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The Secret to Avoiding Obesity May Lie in Your Gut, Says New Study

It doesn't have to do with diet or exercise.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED Clipboard BY Cedrina Calder, MD, MSPH

Have you ever felt like you've done all that you could to shed some pounds? Or maybe you've struggled to maintain weight post-diet? It's easy to blame your motivation or think your lifestyle habits are the main culprit, but new research suggests that one reason you may not be able to reach your goal weight has to do with a protein in your gut.

A new study published in Scientific Reports finds that a protein exclusively (and abundantly) produced in the stomach called Gastrokine-1 (GKN1) may be the reason you're not seeing the results you'd hope to see. (Related: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work)

"While diet and exercise are critical to maintaining a healthy weight, some individuals struggle with weight loss—even in cases of bariatric surgery, maintaining weight loss can be a challenge," David Boone, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Indiana University School of Medicine, an adjunct professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Notre Dame, and a co-author of the study said in a statement.

"These results are an example of how a better understanding of the gut microbiome and the physiological aspects of obesity—how our bodies regulate metabolism and accumulate body fat—could help inform new therapies."

Here's how the study worked. Boone and his team of researchers conducted a microbiome analysis using mice, one group of which had the GKN1 protein expressed and the other didn't. Researchers measured food intake, caloric extraction (aka the number of calories we actually extract from food), blood sugar, insulin, triglyceride levels, body composition, and even calculated how many calories the mice burned. So, what did they find?

The mice that didn't have the GKN1 protein weighed less, had lower levels of total body fat, and higher percentages of lean muscle even though they ate the same amount of food as the group with the protein. Even more interesting, the mouse models without the protein were resistant to weight gain when they were put on a high-fat diet. 

Bottom line, more research is needed to determine if inhibiting GKN1 could be an effective way to help prevent obesity in humans. In the interim, try one of these 9 Weight Loss Tips That Shouldn't Work, But Do.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Read more about Cheyenne
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