If you feel like you’re doing everything right but still aren’t getting any closer to your weight loss goals, there might be something missing from your diet plan. While most weight loss routines will involve the classic combination of fewer calories and more exercise, it’s not always that simple. What if the reason you’re not shedding the pounds is down to something a little less obvious?
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There could be a reason you’re not losing weight that is nothing to do with how many workouts you’re doing – or to be more specific, a billion reasons.
Your gut bacteria play an important part in helping you to lose weight, and not looking after them could affect your dress size.
So while you’re trying to slim down your tummy with various meal plans and exercises, the tiny bacteria in your gut could actually be working against you.
Emily Rollason, nutritionist at Holland & Barrett explained: “Your healthy bacteria help you digest food, provide essential nutrients, enzymes and hormones and importantly, manage your metabolism. But they can only do all this if your microbiome is in balance.”
Plus, it’s not just your weight that it can affect. With the wrong balance, Emily revealed that you might find that “digestive issues, lethargy, low mood, poor immunity and weight gain can result.”
But it’s not only your metabolism and digestion that are affected by the microbiome – it even changes the way your body stores fat.
“Gut microbes can alter the way we store fat, how we balance our blood glucose levels and how we respond to hormones that signal hunger and satiety,” added Emily.
That means that a healthy gut is essential if you’re hoping to lose weight this summer.
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In fact, having a healthy microbiome could help you to cut back on the number of calories you’re consuming, as some bacteria influence how you digest certain foods, producing chemicals that help you feel satiated.
But if it’s your stomach that’s the issue, it’s important to know the difference between belly fat and bloating – which is another symptom of imbalances in your gut.
Gut health expert Jo Travers explained: “Bloating is caused by a build-up of gas in the gut, produced as a by-product of bacterial digestion.
“It’s actually not necessarily a sign that something is wrong, but it can be uncomfortable and it can be a suggestion that your microbiome is slightly out of kilter.”
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So how do you look after your gut health, and in turn boost your chances of hitting your goal weight?
Jo explained that eating certain foods as part of your diet can help: “You’ve probably heard about prebiotics (dietary fibre that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut). But as well as prebiotics, we can also take probiotics either as a ready-made preparation, or from fermented foods.
“Fermentation produces lactic acid bacteria in foods like yogurt and kefir, which populates the gut when eaten and may have a positive effect on metabolism.”
However, fermented foods are an acquired taste – so you may want to look at supplements instead, Emily advised.
“If you’re finding it difficult to stock up on your recommended fibre intake and can’t stomach the thought of fermented foods in the morning, stock up on a good quality probiotic,” the nutritionist recommended. “Holland & Barrett’s Gut Powered Ultimate has over 50 million live friendly bacteria, and added calcium to aid digestive systems.”
Adding fibre to your diet will also affect the way you eat – and perhaps how much you put on your plate. “Fibre brings feelings of satiety (fullness) by adding bulk in your stomach,” revealed Emily.
“Your gut then communicates to your brain that it’s getting full and your hunger subsides. Additionally, when we digest fibre, a molecule called acetate is released, which signals to the brain that we are becoming full.”
But surprisingly, it’s not just what you eat that can affect the sensitive balance of your gut.
“Exercise can affect the types of bacteria that thrive in your intestine,” admitted Jo.
“Especially if you can combine it with getting into a different environment – running in the woods versus running on a treadmill for example.
“It can also prevent constipation by keeping the muscles in the gut moving food through.”
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