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One Surprising Explanation for Why You Aren't Losing Weight

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Photo: Susanne Alfredsson / EyeEm / Getty Images

You're doing everything you're supposed to do to lose weight: You're eating well (and enough!), you're moving every day, and you're getting solid sleep on the reg. So why don't you have even a few pounds of weight loss to show for all your efforts? New science says your gut bugs might be sabotaging your goals. A new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that people who have an easier time losing weight have more of a certain type of bacteria in their gut, while people who have trouble have more of another type of bacteria. (Related: What I Wish I Knew Sooner About Losing Weight)

Here's how they came to that conclusion: Twenty-six adults with an overweight or obese BMI followed the Mayo Clinic Treatment Research Program, a diet that prioritizes eating more fruits, vegetables, and other low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods instead of over high-cal, low-nutrient foods. They were also encouraged to get in 10,000 steps a day. After three months on the plan, nine of the 26 subjects had successfully lost 5 percent or more of their body weight. Those numbers alone might sound pretty boring, but here's where things get interesting: Stool sample analysis showed that people who had lost the most weight had more of a specific type of gut bacteria called Phascolarctobacterium. Interestingly, this bacteria was previously linked with weight gain, reports the study. The others who did not lose at least 5 percent of their body weight apparently had more of another type of bacteria called Dialister, a type of bacteria that's commonly associated with oral infections. 

It's worth noting that this was only a preliminary study, with very few subjects, and what they ate during the three months likely varied significantly. The study authors pointed out that the diet didn't have fixed guidelines, which could have had a huge effect on the subjects' gut makeups. (Here's what you should be eating for a healthy gut.)

While the findings about these specific bacteria are unique, the connection between diet, your microbiome, and weight is well established. Science has said that it only takes a few days of eating high-fat foods to disturb the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, which throws off an important process of breaking down undigested macros. Plus, other research has shown that a lack of diversity in your diet (and microbiome, as a result) may contribute to weight gain. Regardless, use this new evidence to stop feeling guilty for any stagnant progress and also for new hope that science is one step closer to hacking weight loss based on your unique gut bacteria.

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