The Gutsy Diet: A Microbiome Cleanse

As I drove to work this morning, I noticed I couldn’t stop thinking about sugar. Donuts. Coffee. Poptarts. Anything to curb this horrible hunger and craving!

This is after one day of trying to avoid it. Yesterday morning I had a plain Icelandic skyr (yogurt) with some honey added. Okay, well at least it wasn’t added sugars, right? For lunch I had a salad with mozzarella, tomatoes, and spinach—talk about the hungriest I’ve ever been. For dinner I went to a nearby Japanese restaurant and had miso ramen and kimchi. Not the healthiest meal (which included a ton of carbs), but still in my book a No-Sugar day. No coke. No coffee. No donuts. And I felt great for sticking to it for 24 hours!

This morning I feel awful and I’ve had nothing to eat because I’m avoiding sugar like the plague. Better to just ignore my normal morning ritual of stopping at the gas station down the road because it is filled with sugary goodness. And caffeine. Like donuts and coffee and sodas and poptarts.

Back before life was hectic, I hiked at least five miles a day and ate and drank whatever I wanted, including at least one soda a day, lots of sweet tea, cookies, brownies, sugar, sugar, sugar, and still maintained a healthy, lean weight. Oh, how times change.

As a writer for a probiotics company and an advocate for the #endobesity movement, I’ve considered my health more every day that I research health conditions affected by the gut and diet. Also, I would really like to live past 60. Cancer (lots of cancer), heart disease, and autoimmune disorders have inundated my family. I don’t want to participate in any of that. I want to spend my old age outdoors, not in a proton therapy center.

It’s time for a major change to my eating habits. I can’t live my life eating ten times more than the recommended daily allowance for sugar.

I should mention that I have been taking Power-17 religiously since I got my hands on it, and will keep taking it daily. Probiotics are not a miracle drug like most people think. Sure, it might help gastrointestinal upset, but if you aren’t eating right in the first place it isn’t going to help you drop those extra 20 pounds. You have to change your lifestyle. Probiotics are simply a supplement to help you maintain that weight loss, add good bacteria to your gut, and reduce inflammation.

So my plan is…

I’m not going to go on one of those liquid “detox” or “cleanse” plans, because first of all, I like food.

Plus, I’m sure my office mate doesn’t want to deal with my hangry outbursts.

There are many controversies over colon cleanses as well, including side effects and the slaying of all my gut bacteria. I would rather not do that, I just want to get rid of the rude bacteria that is making me crave this sugar.

I’m going to go cold turkey on caffeine.

Yikes. I typically drink at least a cup of coffee a day and recently have been back on the soda. I don’t care about the withdrawal symptoms (cue uncontrollable leg shakes and head bursting into flames from the oncoming raging migraine).

An exception to the caffeine…I’m going to drink green tea.

Ok, so I’m going to stay on the one cup of caffeinated green tea because apparently it has wonderful health and weight benefits. Plus, the caffeine is minimal. Hey, no one’s perfect.

Take Vitamin C.

Throughout this process, I’m going to start taking 2.25 g of pure ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which will hopefully help detoxify my system in the first few weeks.

Drink plenty of clean water.

I know I should already be drinking at least ~2 liters of water a day for the health benefits like clearer skin and less headaches. I have my 30 ounce water bottle sitting at my desk, but it usually only gets filled up once a day. More trips to the water cooler!

Eliminate sugar and white flour. I’m cutting carbs down to 50 grams or less.

Eliminating sugar is so hard for me, and a lot of other people, because it’s craved by my bacteria. But, from what I understand, the cravings dissipate quickly once you stop consuming it.

I’m going to include protein for breakfast, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters, plain skyr, or a protein shake.

Combine good protein, good fat, and good carbs at each meal.

  • Good fats are fish, extra virgin olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds and avocados.
  • Good carbs are beans, vegetables, whole grains and fruit.
  • Good proteins are fish, organic eggs, small amounts of lean poultry, nuts, soy, whole grains and legumes.

Eat every three hours. Snack on nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seeds (raw or dry-roasted only). One serving is a handful or ten to twelve nuts.

Cut down on pasta, rice, bread (cereal, too), potatoes.

Going semi-organic.

Although there is currently little evidence that indicates the antibiotics in our food contributes to weight gain, we do know that it is contributing to antibiotic resistance.

*Please note: we do know that antibiotics in general contribute to weight gain, just not the extent of how the levels of antibiotics within our food affect weight.

Keep taking Power-17 daily.

This is where the study I’m planning comes in. I’m going to lose weight and hopefully replenish and change the ratio of my Bacteroidetes relative to my Firmicutes with the help of Power-17.

Exercise

I’m going to be pretty lenient on myself. I have an hour commute to work each way, and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything besides walking my dog, Max, in the mornings and when I get home from work. On days where I don’t feel like going on a long hike, I’m going to extend my walk by an hour with the pup at the park and carry a ten pound backpack.

So now that I have a semi-plan, how am I going to stick to it?

Well, I have two awesome colleagues that have agreed to go on this crazy diet with me. One of them, my office mate, is going to try a clean eating diet, and the other is simply going low carb. We are each keeping a journal and will help each other stay on track and honest.

How will we measure the changes? How long will the diet run?

We are going to weigh in every week to keep a record of how much weight we may be losing and keep a journal on how we’re feeling and what we are eating.

In addition, we are going to take three gut samples weekly from our microbiome to watch the change in our bacteria and see how our diet affects our microbiome. We took three over the weekend to measure our baseline to compare to the end results.

We are going to diet and exercise for at least six weeks. It’s going to be interesting to see how our weight loss and microbiome samples trend. You can follow our weight loss journey here and on our social media with #Gutsydiet… Wish us luck!

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