It’s rarely a surprise to people that are over weight and obese how they got there. When they are ready to make changes to lose weight, they often just do the opposite of what lead them to have excess weight. The surprise is that the road to recovery seems to have more resistance than the road to detriment. It’s no longer a ‘calorie-in-calorie-out’ equation. Honestly, it never has been.
This is because there have been a lot of internal adaptations that have occurred to store extra energy resources while keeping that person functional for their work, family, and other life requirements.
One of the road blocks in that weight adaptation mode happens in the gut. The gut, not the belly. Think intestines, not waist line. The way you eat will alter the composition of your gut bacteria. It’s kind of like letting your kids play on an iPad all day for the first 8 years of life and then you realize that’s not good for them and you take it away. That kid won’t behave the way you desire overnight, just because you removed the problem.
The bacteria in your gut are no different. Their behavior and composition will change base on the food you feed them. With the complexity and diversity of the gut microbiome (the bugs), it really breaks down into two primary categories. Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes.
What research is finding (and what I’m seeing on stool tests) is that people having trouble losing weight (and/or have chronic bloating) have an imbalance in the ratios of bacteroidetes and firmicutes.
Personally, this imbalanced ratio has been seen in both obese and fit patients. The common link between the 2 is carb sensitivity. The fit complain about gas and bloating while eating carbs. They are often having trouble with the fermentation of the carbs. The obese complain about gaining weight while eating carbs. They are having trouble metabolizing carbs. Many times the person has been given the advice of eat more plant based foods but they just aren’t getting the results or it actually makes things worse.
So one of the dietary changes I often suggest is consuming more meat. I know meat has a bad reputation but when those bad character traits are applied to meat consumption in population studies, the researchers are often trying to isolate one behavior in a sea of them. Life doesn’t occur in isolation. Aren’t those meat consuming nations being condemned also consuming lots of grains and sugars…in the same meal as their meat? They rarely look at population of purely meat consumption.
If a carb based diet developed an abundance of firmicutes and too little bacteroidetes, then possibly eating the opposite can help shift those little buggers. Not to mention higher fat and animal based protein will help regulate insulin, provide key fatty acids for cell membrane strengthening, and key amino acids for gut repair.
Here, we show that the short-term consumption of diets composed entirely of animal or plant products alters microbial community structure and overwhelms inter-individual differences in microbial gene expression. The animal-based diet increased the abundance of bile-tolerant microorganisms (Alistipes, Bilophila, and Bacteroides) and decreased the levels of Firmicutes that metabolize dietary plant polysaccharides (Roseburia, Eubacterium rectale, and Ruminococcus bromii).
On the animal-based diet, dietary fat increased from 32.5±2.2% to 69.5±0.4% kcal and dietary protein increased from 16.2±1.3% to 30.1±0.5% kcal…Subjects’ weights on the plant-based diet remained stable, but decreased significantly by day 3 of the animal-based diet.
There’s a couple take-a-ways from this study.
Consuming animal protein changed the microbiome to a healthier ratio and also helped promote weight loss. Weight loss was not the intent of the study, just an observed effect. In other words, they were concentrating on getting healthier and as a result, lost weight. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this. The people coming in to lose weight have the hardest time losing weight. The people coming in to improve health outcomes, lose weight relatively easy.
The other take away is that eating more veggies isn’t always the right answer. It’s not like in Sunday School where the right answer is always Jesus. Be open to finding out what is right, opposed to being right. Maybe you need more meat in your diet. Maybe you need to check your bugs. Or maybe you are feeling, looking, and functioning amazingly on a vegan diet. Who cares, results are what matters. Weight loss is a multi-faceted adaptation. Go in with an open mind.
Curious about a stool test for you? You know how to find me.