Throughout history, humans have acquainted bacteria with a bad reputation, leading us to these critters by overcooking everything, relying heavily on antibiotics for infections, and slathering our hands and bodies with antibacterial soaps.
However, not all bacteria pose a threat. While some are the reasons behind infections and deadly diseases, others are relatively harmless and provide valuable support in achieving robust health and longevity.
When building a leaner physique, most people are familiar with the traditional approach of counting calories, assuming that cutting back on food intake can help them lose weight more quickly. However, in the biohacking era, the weight loss approach has evolved beyond simply being in a caloric deficit and spending countless hours on the treadmill.
Instead, people are shifting their attention to other factors influencing weight, such as hormonal changes, stress levels, and gut health. Specifically, many believe that making improvements, optimizing the gut microbiome, and transforming the gut microbiome can yield significant outcomes in weight management and promote faster weight loss.
Everything You Need to Know About Biohacking Weight Loss
Gut Microbiome 101: How Does It Affect and Benefit Humans?
When considering vital organs and systems of the human body, the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, immune system, and nervous system typically come to most people’s minds. After all, they are essential for maintaining bodily functions and protecting the body from illnesses. However, the gut system also ensures the human body’s smooth operation.
When thinking of the gut, people envision a system consisting of gastrointestinal tracts and a set of connecting digestive organs, such as the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver, with the primary purpose being delivering absorbed nutrients to every tissue through the circulatory system after breaking down food into energy. However, most people often fail to recognize that the gut system is the most intricate system within the human body. It is home to roughly trillions of collective microbes. The gut system is a natural bacterial ecosystem where all tiny living organisms coexist, interact, and serve as a powerful barrier to ward off pathogens.
Over the years, scientists and health experts have rolled out a handful of studies emphasizing the role of the gut microbiome in human health and its association with better health outcomes when we take good care of our gut health. The gut microbiome controls digestion, protects the body from pathogenic invasion, stabilizes our mood, communicates with other organs, balances weight, modulates the immune system, etc.
Among various links found between the gut and other vital bodily processes, the gut-brain connection is the topic that has drawn a great deal of attention over the years. For example, notice how you may develop nausea when about to do something important, such as giving a presentation. Conversely, you could experience cramps or changes in bowel movements when under lots of stress.
How Are Gut Microbiome and Weight Connected?
Is there a connection between the gut microbiome and weight? While the intertwined relationship between gut and brain is widely researched, with noticeable results demonstrating that stabilizing the activity of microbes inside the gut can invigorate brain health, scientists are now beginning to dig deeper into the gut-weight concept and the role of the gut microbiome in maintaining a healthy weight.
A twin study has shown that obese individuals often have fewer microbes in their guts than individuals of moderate weight and leaner build. In another study where researchers looked deeper into participants’ gut bacteria composition and the amount of weight lost following a calorie-controlled diet, people with more Prevotella bacteria experienced more manageable weight and fat loss than people with more Bacteroids. It was also discovered that one participant from the Prevotella group had lower insulin levels, one of the major preconditions for a lower risk of obesity.
Following the study outcome, scientists have hypothetically proposed that striking a perfect balance between good and bad bacteria can improve metabolic health as a whole and increase the chance of weight loss.
In the past, most people associated weight loss with calorie restriction and physical activity. While these conventional weight loss practices work for some people, it is not always the case for others, especially if they have a genetically slow metabolism or health conditions that make it harder to lose weight.
In recent years, scientists and researchers have discovered numerous pieces of evidence implying that a healthy gut microbiome can help people shed unwanted pounds. This is supported by many studies that reveal a significantly different composition of gut bacteria in lean and obese individuals.
Biohacking Weight Loss: How Can Prebiotics and Probiotics Help?
You may have heard of probiotics’ impressive benefits in improving gut health. Probiotics are living microorganisms found in fermented foods and dietary supplements that can be consumed orally. After making it down to your colon, these probiotics often join forces with existing friendly microbes to sustain the bacterial balance and strengthen the gut.
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that humans can’t digest. Instead, they function as a source of energy for living gut microbiota. The health benefits of prebiotics include increasing the number of good bacteria, decreasing the number of harmful bacteria, regulating bowel movements, producing neurotransmitters between the brain and the gut to trigger vital processes, aiding your bone to absorb calcium better, enhancing the body’s anti-inflammatory response, etc.
Considering the crucial role of gut microbes in weight management, eating balanced amounts of prebiotics and probiotics in your everyday meals can make a difference in weight loss. In addition to shedding weight, a healthy diet rich in fibers, nutrients, and probiotics combined with a regular exercise routine also assists in positively changing the gut microbiome and enhancing the function of gut microbiota.
Tips for Biohacking Weight Loss
What is biohacking? In recent years, the concept of biohacking the body for optimal health and performance has attracted much attention from health-conscious individuals.
In contrast to traditional health maintenance and medicines, biohackers utilize strategic interventions, such as do-it-yourself biology, nutrigenomics, or grinder, to make steady, minor refinements in their diet or lifestyle to improve their general health, performance, and well-being.
People using biohacking have more control over their health and are unlikely to depend on traditional medicines when treating various health issues. For example, instead of taking melatonin for sufficient and quality sleep, biohackers use white noise to help themselves sleep deeper and better.
Here are some tips for biohacking your way to a healthier weight:
- Use Vinegar: Using vinegar for accelerating weight loss has been around for 200 years. Its high acetic acid content is proven to activate the AMPK enzyme in the body. When activated, the enzyme boosts the production of energy that helps break down fat and increase fat utilization within the body. However, never consume vinegar when your stomach is empty, and only incorporate two tablespoons of vinegar in your everyday meals.
- Practice Intermittent Fasting: Eating during a shorter window and giving your stomach a break for the rest of the day is the most researched and proven method for biohacking weight loss. When fasting for more than 14 hours, the body can foster the brain’s anti-aging, enhance hormone growth, improve insulin sensitivity, accelerate cellular repair, and so on.
Studies have discovered fasting can boost FGF21 hormones, which are crucial for longevity. A few different versions of intermittent fasting include the 16/8 method, the 5:2 diet, and the Eat-Stop-Eat method.
- Adopt Healthy, Diverse Diets: Introducing various food selections into your everyday diet is another excellent way to keep your waistline down, as it includes probiotics and prebiotics, diversifies your gut bacteria, and multiplies the population of good bacteria. Loading flavonoid-rich foods on your plate can help you burn more fat as flavonoids are accounted for boosting metabolism naturally. Another straightforward way to biohack weight loss is to limit your carb consumption from processed foods and focus on sourcing healthy carbs from beans, quinoa, and whole grains instead.
- Stay Hydrated: Water is vital for human health, but it also plays a role in biohacking weight loss. Drink at least two liters of water daily to aid in weight management.
- Exercise Smarter, Not Harder: Another misconception about weight loss is that working out for hours and hours can help you lose weight faster. It is important to clarify that each exercise benefits each bodily function and system differently. For example, cardio(vascular) exercises are most beneficial for the heart. It has minimal impact on your weight. In some cases, over-exercising may have adverse effects on your health. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance training in conjunction with modest amounts of other physical exercises (walking, yoga, pilates) are far more effective in shedding body weight.
- Manage Stress Levels: Besides the increased likelihood of developing chronic diseases and mental health issues, unmanaged stress can affect your weight and gut microbiome. Elevated levels of ghrelin hormones increase your chances of weight gain, while bad bacteria outnumber friendly ones resulting in bowel and gastrointestinal problems. Some approaches to eliminate negative thoughts and manage stress are exercising, practicing mindfulness, deep breathing, grounding, cultivating healthy relationships, and spiritual development.
- Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT): Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) refers to altering the gut microbiome and debilitating gastrointestinal diseases by transferring fecal bacteria and microbes from healthy donors to the colon of recipients. This method is considered beneficial for weight loss as it helps existing good bacteria compete with harmful bacteria and improve metabolism. Four different FMT techniques are enema, colonoscopy, nasogastric tube, and oral capsules.
- Get Quality Sleep: Maintaining quality sleep is crucial for biohacking weight loss and staying in shape. Many health benefits are linked with a good night’s sleep, with weight loss being the most surprising benefit.
Despite promising outcomes in weight loss, it is essential to note that there is no such thing as “weight-loss bacteria” or that increasing diversity of beneficial bacteria can lead to successful weight loss. Instead, biohacking weight loss can be achieved by controlling food consumption, maintaining ideal gut bacteria ratios, and correctly incorporating physical activities. Remember to start small and gradually increase the frequency of different biohacking techniques until finding the ones that work best for you.
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Hjorth, M.F., Blædel, T., Bendtsen, L.Q. et al. (2018). Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio predicts body weight and fat loss success on 24-week diets varying in macronutrient composition and dietary fiber: results from a post-hoc analysis. International Journal of Obesity.
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If you have questions about biohacking weight loss or any health problems discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
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