The Gut-Weight Loss Connection
You’ve tried diets before. You know that even if a friend successfully lost weight on a particular diet, you may not. It’s frustrating but expected. Even in research studies, participants often have inconsistent weight loss results to the same diet. Why? The variations in weight loss may, at least in part, be due to everyone being different. In particular, everyone’s gut is different. The gut is called the “second brain” – it directly affects the brain, including hunger and appetite. “It’s important to understand what’s happening in your gut – it’s the reason behind so many illnesses,” explains Registered Dietician Kara Burnstine of the Pritikin Center, in Miami, Florida.
How Your Gut Influences Your Weight
Inside your gut is a diverse, fluctuating ecosystem made up of billions of microbes with incredible powers to influence your health, appetite, and weight. The gut microbiota is so impactful, it’s recognized as a metabolic organ. Your gut’s microbiota is integrated into your body, including how you deposit fat. An unhealthy gut microbiota (called dysbiosis) is associated with weight gain and obesity.
5 Ways Your Gut Health Influences Weight Loss
- Food digestion
- Fat stores
Can Gut Health Help with Body Fat Loss?
Yes, according to research your gut health might determine how much weight loss will occur on a diet. In an 8-week trial using a low-energy diet, researchers found the gut health of people at the onset influenced how much body fat loss occurred.
How Much Weight Can You Lose with Better Gut Health?
An astonishing 25% of the body fat changes noted in a study could be explained by the beneficial microbiota alterations that occurred with eating a healthier diet.
Can Improving Gut Microbiome Help You Lose Weight?
The types of microbes that live in your gut play a role in weight loss. Studies show a healthy gut microbiome can alter the hormones, neurotransmitters, and inflammatory factors which trigger food intake that leads to weight gain. More beneficial microbes (probiotics) and eating more plant fibers (prebiotics) help. “What you put in your body effects all elements of metabolism, and gut health, which is really important as the population of microbes that live there can either be disease preventing or health promoting,” explains Lon Ben-Asher of the Pritikin Center.
How Can I Improve my Gut Health for Weight Loss?
Better food choices (particularly the inclusion of lots of vegetables) can quickly improve your gut health, say researchers. In a study, 8 weeks of healthier food choices improved the health of the gut. There were fewer microbes known to cause inflammation and problems with the gut mucus barrier. How? Eating these minimally processed, nutrient-dense, whole foods allowed the microbes, that are linked to metabolic improvements, to flourish.
Learn how Pritikin’s Eating Plan supports healthy weight loss.
What’s a Good Diet for Gut Health and Weight Loss?
Prebiotics are fibers found in plants that the beneficial microbes in your gut flourish on. “You can think of the gut as filled with all of these soldiers. When there’s not enough defenders there’s destruction,” notes Kara. Without vegetables and fruits in your diet, your gut health suffers, and it becomes harder to manage your weight. Kara adds, “Certain foods offer more help to our gut, including anything fermented, as well as prebiotic-containing foods, such as bananas, onions and garlic.” Plus, eating foods that are high in fiber and water are not just good for gut health, explains Lon. “Vegetables are number one for weight loss!”
At Pritikin, vegetables and other plants are the stars on your plate curated by our Executive Chef and team in the beautiful dining hall. But, guests at Pritikin do more than eat delicious, healthy food – learn how to choose, shop, prepare and cook healthier dishes that support your health goals.
Best Foods for Gut Health and Weight Loss
- Whole grains (oatmeal)
- Fermented foods
Factors that Impact Your Gut Health
Other factors impact your gut health. Medications, bariatric surgery, and stress can negatively impact your gut health. Exercise has positive effects. For the greatest success at reaching your health goals, adopt a healthy lifestyle.
A Healthy Lifestyle for Better Gut Health and Weight Loss
It’s all connected: gut health, diet, stress, weight loss, and exercise. “It is so important to focus on how we are treating our gut,” notes Kara. You can achieve your goals with a healthy lifestyle that helps you flourish, yet allows room for the flexibility needed in a busy life. Experts at the Pritikin Center in Miami, Florida, help guests identify barriers in their way, and help them build the skills and develop tools to start living a healthier lifestyle that supports their goals.
Learn More About Pritikin
- Gut microbiota predicts body fat change following a low-energy diet: a preview intervention study. Genome Medicine 2022; 14(54).
- Innate and adaptive immunity interact to quench microbiome flagellar motility in the gut. Cell Host Microbe 2013 Nov 13; 14(5): 571-581.
- The baseline gut microbiota directs dieting-induced weight loss trajectories. Gastroenterology 2021 May; 160(6):2029-2042.
- The influence of the gut microbiome on obesity in adults and the role of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics for weight loss. Prev Nutr Food Sci 2020 Jun 30; 25(2): 113-123.
- Exercise modified the gut microbiota with positive health effects. Oxid Med Cell Longev 2017; 2017: 3831972.
- Impact of increasing fruit and vegetables and flavonoid intake on the human gut microbiota. Food Funct 2016 Apr;7(4):1788-96.