Hit a diet plateau? Try 7 steps to jumpstart your weight loss for long-term results
Posted October 14
Are you on a diet once again trying to get rid of the extra pounds that keep hanging around your midsection? Or like so many, have you been losing weight successfully following one of the popular weight-loss programs but seem to have a hit a plateau you can’t escape from?
According to microbiologists studying how the gut affects a person’s weight, the long-time weight loss mantra — “calories in/calories out” — might not be what’s holding you back at all.
“Skinny people have a gut full of good bacteria and overweight people have a gut full of bad bacteria,” said Kiran Krishnan, a microbiologist researching probiotics for the past 16 years. “Reduce the bad bacteria, and you’ll lose fat and reduce your weight overall – and keep it off. It’s as simple as that.”
So, sounds simple, but how easy it to fix your gut?
“Easier than you think,” Krishnan said, “if you stick to the diet that’s been working for you and incorporate a few additional steps without setting unachievable goals that can make you easily discouraged and ready to give up.”
What does he suggest?
- Start taking the right probiotic: “This is likely the most important step of all,” Krishnan says. There are hundreds of probiotics on the market, so in looking for the right one, choose one that is proven to survive through the stomach to actually do its job. Make sure the probiotic is what it says it is, meaning its “DNA verified.” Also, “You might think that the more CFUs, the better, but if they’re the wrong strain of probiotic, it won’t matter how many billions of CFUs there are,” he said. To optimize weight loss, Kiran suggests looking for probiotics with bacillus strains, the only probiotic known to work with fiber to create short-chain fatty acids (don't let the name scare you) that supercharge the body’s metabolism. It’s also multifunctional, with studies showing it can also modulate the immune system, help you digest food, reduce gas and bloating, improve stomach acidity and even help manage your mood.
- Eat more fiber: We’ve all been told to eat more fiber, but did you know it can actually help with your weight loss? The awesome short-chain fatty acids can turn on your fat-burning cells. Your gut can create these from combining two things: the right probiotics (these ones will survive the stomach acid) and fiber. So remember to get an adequate amount of fiber in your diet. Once you’ve begun to fix your gut with bacillus-strain probiotics, Krishan says you can change your metabolism by consuming more fiber so your new (and good) gut bacteria can produce more fat-busting SCFAs.
- Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates: In many cases, diets fail because too many of us are addicted to sugar and refined carbohydrates. Truth be told, it isn’t really you're craving refined carbs. It’s the bad bacteria, which have hijacked your digestive systems, making you crave the food that feeds them. Fortunately, according to registered dietician Aicacia Young, these cravings can be greatly reduced — and weight lost and kept off long term — when you reduce the unfavorable gut bacteria, which is actually what thrives on sugars and refined carbs (such as bread, pasta, etc). “As you do these steps you’ll start to tip the balance of the good and bad bacteria in your gut,” Young wrote in the recently released Silver Fern ELEVATED plan. “After only four weeks your sweet tooth hankerings should start to disappear, and after about nine weeks, you should be sweet tooth free.”
- Eliminate artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners encourage the growth of bad bacteria and inhibit the growth of good bacteria, Krishnan says. In fact, a 2014 study by the University of California, San Francisco, showed they actually make you hungrier than you might already be. They might be calorie-free, but they can also leave you looking for more food.
- Fast intermittently: You might have heard of intermittent fasting, which is actually an eating schedule, not a diet. Some beneficial bacteria only grow and thrive when you’re fasting, Krishan said. The right probiotics also can feed off the mucus membranes in your intestines, and by fasting between 14-18 hours for males and 12-14 for females, “it will reduce the bad bacteria in your digestive system.” This is a great time to give your system a rest (You can drink all the water you want while fasting, though).
- Drink water: Speaking of water, this one might not be a surprise, but it is still extremely important while following the rest of the steps. According to Krishnan, try to consume approximately 100 ounces of water a day.
Charity Lighten, chief nutritionist for healthy foods company Silver Fern Brand, is a certified plant-based nutritionist, wife, mother of 4 and lover of food! Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website, www.avibrantlife.me.