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This Diet Algorithm Might Be Just What You Really Need to Lose Weight

Tim Boyer's picture
Personalized weight loss diet research

According to new research, a diet algorithm may be just what you really need in order to lose weight through your own personalized diet plan.


Life is not fair—especially when it comes to dieting. How many of us read or hear about how someone lost a significant amount of weight, but when we try what they did, the pounds still will not come off?! As it turns out, some researchers have a gut feeling that there is a good reason why some diets work for some people, but not for others.

According to NY Mag writer Melissa Dahl, the key to the future of weight loss for many could be a matter of sending in a fecal sample for analysis of your gut bacteria and feeding that info into a computer algorithm to design a personalized diet that may work for you―but not your best friend.

This new idea about weight loss is based on research performed by scientists through the Personalized Nutrition Program in Tel Aviv where an algorithm was created that they believe matches a person’s gut bacteria DNA with a diet plan, resulting in an interesting way of helping dieters control their blood sugar levels―and thereby their weight.

The basis of their work is that there’s no arguing that what we eat has an effect on our health. However, not everyone responds the same way to the same foods. In fact, they have found that some people can eat sugar-laden food and not have the same physiological experience that another person would normally have—even just the opposite, when the meals swapped and compared were whole grain or processed sugar. The solution they propose is finding out how your body reacts to a range of foods based on the gut bacteria you possess and design a diet that is tailored to help you finally lose that weight.

Their weight loss proposal is based on research they performed involving more than 1,000 participants who wore glucose-monitoring devices that measured and recorded their levels of blood sugar every five minutes for a week. A mobile app that recorded what and when they ate that week was also used generating data on more than 50,000 meals and snacks. The two sets of data were then analyzed together to compare how each person’s blood-glucose levels responded to each food type.

What the researchers found was that the study participants eating the same foods were responding wildly physiologically when it came to their blood sugar levels. According to the NY Mag article:

“Already, we could see at a very large scale that, indeed, for any food we looked at, we could see a huge variability in the response,” stated Eran Segal, one of researchers involved in Personalized Nutrition Program in Tel Aviv. “Some people, you give them sugar and they have a very faint response―even to pure sugar. Whereas others, they have a huge response. And this holds for basically every food that we examined.” And there were more surprises. “Some individuals, they eat whole-wheat rice and their blood-sugar levels remain low, and when they eat ice cream they spike,” Segal said. But for others the results showed just the opposite.

This variability could explain why following general diet guidelines that recommend certain foods for a “balanced” diet may not be for everyone.

“General guidelines are going to have limitations, and they might actually be bad for some people,” said Segal.

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The researchers posit that what is actually causing this variability could be due to the populations of gut bacteria people carry that differ from person to person. To test this, they collected stool samples from 800 of their study participants and had each person’s gut bacteria identified by DNA sequence analysis. The data collected was then combined with the blood glucose and food data to develop an algorithm that could predict food plans for individuals that would not result in blood sugar spikes.

The algorithm-designed meal plans were then applied on test subjects categorized as prediabetic. For one week each test subject followed the algorithm diet, followed by a week on a standard diet designed for controlling blood sugar levels.

What was particularly interesting is that some of the foods included on the “approved” list for some of the algorithm-diet subjects included chocolate, ice cream, and pizza―”…things a dietitian would not prescribe,” said Segal.

What the data revealed was that the algorithm diet resulted in a greater improvement in blood sugar levels over the standard diet―even with some of the algorithm diet subjects seeing their blood-sugar levels dip down to healthy levels.

However, the article does note that there are nutrition experts who are skeptical that these initial findings will hold up when additional, larger-scale studies are performed. But if their hypothesis holds true, the researchers envision a service where dieters in the future can mail their poop for gut bacteria analysis and receive in turn a recommended diet plan that is personalized for their particular biology.

For more about how that gut bacteria may play an important role in dieting, here are some select related articles for review:

Will Probiotics Really Help You Lose Your Belly Fat?

What You Can Do About Your Gut Bacteria for a Healthy BMI and Heart

Thin People Poop May Become Obesity Cure

Reference: NY Mag Oct. 2, 2015 issue “The Future of Dieting Is Personalized Algorithms Based on Your Gut Bacteria