food in each 24 hour period OR full days of fasting interspersed throughout the week – is a dietary pattern that focuses on when to eat, not what to eat. Research has linked IF to a myriad of health benefits, including weight loss, improved brain function and inflammatory markers, reduced insulin resistance and heart disease risk, cancer prevention, and anti-aging. While this list is impressive, studies on IF are in their early stages and are limited due to the lack of human, randomized controlled studies, small sample sizes, short study periods, and minimal follow-up with subjects. Despite these limitations, IF exemplifies many positives and could be a viable and healthy weight loss option for some individuals. There are three main methods of practicing IF (on non-fasting days/times, there are no restrictions, caloric or otherwise): 1). Time restricted feeding–…

Introduction Fermented foods are projected to be one of the leading weight loss trends throughout 2019, but they’ve actually been around for a long time. The fermentation process is one of the oldest examples of food preservation, and fermented foods have been a foundational staple of the human diet throughout history. Unfortunately our modern ways of eating – processed, high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods – have taken the place of more traditional and healthful ways of eating. Fermented foods are now one of the least consumed foods in the U.S., despite the fact that they are one of the most important for gut health, specifically for your gut microbiome. Studies show that daily and long-term consumption of fermented foods can lead to improved weight loss. What are fermented foods & why are they beneficial for weight loss? The fermentation process transforms the food into a substance that’s…

Weight control could be more genetic than previously thought.New studies confirm a genetic mutation that makes people feel full all the time, which may explain why some people are less interested in food and naturally thin. The first study included half a million participants between the ages of 40 and 69. Through DNA samples, medical records, and years of health tracking, scientists identified a genetic alteration in about 6% of the population that mutes appetite and protects against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The single gene, MC4R, plays a key role in hunger and satiety (the feeling of fullness). During a meal, the gene is turned on to send signals of fullness, and then turns off. The mutation involved in this study occurs when the gene is turned on all the time, therefore the person always feels full. The gene can also play a role in obesity in those who have…

I’m trying to lose weight and I keep stumbling upon the keto diet and other low carb options for weight loss. What’s your opinion on diets that limit or completely eliminate carbohydrates? Would it be ok for me to do a 4-week crash keto diet, then slowly reintroduce carbs? -Keri Dr. Chutkan: Keri, growing a good gut garden (aka, protecting and enhancing your microbiome) is my #1 goal with my patients, so I’m always skeptical when I hear about strict diets that restrict or completely eliminate carbohydrates. Here’s why: carbohydrates, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, gluten-free grains like brown rice, rolled oats, millet, amaranth, and quinoa, are the building blocks for a rich and diverse gut microbiome because they’re high in fiber – and act as food for beneficial gut bacteria. And a rich and diverse microbiome, as you probably know by now, is one of the key foundations for…