Which gut bacteria is the best for facilitating weight loss?
Well, it’s more complicated than that. Let’s look at fiber as an example. It’s the bacteria in our gut that actually digest the fiber we eat. The fermentation process that breaks down the fiber really powers us up. Bacteria also help us access the B vitamins and folate in food.
In one study of 62 people, the subjects were given a considerable amount of fiber to eat. When they conducted stool testing on the participants, they found that some people had higher levels of Prevotella bacteria. Prevotella is particularly adept at breaking down fiber and resistant starch.
Another group of bacteria, Bacteroidetes, were found in higher levels in people who ate diets high in meat and fat. If you follow the keto diet, we’d expect that you would have more Bacteroidetes than Prevotella in your gut. In contrast, vegans would have more Prevotella.
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Prevotella levels have a stronger association with weight loss than Baceroidetes. The people who lost the most weight during the study period were those with the highest level of Prevotella. This group of subjects lost an average of 5.1 pounds.
The authors of the study concluded that it isn’t so much what you’re eating that determined weight loss; it’s what you’re digesting. Digestion also has an impact on your metabolic rate.
To my mind, this study proves the point that eating large amounts of meat and animal fat is not going to provide long term health benefits. It will also shift your gut flora towards including groups that are less adept at fermentation and digestion.
I know the body can make energy from ketones obtained from fat and protein, but I still don’t see a high-protein diet as a healthy approach for the long term. I recommend eating foods high in fiber to build up the Prevotella and other bacteria that increase your metabolic rate.