Exercise Betr, Not Harder!
Exploring the link between exercise, inflammation, and gut-health
Betr clients are shocked when we tell them to stick to lighter workouts during Level 1.
It’s an understandable response. We’ve all had “diet and exercise” drilled into our heads as the keys to healthy living.
Research supports the health benefits of regular, moderate-intensity exercise.
But, at Betr, we think the answer isn’t as black and white.
The Betr program is based on evidence that chronic inflammation is the root of our health challenges.
Unhealthy chronic inflammation contributes to chronic stress, weight gain, fat retention, and chronic disease.
Arguments for the benefits of exercise-induced inflammation assume that our body responds in a healthy way to the stress of exercise.
At Betr, we believe we need to heal chronic inflammation before expecting our body to manage more stress.
Additionally, there’s mounting evidence that “more is better” isn’t always the best approach to exercise.
Finally, there’s plenty of evidence linking exercise, inflammation, and gut health.
Let’s talk about it.
The Gut: Where Inflammation Warms Up
Thousands of years ago, Hippocrates said, “Look well to the gut for the root of all disease.”
The “Father of Modern Medicine” nailed it.
Our gastrointestinal system contains hundreds of trillions of bacterial cells, making the community of bacteria in our gut microbiome the largest organ in our body.
Research has connected the health of our microbiome to healthy brain functioning, a robust immune system, even healthy skin!
These benefits are the result of anti-inflammatory metabolites called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Beneficial gut bacteria produce SCFAs, which maintain healthy function and fight inflammation in our gut and the rest of our bodies.
When disease, poor diet, or chronic stress disrupt our gut bacteria, they don’t produce enough SCFAs. The community of bacteria shifts towards unhealthy species of bacteria, which make harmful metabolites.
These unhealthy metabolites cause inflammation. This inflammation disrupts the cell wall of our digestive tract. It starts letting these inflammatory metabolites out of our gut into the rest of our body.
On top of that, substances make their way into the gut that shouldn’t and cause even more problems.
This is the cycle of chronic inflammation. For many new Betr members, this is their condition when they start our Level 1 protocol.
These new members are usually ready for a change. They’re motivated. They want to hit the gym hard to “supercharge” their progress.
Then we tell them to go easy on the exercise.
The Takeaway: Our gut microbiome is essential to controlling inflammation. Unhealthy gut bacteria is the first step in a body-wide cycle of chronic, inflammation.
Exercise-Induced inflammation: Good & Bad News
When you exercise, you’re stressing out your body!
This stress might conflict with the idea of that “post-workout buzz.” but in a biochemical sense, it’s true.
While you’re doing it, exercise raises your heart rate and blood pressure. It causes microscopic damage to your ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Most times, with appropriate nutrition and recovery, this ends up being a good thing!
Your body responds to this injury by sending out substances to heal this minor damage, moderate your stress, and return your heart rate and blood pressure to normal.
This repair makes the body stronger and healthier.
That’s when things are working the way they’re supposed to.
If our body is already under significant stress and inflammation, layering on more stress and inflammation (like from intense exercise) may end up weakening our bodies!
Think about it, when your gut is inflamed, you’re body is already struggling to overcome this chronic inflammation, and by exercising, your feeding more fuel to the fire!
That’s why Betr recommends avoiding high-intensity exercise during Level 1.
We want you to remove as many sources of stress and inflammation as possible and heal your gut with nutritious, gut-healthy food.
Once you’ve reduced (or even eliminated!) chronic inflammation, your body will be able to respond effectively to a healthy workout.
You’ll see even greater benefits than before!
The Takeaway: When our body is already experiencing chronic stress and inflammation, it can interfere with the healthy inflammation and healing caused by exercise
Stimulation, not Annihilation
If you work out, you know that the ability to “GO HARD” is usually considered a status symbol to gym rats.
But, evidence shows that prolonged, high-intensity workouts might contribute to ongoing unhealthy inflammation.
Researchers have found that the inflammatory response during a high-intensity exercise is more likely to impact the immune system negatively.
This impact is especially notable when an intense training program doesn’t include enough recovery time or healthy, restorative foods.
That’s why Betr CEO Dr. Ferro always encourages “stimulation, not annihilation” when working out early during the Betr protocol.
Trainers familiar with Betr usually do more range of motion exercise, coupled with nutritious, healing foods.
As it turns out, science supports this. Researchers at the University of California School of Medicine found that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking) was enough to get the healthy, anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise.
The Takeaway: There’s evidence that high-intensity, long duration workouts without proper recovery time could contribute to unhealthy chronic inflammation.
Keeping Your Gut in "Fighting Shape"
We’ve already talked about the unhealthy cycle of chronic inflammation.
The exciting news is that once you heal your microbiome, you can start a whole new cycle!
A cycle of exercise and gut health!
That’s right! A healthy gut doesn’t just support the maximum benefits of exercise, and exercise encourages a healthy microbiome!
Researchers have found that subjects who exercised regularly had more healthy bacterial species that produced anti-inflammatory SCFAs.
The exercise-associated increase in SCFAs was associated with decreased inflammation in the gut, healthier digestive cell walls, and better immune system function!
The Takeaway: Just as a healthy gut supports better workouts, exercise encourages positive, healthy changes in your microbiome.
Work out Betr, Not Harder
Don’t get it twisted- BETR LOVES exercise! We just want you to work smarter, not harder!
We base our recommendation on starting with low-intensity exercise on the understanding of what it takes to reduce inflammation and heal your body.
Trying to work out when your gut is out of whack is like swimming upstream! And, it adds stress and inflammation to your system that could interfere with the gut-healing Level 1 process.
The level 1 protocol is designed to reset your body and allow it to rebuild with healthy, nutritious foods.
Then, once your microbiome is “maxed-out,” you can start to incorporate higher-intensity workouts and meet your training goals.
Betr is about nourishment, not punishment.
We believe that once your gut heals, you’ll experience reduced stress and inflammation.
This healing will empower you to nourish your body with whatever kind of exercise you want!
Healing your gut is the key to a Betr workout!
For more practical advice to support your workout, read Exercising with Activity Fuel on the Betr Blog!