Living deep inside your gut are a host of tiny odd creatures that cause you to gain fat, and others that help you burn it off. And despite all the complexities of why people gain weight, there’s a wonderfully simple approach you can take to shedding pounds and rebalancing your health: eat and live in a way that makes these gut bugs happy.
You need to become a good gut bug gardener.
When you feed your friendly flora the nourishment they love, when you till the soil of your inner garden and then seed your gut with probiotic foods, you not only rebalance your inner ecosystem, you also optimize your fat-burning metabolism and overall health.
You can do exactly that by following the 3-phase program in my new book The Gut Balance Revolution. To give you a sense of how it works, let me break down the program for you…
Phase 1 Reboot: Weeding Your Inner Garden and Revving Your Metabolism
The first 30 days of the program will help you reestablish a relationship with healthy food. For most of you, this will naturally lead to accelerated weight loss. Many of you will lose 10 to 15 pounds (or more!) during the first month of the program, and you’ll do this by stifling the proliferation of gut bugs that lead to dysbiosis, reduce systemic inflammation, and rebalancing your blood sugar.
You’ll do this by going on a lower-carbohydrate, moderate fat, higher protein diet, which specifically reduces a class of highly fermentable carbohydrate-rich foods called FODMAPs.
FODMAPs are a class of carbohydrates that contain short-chain sugars that gut bugs can readily ferment, promoting their growth and leading to a host of digestive symptoms including gas, pain, bloating, and more.
By limiting these foods, and dramatically reducing your intake of starchy and highly-processed carbs, you’ll be removing from your diet the primary food sources that sustain the imbalance in the microbial communities in your digestive tract.
Reducing these carbs and focusing on lower-glycemic load meals also has the benefit of rebalancing your blood sugar, reversing insulin resistance and fat accumulation, and reducing overall systemic inflammation (a process that’s further enhanced in this phase by eliminating inflammatory oils from your diet).
Instead of eating these inflammatory, sugary foods that lead to an imbalance in your gut microbiome, you’ll focus on fat-burning super foods (like blueberries, green tea and chili pepper) that will rev up your metabolism while supporting the community of your gut’s beneficial bacteria.
Phase 2 Rebalance: Seed and Fertilize Your Inner Garden to Restore Ecological Harmony
After 30 days of rebooting your gut microbiome and revving up your metabolism, it’ll be time to shift your focus toward rebalancing your inner flora for life by fertilizing the friendly helpers that support your health. Now that you’ve weeded your inner garden, it’s time to seed and feed it.
We’ll do that by reintroducing some key fibrous, complex carbohydrates—fruits and vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber which your human digestive tract can’t breakdown but are the perfect fuel for fat-burning bugs. Burn baby burn! And you’ll be adding plenty of fermented foods that are filled with the healthy bacteria your gut microbiome needs to flourish.
Counter to some other approaches, we’ll be systematically increasing your carb intake at this point. Our focus will be on healthy, whole-foods carbohydrates that are packed with fiber and healthy prebiotics—fibrous foods that feed your fat-burning friendly flora—instead of the junky carbs that got you into trouble with your weight in the first place.
Short-term low net carbohydrate diets have their place when you’re starting out in the reboot part of this program, which cuts out highly glycemic and inflammatory carbs resulting in the reduction of inflammation, promotes weight loss, and generally improving your health.
However, maintaining these programs doesn’t usually work. They have a high “recidivism rate,” which just means people tend to fall off the wagon and regain everything they’ve lost—and then some.
One of the reasons these diets may not work in the long run is that they tend to kill off certain species of friendly bacteria in your gut that regulate appetite. For example, recent studies have shown that a gluten-free diet can cause a reduction in key species of healthy beneficial microbes such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Long-term energy restricted diets, which form the foundation for the vast majority of weight-reduction programs, are also associated with a decrease in Bifidobacteria. Why is this important?
Bifidobacteria is a bug that appears to support a lean metabolism. Infants and children who maintain a normal weight have been reported to have higher stool Bifidobacteria counts than those who become obese. Studies have linked low levels of Bifidobacteria to obesity in adults.
This is one reason we will gradually and systematically add a few fiber-rich prebiotic carbs back to your diet in this phase.
I’m also going to ask you to increase your intake of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, miso, and more. These foods will help seed your gut with good bugs that will rebalance your gut microbiome. Then we’ll feed these good bugs with prebiotics—a special class of fiber-rich, very filling carbohydrates such as oat bran, artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, and others that the good bugs in your gut love to feast on.
Taking these steps will not only set the stage for a rebalanced gut microbiome—one that will help you kick your metabolism into high gear—but will also keep you feeling full longer and will help avoid the kinds of hormonal and metabolic adaptations that can lead to trouble.
As long as you’re on phase 2 of this program, you can expect a sustained weight loss of about 5 to 10 pounds per month (depending upon your body weight) until you reach your goal weight. You will see an ongoing reduction of inflammation, and continued rebalancing of your blood sugar.
Phase 3 Renew: Keeping You and Your Friendly Flora Healthy and Happy for Life
Once you achieve your goal weight, you’ll feel renewed, your gut microbiome will be rebalanced, and you’ll have set the stage for long-term health and optimal weight.
When you get to this point, you’ll have the metabolic flexibility to integrate more foods into your diet and even eat off the plan once in a while. Remember, the dose makes the poison. As long as your gut microbiome is healthy, your metabolism is balanced, and you focus on real foods, small amounts of anything—even a little pasta or dessert from time to time—aren’t going to kill you.
You’ll find that some foods have a larger impact on your weight and health than others. Everybody is different, every metabolism is different, and every gut microbiome is different. The flora in your gut are as specific to you as your fingerprint. No one else has quite the same mix of bugs in their gut as you do. Little wonder that we all respond to dietary and lifestyle influences so differently.
That’s why I designed this phase to provide you the flexibility to create your own ideal, personalized eating plan for life. I’ll teach you how to identify foods that support you and your gut microbiota, and eliminate foods that don’t. This will give you the secret key to unlock the door of lifelong health and optimal weight.
I created this part of the program with real people in mind, people who live busy, hectic lives—just like you do. Unless you have very specific health problems, you don’t have to stick with a severely regimented eating program for the rest of your life to maintain healthy weight.
Ready to join the Gut Balance Revolution? Check out my new book now.