Leaky Gut and Weight Gain

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

leaky gut weight gain

I remember a period when I had been working hard over an entire year trying to lose weight. Exercising four to five times a week and following a whole-foods diet, but still can’t seem to shake those extra pounds.

No matter what I tried, no matter how much I exercised or how strictly I avoided carbohydrates, my body just wasn’t responding.

Then I suspected a leaky gut-weight gain happening.

If you’re obese or even just overweight, you’ve probably tried and failed at many diets. All that effort to lose weight, only to return to your previous condition. The reason could be something called a “leaky gut”.

This condition allows partially digested food particles to seep into your bloodstream, causing what’s known as ‘leaky gut syndrome, which is one of the many factors that make it difficult for a person to lose weight.

How Does a Leaky Gut Develop?

A leaky gut is a condition that occurs when the lining of your small intestine becomes damaged, allowing food particles to pass through into the bloodstream. This can cause inflammation, which can lead to symptoms like bloating, fatigue, and food sensitivities.

There are many causes of leaky gut: chronic stress, eating too much sugar and refined carbs, infections like parasites or candida overgrowth, inflammatory foods like dairy and gluten, and more.

A person can develop a leaky gut in one of two ways:

  • They were born with it—it’s genetic. This happens when your parents passed on defective genes that made them susceptible to developing leaky guts later in life.
  • They acquired it later in life due to lifestyle choices (like eating too much sugar) or because they were infected with a parasite or virus that damaged their intestinal lining.

What are the signs that you have a leaky gut? Here are some common leaky gut symptoms to look out for:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog and headaches
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Skin issues like acne or eczema
  • Food sensitivities (especially to gluten) or food allergies

Weight Gain and Leaky Gut

Leaky gut and weight gain are often associated because it’s believed that the toxins from these particles of food can be stored in fat cells (primarily in the hips and thighs). This is called lipotoxicity.

measuring hip with tape measure

These fat cells are thought to cause inflammation around them which leads to insulin resistance in the body. When this happens, you might find yourself craving sugars or carbs while simultaneously struggling with low energy levels and weight gain.

So does a leaky gut cause weight gain? The jury’s still out on this one—most studies on leaky gut focus on its effects on other conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

However, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above in conjunction with weight gain or difficulty losing weight, then it’s worth looking into whether or not a leaky gut might be playing a role.

How Can Leaky Gut-related Weight Issues Be Resolved?

Can a leaky gut cause weight loss? It’s quite the opposite. There’s a possible connection between a leaky gut and weight loss resistance.

In case you’ve been struggling to lose weight, or if you feel like your body is holding onto every little bit of fat, it’s possible that your gut is compromised and that’s why you’re struggling. 

A leaky gut can cause inflammation and other problems in the intestines, which can manifest in a number of different ways—including weight gain.

Have you experienced sluggishness, bloating, and even weight gain after eating foods high in sugar or processed carbs? These symptoms are often accompanied by chronic fatigue and irritability. When we test for the leaky gut syndrome, we often find that it’s at least partially responsible for these issues.

Here are some things that you can do to address these issues:

Diet

Consume Fiber-rich Foods

One way to increase your daily intake of fiber is to add more vegetables to your diet. Not only do vegetables contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health, but they also contain insoluble fiber (a type of dietary fiber).

vegetable in a table

Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation by keeping things moving through your digestive system without causing bloating.

It also promotes regular bowel movements which can help keep your weight down because feeling bloated makes people feel less satisfied after eating a meal or snack. Try using aloe vera for gut health and see if it helps improve any symptoms you might have.

Get Rid of Inflammatory Fats

Inflammatory fats can cause inflammation in the gut lining and contribute to leaky-gut-related health problems like weight gain or arthritis. These include processed oils, trans fats, and hydrogenated fats.

Include Fermented Foods

These are foods that have been allowed to ferment via the process of lacto-fermentation. The fermentation process changes the composition of these foods and produces beneficial bacteria, which help to support the body’s immune system and digestive systems.

These bacteria also produce enzymes that help break down food in the stomach, which prevents gas and bloating, as well as aiding in digestion. Considering taking supplements? Check out this post on prebiotics for leaky gut.

Consume Whole, Unprocessed, and Unrefined Foods

This means cutting out processed foods like soda, chips, and snacks. It also means skipping those convenience foods like frozen dinners and canned soups.

Instead of eating packaged goods with long lists of ingredients, choose fresh fruits and vegetables with shorter ingredient lists. In addition to being less processed than many other options on the grocery store shelves, these foods contain fiber which helps to keep your digestive system running smoothly.

Fasting

One good way to reset your gut is to do some fasting, which I have laid out in this article on fasting for gut repair.

woman doing exercise

Exercise

Exercise helps your body to heal and repair itself, which is exactly what it needs to do when you have a leaky gut. The more you move your body, the better it gets at getting rid of toxins and other harmful substances.

In addition to helping your body get rid of toxins, exercise also helps you to build muscle mass. This means that you’re burning more calories than before, which will help you lose weight over time.

Reduce Your Stress

Stress increases cortisol levels in the body, which causes inflammation and can make it more difficult for you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Focus on finding ways to manage your stress through exercise and relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga.

Take Supplements

Probiotics and prebiotics are just two of the most effective supplements for improving your digestion and helping you achieve a healthy weight.

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that help promote good bacteria growth in the gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that promote health by improving the balance of microorganisms in the digestive tract.

Both prebiotics and probiotics are excellent for reducing inflammation and encouraging increased nutrient absorption from foods you eat.

You can find both of these in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, or kimchi. Taking a probiotic supplement, such as Optima, is also an option if you don’t eat enough fermented foods.

Weighing In: Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Hard To Lose Weight With a Leaky Gut?

If you’ve ever struggled with weight, you know that it can be incredibly frustrating and discouraging. And if you have a leaky gut, the frustration can feel even worse.

measuring weight

Gut health and weight loss have always had this relationship. When your digestive system is compromised, such as when you have a leaky gut, your body can’t process food as well, which makes losing weight even more difficult.

Can Gut Issues Cause Weight Gain?

The short answer is yes, they can. One of the main reasons is that food gets stuck in your gut and you don’t absorb all of the nutrients you need. This will leave you feeling hungry, even though you may not actually be hungry for food.

Another reason is that some foods can cause inflammation in your gut, which can also make it difficult for nutrients to be absorbed properly.

Can Leaky Gut Cause Fluid Retention?

If the lining of your gut becomes damaged, it can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat as well as it should. Instead, they go into your bloodstream instead of being absorbed by your body.

The same thing happens with fluids—they’re supposed to be absorbed by your gut to keep it hydrated and healthy but instead end up leaking out into your bloodstream as well.

That means that if you have the leaky gut disorder (LGS), you’re probably retaining more water than normal—which could make you look bloated or swollen in some places, like around your ankles and wrists.

Conclusion

Every single body and situation is different, but there are a few things that we can consider with a high degree of certainty. One of them is this: if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s important that you pay attention to your gut health.

Your gut is the pathway for everything that passes into your body, which means it has a substantial influence over how many calories you take in (and whether or not those calories are used efficiently). The leaky gut syndrome can make a difference between weight loss success and failure.

Interested in other articles about leaky gut? Check out this post on colostrum for leaky gut if you think you or someone you know might benefit from it. See you in my next posts, SUPERHUMNs!

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