Have you been eating clean and killing it at the gym but feel like you’ve hit a fat loss plateau? If so, your gut health might be out of whack!
While a clean diet and intentional workout plan are critical for fat loss and better body composition, there is one factor related to burning fat that is often overlooked, and that’s gut health.
What exactly is gut health?
Gut health is essentially the ecology and structure of your gut and how it functions within your environment.
Your body is one big microbiome!
All of our genetic elements and all of the organisms living in and on our bodies make up that microbiome and, while most of us believe that we are no more than our genetic makeup, that is simply not the case. We only have about 22,000 genes in our chromosomes, but we have 3.3 million microbial genes—which means we have considerably more bacterial DNA in our bodies than we do genetic DNA.
Why is gut health important for weight loss and burning fat?
Our guts are full of two types of bacteria. When you have higher levels of one type of bacteria, you become a lean, fat-burning machine with improved insulin sensitivity. When the other bacterial level is higher, you tend to put on weight faster, have more cravings, and it becomes difficult to build lean muscle. Not having enough of the right bacteria in your gut can really affect your results over time.
How do I improve my gut health?
The most effective way to improve the ecology of your gut is to take probiotics. While you can get probiotics from foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, there are also several supplements available that can help you improve overall gut health; however, not all probiotics are created equal. The strain of bacteria is what is most important in choosing a good probiotic. If something needs to be refrigerated, then it is likely the strain in that probiotic is not strong enough to withstand your digestive process.
How does getting the gut healthy help us burn fat over time?
When you are taking probiotics, the good bacteria start competing with the bad bacteria for food and space within your gut. This inevitably decreases the levels of bad bacteria while increasing the levels of good bacteria in your gut. The good bacteria found in probiotics break down carbohydrates and fiber and convert them to Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). SCFAs also turn on the genes in your body that cause you to burn fat and tell your body to store less of it. Ultimately, you will feel fuller for a longer period of time and decrease your ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels, which will help control your hunger. Basically, probiotics give your gut the good bacteria it needs to start resetting the ecology of your body. You can eat clean and do all the right things and still not see results if your gut health isn’t where it needs to be.
Aren’t genetics responsible for metabolism?
You are genetically predispositioned to a certain body type, but your behavior determines whether you are going to remain lean or gain weight.
The idea of a fast metabolism is a bit of a misconception. While you can increase your metabolism (your body’s rate at which it burns calories) there’s much more to a ”fast metabolism” than you might realize. When you have more of the good bacteria in your gut, your gut is actually harvesting fewer calories from the food you eat than someone who has more bad bacteria in their gut. A meal with 2000 calories can be absorbed differently in one person than in another! One person may absorb only 1200 calories while the other absorbs all 2000 calories. Clearly, you see how this could play a role in weight gain and weight loss.
How long before I see some results once I’ve started using a probiotic?
On average it takes about 2 weeks to begin seeing some change when using a probiotic. In addition to seeing your body become more efficient at fat burning, you will likely also see an improvement in bloating, pressure and your overall immunity. Those changes will likely be visible sooner. Until you reach your goal weight, you will want to use your probiotic daily. Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you can begin to ease off your probiotics one day at a time until you are taking the probiotic about three times a week. Over time, the good bacteria will be more prevalent in your gut than the bad, and your gut ecology will change, which means your body will become more efficient at burning fat.
It is important to note that a probiotic is only effective at helping you burn fat when combined with a clean diet and a rigorous exercise plan. You can’t sit on the couch eating junk food, take a probiotic every day, and then expect to drop 20 lbs. However, if you have been eating clean and exercising, but seem to have hit a plateau, you might want to look at investing in a good probiotic! It could be what you need to get your body back on track.
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