Study finds changing your gut bacteria may make weight loss easier

It's known that changing your diet can also change your gut bacteria, but a new study goes beyond that, finding that your gut bacteria play an important role in how hard or easy it is for you to shed unwanted pounds. The findings suggest that altering your gut bacteria in a beneficial way may make it easier to lose weight for those whose gut microbiomes are making the process harder.READ: Filling diet with fermented foods may lower inflammation

The new research was published by the American Society for Microbiology, revealing that one's gut microbiome has an influence over one's ability to lose weight. In some cases, one's gut bacteria may make them resistant to weight loss; in other cases, it may help with losing weight, assuming the right lifestyle interventions are made.

The research involved metagenomics, which revolves around getting genetic materials from stool and blood samples. Two groups of people were involved in the study; one group lost 1-percent or more of their body weight over 6-12 months during a weight loss intervention program, while the other group maintained a stable BMI over the same time period.

After accounting for things like age and sex, the researchers found 31 "baseline stool metagenomic functional features" linked to weight loss. Multiple genes were at play. Of note, in people who didn't lose weight, their gut microbiome's ability to break down starches was greater than in those who lost weight.

People who lost more weight, meanwhile, were noted to have genes that aided gut bacteria in growing, multiplying, replicating, and assembling cell walls faster than in the group that didn't experience weight loss. The study's lead author Christian Diener, Ph.D., explained:

Before this study, we knew the composition of bacteria in the gut were different in obese people than in people who were non-obese, but now we have seen that there are a different set of genes that are encoded in the bacteria in our gut that also responds to weight loss interventions. The gut microbiome is a major player in modulating whether a weight loss intervention will have success or not. The factors that dictate obesity versus nonobesity are not the same factors that dictate whether you will lose weight on a lifestyle intervention.