Here’s a plan that doesn’t restrict calories. Instead, you consume more of the kinds of foods that fatten up the populations of healthy bacteria colonizing your digestive tract. Stella Metsovas, C.C.N., author of the 21-Day Digestive Health Detox, says that her clients who ate at least a half cup of probiotic-rich foods daily (such as yogurt or sauerkraut) lost an average of 21 pounds over 6 months–without cutting calories.
Make it work Bacteria play a significant role in regulating your metabolism and appetite, says Gerard E. Mullin, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and author of The Inside Tract. “You aren’t what you eat but what you absorb: A healthier ratio of good to bad gut bacteria may help prevent weight gain.” To goose your ratio, Dr. Mullin advises eating fermented foods every day. Branch out into sauerkraut (like Bubbie’s Sauerkraut) and kimchi–look for raw brands like King Kimchi, which has more healthy bacteria. Equally important: Minimize fatty and sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, because bad bacteria thrive on those, says Dr. Mullin.