Are you gaining weight regardless of how often you train and how little you eat? Are you a Crossfit athlete or MMA athlete who trains multiple times per day yet can’t recover and just generally feel run down?
Maybe you’re training for a figure, fitness, bikini or bodybuilding show and are struggling to drop body fat. Is it just about your training and calories or do you have leaky gut or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) that is wrecking your hormones and causing you to always feel bloated, gassy and constipated?
Studies show a link between SIBO ,body fat gain, metabolism and depression as a result of the increased cholesterol and blood sugar levels caused by the bacteria. So if you are trying to dominate at Crossfit regionals, wouldn't it be better for you to eat more so you can recover instead of counting every gram of carbs?
When you want to drop body fat to get ready for a figure or bikini contest, do you really want to be bloated while you do it?
Does your significant other really like it when you are gassy every single night in bed?
If any one of these scenarios describes you, it might be time to look into if you actually have SIBO.
Natural SIBO Treatment: Diet & Supplements For SIBO
The symptoms of SIBO are plentiful including
Gas (particularly at nighttime)
Bloating & Constipation
Diarrhea (especially almost immediately after a meal)
Pain or abdominal cramping
Gas that smells like rotten eggs.
High food sensitives
Fat malabsorption as seen in your stool
Frequent fatigue, rashes, headaches and generally not feeling well
While SIBO can only truly be identified by a breath test, there are clues that can be found in other testing.
Do you have low b12 or iron?
Is your selenium low?
Have you been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome?
Another interesting correlation I’ve found is if you’ve been diagnosed with any type of food sensitivity. Generally speaking if you are an athlete and training often and have SIBO you will have leaky gut which creates food sensitivities.
Essentially with any gut condition, you will also have intestinal permeability "leaky gut" that allows that bacteria to grow in the first place.
Sleep quality is another big factor. I find individuals with disrupted gut bacteria, specifically SIBO, have a hard time GETTING to and STAYING asleep at night. On top of having high cholesterol levels, you may also have been diagnosed with hypothyroid or thyroid problems. Hashimoto's disease is often linked to SIBO and leaky gut as well.
While not scientific, if your whole system just seems sluggish or slow yet you are still getting up, doing Crossfit, doing jus jitsu or going to the gym and getting bigger arms all while not feeling well, you have something going on in your gut that needs to be addresses.
How To Lose Weight, Treat SIBO and Perform Better
A big part of any type of leaky gut protocol is to go on a lower carbohydrate diet. Since bad gut bacteria feeds off of starches and glucose, a low carbohydrate diet is the most efficient way to manage SIBO or any other gut issue. A low carb diet manages the symptoms however, it doesn’t solve the problem. Like any diet or scenario, it comes a point when your weight loss stop.
Especially as an athlete, you’re used to training more and doing less but you also need to fuel your training. Try doing high level crossfit or a high rep leg workout without pre workout carbohydrates. It’s important to understand that while you should use a low carb diet for SIBO, you don’t want to go zero carb and you want to make sure you consume at least 30% of your daily carbohydrate intake pre workout.
As you begin to treat your leaky gut and SIBO you’ll start to see weight loss, specifically low ab and thigh fat move as these areas are very sensitive to cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which leads to body fat gain and if our intestinal tract is inflamed, our cortisol pattern will be off. You’ll also find your cholesterol clears up and over the long term, your thyroid health will improve.
Our gut is truly the center of our health, while following a low carb diet is a start, we must also remove offending foods. The following foods cause an immune response, our body over activates our immune system. This causes the above mentioned problems with our hormones.
When this occurs over the long term, it should be no surprise that our cholesterol levels creep up, our thyroid shuts down and we generally don't feel healthy.
By removing gluten, corn, soy, diary, wheat and artificial sweeteners we lower our immune response and further contribute to more positive bacterial environment in our gut.
What does the bacteria in your gut do…
Impacts the amount of calories that we eat, they also impact how we use those calories.
Communicates with our brain to tell us what types of food to eat. We all know that when we get stressed we crave sugar.
Increases or decreases specific brain neurotranmistters. Is it any wonder that people who gain weight also feel bad and are more likely to be depressed?
Control how our genes are actually expressed and that literally controls everything from of risk of heart disease to how muscular we look to how old we look.
Crossfit, Bodybuilding & Gut Health
Where I tend to differ from a lot of the other information online about naturally treating SIBO is that I do it from a performance point of view. While I agree that our health should be our primary focus, what if you want to train hard, compete in Crossfit or do a contest? What if?
There's a way to do both
Natural Supplements for Treating SIBO
Traditionally the antibiotics Rifaximin and Neomycin have been used to treat the methane version of SIBO yet there are certain antimicrobials that can be just as effective in treating SIBO in the long run which will discuss below but know that there are natural alternatives.
Should you use probiotics for SIBO?
The answer is “sometimes”. I found it depends on the condition of the overall gut. Some times lactobacillus strains can make the situation worse. In this case I prefer saccharomyces boulardii which is a strand of yeast that doesn’t colonize in our gut so it clean out bad yeast or parasites in our gut. There are also soil based probiotics which are a completely different strand of probiotics that may have some benefit as well.
Digestive Enzymes, Betaine HCL and Ox Bile
Physique Formula performance enzymes are the second supplement that I recommend because they provide betaine hydrochloric, pancreatic enzymes and ox bile for digestive support. If there is low levels of stomach acid then bacteria can thrive and we don’t want that. Stomach acid acts to "wash" your gut floor clean of bacteria but a stressful lifestyle can decrease the levels of stomach acid.
After a two to three weeks of bacteria support and digestive enzymes I then will recommend three products from Biotics Research.
Dysbiocide, FC-Cidal and ADP. The first two a multi blends of herbs and herbal extracts that have been shown to restore normal gut health and actually treat SIBO better than the prescription drug Rifaximin. ADP is a highly concentrated oil of oregano.
There is no time table for how long it will take to treat your SIBO or any other gut bacteria. People I work with report significantly less symptoms and improved body fat loss within a month of this protocol but they must be a on a low carb ( carbs around your training times) and gluten, diary, corn and soy free.
It is not uncommon for me to have my clients on this cycle for two months. If their symptoms don’t continue to improve and they still experience some symptoms, I then add Interfase Plus, which is a biofilm disrupting agent and Allicin, a garlic supplement.
Biofilms develop around bacteria and render all of the herbal treatments rather ineffective. But often times, possible due to motility issues, biofilms never develop in SIBO so I don’t rush to introduce Interfase Plus.
For the hard training crossfit, mma or figure, fitness, bikini athlete I often recommend they follow my leaky gut for athlete protocol in addition to my SIBO protocol.
Natural SIBO Treatment: Diet & Supplements For SIBO
If you are noticing that your digestion is off and you are experiencing bloating, constipation, GERD or any of the above mentioned symptoms then begin to follow this protocol to eliminate potential gut harming issues.
1) Remove gluten, corn, soy, diary, wheat and artificial sweeteners but do NOT go on a low carb diet right now. The goal is to remove the offending foods
2) Begin by adding in Physique Formula Performance Enzymes
3) After one week, do you notice improvements? Add in a lacto based probiotic, does it make you feel better or worse? If worse then add in saccharomyces boulardii
4) After two weeks, do you notice a performance boost in the gym? How are your energy levels? Now I don't want you to count calories but I do want you to lower your carbohydrates, which still come from none gluten or corn sources.
5) It has now been a month. Are your outward symptoms improving? If things aren't moving as fast as you'd like or not moving as well, it may be time to add in Dysbiocide, FC-Cidal and ADP from Biotics Research.
6) This is a steady approach that has played out for three months. If your symptoms still are't slowly improving or getting worse then it's time to find a good functional medicine practitioner.