The Paleo Diet's Surprising "Secret Weapon" for Weight Loss

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The Modified Paleo Diet is one of the best diets for weight loss in my book. There’s no question that eating less sugar, fewer processed foods, and more whole foods is the secret for taking off the pounds.

But there’s also another “secret weapon” in the Paleo diet that boosts weight loss, dramatically—the high fiber content! When you follow a Paleo diet, your fiber intake increases substantially due to the increase of fruits and vegetables, and reduction in processed foods. That fiber helps you feel full longer. But even more importantly…

Fiber Increases the “Slimming” Bacteria in Your Gut

Research has shown that there are two main types of bacteria in the gut that influence weight: firmicutes and bacteroidetes. Studies have shown that people who are obese tend to have more firmicutes, while people who are maintaining a healthy weight have more bacteroidetes.

Firmicutes (the “fat forming bugs”) extract short chain fatty acids from the fiber you eat, and absorb more fat from foods, leading to a gain in caloric energy. Does that mean you should avoid fiber? No, and in fact you should consume more of it!

The reason is that when you eat fiber in combination with a low-carb, lower fat, high-fiber diet, the fiber promotes the growth of bacteroidetes—the “slimming bacteria.” Bacteroidetes promote the breakdown of bulky plant starches and fiber into usable energy sources. So, you’re burning more of the food you eat for energy instead of storing it as fat.

In fact, studies have shown that when scientists transplant microbes from obese mice and put them into germ-free lean mice, the lean mice gain fat mass. This increase in fat mass is thought to occur because of the bacteria’s ability to absorb more calories from food, a mechanism known to occur with firmicutes.

How to Boost Bacteroidetes

Here’s the good news. If you have a high number of fat-forming firmicutes in your intestines, with a few small changes you can tip the scales so you have more slimming bacteroidetes.

  • Eat a Modified Paleo Diet: You especially want to choose high fiber fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, artichokes, Brussel sprouts, beans, asparagus, dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, apples, and pears.
  • Reduce, Or Better Yet Eliminate, Sugar: Steer clear of the obvious sources of sugar, such as candy, pastries, and ice cream. Plus, look for hidden sugars in the packaged foods you eat—including salad dressings, crackers, barbecue sauces, and more.
  • Eat Healthy Fats: Eating healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, ghee, avocado, and omega-3s promotes the growth of “slimming” bacteroidetes. You also want to avoid unhealthy trans fats.
  • Add Fermented Foods to Your Diet: Probiotic-rich fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir can help to strengthen the bacteroidetes in your gut.
Dr. Drew Sinatra

Meet Dr. Drew Sinatra

Dr. Drew Sinatra is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and self-described “health detective” with a passion for promoting natural healing, wellness, and improving quality of life by addressing the root cause of illness in patients of all ages. His vibrant practice focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and finding missed connections between symptoms and health issues that are often overlooked by conventional medicine.

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