The COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent home situation force people to refocus on themselves and choose a healthy lifestyle rather than a sedentary lifestyle. Some people have achieved great success in losing excess slack, but others have been less successful. What could be the reason behind this difference? Although there may be several variables—including diet and exercise patterns—a new study shows that the genetic ability of the gut microbiome is also an important factor in how much weight a person can lose through simple lifestyle changes. The gut microbiota contains trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, which play a key role in the digestion process. It also benefits the immune system.

Researchers studied 105 people in a commercial health plan, which included healthy lifestyle guidance. Half of them showed sustained weight loss (1% weight loss per month for 6-12 months), and the other half maintained a stable body index (BMI).

The research was published in the open-access journal mSystems of the American Society for Microbiology.

Those who tend to lose weight have a higher growth of bacteria in the microbiome. They are also rich in genes. This study by researchers from the Institute of Systems Biology (ISB) shows that those who show resistance to weight loss have a lower bacterial growth rate and a greater ability to break down non-absorbable fiber and starch into absorbable sugars.

“In this study, we set out to better understand the interactions between baseline BMI, metabolic health, diet, functional characteristics of the gut microbiome, and subsequent weight changes in a cohort of humans receiving healthy lifestyle interventions. Overall. Our results indicate that the microbiota may the host’s weight loss response through variable bacterial growth rates, dietary energy harvesting efficiency, and immune regulation,” said the researcher led by Dr. Christian Diener.

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Researchers said they studied factors for successful weight loss that have nothing to do with BMI. People with a higher baseline BMI lost more weight after the intervention. Studies have shown that changes in diet can change the composition of gut bacteria. Therefore, this study suggests that if someone’s bacterial genetic makeup resists weight loss, perhaps a change in diet will help.