This is why you find it so hard to lose weight

Are you someone who does “all the right things” yet still can’t lose weight? It can be incredibly frustrating and upsetting when you’re told to eat a healthy diet, but it does nothing to shift the pounds.

If this sounds familiar, we have some great news for you: it’s not your fault.

A growing body of research says that the idea of a one-size-fits-all healthy diet is a myth; that every single body is different and unique, and requires a unique diet to maintain an optimal weight.

An Israeli study published in the journal Cell tracked the blood sugar levels of 800 people over a week and the results suggests that even when we all eat the same meal, the way it is metabolised differs from one person to another.

Blood sugar has a close association with health problems such as diabetes and obesity, and it’s easy to measure using a continuous glucose monitor. A standard developed decades ago, called the glycemic index (GI), is used to rank foods based on how they affect blood sugar level and is a factor used by doctors and nutritionists to develop healthy diets.

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However, this system was based on the way small groups of people responded to various foods.

The new study found that the GI of any given food is not a set value, but depends on the individual, and that the “healthiest” of foods can trigger a problematic response in an individual.

In one case, a middle-aged woman with obesity and pre-diabetes, who had tried and failed to see results with a range of diets over her life, learned that her “healthy” eating habits may have actually been contributing to the problem. Her blood sugar levels spiked after eating tomatoes, which she ate multiple times over the course of the week of the study.

The study authors say the solution is a personalised diet matched to an individual’s responses to various foods.

“For this person, an individualised tailored diet would not have included tomatoes but may have included other ingredients that many of us would not consider healthy, but are in fact healthy for her,”Eran Elinav from the department of Immunology says. “Before this study was conducted, there is no way that anyone could have provided her with such personalised recommendations, which may substantially impact the progression of her pre-diabetes.”

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By creating personalised diets for 26 study participants, the researchers were able to reduce post-meal blood sugar levels and alter gut microbiota, which is believed to be linked to obesity and diabetes.

The researchers believe that the common advice may be “conceptually wrong in our thinking about the obesity and diabetes epidemic” and that while the assumption is that people with these conditions are eating the wrong foods, they may in fact be eating the “right foods” that are wrong for them.

Speak to your doctor about how to determine the right foods for your body, which may require testing.

Do you struggle to keep your weight down even though you do all the right things?