Friday, December 09, 2005

When Calorie Restriction Fails for Weight Loss

How many reading this have tried a calorie-restricted diet to lose weight, worked really hard to stick to it, really did stick to it, yet failed to lose any significant amount of weight?

Worse, how many have had others tell you that if only you tried harder or cut calories even more you'd be successful with your weight loss?

Take heart, you're not alone and may in fact have a genetic variant that induces a sort of buffer against changes in how the body burns and stores food energy. This gene variant, idenitifed in research out of Tufts University, appears to protect against weight gain in lean women - but seems to actually prevent weight loss in men and women who have become obese.

When it comes to research, this is fascinating stuff!

In time it is findings from studies like this that are going to allow us to customize dietary programs for weight loss in the future through testing an individual for various markers in their metabolism and genes so the diet is tailored to their metabolism!

In this study, researchers followed 48 severely obese men and women who were following a low-calorie diet for one year. Subjects, who did have the more common variants of the perilipin gene lost an average of approximately 20 pounds during the study period - the amount of weight loss expected with the calorie restriction of the program.

Now.....carriers of the variant gene did not experience significant weight changes in the year they ate a calorie restricted diet!

Noteworthy -
"The researchers determined that the difference in weight loss between the two groups could not be explained by the fact that the variant gene carriers weighed less at the start of the study. When asked why the subjects had not lost more weight, Ordovas noted, "These subjects were closely followed during the study period and the compliance was considered to be excellent regardless of the perilipin genotype. Given the difficulty of keeping weight off long-term, the loss of 20 pounds is a significant achievement."

Researchers did caution that the study was on one ethnic group and was out of Spain, "We do not know what we might find in other countries or ethnic groups."

Caution was also noted that very personalized testing for this gene type is years away - "nutritional genomics is not yet in a position to contribute significantly to treatment of obese patients. But we are finally beginning to piece together how genetics might be used in the future, perhaps to help predict who is likely to respond well to dietary weight-loss interventions."

Hey, at least we know that in the future we can look forward to individualized programs!

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