Why there’s no one-size-fits all formula for weight loss

You don’t need to be an expert to know that most diets don’t work.

If they did, how would the industry stay in business at all — much less rake in billions of dollars? The world is full of “failed” dieters that have tried every fad in the book. But they still hold out hope that this next diet will be their last… and that finally, they’ll find the secret to real, permanent weight loss.

What they usually don’t realize is that success in this department does not follow a one-size-fits-all formula. Sure, there are general rules of thumb you can rely on. But the weight loss programs that really work are the ones that are tailored to your particular needs.

That’s why I have been able to help thousands of people lose hundreds of thousands of pounds. Because I know that these individual differences matter. And that the right approach for one patient may be the absolute wrong approach for another.

I bring all this up today because I recently came across some pretty groundbreaking new research from a team of Israeli scientists. And it combines two of my favorite topics: gut health and weight loss.

This research has been dubbed the Personalized Nutrition Project. Scientists used data from 800 volunteers to map out how different bodies react differently to the exact same food. And ultimately, they discovered that one person’s perfect diet can look wildly different from another’s.

In this case, some subjects did fine on bread — but they couldn’t handle apricots. Some subjects could eat ice cream without sabotaging their weight loss efforts… but snacking on tomatoes would send it all crashing down.

The key here — as I’ve been saying for years — comes down to blood sugar response. And as it turns out, it’s just not as simple as the glycemic index (GI) would have you believe.

The researchers monitored each volunteer with a watch-sized device that measured blood sugar changes 24/7 for a week. The final data set covered more than one million blood sugar responses to nearly 50,000 meals.

And the findings were interesting, to say the least.

For one thing, blood sugar responses were hardly consistent from person to person — even to so-called “forbidden” foods. For example, the impact of a daily slice of bread varied widely. Different volunteers registered completely different responses.

Another example showed that some volunteers’ blood sugar would respond to a banana the way others’ would to a cookie — staying low after one, but spiking after the other, and vice versa.

(Not that this last point is all that surprising. Bear in mind that while bananas certainly contain plenty of good nutrition, they’re still sugar bombs — which is why I recommend eating them only rarely.)

Now, the concept behind the conventional glycemic index diet is fairly cut and dried: Avoid foods that spike blood sugar quickly. (That is, high-GI choices, like white bread, juice, and other sugary, carb-heavy foods.) And to opt for low-GI foods that break down into sugar more slowly. (Think vegetables and protein.)

But get this: The researchers found that the subjects’ gut bacteria had a lot to do with their bodies’ blood sugar response. And differences in bacterial populations led to wildly different responses in subjects’ reactions to different foods.

Of course, I’ve been warning about the role that bacterial imbalances play in obesity and diabetes for decades now. And if you’ve learned anything as a reader of mine, it’s that there’s plenty you can do to improve your microbiome — and your health, in the process. (Check out the May 2014 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, for the detailed scoop on how. Subscribers have access to all of my archives — so if you haven’t yet, consider signing up today.)

But I hope it goes without saying that this isn’t a get out of jail free card. Junk food won’t make anyone healthier… even if you’re one of the lucky few it doesn’t make fat.

This study simply reinforces the idea that tailoring diets according to “type” — knowing exactly where you can afford to indulge and where you absolutely can’t — is always the most effective approach. And paying attention to your gut bacteria plays a very necessary part in this.

In the next few years, these researchers hope to have a more definitive algorithm available to the general public. In the meantime, stick to proteins and vegetables and you really can’t go wrong. Because smart nutrition is smart nutrition, no matter what your weight loss goals are.