Extreme Exercise Can Wreck the Guts and make you fat

What is the Gut Microbiome?

Your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing. 

These bacteria live in your digestive system and they play a key role in digesting food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesising nutrients too. 

Gut bugs are involved in many other important processes that extend beyond your gut, including your metabolism, body weight, and immune regulation, as well as your brain functions and mood

Extreme Exercise Can Wreck the Gut Microbiome

Just like so many things in life, you can have too much of a good thing. In the case of high intensity exercise (HIIT), regular overexertion appears to hurt the health of the gut microbiome – so, it’s all about finding balance. 

Extreme physical exercise can cause dysbiosis – an imbalance of the gut microbiome – which is a major underlying cause of many diseases. This means in some cases, over exercising and under recovering could cause you more harm than good.


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Some of the Ways the Gut Microbiome Impacts Performance

Reducing Inflammation

The gut microbiome plays a significant role in inflammation – either increasing or decreasing levels. Inflammation interferes with performance, slows recovery, and is the root cause of many chronic diseases. Gut microbiome imbalance, or dysbiosis, is associated with inflammatory conditions – so it’s important we maintain a healthy microbiome to help reduce bodywide inflammation

Boosting Energy Levels

When your gut microbiome is happy and healthy it helps boost energy levels, which can translate into better performance

 Improving Mental Strength

You might be surprised to hear this, but your gut microbes talk to your brain along the vagus nerve. They have a huge role in the state of your mental health and when they are imbalanced, they can contribute to mental illness. Dysbiosis (gut microbiome imbalance) has even been linked to anxiety and depression

On the flip side, a healthy gut microbiome composition can contribute to mental strength. The composition of the gut microbiome significantly affects:3

  • Mood

  • Pain tolerance

  • Cognitive performance

  • Behavior

  • Mental clarity

  • Attitude

  • Brain function


Elevating Hydration Status

Elevating hydration status sounds super official doesn’t it? It’s just a fancy way of saying that the gut microbiome has been linked to proper hydration regulation during exercise. Meaning, your body is using water more efficiently. Also, the integrity of the gut lining is a key factor in proper hydration, which a healthy gut microbiome also helps maintain

Improving Sleep

Gut microbiome imbalance, or dysbiosis, is associated with poor sleep quality and lowered cognitive flexibility. This is because the gut microbiome controls levels of various hormones such as cortisol, serotonin, and GABA – all of which affect sleep quality