If you’re struggling to lose weight even though you’re ticking all the right boxes, nutritionist Bec Miller recommends placing as much focus on your gut health as you do on creating a calorie deficit.
Although a calorie deficit is necessary for weight loss, there are so many other factors at play that can affect your ability to lose weight. Food intolerances and sensitivities, lack of quality sleep, ongoing stress, imbalanced hormones and the frequency and type of exercise you do can all play a part. One of the most important factors, however? Your gut microbiome.
If your microbiome is imbalanced or lacking in certain healthy species of bacteria, your waistline may feel the effects. I personally experienced this in my early 20s when I was going through some chronic gut issues. I noticed that my weight was so much harder to manage, despite counting my calories to a tee.
How your gut bacteria affects your weight
Your body contains trillions of bacteria, with the majority of these bacteria located in your intestines. These bacteria can affect how different foods are digested and they can also produce chemicals that support you to feel full.
Since your bacteria line your intestines, the food you eat comes into direct contact with them. This may affect how energy and fat is stored in the body and what nutrients are absorbed. One study examined the gut bacteria in 77 pairs of twins, one of whom was obese and one of whom was not. Researchers found that obese twins had different gut bacteria than their non-obese twins, with obesity associated with lower diversity of gut bacteria.
Fibre also plays a large role in the gut-weight axis. As humans can’t digest fibre, it stays in your small intestines (where other foods are absorbed) and travels to your large intestine, where gut bacteria do the digesting for you. By digesting this fibre, the gut bacteria produce a number of chemicals that benefit gut health and possibly promote weight loss.
How does your gut affect your appetite?
Your body produces a number of different hormones that affect your appetite, including leptin, ghrelin and peptide YY (PYY). Studies have shown that different species of bacteria in your gut can affect how much of these hormones are released and whether you feel hungry or full.
Other studies have shown that prebiotics (compounds that are fermented by gut bacteria such as chicory root, onions, Jerusalem artichokes and green banana powder) can have a similar effect on your appetite. In fact, people who ate 16g of prebiotics a day for two weeks had higher gut bacterial fermentation, less hunger and higher levels of hormones that make you feel satiated.
How to increase your good gut bacteria
1. Load up on fibre
Eat at least 25g of fibre a day by focusing on lots of whole, unprocessed foods and lots of vegetables. Eating the rainbow when it comes to vegetables is essential for a diverse, healthy microbiome. If you cannot eat vegetables, you can supplement the fiber contained in Detox Slim. In addition, each Detox Slim capsule also contains tea extract, vitamin C which is very beneficial for weight loss.
2. Reach for probiotics
Try to include probiotic-rich foods in your daily diet, such as yogurt (with active or live cultures), kefir, natto, sauerkraut (unpasteurized and containing live cultures), tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha and pickles (pickled in salty water, not vinegar).
Also, try to consume prebiotic foods daily. Some to include regularly are whole grains (be conscious though, if you are gluten-sensitive), fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, green tea, red wine(one glass per day) and dark chocolate (in moderation).
3. Ditch gut–sabotaging foods
Some foods stimulate the growth of certain unhealthy bacteria in your gut, which may contribute to weight gain. Some of those to be conscious of and keep to an occasional consumption (a couple of times a week) are things like foods containing too many saturated fats, most fillers/emulsifiers, alcohol and added sugars.
Try to avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin, as recent studies suggest they could impact your gut microbiome, or at least keep consumption to a few times a week. More human studies are needed here, though. The sweetener that seems to be the safest to consume currently is monk fruit.
The best thing that you can do is to consume a diet that is low in processed foods and rich in whole foods, with at least five serves of vegetables a day (and a big variety of them – remember to eat the rainbow!).