If you’re reading this article, you’re probably familiar with the vicious cycle of dieting and weight loss. You do alright for a bit, lose a couple of pounds, but it’s not sustainable and you end up gaining everything back again, and often more.
What if I told you that the key to weight loss isn’t boring, bland food , stringent calorie or macro counting, starving yourself or flipping tires in parking lots? The key to healthy weight loss actually lies in your gut, in the healthy community of bacteria that can help fight all the internal hurdles to losing weight? In this article, we’ll explain the science and discuss:
- What’s the link between gut health and weight loss?
- How does an unhealthy gut make it harder to lose weight?
- 4 ways to improve your gut for weight loss
- Betr foods for gut health and weight loss
- Best gut health weight loss diet: Betr Health
Many diet and weight loss plans claim that they hold the key to miraculous weight loss. Well, Betr isn’t a diet or weight loss plan. Our goal is to educate, empower and support you on the path to a healthy lifestyle that will heal and support a healthy gut. And a healthy gut just happens to be one of the keys to weight loss.
The beneficial bacteria in a healthy gut support weight loss. When we keep our microbiota healthy, they pump out helpful substances called “metabolites”, specifically, short-chain fatty acids. SCFAs help manage blood sugar, battle cravings, and fight inflammation, which all help weight loss.
1. Improved Insulin Response
First, SCFAs are a key ingredient in the hormones that help us process blood sugar. We go into detail on the how blood sugar is converted to fat in our blog post Gut Health and Diabetes: Beneficial Bacteria’s Sweet Role, but here are the basics:
- You eat carbs, sugar is released into your bloodstream.
- Sugar causes the release of insulin, which tells your cells to use up that sugar.
- Any extra, unused blood sugar is stored, usually as fat.
It’s important that our cells respond to insulin and use up our blood sugar, so it isn’t stored as fat. SCFAs are one of the primary ingredients for the production of certain hormones that improve our body’s ability to burn off that blood sugar.
The Takeaway: More SCFA’s = Better insulin response = less excess blood sugar stored as fat.
2. Reduces Hunger and Cravings
The truly amazing thing about a healthy gut is how it can have an impact in distant areas of the body. One of these areas is our brain. There’s enough scientific evidence supporting the relationship between our gut and mental health that scientists have given it a name, the “Gut Brain Axis” (GBA).
One way our gut health contributes to weight loss is by affecting the production of a hormone in our brain called Ghrelin. Ghrelin is kind of like our brain’s conductor when it comes to hunger and craving, it tells you when you’re full.
SCFAs reduce hunger and craving by increasing the production of ghrelin in the brain and improving our body’s response to ghrelin. More ghrelin and a better ghrelin response leads to a feeling of satisfaction, less hunger, and fewer cravings. All these can aid in weight loss
The Takeaway: SCFAs increase ghrelin levels and improve ghrelin response. This leads to feeling satisfied from food, which leads to less hunger and cravings.
3. Stress and Inflammation
SCFAs don’t just make hormones, though, they also fight against hormones that can potentially cause harm. Another way the SCFAs produced by our gut can help weight loss is through their anti-inflammatory effect and stress reduction.
In a healthy gut, SCFAs keep our levels of inflammation low. Low physical stress helps support low emotional stress, which helps avoid weight gain caused by the chronic presence of stress hormones.
Inflammation is a type of physical stress on our body. Physical stress can cause emotional stress. When we’re stressed, our body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is sometimes known as our “fight or flight” hormone.
Just like the name “fight or flight” implies, cortisol is designed to help us address a threat by standing and fighting or tucking tail and running. One of the effects cortisol has on weight gain is that it tells our body not to use up our blood sugar, because we need it for energy to fight.
Blood sugar…sound familiar? That’s right, cortisol fights against that effective insulin response we just covered. When we’re under chronic stress, and cortisol is always present, our blood sugar won’t get used and will be stored as fat.
The Takeaway: SCFAs fight against cortisol-releasing inflammation. Cortisol can contribute to increased blood sugar levels and fat storage.
How does poor gut health make it harder to lose weight?
When our community of gut bacteria is flourishing, it’s like a beautiful garden, filled with lots of different pretty plants. Sometimes, though, the weeds take over. If you’re a gardener, you know that weeds lead to more weeds, all of which leads to less good stuff in the garden.
In our gut, the weeds are unhealthy species of bacteria. When our diet is poor or we’re fighting a disease, the community in our gut shifts toward these harmful species. Instead of anti-inflammatory SCFAs, the “bad” bacterial species of an unhealthy gut produce metabolites that can cause more inflammation.
This inflammation leads to poorer insulin and ghrelin responses, and MORE inflammation. This starts a cycle of stress and dysfunction that can interfere with weight loss, possibly even leading to weight gain and other chronic issues.
The Takeaway: When diet or disease causes a shift towards an unhealthy gut environment, it can lead to stress, inflammation, and reduced response to insulin and ghrelin. All of these combined interfere with weight loss.
4 ways to improve your gut health for weight loss
A healthy gut. How do you get a healthy gut, though? Below are four big ways you can contribute to keeping a healthy community of beneficial bacteria.
1. Feed your Flora with Fiber
Fiber is a weight loss wonderfood, and it’s key to a gut healthy diet. It’s low “caloric-density”, which means you can eat a lot of it and still absorb less calories. Fiber also fights the development of serious, chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
When it comes to feeding your beneficial bacteria, fiber is basically solid gold. In fact, a healthy gut needs fiber in order to produce those amazing short-chain fatty acids.
So, not only does fiber have weight loss benefits on its own, but it supports healthy gut bacteria. A healthy gut is a key factor in supporting healthy weight loss.
2. Pound the Probiotics
Probiotics are healthy strains of bacteria that we can take orally as food or supplements. Prebiotics are substances, like fiber and complex carbohydrates, that feed and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria.
For years, probiotics have been used to help treat digestive issues like gas, bloating, or diarrhea, but now we’re seeing them recommended to support other health conditions, as well.Animal and human research has shown that probiotics can prevent fat storage, improve blood sugar processing, and lead to meaningful, healthy weight loss.
Looking for ways to fit more probiotics into your diet? Fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, vinegar, and kimchi are a great source of healthy bacteria strains to support gut health and aid in weight loss. Selecting a high-quality probiotic supplement is also an option to build up those beneficial bacteria.
Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight has heard (over and over…and over) that it’s all about “diet and exercise.” That being said, would you be surprised to learn that Betr Health recommends that you avoid strenuous exercise during the beginning of our method?
This is because when your gut is unhealthy, inflammation in your body is already out of control. The inflammation caused by strenuous exercise, which is normally healthy, can cause a “pile on” inflammatory effect. This can further harm your gut flora and contribute to body-wide symptoms.
Once you start to experience the overall anti-inflammatory effects of your healing gut, of course we want you to adopt some healthy activity! Exercise is important in any journey towards health. Not only does it build muscle, reduce stress, and burn calories, evidence shows that exercise can increase the diversity and amount of beneficial gut bacteria.
This relationship between gut health and exercise is a two-way street. While exercise improves the health of your gut bacteria, the healthy gut bacteria also reduce inflammation, improve energy levels, and help aid in weight loss. All this together means that exercise benefits your gut bacteria, and your gut bacteria benefits your exercise!
We’ve already covered the unhealthy cycle of stress and inflammation. Just like with exercise, finding ways to reduce your stress is key to supporting your gut health which can help further reduce stress.
Reduce stress, easier said than done, right? Even though being overworked and overtired may feel like a “non-negotiable” in life, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many small steps that you can take to ease stress, including:
- Reduce alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine intake
- Regular exercise
- Meditation and relaxation techniques
- Regular self-care
Many people find that incorporating just one or two of these techniques makes a huge impact on their feelings of stress and anxiety. Less stress means less cortisol, less cortisol means less inflammation, less inflammation means a healthier gut and easier weight loss!
Betr foods for gut health and weight loss
The Betr Health Method is designed to decrease inflammation by ridding your body of toxins and fueling it with healthy foods that can reset your healthy gut. A few of the foods that Betr Health bases its nutrition method, especially Level 1, include:
- Organic Fruits and Vegetables – Raw and green vegetables are a key element to supporting gut health and weight loss. They provide the necessary fiber to keep your beneficial bacteria fueled to produce health supporting short-chain fatty acids. Organic fruits provide natural sugars balanced with fiber, so your body gets the sugar boost, with the perk of healthy fiber, the way nature intended sugar to be consumed. Organic fruits and vegetables are filling, low-calorie, and don’t contain pesticides and toxins like their non-organic, industrially farmed counterparts.
- Grass-fed, antibiotic-free, organic or wild-caught lean meats – Protein is a centerpiece of any nutritious diet. Protein helps us feel full, and is necessary for building muscle and other substances that keep our body moving. Proteins, even the lean ones, also contain healthy fats that are the building blocks of many necessary hormones and neurotransmitters in our bodies. Selecting organic protein or wild caught fish will ensure that the animals weren’t treated with antibiotics, which can disrupt gut health and lead to an unhealthy shift in bacterial species.
- Healthy Condiments – Anyone who’s been on a diet can tell you that the #1 struggle is boredom and blandness. Most condiments are packed with sugar and artificial flavorings that add calories and toxins, which can cause inflammation and interfere with weight loss. That’s why Betr recommends a few healthy, organic condiments to help add some excitement to your nutritious menu. Craving a tangy salad dressing? Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is a great, gut healthy addition that makes your mouth AND your gut happy. Other condiment recommendations, such as Liquid Aminos, provide nutritional value and improve taste. This keeps you from getting bored with your diet, which keeps your eyes on the prize!
- Water- What, what? Is water a food? Water is essential to our survival, it keeps our organs functioning efficiently, allows nutrients to reach all the areas of the body where they’re needed, and helps flush fat and toxins from our system. Sounds like food to me. Water can really help your gut by aiding digestion, it helps bacteria break down other foods into ALL of its essential components, maximizing its nutritional value and preventing the build-up of partially digested, inflammatory substances.
Best gut health weight loss diet: Betr Health
At Betr Health, we don’t like to refer to our method as a “diet”. There’s no counting calories, we don’t want you to be hungry, and our eating strategy is designed to avoid things like cravings. Our coaches and community support you on your journey by sharing delicious recipes. helping you create a meal plan for you and your family, and finding healthy solutions to hunger and cravings, the traditional hurdles of a diet.
Our method isn’t about eating less, it’s about eating Betr. We believe that your body is capable of healing itself and maintaining health, but the nutritional norms of our society often get in the way. Toxins, in the forms of food additives, and added sugars and fats interfere with the natural state of our gut and interfere with weight loss and health.
The Betr Health Method will harness the power of your gut to convert fat to energy. We do this through education (from our coaches, blog posts, and regular calls with our founder, Dr. William Ferro, support from the community, and the natural power of whole, healthy foods.
To wrap it up, let’s review what we’ve learned about gut health and weight loss:
- Short-chain fatty acids, produced by healthy bacteria, contribute to weight loss by improving insulin response, reducing hunger, and combating inflammation and stress.
- When your gut is unhealthy it results in stress and inflammation. Stress and inflammation combine to make weight loss more challenging, and can lead to weight gain and even more serious health problems.
- Fiber, probiotics, exercise, and stress reduction can support a healthy gut and weight loss
- Some of the best foods for gut health and weight loss that Betr recommends are organic fruits and vegetables; grass-fed, antibiotic free or wild caught lean meats; simple, organic condiments; and water.
- Betr Health harnesses the natural power of your gut combined with community support and education to support healthy weight loss.
We’ve discussed how an unhealthy gut can be part of an ongoing, unhealthy cycle. Betr Health is all about replacing that unhealthy cycle with one where your body supports your gut health, and your gut health supports healthy weight loss.
So, are you tired of the same old song and dance of diet, hunger, craving, quitting, and regaining? Try the Betr Health 14 day stress-free trial to start a new cycle, a Betr cycle.