Science Catch-up. If You Carry This Gene, High-Protein Weight-Loss Diets May Make You Hungrier

by Alex Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).

Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!

Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:

1. Breaking news: If you carry this gene, high-protein weight-loss diets may make you hungrier

2. Prenatal BPA exposure may lead to overeating later in life

3. Olive oil halves your bone fracture chances?

4. IBS risk factors: food and antibiotics alter gut microbiota

5. Pregnant moms should avoid liquorice


Breaking news: If you carry this gene, high-protein weight-loss diets may make you hungrier

Study link

As you know, experiencing hunger and cravings are the most unwanted side effects of dieting. For that reason, any solution that helps someone lose weight without feeling ravenous is seen as the “holy grail” of weight loss, often with high-protein diets slotted in this category.

But… is that so? Do high-protein diets really reduce appetite?

Well, not for everyone!

Breaking news: If you carry this gene, high-protein weight-loss diets may make you hungrier

Increased hunger and cravings in high-protein weight-loss dieters who carry the MC4R rs7227255 A-allele compared to the non-A allele carriers (Huang et al., 2017)

According to this new ground-breaking research, if you carry the gene MC4R rs7227255 A-allele instead of the non-A allele, you might experience greater increases in appetite and food cravings when following a high-protein weight-loss diet.

That’s the opposite of what a dieter would like to feel, right?

I scrutinised the full study (I always do before putting anything in front of you!) and it looks fairly sound. It involved genotyping 735 overweight dieters and assessing their hunger and cravings as they followed a high-protein diet for 2 years.

Once again, this is extra confirmation that blindly following a one-size-fits-all approach can backfire, and that personalising your diet may save you a lot of discomfort and unnecessary hunger pangs.

Note: If you haven’t seen it yet, we give you a comprehensive checklist of 21 nutrient-related genes in this recent Science Report. In there, we show you which genes you can get tested for before deciding to go low-carb, vegan, meat-rich, gluten-free, dairy-free, caffeine-free, etc. You can find it here (optional resource).


Prenatal BPA exposure may lead to overeating later in life

News link

Prenatal BPA exposure may lead to overeating later in life

Food and drink cans contain an inner coating typically made with BPA

This new mice study puts BPA under the spotlight. But what’s BPA, you may wonder?

BPA is a synthetic chemical normally used to make food packaging, including plastic bottles or the resin coating on the inside of cans.

This research suggests that a pregnant mom’s exposure to BPA might interfere with the hormone that controls appetite in her unborn baby, but in a bad way…

That hormone is leptin, also associated with energy balance, obesity, and metabolic disorders.

More surprisingly, it’s thought that this early BPA exposure could have long-lasting effects in the baby’s life, making them prone to weight gain and the weakening of their fullness cues.

These effects fall under the umbrella of developmental programming of certain brain regions (which is a field of research). In other words, what a mom eats when pregnant greatly influences her child’s brain circuits and metabolism later in life.

Note: After more than 30 months in the works, our brand-new Advanced Child and Brain Development Nutritional Advisor certification is coming up! If you want to be the first to know when it’s released, sign up here now.


Olive oil halves your bone fracture chances?

Study link

Olive oil halves your bone fracture chances?

Extra virgin olive oil intake associated to a decreased risk of bone fractures in a 7-year follow-up (García-Gavilán et al., 2017)

This new study involving 870 participants followed for several years indicates that regularly eating extra virgin olive oil reduced their risk of osteoporotic fractures by 51%.

Interestingly, consuming regular olive oil, where 80% is refined, was not associated with a lower risk of fractures in the same study.

This difference might be explained by the fact that extra virgin olive oil is much higher in polyphenols than its regular counterpart, potentially increasing antioxidant capacity and inducing positive epigenetic adaptations in the body.

I personally like to add a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil to my salads or finished dishes, although I avoid using the “extra virgin” version for high-heat cooking. This is because the combustible solids in it can degrade into harmful oxidation products during high-heat cooking

Note: If you’d like to learn more about the best oils for cooking, see this excellent free resource here.


IBS risk factors: food and antibiotics alter gut microbiota

Review link

This new systematic review navigates the composition of our gut microbes in the context of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In short, your gut microbiota modulates many of the mechanisms underlying IBS, such as your gastrointestinal motility and sensation, your gut-brain axis, immune activation, and intestinal barrier function.

This paper highlights how gut microbiota composition can be affected by risk factors underlying IBS, such as your inherited genes, your stress levels, your diet, your use of antibiotics, and even early childhood experience.

Here’s a fantastic graph from the paper summarising these:

IBS risk factors: food and antibiotics alter gut microbiota

Gut microbiota is a common denominator in pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome – IBS (Yogesh Bhattarai et al., 2017)


Pregnant moms should avoid liquorice

Study link

According to Finnish scientists, eating large amounts of liquorice while pregnant could harm the baby’s cognitive abilities, including a lowering of their IQ and memory capacity.

What’s more, the scientists found that its consumption could also increase the risk of aggressiveness, depression, and ADHD symptoms in the child.

This is due to a sweet-tasting compound called glycyrrhizin, which is found in liquorice.

Glycyrrhizin amplifies the effects of cortisol (a stress hormone) by inhibiting the enzyme that deactivates cortisol. Although cortisol is vital to the development of an unborn baby, it is harmful in large amounts.

Unfortunately, the limit for safe consumption of liquorice is not yet known. So until we hear more, the safe thing to do is to apply caution!

Pregnant moms should avoid liquorice

Reduced cognitive ability and psychiatric problems were observed in children whose moms consumed high amounts of liquorice during pregnancy (Räikkönen et al., 2017)



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The-Health-Sciences-Academy-Alejandra-Ruani-small1-right Alex Ruani, Doctoral Researcher, leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where her team of accomplished scientists and PhDs are training a new breed of over 100,000 highly-specialised nutrition professionals who are leveraging the latest personalisation strategies to help their clients. She is a Harvard-trained scientist and UCL Doctoral Researcher who is fanatical about equipping health professionals with the latest science-based tools so they can succeed in their practices – from identifying the unique nutrient needs to building highly personalised nutrition programs. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition biochemistry, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free email updates.

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  • Betiana

    Reply Reply February 9, 2017

    thanks Alex, really good, i’ll be sharing the liquorice warning with the pregnant ladies in my group!


  • Christopher Beeson

    Reply Reply February 10, 2017

    I found all these studies very informative I will have to buy the list from nutrigenics.
    Thank you for keeping us up to date.

  • Kelly

    Reply Reply February 11, 2017

    Hi Alex, thank you for these informative updates. Much appreciated! I’d also like to say that I’m very much enjoying the Diploma in Nutritional Therapy :-)

    Kind regards
    Kelly x

  • Iljoesja

    Reply Reply February 18, 2017

    Thanks so much for sharing this valuable information!

  • Beulah

    Reply Reply February 27, 2017

    With reference to the article on liquorice, does that refer to the sweet or the herb?

  • Dominic Casanova

    Reply Reply March 24, 2017

    Thanks so much for all this info.
    I’ll let my mum know about the liquorice as she really likes it.

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