Ever wonder why it seems so easy to regain weight shortly after you’ve lost it? Why weight loss has to be such a brutal, never-ending cycle of yo-yo dieting?
Blame your gut.
The latest research found that the gut microbiome may retain a “memory” of previous obesity, making it much more difficult to maintain weight loss.
Scientists found that in mice that lost weight, the changes in their gut microbiome persisted for about five times as long as the dieting period, making them more inclined to gain weight back quickly when they ate a high-calorie diet or ate regular food in excessive amounts.
They also found that two flavonoids – apigenin and naringenin – were rapidly depleted by the altered microbiome and played a major role in regaining weight when the mice ate a high-calorie diet. But surprisingly, supplementing the diet with these flavonoids reversed this activity.
It’s believed that this reaction to changes in weight, the gut microbiome, and diet is the product of evolution, designed to prevent weight loss and help us survive when there was not enough food available.
Although additional studies are needed to confirm that this activity affects human dieters in the same way, researchers strongly believe the findings are relevant.
And while they continue to investigate further, we can use this information to help improve our chances at maintaining weight loss, especially by making sure we get enough of the flavonoids that help keep off the weight.
So where can we get these important fat-fighting nutrients?
This flavonoid is found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even some legumes. High-apigenin foods include parsley, celery, artichokes, apples, cherries, grapes, chamomile tea, red wine, tarragon, cilantro, licorice, spearmint, basil, oregano, and navy beans.
This flavonoid is found in high concentrations in citrus fruits. The best sources include grapefruit, oranges, and tomato skins.
If some of these foods – namely grapefruit, apples, and celery – sound like familiar diet foods that people swear by, like those diets where you eat grapefruit at every meal, an apple before dinner, or lots of celery for its “negative calorie” benefits, maybe there’s more than a little truth to the benefits of these flavonoids.
And the key takeaway from this study? Excessive and rapid weight gain always happens after dieting, when eating habits revert to old pre-diet ways. So instead of going on a temporary diet to lose the weight, slim down and stay slim by changing the way you eat permanently.
A long-term lifestyle change and a diet rich in important nutrients is just what you need to stop the yo-yo for good!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.