Have you ever wondered how some people can lose weight so easily?
And yet, others will spend HOURS sweating themselves to the core and eating all the leafy greens produce can provide – just for the scale to reveal those same, undesired numbers.
It’s beyond frustrating.
You love your skinny friend, but man – you just wish you could borrow her metabolism for a day rather than those magical traveling jeans.
So here I’m going to tell you a major life hack that goes beyond dieting and exercise – your gut health – and how it relates to weight loss.
We’ll chat up all the reasons as to why your gut is so central to managing and controlling your weight, and simple solutions to jump start your healthiest life today.
Why Do We Care About Gut Health and Weight Loss?
This was a new term to me when I stumbled upon it, but after discovering how many bodily processes (including our weight) that the gut controls –
I genuinely felt like I had uncovered one of life’s greatest secrets.
But first, let’s talk what we DO know.
Diet and exercise – two words that have been ingrained in our brains since we were old enough to walk and talk – exercise and eat – as the sole recipe for living a healthy life.
“Eat a nutritious diet and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.”
A slogan that has made its way into health classrooms around the globe.
And it’s a solid mantra – Balance diet with exercise and you too will be happy and healthy.
But the sole problem – it forgets what is arguably one of the most vital components to establishing a sustainable realm of weight loss for our bodies (our gut health).
And if you’re someone who is tired of riding the roller coaster (all those ups and downs) of weight loss – you’re not alone.
I hope you have a glass of wine on board as I tell you these numbers.
- About HALF of Americans say they are trying to lose weight.
- 45 million Americans go on a diet each year
- Nearly ⅔ of Americans are overweight or obese
- $33 Billion is spent annually on weight loss programs and products
All this means is that millions of Americans are spending billions of dollars actively seeking a solution to the same problem – seemingly inevitable weight fluctuation and disappointment.
But here’s the universal saving grace – there are THREE primary components to establishing a healthy weight (not just the two that are heavily emphasized).
- Gut Health
(And I’m not just following my gut on this one.. If you take a peek at my About page, you’ll realize why this resonates so personally to me.)
What Is Gut Health?
Simply put, your gut health is your everything – your ticket to losing weight, healing your mental health, and feeling the same energy as when you were a kid again.
See, your gut – the part of the digestive tract that contains the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine – helps to regulate your metabolism, increase nutrient absorption, and aid with weight management.
And while normally the word “bacteria” is something we grab the Lysol wipes for, there are actually beneficial strains of bacteria that make up our bodies, specifically, our digestive tract.
I’m talking trillions of strains of bacteria.
And it’s these beneficial gut microbes that perform certain helpful tasks regulate countless processes in your body.
For instance, our gut health alone controls:
- Healthy Digestion
- Weight management (and weight loss)
- Skin Health
- Nutrient Absorption
- Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels
- Brain Clarity and Mental Health
- Hunger and Appetite
- Bloating and Inflammation
- Chronic Illness
But for the sake of this article, we’re going to keep the focus to losing weight – even though when you improve your gut health, you’ll reap benefits from each of the bulleted points above! Because gut health and weight loss truly go hand in hand.
Now there’s no such thing as “skinny” bacteria, but there are good bacterial strains that specialize in:
- Creating lean body mass
- Reducing fat storage
- Regulating appetite
- Curbing hunger
- Stabilizing metabolic rates
- Aiding with digestion
Beneficial gut microbes also can:
- Produce important nutrients and certain vitamins
- Fight infections and inflammation
- Reduce bloating and gas
- Digest food that otherwise would have been unable to break down
- Produce chemical balances that help you to feel full
- Regulate metabolic rates and energy levels
So, if our gut is unhealthy (which unfortunately most people’s are due to the modern western diet), our digestive tract is filled with harmful gut bacteria that craves company (causing you to crave unhealthy, sugary foods).
Good news is – by regulating your gut health, you can and will reap all the benefits of a healthy digestive tract, including weight loss.
I personally lost 15 pounds without dieting – just by simply addressing my core (gut health).
Why Has Our Gut Health Been Destroyed?
Welcome to the 21st century, where food is processed, artificial, manufactured, and becoming increasingly more of a health hazard by the day.
Here we have meals drastically different than what filled the plates in our grandparents’ generation – so much to the point where we eat more “products” than “real food.”
And as much as we tend to beat ourselves up for not being able to lose weight – it’s NOT our fault!
Here’s a snapshot of what’s causing us to all gain weight like crazy.
- Farm to table has become factory to table to meet the high demands of the US populations (we’re talking approximately 331 million people – that’s a LOT of mouths to feed)
- Industries have become heavily involved, processing foods, and adding chemical preservatives to be able to package and ship these products
- Crops are genetically modified (glance at the chicken breasts in the grocery store and tell me when you’ve seen a chicken naturally that large)
- Foods are dripping in artificial sugars, trans fat, refined carbs, and are being stripped of their essential healthy fibers and nutrition
And our gut health suffers most severely since the condition of our digestive system is developed from our chronic diet – and we’ve been eating this way (especially without knowing) for years!
Okay – deep breath.
You still with me?
I knew I liked you.
I wouldn’t be writing this to you if there weren’t a light at the end of the tunnel.
While many of those factors are out of our control, there is one especially important factor that will always remain in our control – our gut health.
And improving our gut health is so much easier than you’d think.
3 Ways Gut Health and Weight Loss Intertwine
➤ 1. Ability to Digest and Use Food
Food is designed to be energy for our bodies.
That’s the whole reason why we are supposed to eat it (I know, we’ve all fallen guilty of “but it tastes SO good!”)
And that’s what I’m here for – a win, win combo.
I want foods that taste amazing, as well as work to fuel my body.
I’ve crafted this concept in my 21 Day Gut Health Challenge if you’re interested.
It’s everything that got me from fluctuating weights, bloated nights, and low energy levels to loving my meals and how they make me feel.
Because the truth is, our digestive system cannot properly digest everything we eat – but healthy gut bacteria can.
This is important because the foods we eat should be broken down into usable resources for our body, instead of being stored as fat.
By having these beneficial strains of bacteria working in your favor, you are promoting weight loss by maximizing nutrient absorption and using food as it is intended – reducing how much fat then gets stored while burning off those stubborn fat cells.
➤ 2. Reduced Bodily Inflammation
We establish a healthy gut by designing a lifestyle from real ingredients and wholesome foods that our bodies are supposed to consume.
When we reduce the amount of processed foods that we eat, our bodies finally can breathe a sigh of relief.
Do you remember when you fell down and scraped your knee as a kid?
Man, I do. My nickname as a kid was the “Boo Boo Queen” because of how clumsy and uncoordinated my baby-deer like body was.
When you got that scrape, you probably saw it puff up. This is a normal reaction from any dirt particles that got into it.
The same thing happens to our bodies when we eat foods that are unrecognizable to us.
Our digestive system becomes alarmed, saying “this does not belong here” and inflammation results.
That the “puffy” feeling you may be experiencing.
I never know the true shape of my cheek bones until I regulated my gut health because of how inflamed I was – without even knowing it.
So, by regulating your gut health, you begin to look and feel so much better because the inflammation quickly becomes reduced since your body is no longer fighting your foods.
➤ 3. Appetite Suppressants
Our gut regulates so many of our body’s chemical balances, and as women, these hormones play essential roles in our well beings.
Leptin, specifically, is the chemical messenger that signals to your brain that you are full and no longer need to continue eating.
And since we’ve learned how diet plays a huge part in this since most of the unhealthy, processed foods that make up the Western diet consist of glucose (sugar).
This sugar is what causes people to gain weight and gets stored as fat.
It’s important to recognize that by eating foods high in fat (especially healthy fat) will NOT make you fat.
Carbohydrates like sugar and hefty starches cause you gain weight.
Because this sugar then gets stored on the body as fat cells.
It’s your body’s way of keeping it for later just in case of starvation, when, very few people today actually rely on this fat storage for survival.
(You can see how our bodies were designed this way back in the day when food was not so readily available, but today, our bodies still function the same – we just do not need that fat on our bodies the same way we did in the past.)
So back to leptin.
See, fat cells get deposited on the body and secrete leptin, which causes our body to become desensitized to it.
So when we eat, our brain ignores this message of “hey, I’m full” because it has become a constant source of repetitive stimuli.
But that nasty cycle can be stopped by changing our diets, which then reduce the release of leptin from the stored fat cells.
Which leads me to the ways you can improve your digestive health.
Gut health and weight loss work together when we control both our minds and bodies.
How Do You Take Back Your Health?
Proper nutrition and a healthy flora of gut bacteria share a direct correlation.
And let’s take a moment to remember the purpose of foods for our bodies.
- To provide us with nourishment (vitamins, minerals, nutrients)
- To provide us with energy(jumpstart our metabolisms and keep our bodies moving)
Avoid what causes us to move further away from those key points…
- Media advertisements (people are led to to believe that product labelled – sugar free, low fat, gluten free, vegan, etc are healthier when they typically are equally as processed as other foods)
- Convenience (we all experience such limited time in life with our busy schedules)
- Taste based on sugar-stemmed addiction
(the average bowl of cereal has 19.8 grams of sugar in one serving – when the allotted daily amount is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. And let’s be real – when we pour a bowl of cereal, is it really just that ¾ cup serving size?)
- Daily routines and habits
And this redirection of diet and health is going to take some patience and kindness with yourself as you maneuver through these steps.
But also remember:
- Understand that YOU are not the problem– our food industry is to blame.
- Take back your power– we are only given one body on this earth – let’s make it the best it can be!
- Focus on your diet– I’ll take you into this further below.
- Nourish and heal your gut health through supplements (prebiotics and probiotics)
I know what not to eat, but what CAN and SHOULD I eat?
When we provide our body with proper nutrition (specifically – foods high in fiber), our gut bacteria breaks down the food and uses it to replenish and restore the digestive tract.
I highly recommend eating foods that are:
- Good Fats
- Low Levels of Carbohydrates (Sugars)
- Whole Grains
A simple rule of thumb – keep to the OUTER realms of the grocery store (vegetables, meats, etc.) because the inner realms are what harbors more of the processed foods.
Essentially, we want to move away from the processed, refined foods and become more in touch with the most natural form of the product.
Tea, coffee, red wine, and dark chocolate have also been proven to increase bacterial diversity because of their antioxidant properties.
(So pour yourself a glass – you deserve it.)
And over time, taste buds DO change.
This is the leading reason for why sugar cravings are so intense – the bad bacteria craves company – just like our good bacteria does.
It can be as simple as making the cognizant choice of using olive oil, as opposed to vegetable oil for the added health benefits.
Lightly steamed, sauteed, or raw vegetables are always better choices than frying or drowning in any oil.
It can also be as simple as choosing fresh vegetables over canned vegetables – there is less processing involved and more micronutrients readily available.
Simple, healthy, cognizant choices that our grandparents would have made.
It takes 21 days to establish a habit.