A New Explanation to the Yo-yo Weight Effect: Your Gut!
You know as well as I do that unfortunately, it is not rare for people to go on a diet and lose weight, only to regain the lost kilos, and sometimes even more! Why is that? There are various underlying reasons, but recent studies suggest a new factor: the gut flora of your intestines, composed of millions of micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi), may play a role in how fat is stored in your body.
It has been found that gut bacteria may have memory of past obesity, which makes it hard to keep off the lost weight. A study conducted on mice has shown that the yo-yo weight effect may not be entirely dependent on unhealthy habits, but also on how the gut flora has developed during periods of obesity. Last December 8 on 98,5 FM, Benoît Dutrizac and Martin Carli discussed the results of this study that describes the impact of gut flora on post-diet weight gain. To listen to the podcast, click here.
In this study, researchers submitted mice to a low-calorie diet to make them lose weight and achieve a healthy body weight. They noted that the condition of the mice had improved and everything went back to normal, except for one thing: their gut flora. It appears that some of the particularities of an “obese” gut flora persist even post-diet. This gut “memory” is believed to be one of the causes of post-diet weight gain.
However, if healthy habits are maintained, over time a new gut flora will develop and contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. According to the study, the length of time required to “forget” this memory and establish a new gut flora is 4 to 5 times the duration of the diet. If we transpose these results to humans, it means that someone who has to diet for 3 months to reach their weight objective will also have to maintain these new habits for the next 12 to 15 months to ensure long-term balance.
These are encouraging results, and if you listen to the podcast, you’ll learn about more findings from this study. One thing is for sure—these results make it possible to better understand why habits acquired during a weight loss process must be maintained over the long term for a lasting effect. This year, instead of going on a harmful and unsustainable “diet”, opt for a healthy, long-term solution that will change your eating habits and integrate regular exercise. It’s a win-win!
Karine Larose, M.Sc.