Is poor gut health the reason you’re not losing weight?

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When you think of weight loss, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s reducing your calories, or putting in more hours at the gym, or maybe it’s getting a handle on your sweet tooth. Have you ever considered improving your gut health as a weight loss strategy? Keep on reading to learn more about why you may want to bring more focus to the state of your gut to help you manage your weight.

Overweight people are more likely to have poorer gut health

 People with obesity have been shown to have fewer beneficial gut microbes and less diversity in their gut microbiota when to compared to people of a healthy BMI [1]. There are even specific bacteria that have been linked to obesity. Those who are overweight or obese are also more likely to experience a number of gut issues, including heartburn, bloating, and abdominal pain. In fact, animal studies have found that when the gut microbes from obese mice were transplanted to other mice, the mice put on weight and fat [2]. 

Does gut health affect weight loss success?

Research in humans has also looked at the relationship between the gut microbiota and the success of weight loss interventions. One study followed people enrolled in a diet or exercise intervention program for a period of 6-12 months [3]. 57 participants did not lose weight while 48 participants lost more than 1% of their body weight per month. Stool and blood samples were taken, and it was found that the participants who lost weight had several factors in common, including genes which helped their good gut bugs grow more rapidly. This research suggests that gut microbes can influence weight loss outcomes, and one factor may be certain bacterial growth rates and the ability of gut bugs to harvest dietary energy.

A Gut Healthy Diet

So, what can you do to improve your gut health? Dietary patterns that emphasis plant foods, such as the Mediterranean Diet, are beneficial for your gut health. Below are a few gut-healthy nutrients to also consider:

Fibre: Fibre-rich foods provide energy to your gut microbes! Fibre can be found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Omega-3s: Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and help support a healthy gut. Sources include fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.

Polyphenols: Polyphenols are what give plants their colour, and our gut microbes can also feed on them! Aim to eat the rainbow to provide your gut bugs with a wide range of polyphenols. A good guide is to aim for 30 different types of plants in a week to help diversify your gut microbiota!

A Final Word

Early research indicates that your gut microbiota may influence the success of weight loss interventions. While there isn’t a one-approach-fits-all for weight loss, you may wish to consider if your diet is helping or hindering your gut health! 


[1] Liu BN, Liu XT, Liang ZH, Wang JH. Gut microbiota in obesity. World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Jul 7;27(25):3837-3850. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i25.3837. PMID: 34321848; PMCID: PMC8291023.

[2] Tassoni, D.S.; Macedo, R.C.O.; Delpino, F.M.; Santos, H.O. Gut Microbiota and Obesity: The Chicken or the Egg? Obesities 20233, 296-321.

[3]Diener C, Qin S, Zhou Y, Patwardhan S, Tang L, Lovejoy JC,Magis AT, Price ND,,Hood L, Gibbons SM,, 2021. Baseline Gut Metagenomic Functional Gene Signature Associated with Variable Weight Loss Responses following a Healthy Lifestyle Intervention in Humans. mSystems 6:10.1128/msystems.00964-21.



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