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How Bad Gut Health Can Inhibit Weight Loss

How Bad Gut Health Can Inhibit Weight Loss

We know that consistently consuming fewer calories than your body burns is fundamental for weight loss, but there are more components to weight loss than a caloric deficit. A component that is constantly not taken into consideration is gut health. Many people report that no matter how much they count calories and macronutrients, exercise, and get adequate rest, losing weight still seems unachievable. This could be due to inadequate gut health.

What is Gut Health?

Gut health refers to the well-being of the gastrointestinal tract, where an ecosystem of more than 100 trillion microbial cells is housed. Your gut microbiome influences various aspects of health and well-being, including digestion and nutrient absorption, metabolism, hormonal regulation, and inflammation. When there is an imbalance in the gut microbiome, gut health is considered bad and can negatively affect your weight-loss journey. 

Digestion and Nutrition Absorption: When the gut microbiome becomes imbalanced, it can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, which may contribute to weight gain. When we eat, the food is broken down into small pieces for absorption with the help of gut bacteria, and the rest is eliminated as waste. If the bacteria that are better able to break down food are  excessive compared to the bacteria that are not, a person’s weight can increase.

Metabolism: The processes of metabolism include developing and repairing tissues, turning food into energy, and eliminating waste. Gut health has a direct and significant impact on metabolism by affecting nutrient absorption, appetite regulation through hormones, short-chain fatty acid production, inflammation, and microbiome-host interactions. If a person has a lower metabolism, their body burns fewer calories at rest and during activity, meaning more energy is being stored as fat.

Hormonal Regulation: The gut microbiome influences the production of hormones necessary for appetite regulation, such as leptin and ghrelin. Imbalances in gut bacteria can disrupt these hormonal signals, leading to increased appetite and cravings, making weight loss more challenging.

Inflammation: An unhealthy gut can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation, which has been linked to obesity and weight gain. Inflammation can disrupt hormonal balance and insulin sensitivity, which are important factors in weight regulation.

Several studies have been done to support the claim that gut health affects weight loss. A study done in 2013 studied the fecal matter from human twins. One was obese, and the other was lean. Scientists transported stool from the obese twin into germ-free mice, and the mice gained fat mass. When they transported stool from the lean twin to the germ-free mice, the mice maintained their weight. 

A study done in 2008 found that obesity was associated with lower gut bacteria diversity when studying 77 pairs of twins, with one being obese and the other being lean. 

Bacteria play an important role in your body, both good and bad. Fortunately, your body does a great job at telling you whether your gut microbiome is imbalanced.

Some Signs of Bad Gut Health

  • Digestive issues: experiencing symptoms like gas, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, or frequent stomachaches
  • Fatigue: constantly feeling tired or lacking energy, even after adequate sleep
  • Skin issues: having conditions like acne, eczema, or psoriasis
  • Mood disturbances: suffering from anxiety, depression, or constant irritability 

Frequent infections: experiencing frequent colds, flu, or other infections.

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms and are unable to lose weight, your gut microbiome may be unhealthy.

How to Improve Gut Bacteria

You can improve the health of your gut bacteria by making changes in your diet and lifestyle. Here is a short list of changes that can be made.

  • Increase fiber in your diet. A daily recommended amount is 30 grams. Fiber is fermented by healthy gut bacteria and can be found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and avocado.
  • Exercise. If your goal is weight loss, this should already be in your plan. Exercise improves gut health by increasing its diversity.
  • Consume probiotics. Probiotics are supplements that have living bacteria that is good for your gut. Some natural ways to get probiotics in your diet are by eating yogurt, other fermented dairy and soya products, and kombucha.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners. They can lead to dysbiosis, or a decrease in microbial diversity. This can lead to more severe issues if not treated, like anxiety, depression, lupus,  and diabetes.
Probiotic Food

Microbial diversity is really important for your health. If you feel like your gut health is hindering your fitness goals, contact your healthcare provider or nutritionist for assistance.

Here at IFTA, we offer Online Fitness Certifications, Continuing Education Courses, workouts, Fitness and Nutrition blog articles and more. Explore our website to learn more!


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