Pimp my gut flora
February 11, 2020 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Question about the relationship of farting and weight loss. This is a gut flora issue, yes?

OK, so I have noticed a connection between farting and (lack of) weight loss and I want to see if anyone has anything (science, anecdotes, I'll take it all) to confirm what I'm observing and hopefully troubleshoot it.

About once a year, usually in the winter/spring, I do a push to eat healthy with the goal of losing weight. I do an 8/16 intermittent fast, and during the 8 hours I eat I focus on lean protein, vegetables, legumes... whole foods in general. And sometimes I have great success with this and easily lose 10-15 pounds.... and sometimes I don't. Right now I'm having the experience of not losing even an ounce, even though I'm doing the same things, eating whole foods, minimizing processed foods. The only correlation I have noticed is... when I'm not losing weight, I have gas. Like, many farts per hour. Even during the fasting part of my day. No farts, the weight comes off easily. If I'm farting I know that I will not see the needle budge when I step on the scale. Even though I'm eating basically the same stuff.

So... this is a gut flora issue, right? How do I fix it? I do eat yogurt a few times a week, and sometimes drink kombucha but this doesn't really seem to help. Do I cut out all sugar? (Currently just cutting out refined sugar but allowing natural sugar like fruit.)

Anyone have a similar experience and care to share what worked? Is there any science here I can look at? (Because HOLY HELL googling gut flora or flatulence and weight loss brings up a ton of junk websites.)

Anonymous because I really don't want a question about farts to be associated with my name forever.
posted by anonymous to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A switch to stevia or aspartame (might not help this)?
posted by glibhamdreck at 6:55 AM on February 11

There’s been some recent studies about coffee affecting gut flora… Hot brewed… Maybe if you drink it black?
posted by tilde at 7:12 AM on February 11

Do you keep a food/symptom journal? I would recommend starting there to get actual data about what you're eating and how it affects you.
posted by Automocar at 7:16 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]

how are your quantities? For me, lots of food = gas; minimal food = less or no gas. Also correlates obviously w weight loss.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:30 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I would guess either food sensitivity or not eating filling foods thus overeating. Your symptoms are MUCH more likely to do with what you're eating and how that's affecting your gut than a baseline gut flora issue, unless you're taking antibiotics only before the gassy periods.

I second the suggestion to start a food log, as you can start getting a better idea of what foods make you feel good (i.e., full/satiated without becoming gassy) and which are causing your symptoms. Hopefully you will be able to start making correlations -- either a specific food type is causing gut inflammation, or you find you're getting gassy from dairy-based sauces etc. -- or you may find the gassy days you are accidentally eating too many calories, maybe not eating foods that fill you up or eating a ton of nuts or something.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:45 AM on February 11

practically, I would recommend you try cutting out legumes and see if it helps as they are both a weight-loss-staller and a fart creator for some people!

If you really think it's a gut flora issue you could try doing a diet focused on that for awhile as well as taking probiotics, the classic is the candida diet - I think there's like a packaged version by Wild Rose, or I've used Renew Life probiotics in the past in concordance with the diet. The candida diet, if you do it properly though, is long (my naturopath always said the minimum was 6 weeks) and difficult - no sugar of any kind including most fruits, no caffeine, no starches, alcohol, and very few raw foods to minimize the introduction of wild yeasts into your system.

anyways it's a slog but it usually does clear up any dysfunctional gut symptoms you've been having, and it's cool that allopathic medicine has finally started to agree that your gut flora is important!
posted by euphoria066 at 8:08 AM on February 11

I am someone who is prone to a lot of gas, and I have been tracking my weight loss. I definitely noticed more weight loss and less farting when I started taking "Digestion probiotics". I think they were mostly Lactobacillus acidophilus and related ones, just the normal mix you find at a supermarket pharmacy. Unless you're eating very specific yogurt you're probably not getting many probiotics so a supplement may do more.

I've researched this and like people say there is absolutely no consensus on this scientifically, probably because everyone's flora and digestion is so unique. But I've definitely seen a lot of suggestive research indicating probiotics can help here, although everyone disagrees on WHICH probiotic. I would suggest buying one bottle of a probiotic and doing an experiment with taking that every day. If it helps, keep taking it. If it doesn't, try a different mix or try other things
posted by JZig at 8:56 AM on February 11

Sounds like a food sensitivity issue. Have you tried eliminating stuff like gluten, corn, or soy for a period of about a month each?
posted by bile and syntax at 11:05 AM on February 11

Try taking Beano with your vegetables and legumes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:46 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Eating extra veg and legumes, you should be popping a lot. If you aren't, that will generate lots of gas. Before starting the first, make sure you're not constipated. Kimchi and/or fresh sauerkraut will resolve constipation and promote gut health.
posted by theora55 at 6:41 AM on February 12

OMG this is so me! Lost 40 pounds in 6 months, now my weight loss is stalled. I'm eating the same as I did when I was losing weight, keeping my calories under 1300 per day on most days. But yes, the weight loss has stalled, and yes bad constipation, and yes, farting. So. Much. Farting. The bulk of my diet has been veggies. Some fat and protein, but not a whole lot. And basically no carbs.

Eagerly awaiting peoples' advice. What does kimchi and sauerkraut do for your body?
posted by Sloop John B at 6:36 AM on February 14

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