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Does exercise help you lose weight? Of course it does… right? Well, maybe not. As the research piles up on exercise and its true contributions to weight loss, it turns out that while exercise has astounding benefits for health, it may not actually move us closer toward our weight loss goals – and too much exercise could in fact sabotage our goals altogether. Let’s delve into the research and find out more. Burning more calories than we consume (or the “move more, eat less” philosophy) is the gold standard for weight loss. Yet, studies show that this formula doesn’t always work. Exercise contributes only a small amount to our overall daily calorie expenditure, making it challenging to create a meaningful calorie deficit for weight loss. There are three components that contribute to energy expenditure: 1) Food digestion, 2) Basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the set amount of baseline calories your…

Glenn had been on various antibiotics for cystic acne for seventeen years. His skin would initially respond well, but after a year or two the cystic lesions would return, and his dermatologist would switch him to a different antibiotic. Ten years after he first started taking antibiotics Glenn began to have persistent loose stools and weight loss. He experimented with cutting out dairy and tried to increase his calories, but no matter what he ate, he still had diarrhea and trouble gaining weight. Evaluation of his digestive tract eventually revealed a diagnosis of celiac disease, and he was put on a gluten free diet (GFD), which he adhered to strictly. His doctor reassured Glenn that after a few months on the GFD his diarrhea and weight loss would improve, but two years later nothing had changed. Repeat evaluation showed the signs of celiac disease had completely resolved, and his small…

Overview Intermittent fasting (IF) – typically defined as anywhere from 12 to 18 hours without food in each 24 hour period OR full days of fasting interspersed throughout the week – is a dietary pattern that focuses on when to eat, not what to eat. Research has linked IF to a myriad of health benefits, including weight loss, improved brain function and inflammatory markers, reduced insulin resistance and heart disease risk, cancer prevention, and anti-aging. While this list is impressive, studies on IF are in their early stages and are limited due to the lack of human, randomized controlled studies, small sample sizes, short study periods, and minimal follow-up with subjects. Despite these limitations, IF exemplifies many positives and could be a viable and healthy weight loss option for some individuals. There are three main methods of practicing IF (on non-fasting days/times, there are no restrictions, caloric or otherwise): 1). Time restricted feeding–…

Introduction Fermented foods are projected to be one of the leading weight loss trends throughout 2019, but they’ve actually been around for a long time. The fermentation process is one of the oldest examples of food preservation, and fermented foods have been a foundational staple of the human diet throughout history. Unfortunately our modern ways of eating – processed, high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods – have taken the place of more traditional and healthful ways of eating. Fermented foods are now one of the least consumed foods in the U.S., despite the fact that they are one of the most important for gut health, specifically for your gut microbiome. Studies show that daily and long-term consumption of fermented foods can lead to improved weight loss. What are fermented foods & why are they beneficial for weight loss? The fermentation process transforms the food into a substance that’s…

Weight control could be more genetic than previously thought.New studies confirm a genetic mutation that makes people feel full all the time, which may explain why some people are less interested in food and naturally thin. The first study included half a million participants between the ages of 40 and 69. Through DNA samples, medical records, and years of health tracking, scientists identified a genetic alteration in about 6% of the population that mutes appetite and protects against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The single gene, MC4R, plays a key role in hunger and satiety (the feeling of fullness). During a meal, the gene is turned on to send signals of fullness, and then turns off. The mutation involved in this study occurs when the gene is turned on all the time, therefore the person always feels full. The gene can also play a role in obesity in those who have…

I’m trying to lose weight and I keep stumbling upon the keto diet and other low carb options for weight loss. What’s your opinion on diets that limit or completely eliminate carbohydrates? Would it be ok for me to do a 4-week crash keto diet, then slowly reintroduce carbs? -Keri Dr. Chutkan: Keri, growing a good gut garden (aka, protecting and enhancing your microbiome) is my #1 goal with my patients, so I’m always skeptical when I hear about strict diets that restrict or completely eliminate carbohydrates. Here’s why: carbohydrates, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, gluten-free grains like brown rice, rolled oats, millet, amaranth, and quinoa, are the building blocks for a rich and diverse gut microbiome because they’re high in fiber – and act as food for beneficial gut bacteria. And a rich and diverse microbiome, as you probably know by now, is one of the key foundations for…

When most of us undergo dietary changes for weight loss, it usually involves drastic changes, like cutting carbs, eliminating entire food groups, or adopting a 30-day detox program. But surprisingly, a recent study found that people lose as much weight by making one simple dietary change alone than by following these complicated diets. That dietary change? Eating more fiber! Using a randomized controlled trial including 240 participants with metabolic syndrome, researchers found that eating more fiber alone resulted in equivalent kilograms lost over a year’s time when compared to a more strict diet regimen. If you’re looking to lose weight, try increasing your fiber intake first. And don’t be shy! Populations with some of the most diverse gut microbiota eat as much as 100 grams of fiber daily. A great way to begin is to track your current daily fiber intake, then increase it by 5 to 10 grams each…

Do you struggle to lose weight? Your microbiome could have something to do with it. A recent study implemented a 3-month lifestyle intervention in 26 overweight and obese adults (aged 18 to 65) and compared weight loss success (defined as losing 5% or more of baseline body weight) with microbial composition. Results showed an association between weight loss success and an increased abundance in Phascolarctobacterium, while weight loss failure (unable to lose 5% of body weight in the 3-month period) was associated with an increased abundance of Dialister and a gut microbiome that is genetically efficient in metabolizing carbohydrates. Mayo Clinic Proceedings →Takeaway: Microbial health plays a key role in our ability to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you struggle with weight loss, focusing on balancing your microbiome (or rewilding!) could be an important first step. For a comprehensive plan to optimize microbial health in your everyday life, check out Dr. Robynne Chutkan’s book The…

Bariatric surgery results in long-term microbial depletion. Bariatric surgeries, adjustable gastric banding and Roux-en-Y-gastric bypass may improve gut bacteria richness in some, but microbial abundance remains depleted even up to 5 years after surgery. This study illustrates the need for microbial interventions, such as dietary interventions, prebiotic/probiotic supplementation, and possibly fecal microbiota transplantation before and/or after surgery for severely obese patients. Gut →Takeaway: The study found very low microbial gene richness in 75% of severely obese patients. Low microbial gene richness also affects the general population – 40% of overweight/moderately obese individuals and 23% of the general population have very low microbial gene richness, which is associated with insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, and type 2 diabetes. The number one way to improve microbial richness is to improve the fiber content and plant variety in your diet. Check out Dr. Chutkan’s book The Microbiome Solution for tips on how to grow a good gut garden.

Low fiber diets lead to gut bacteria extinction and have lasting effects on gut microbes in current and future generations. Mice studies show that when switching to a low-fiber diet for just 7 weeks, 60% of gut bacteria species dwindle dramatically and remain low even after reintroducing a high-fiber diet. In addition, as generation after generation eats low-fiber diets, the gut bacteria in each subsequent offspring dwindle more and more, leading to species extinction. In fact, when fourth generation low-fiber mice were fed a high-fiber diet, most of the missing microbes did not return. The Atlantic →Takeaway: “If you pass small stools, you have big hospitals,” Denis Burkitt, an Irish missionary-surgeon during WWII, said as he described the differences between Uganda and America. Small stools are indicative of low fiber diets, and as Burkitt pointed out, increased disease. If you do just one thing for your health, do this: Eat. More. Fiber! Women…