Control Your Cravings with Microbes

Forget eCigarettes and Hypnosis  
Control Your Cravings with Microbes

Last week, after I finished a workout that included some two-minute sprints and heavy kettle bell swings, I laid on the turf face-up, gasping for air, drifting in and out of consciousness, and waiting to recover so I could stand up.  Tough workout!  It usually means I’ll have an insatiable appetite later that night.  In fact, for the rest of the day, all I could think about was food.  In particular I had a craving for spaghetti and meatballs.  Of course in my house that means, zucchini noodles and turkey meatballs.  Either way, I couldn’t wait to get home and dig into bowl after bowl of nourishment. 
As a matter of fact I’ve heard several of you share your stories of 2am feedings after a tough workout.  You’ve told me about your chocolate and sunflower butter, Greek yogurt, and late-night candy bar fixes. It’s not uncommon for us to have these cravings after a tough workout, and sometimes the cravings can continue well past the workout -- even up to 48 hours.  That’s actually the sign that the workout was effective and that you pushed yourself to a place where you continue to burn calories even after the workout is over.  (See my post on EPOC).
All this talk about cravings got me thinking about whywe crave what we crave when we crave it.  It turns out that our cravings are specific to our gut biom and can play a rather large role in weight-gain and weight-loss. Imagine craving carrots and almonds as opposed to Kit Kats and Skittles.  The culture in your gut decides what your brain craves.  In some cases your gut biom is genetic, but it can be changed.
I found an article by one of my favorite fitness and nutrition gurus that does a great job explaining how the different microbes in your gut can affect cravings.  Do you crave chocolate or carrots?  Well, you have the ability to change what you crave by changing the microbes in your gut. Check it out HERE.

A useful tip for those of you who crave more carbs and sweets, which is what typically leads to weight-gain, is to take the following simple steps to diversify the biom in your gut in order to change your cravings:

  • Take a good prebiotic.  A prebiotic helps stimulate and grow good gut microbiota that already exist in the gut.  I use this one from Mt. Capra

  • Take a good probiotic.  A probiotic helps introduce new strains of good gut microbiota that are not yet in your gut. I use one by Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics

  • Eat more fermented foods.  Fermented foods have strains of good bacteria that help build a diverse gut flora.  The list goes on and on, but some of my favorites include: Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, and Kombucha (just watch for sugar content on this one).

Before you go to Whole Foods and buy all the sauerkraut, recognize that you still have to apply some discipline and change your own habits.  Don't give in to all your cravings!  But try eating microbes and see what happens.