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expert reaction to study investigating changes to the gut microbiome associated with diet

A study published in Nature Communications looks at diet and changes in the gut microbiome. 


Dr Duane Mellor, Dietitian and Spokesperson for British Dietetic Association; and Honorary Academic Fellow at Aston University, British Dietetic Association (BDA), said:

“This paper reports an analysis of faecal bacteria and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms from a study which has previously been published with respect to the effect of intermittent fasting protein pacing on weight loss in individuals living with overweight and obesity. It is a relatively small but detailed study which compared 20 individuals who were assigned to protein pacing intermittent fasting which consisted of 4-5 meals per day on non-fasting days with fixed amounts of protein and 350-550kcal on the 2 fasting days per week, compared to a healthy calorie restricted diet.

“This analysis looked at GI symptoms and gut bacteria to try to link this to how the dietary approach of protein pacing as part of intermittent fasting might be associated with greater weight loss. However, the protein pacing intermittent fasting was also higher in fibre so this might at least partly explain the difference in GI and gut microbiome. This diet was carefully designed, with the protein pacing intermittent fasting approach involving a number of supplements provided by the study funder, therefore this is not a diet that is easy to follow using food from the market or supermarket.

“While it is an interesting study, suggesting protein pacing and intermittent fasting help to support weight loss, as shown in a study published in 2023, in this analysis this appeared to be linked to improved gut bacteria levels. However, it is unclear if this is an effect of the higher protein levels in the protein pacing and intermittent fasting, the effect of the intermittent fasting or both, alternatively it could have been an effect of the extra fibre in this diet.”



Gut microbiome remodeling and metabolomic profile improves in response to protein pacing with intermittent fasting versus continuous caloric restriction by Alex E. Mohr et al. was published in Nature Communications 16:00 UK time Tuesday 28 May 2024.


DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-48355-5



Declared interests

Dr Duane Mellor: I have discussed and been a consultant about the concept of UPF for EUFIC, APPGs (both unpaid as part of my previous academic role) and members of the food industry (including Mars and Danone as a paid independent consultant)

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