Talk to any expert on fitness and weight loss, and they’ll tell you that one of the best things you can do is increase your intake of fruits, veggies, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and other high-fiber foods. After all, fiber helps to fill you up, which in turn can reduce your appetite and encourage better weight loss. High fiber diets are perceived as the “best for weight loss”. However, according to a new study, that may not always be the case.
A team of Scandinavian researchers examined the difference between the average Danish diet and the “New Nordic Diet” (a diet rich in high-fiber foods) on weight loss and body fat. For 26 weeks, participants followed one of the two diets. However, these participants had been previously split into two groups. One group had a higher content of Prevotella bacteria in their intestines, while the other had a higher content of Bacteroides bacteria in their intestines. These bacteria play an integral role in your digestive health, as well as your nutrient uptake and utilization.
After 6 months of dieting, the researchers found that the high-fiber diet proved very effective for those with a high content of Prevotella bacteria. They lost a significant amount of weight by doing nothing more than changing their diet. Without exercise or any other lifestyle interventions, they lost an average of 3.5 kilograms. In some cases, the difference was upwards of 3 kilograms between those on the New Nordic Diet and the average Danish diet. However, among the Bacteroides bacteria group, there was only minimal amounts of weight loss on the New Nordic Diet. Because of the content of their gut flora, they saw far less weight loss despite their “much healthier diet”.
What does all this mean for you? Simple: if you’re having a hard time losing weight, your gut bacteria may be working AGAINST you. Humans all have a unique balance of the various intestinal bacteria. Some have higher levels of Prevotella bacteria, while others have Bacteroides bacteria in greater abundance. If you’re struggling to lose weight, it may be the result of a higher Bacteroides bacteria content in your intestines. These bacteria are resistant to the effects of the high-fiber diet, making it much harder for you to lose weight even if you do change your eating habits to be healthier.
What Can You Do?
If a high-fiber diet isn’t cutting it, it’s time to change your approach to weight loss and dieting. You’re not going to see results just by changing up the way you eat—you have to get serious about being active, decreasing other weight gain factors, and speed up your metabolism. While dieting alone may work for some people, you’re going to have to add exercise, increased sleep, decreased stress, no smoking, and reduced alcohol intake to your life. It’s the only way you’ll see results!
The discovery that these various bacteria work for or against your weight loss make clear the importance of personalized nutrition. You can’t stick with a “one size fits all” diet because the diet’s not going to work for you. It’s important that you test out various eating plans to find the one that suits your body and gut bacteria best. The same goes for your workouts—don’t go with the same thing that everyone else is doing, but test a variety of workouts to see which yields the best results. Personalizing your nutrition and exercise is the key to overcoming the weight loss disadvantage caused by your intestinal bacteria.