Recent findings suggest that a unique diet may be more effective for weight loss than engaging in calorie reduction or exercise.
The findings show that several biomarkers in a person’s body predict how successful they will be at losing weight and keeping it off, according to analysis from 2018 Stanford University study. These biomarkers or indicators in the body include signatures from a person’s gut microbiome, certain proteins produced in the human body, and the levels of carbon dioxide they exhale.
Biomarkers, volition and weight loss
According to the analysis, strict dieting during the first six months of the year-long weight loss journey was most important for short-term weight loss. Biomarkers for gut microbiome, protein, and carbon dioxide don’t have as much of an impact on short-term weight loss.
However, after the six-month mark, the ability to maintain weight loss depends more on these biomarkers than the ability to stick to a particular diet. People who maintained long-term weight loss for a year ate the same number of calories as those who regained or did not lose weight during the second half of the year-long study.
During the study, researchers tracked the exercise patterns, how well they dieted, and the calories consumed by 609 participants. While participants were asked not to exercise on the morning of the assessment, they were not assigned specific exercise regimens to follow. Ultimately, the results of the study showed that exercise alone or cutting calories from the diet alone was not enough to sustain long-term weight loss.
Because of these results, researchers turned their attention away from specific diets and toward certain biomarkers in the human body.
“We found specific microbiome ecologies and amounts of proteins and enzymes early in the study period—before people started dieting—that indicated whether they would be able to lose weight and keep it off,” says Dalia Perelman, a research nutritionist and co-author of the paper, in Stanford Medicine analysis.
Which diet is best?
In their original 2018 study, Stanford researchers examined whether low-fat or low-carb diets were better for those trying to lose weight. The results showed that it was a tie and that neither diet was better for weight loss than the other.
“We’ve all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet—it worked great—and then another friend tried the same diet and it didn’t work at all,” says Christopher Gardner, lead author of the original 2018 study . , in Stanford Medicine Article. “That’s because we’re all very different, and we’re just beginning to understand the reasons for that diversity.”
The results of the 2018 study also found that neither individuals’ insulin levels nor specific genotype could predict their level of success on any diet.
During the 2018 study, researchers measured each participant’s respiratory quotient, which is the ratio of inhaled oxygen to exhaled carbon dioxide. A lower ratio means the body burns more fat, while a higher ratio means the body burns more carbohydrates. In other words, those with a higher respiratory quotient lost more weight on a low-carb diet and vice versa.
Even with their recent discoveries about biomarkers and personalized diets, the Stanford researchers say focusing on nutrients is most important now. Specifically, the focus should be on eating rawhigh quality foods that are low content of refined flour and sugar.
“Your thinking should be on what you can include in your diet, rather than what you should cut out,” says Perelman in Stanford Medicine analysis. “Find out how to eat more fiber, whether it’s from beans, whole grains, nuts or vegetables, instead of thinking you shouldn’t eat ice cream.”
In short, the most important thing is to learn to cook and rely less on processed foods. If you pay attention to the quality of food in your diet, you can forget about counting calories.