Winter is coming. I just know it. I do not need the changing color of tree leaves to tell me this fact. I know it because my appetite is insatiable right now. I feel like one of those brown bears that stands in the river and lets salmon continuously leap into their open mouth (though I would prefer to receive lemon-curd filled donuts).

The downside of a constant donut binge would be the weight gain, and the health complications associated with it. I suppose if I hibernated for several months then the dreaded weight gain would actually be a good thing. But with food being available to me year-round, the need to store any extra bit of energy (fat) to cover me through the next famine is not needed (or desired). So, I will have to embark on a journey that so many others have taken to sever my ties with the fat that my body desperately wants to hoard.

The journey to break free of the tyranny of fat is not a trivial one. An international team of researchers used SomaLogic’s proteomic technology along with other techniques to better understand the variability seen in people trying to lose excess weight (Thrush et al., 2018). In their study, they separated a collection of individuals matched for gender, age and initial weight into two groups, obese-diet sensitive (ODS) and obese-diet resistant (ODR), and looked for differences in their blood proteins.

For those unable to lose weight, levels of the plasma proteins aryl hydrocarbon receptor protein complex, peptidylprolyl isomerase D and tyrosine-protein kinase Fgr were elevated after a high fat meal. For those able to lose weight, the researchers found higher levels of S-formyl glutathione hydratase, heat shock protein 70 kDa 1 A/B and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5 regardless of whether the people had fasted or just eaten.

Then, the researchers conducted a really interesting experiment. The researchers made preparations from the plasma of ODS and ODR people and exposed them separately to muscle cells grown in a dish. The muscle cells exposed to ODS preparations showed an increase in fatty acid (the stuff that makes fat) metabolism, which is a good thing for those trying to lose weight. For the muscle cells exposed to ODR preparations, the researchers saw an increase of glycolysis (the breakdown of the sugar, glucose), which can lead to the creation of fat (good news for bears about to hibernate, not so good for beach body development).

The research suggests that we may be on the verge of having the insights necessary to determine if a person is at risk of diet failure, but a bit more work is still needed. When the day comes for the insights to become available, I would certainly like to know if I am risk of diet failure. It might help dissuade me from seeking out lemon curd donuts like a ravenous bear.



Thrush, A. B., Antoun, G., Nikpay, M., Patten, D. A., DeVlugt, C., Mauger, J. F., . . . Harper, M. E. (2018). Diet-resistant obesity is characterized by a distinct plasma proteomic signature and impaired muscle fiber metabolism. Int J Obes (Lond), 42(3), 353-362. doi:10.1038/ijo.2017.286