Did you know that 80% of people set New Year’s Resolutions? Many people set goals around weight loss. While only 8% of people achieve these goals or resolutions.
Happy New Year to you! Not to start on a depressing note, I really just wanted to get your attention. Because if you set a new year’s goal, especially a goal relating to your weight or health… you are among so many others who also set a goal or new year’s resolution.
It’s early in the new year but if you’re already noticing your goal incredibly challenging to achieve or nothing is budging, I am here to tell you it’s not your fault.
Maybe you are trying to lose weight for example or struggle with weight gain related to PCOS. You might be hitting the gym and eating healthier foods. All are important components but if you’re not seeing the scale budge or you’re feeling like you’re spinning your wheels I totally get it. That’s where this 8% of success rate comes in.
It’s because weight loss (specifically) isn’t just about what you eat and how much you exercise. Not something most diet programs or products are talking about. In fact, when we strive for these resolutions or goals, we often don’t have all the facts to help us succeed.
That is where I come in. I am here to give you an alternative, something that is going to actually help you find success, thrive in everyday life and keep it going for years to come.
So, let’s dig deep.
When it comes to your weight, are you setting goals around your gut health? The body systems are so beautifully connected. This might also be frustrating to you because in order to get back into balance regarding your weight, you will want to be looking inward.
Your gut holds many secrets for weight loss that no one is talking about.
What is in my gut that makes it so important?
Our gut microbiomes are constantly adapting to our lives, including our diet, stress and environment that we live in. It holds many (I’m talking trillions) of microbial cells. Not only does your gut work hard at digestion, but your gut hosts most of your immune system as well. These immune cells are your gut’s first defense whenever something foreign enters the microbiome. When your gut microbiome is compromised, these immune cells react to things like food particles. How does this happen? Well when the gut microbiome isn’t intact, meaning this protective lining has holes in it, items like food, bacteria, etc. seep in.
These immune systems don’t normally see undigested food particles. So they react and cause an inflammatory response. In addition, the microbiome is correlated with the etiology of diseases. How so? When a microbiome becomes imbalanced, the actual bugs within the gut can produce metabolites that contribute to a disease state. This sort of response can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food sensitivities, difficulty losing weight, migraines and autoimmune conditions.
So, What My Gut Has to Do with My Weight Loss Journey?
Studies have shown that gut bugs have been shown to contribute to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance and blood sugar irregularity plays a major role in making the weight loss journey so challenging. It all comes down to those hormones!
In fact, obese individuals have a different and less diverse microbial profile. Ever think the type of bugs in your gut can really have that sort of effect? To get down and dirty, individuals who hold on to excess weight have an increase in the species Firmicutes and a decrease in Bacteroidetes.1
These bugs tend to create an inflammatory response within the microbiome, which then leads to impaired insulin signaling.
In fact, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), tend to also have less diversity in the microbiome. Similar to in obese individuals, specific bacteria produce what is called lipopolysaccharides, contributing to leaky gut. As mentioned above, this leaky gut creates inflammation, which then interferes with the insulin response and can create testosterone production from the ovaries.
Can you see how important the microbiome is for our hormone regulation and weight loss???
So How do you Know if Your Microbiome is Imbalanced?
Like I’ve mentioned if you’re trying to lose weight or struggle with PCOS and have no idea why you aren’t losing weight. It’s worth shifting your focus to your microbiome.
Some obvious gut imbalances include how your digestive system reacts on a regular basis.
• Do you suffer from bloating or gas?
• Deal with acid reflux?
• Struggle with IBS type symptoms (diarrhea, constipation or alternating between the two?)
• Intense sugar or carb cravings
• Have been on recurrent antibiotic treatment
Stress and Your Gut Health
When looking at weight gain and imbalanced gut health, you also want to take a look at the stress in your life. There is a direct connection between the brain and the gut. Even one stressful event can disrupt the balance in your microbiome! (Think of getting stressed in traffic or trying to make a crazy work deadline). When your gut is out of balance, it’s hard to absorb nutrients needed for your body to heal!
Stress can impact cortisol levels, which increases abdominal fat and makes it hard to lose weight and get your insulin in check.
What I am about to say is actually pretty interesting (not that everything in this isn’t. But pay extra close attention), stress can impact your micronutrient status, when we are stressed out you can become depleted in magnesium and B vitamins.
More on how these nutrients impact your weight loss goals to come.
I’ve listed out some sources of stress below. You might be surprised on how stress is making its way into your everyday world.
Types of stress:
• Stimulation from technology & social media
• Overbooked schedule
• Environmental toxins
• Non- organic / natural beauty products & hygiene products
• Eating out of plastic
• Drinking unfiltered water
• Getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night
• Too much caffeine
• Carb rich diet
• Lack or exercise or over exercise
• Toxic relationships
• Work or school
• Lack of ability to communicate your needs
• Lack of a supportive community
Like I’ve said earlier the entire body is connected. So just remember as I tell you about your micronutrient status. Stress, poor gut health, imbalanced diet and other factors can impact your micronutrient status. There are specific micronutrients important for weight loss!
Magnesium is especially important for blood sugar and insulin regulation. Which we know is important for weight loss.
The B vitamin family has a similar purpose. For instance, B12 deficiency (which can be common from gut imbalance), is correlated with hyperglycemia. B vitamins help to metabolize carbs, protein and fat.
When the gut is in a balanced state, it will produce vitamin K2. Vitamin K2, like many vitamins has more than one function. But for the purpose of this blog, it’s important to understand that vitamin K2 helps to metabolize glucose, making it an important nutrient for weight loss.
It is too often that I see these key micronutrients deficient when I look at in-depth micronutrient blood tests.
So now that I’ve identified these key micronutrients, it’s important to learn if they’re a major player in your personal weight loss journey.
You can start by supporting your body through foods rich in these micronutrients. I do suggest working with a functional nutritionist or provider who can run these labs with you and give you the breakdown?
Magnesium: leafy greens, avocados, pumpkin seeds and fair-trade dark chocolate.
B Vitamins: Grass-fed meat, legumes and gluten-free whole grains.
Vitamin K2: Organ meats, goat dairy and organic fermented soy products.
Get the Gut in Check
So, you must get your gut in check! This might be addressing any of the above triggers for stress, a bacteria imbalance or even checking on if the medications you are taking can affect your gut health. It’s one thing to eat the right foods for the gut and metabolism but if you’re not properly absorbing anything, we still have a problem.
Nourish the Microbiome for Weight Loss
Aside from managing stress and other lifestyle changes, you will also want to nourish your microbiome to help get it back into balance.
• Fermented Foods: these help to deliver beneficial bacteria to the gut. 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut per day or other fermented food of choice.
• Resistant Starch Foods: these act as prebiotics or fiber that help the beneficialbacteria flourish.
Cooked & chilled sweet potatoes, cooked & chilled legumes, raw garlic & onions, green bananas and green plantains, cooked & chilled white potatoes and jicama.
• Bitter Greens: these help to promote the digestive process and better absorb your meals. In addition, they help with liver detoxification, which is also important in the weight loss journey.
Broccoli rabe, radicchio, arugula, watercress and dandelion greens
When the gut is imbalanced, there may also be a hormonal imbalance in terms of estrogen. This is because there are gut bugs that help to metabolize estrogen. You can support your microbiome by helping that detoxification process with food.
• Flaxseeds: these help to eliminate excess estrogen and promote proper elimination.
• Cruciferous Vegetables: cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale
• Use Glass and Stainless Steel for Food Storage: plastic is no bueno for your hormones and can lead to excess estrogen build up. Swap to using glass containers from previously bought foods, mason jars or glass Pyrex.
Bring Balance to Meal Time
• Eat Your Carbs Last: eating your protein before your carbohydrates has been shown to promote blood sugar and insulin balance. Again, it’s all about the insulin when it comes to weight loss!
• Eat Whole Foods: we can get caught up in the grocery store with the next flashy “health food”, skip the packaged item and opt for whole foods when you can. Vegetables, fruits and protein sources like wild caught fish, organic poultry or legumes make a delicious meal without the additives.
• Community: we have become such an isolated country that we forget about how important meal time is with others. In fact, there are studies showing risk factors to your health from being alone too much! Make a dinner date! It doesn’t mean you have to go out to eat but call up a friend or sit with your family for a home-cooked meal.
• Slow Down: do it in slow mo…, eat slower! It’s better for digestion and reduces the stress response.
• Focus on Colors not Calories: calorie counting is so the last decade. It’s not sustainable or fun. You start quantifying your food instead of focusing on the quality. Instead, try to focus on adding more color to your plate. I love adding 2-3 different vegetables in a meal for color and pair it with a protein and some olive oil for a delicious, balanced meal.
The journey to finding balance in your health or losing the weight this year can be fun and something that you can sustain for a lifetime!