Background: With the rising rates of obesity and associated metabolic disorders, there is a growing need for effective long-term weight-loss strategies, coupled with an understanding of how they interface with human physiology. Interest is growing in the potential role of gut microbes as they pertain to responses to different weight-loss diets; however, the ways that diet, the gut microbiota, and long-term weight loss influence one another is not well understood.
Objectives: Our primary objective was to determine if baseline microbiota composition or diversity was associated with weight-loss success. A secondary objective was to track the longitudinal associations of changes to lower-carbohydrate or lower-fat diets and concomitant weight loss with the composition and diversity of the gut microbiota.
Methods: We used 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing to profile microbiota composition over a 12-mo period in 49 participants as part of a larger randomized dietary intervention study of participants consuming either a healthy low-carbohydrate or a healthy low-fat diet.
Results: While baseline microbiota composition was not predictive of weight loss, each diet resulted in substantial changes in the microbiota 3-mo after the start of the intervention; some of these changes were diet specific (14 taxonomic changes specific to the healthy low-carbohydrate diet, 12 taxonomic changes specific to the healthy low-fat diet) and others tracked with weight loss (7 taxonomic changes in both diets). After these initial shifts, the microbiota returned near its original baseline state for the remainder of the intervention, despite participants maintaining their diet and weight loss for the entire study.
Conclusions: These results suggest a resilience to perturbation of the microbiota's starting profile. When considering the established contribution of obesity-associated microbiotas to weight gain in animal models, microbiota resilience may need to be overcome for long-term alterations to human physiology. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01826591.
Keywords: diet; low-carbohydrate; low-fat; microbiome; obesity; weight loss.
Copyright © The Author(s) on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition 2020.