Did you know that you can take butyrate for weight loss? Well, you can! Here Hunter, our resident exercise expert, breaks down why!
Losing weight can be hard.
Like, really hard.
There are times when you do literally everything you possibly can right and nothing changes at all. Your diet is on point, you are exercising regularly, but that little number on the scale simply refuses to budge.
As someone who has had the opportunity to help hundreds of people with their health journey over the years, I can say that this situation isn’t a rarity. In fact, it’s actually all too common.
See, while losing weight is indeed about diet and exercise, I have also come to realize (through a whole lot of trial and error, mind you) that there are certain things that need to be in place before weight loss can happen.
For example, you need to have your stress levels down. You need to give yourself time out of the week to relax and enjoy yourself. You need to sleep well every single night.
And, finally, you need to make sure that your gut health is up to scratch.
Which is right where butyrate enters the discussion.
What is Butyrate?
Butyrate is a type of fat, but not just any type of fat.
Butyrate belongs to a unique group of fats known as short-chain fatty acids (or “SCFAs” for short).
The reason I say that SCFAs are unique is because they are actually made in your gut by your gut microbiota — you know, the trillions upon trillions of bacteria that live throughout your digestive system?
Yeah, those little guys.
Amazingly, these super important bacteria ferment the fiber that you eat, turning it into SCFAs.
Now, the reason that I’m focusing on butyrate specifically in this article (rather than SCFAs in general) is because it is the most effective gut healing SFCA.
Quickly before we dive any deeper into how you can use butyrate for weight loss, though, I wanted to mention the fact that butyrate goes by multiple names. Two of the most common that appear on the older interweb are butyric acid and butanoic acid.
So, if you happen to see an article or supplement talking about things, just remember that they are exactly the same as butyrate.
What Does Butyrate Do in Your Body?
When it comes to how butyrate truly works in your body, you can look at three key mechanisms. Butyrate:
- inhibits specific chemicals known as “histone deacetylases” (HDACs for short)
- increases the activation of “G-Coupled protein receptors” (GPCRs for short)
- improves the health of your gut cells
Now, I apologize in advance. This next little bit will get just a tiny bit science-y. So, feel free to skip to the next section if you’re not fussed in how butyrate causes its effects on a cellular level!
Butyrate as an HDAC inhibitor
One of the main jobs butyrate has in your body is to block the actions of a group of enzymes called “histone deacetylases” (HDACs).
HDACs are a very specific type of enzyme that chemically change the structure of your “histones”. Histones are proteins that physically wrap your DNA up into a tight little package in your cells.
It’s all pretty amazing really!
Butyrate as a GCPR activator
The second big job butyrate has in your body is to activate a group of proteins called “G-coupled protein receptors” (GCPRs).
GCPRs are a type of protein that sit on the walls of your cells. They are activated by all sorts of compounds and, when activated, they tell your cells how to function.
Of course, butyrate obviously doesn’t act on all the GCPRs found in your body. But it does activate some really important ones on some really important cells.
By activating its GCPRs, butyrate can:
- improve your immune system function
- lower inflammation,
- alter the activity of your nervous system to help manage your energy expenditure
Butyrate and Gut Cell Health
While a good amount of butyrate is absorbed into your body (to act on your HDACs and GCPRs), not all of it is. A lot of it stays in your gut. There, it is used for energy by the cells and bacteria in your digestive system.
Well-energized gut cells and gut bacteria have lots of benefits for your gut health. It can:
- reduce inflammation in your gut
- increase the number of healthy gut bacteria
- improve your ability to digest and absorb food
Is There Evidence that Butyrate Can Help You Lose Weight?
So, now for the big one! What about butyrate for weight loss? Can it really help?
Well, so far the research in humans is pretty sparse.
While we know that butyrate supplementation in humans can improve immune system function and metabolic health, all the research looking directly at weight loss has been performed in animals.
However, the results have been very promising.
First, research in mice has shown that butyrate may be able to effectively prevent weight gain. Mice fed a high energy diet supplemented with butyrate gained much less weight than those mice who ate the exact same diet without butyrate.
Even more impressive is the fact that when obese mice were given butyrate supplements, without changing their diet, they lost about 10% of their total fat mass. (Just imagine what would have happened if they were given butyrate along with a healthy diet and solid exercise regime!)
This strongly suggests butyrate can cause weight loss, not just prevent new weight gain!
So, although human research looking into butyrate for weight loss is yet to be published, it’s certainly not far away.
And you can be pretty certain that, once we have the research, it will be darn positive! (Especially when you consider how many people around the globe already swear by it!)
How Does Butyrate Aid Weight Loss?
I have already alluded to some of the ways that butyrate can promote weight loss through the key mechanisms mentioned above. However, I think I need to go into this into a little more detail.
How, exactly, do the HDAC, GCRP, and gut health effects of butyrate make weight loss easier?
Let’s check it out!
Butyrate Lowers Inflammation and Improves Insulin Sensitivity
I mentioned above that butyrate acts as a pretty powerful anti-inflammatory. It does this by reducing the production and secretion of nasty chemicals known as pro-inflammatory cytokines (via GCRP and HDAC signals).
Interestingly, reducing inflammation has been shown to cause an improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Now, this is pretty important because if you are resistant to insulin then you are going to be more likely to have high blood sugar levels and to experience increased weight gain.
So, by making you more sensitive to the hormone insulin, butyrate can help prevent weight gain and make it easier for you to lose weight.
Butyrate Improves Hormone Function
In addition to its powerful effects on inflammation, butyrate has also been shown to help regulate the secretion of a powerful hormone known as GLP-1 (again via its effects on your HDACs and GCRPs).
GLP-1 has three powerful roles in your body that makes it essential for weight loss:
- Firstly, it makes you feel fuller after eating. This is important because it pretty much halts overeating in its tracks!
- Secondly, it improves your ability to breakdown fats for energy. This makes it easier to burn off any fat that you have already stored on your body.
- Thirdly, it physically increases your energy expenditure. This means that will burn more energy every single day, even without exercise. (Though, I obviously still recommend working out regularly for weight loss!
By boosting your GLP-1 levels, butyrate can seriously improve your ability to lose weight!
Butyrate Boosts Nutrient Absorption
So, I already mentioned that butyrate can improve the health of your gut in a very big way. But what I didn’t do was outline how this improves your ability to lose weight.
So, here we go.
See, the bacteria in your gut help you digest and absorb the food you eat. As a result, the healthier your gut bacteria are, the more vitamins and minerals you can actually absorb from your food.
Pretty simple in premise, right?
Now, every single one of these vitamins and minerals plays an important role in your body. As a result, every single one of them is integral to your health and function.
But, for weight loss, the B group vitamins and vitamin K are the powerhouses! They help you regulate energy storage and energy metabolism so you can maintain a healthy weight
With this in mind, if you absorb more of these vitamins, it can help you reduce unnecessary fat storage, boost your metabolism, and help you lose weight!
What are the Best Sources of Butyrate?
There are two very effective ways to get more butyrate into your body:
- eat butyrate-boosting foods
- take butyrate supplements.
I want to touch on both here!
Best Food Sources of Butyrate for Weight Loss
I mentioned that butyrate is naturally made by the good bacteria within your gut when they ferment fiber. As a result, the easiest way to get more butyrate through the food you eat is to eat fiber-rich foods.
Some of my favorite fiber-rich foods that can help you boost your butyrate levels include:
So, to keep it pretty simple, if you have a diet that is rich in these fruits and vegetables, you can be pretty certain that the bacteria in your gut will be producing butyrate!
Moreover, as a bit of a bonus, these same foods are also full to the brim with a huge amount of healthy vitamins and minerals. So, not only will they increase your butyrate production, but you’ll be enhancing your health in other ways, too.
Talk about a win-win!
Best Butyrate Supplements for Weight Loss
Now, as much as I like the idea of getting all the butyrate you need from your diet, there is a little bit of a downside to this approach. See, you actually have no idea how much of the fiber you eat is really getting turned into butyrate.
Obviously, this can make things a little bit tricky if you want to make 100% sure that you are getting enough butyrate into your body.
As a result, you might want to think about including a butyrate supplement into your daily routine — rather than completely relying on a fiber-rich diet.
Luckily, my colleague wrote an awesome article outling the five best butyrate supplements on the market! So, make sure you check it out if you think a butyrate supplement could be a good fit for you!
Can Butyrate Have Side Effects?
For the most part, butyrate seems to be well-tolerated by humans. (In fact, it may be one of the absolute safest weight loss supplements available!)
However, there is some research in animals that does suggest that you may want to steer clear of concentrated butyrate in two very specific scenarios:
- If you have recently taken antibiotics: research suggests butyrate may increase cancer cell growth in the gut after antibiotic use(in mice, at least).
- If you have an autoimmune disease or irritable bowel disease: butyrate may prevent stem cells in the gut from growing and repairing damage from autoimmune attacks, slowing your recovery.
If either of these sounds like you, you may want to steer clear of butyrate supplements until you have spoken to a qualified medical professional who knows your medical history in detail!
Take Home Message
Losing weight is far from an easy process. So, we are always on the lookout for new ways that can help your weight loss journey along — in any way, shape, or form. And butyrate fits the bill perfectly.
By improving hormone function, increasing nutrient absorption, and improving insulin sensitivity, butyrate can seriously help you lose weight! Why not give it a go?