Did you know that stubborn belly fat puts you at risk for developing serious diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more? The good news: you can get rid of belly fat, once and for all — and it doesn’t involve sit ups.
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Feel like no matter what you do to lose weight you can’t get rid of belly fat?
Though exercise is great for your overall health, working out doesn’t always result in losing weight, especially that stubborn belly fat.
The real reason you can't get rid of belly fat? You might be malnourished, which is disrupting the good bacteria in your gut.
Wait, malnourished?! Yes.
When we hear the word “malnourished” we usually think of being dangerously thin. And sure, this is one symptom of malnourishment — but excess fat (even obesity) is another sign.
Being malnourished doesn’t mean just not getting enough food (though that will certainly lead to malnourishment). Really, being malnourished means not getting enough nutrients.
So if you’re eating the Standard American Diet, which is high in saturated fat and calories but low in dietary fiber and nutrients, chances are you’re not getting enough of the “good stuff.”
(We’ll get to what the “good stuff” means in a minute here…)
Bacteria isn’t always a bad thing. Actually, your gut needs a healthy balance of good bacteria to thrive. And you want your gut microbiome to thrive; a healthy gut leads to a immune system and reduces our risk for developing certain diseases (cardiovascular disease, hypertension, IBS, even colon cancer).
A good indicator your gut bacteria is out of whack? Stubborn belly fat. Our microbiome has a strong influence on our fat buildup, particularly fat around the waist.
A diet that’s high in animal fat, sugar, and salt, yet low in fiber, has been shown to decrease the amount of good bacteria in your diet and even feed the bad bacteria. In other words, your Standard American Diet is throwing everything out of balance and hurting your gut health.
The good news? Research shows you can change your gut biome with diet — and finally lose that stubborn belly fat.
The answer is surprisingly simple: Boost the good bacteria by eating more whole plant-based foods and you'll restore balance and lose belly fat.
Plant-based foods contain fiber, which is essential for your gut health and weight loss.
To put it simply: fiber (found only in plants, by the way) feeds the good bacteria in our gut and helps keep the bad stuff at bay.
When choosing plant-based foods for your gut health, a wide variety is always best to get all the nutrients you need! Eat the rainbow.
You've probably heard that eating probiotics (fermented foods that contain live cultures of the "good bacteria") can help your gut health. This isn't wrong! But probiotics without prebiotics won't do you much good. Prebiotics are fiber-containing plant-based foods we eat that fuel the growth of the healthy bacteria in the gut. Because we can't fully digest the fiber in prebiotics, it ferments in the gut and feeds the good bacteria.
Here is a list of our favorite plant-based probiotics.
And here is a list of our favorite plant-based prebiotics.
Studies show by transitioning your diet, the change to your biome can happen quickly. Just one month of eating more plants can result in an increase of good bacteria and a decrease in the bad bacteria.
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By Ali Brown
Ali is a nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.