Episode 6: How Losing Half Your Body Weight Affects Your Microbiome
What happens to the microbiome when you lose half your body weight? While we know that there are obesity markers in the microbiome (an imbalance in firmicutes and bacteroides, for example), less is known about what goes on when your physiology changes so dramatically.
Our guest on this show is Eve Guzman, a macro coach and BIOHM ambassador who lost half her body weight and landed herself in People Magazine for her incredible accomplishment. At her heaviest, Eve weighed 277 pounds. After 16 months, she was down 120 pounds, but she didn’t give up there. In the end, she dropped her weight to 136 pounds, then went even further by cutting more weight to compete in bodybuilding competitions.
That’s when things got a little dicey. Digestively, Eve started to notice symptoms she’d never had before. And when she started talking to other bodybuilders, they confided that they had similar issues.
So, what was going on? Why did getting slimmer cause digestive issues that weren’t there when she was heavier?
In this episode, Eve tells us what was going on when her gut was going haywire, we take a peek into her very first gut report results, and she gives Andrea the skinny on how she tweaked her diet (again!) to improve her gut.
To follow Eve, find her on Instagram or visit her website at gtransformationfitness.com.
On this show, you’ll learn:
- Eve’s initial information resources for losing weight (3:27)
- Eve’s gut health at the start of her weight loss journey (4:35)
- Her decision to make being in People magazine a driving factor (5:39)
- How social media helped get Eve in the magazine (6:44)
- Inspiration and advice for others looking to make that lifestyle change (7:58)
- Low carb’s effect on the gut microbiome (9:48)
- Eve’s own experience with going low carb for bodybuilding (11:12)
- Eve’s first Gut Report from BIOHM Health (13:28)
- What changes Eve made after her first report (14:42)
- The role stress played in this report (17:24)
- Recommendations for those who find themselves not feeling great (19:53)
Andrea Wien: Welcome to the Microbiome Report. I'm your host, Andrea Wien. Today we have a very special member of the BIOHM family joining us in the studio. My guest is Eve Guzman, a BIOHM Ambassador, and the founder of G-Transformation Fitness, where she coaches people on how to count macros and reach their weight loss goals. Eve launched her career after appearing in People Magazine for losing half her body weight through diet and lifestyle. She went from 277 pounds down to 138. At her peak, when she was competing, down to 125.
On this episode, we talk about how her gut health fluctuated, when she dropped the pounds and started competing in bodybuilding competitions. Interestingly, her microbiome shifted for the worse when she became too thin. We talk about it all, including combing through her most recent gut report and we talk about why she's on a mission to tell the world about the power of pre and probiotics. Let's get to it. Eve, thank you so much for coming on the show and joining us in the studio today.
Eve Guzman: No problem. I'm excited to be here.
Andrea Wien: So let's start with just your story because you told it to me off air. It's so impressive and so inspirational. So let's head back to the darker days when you were a little bit bigger and you started thinking, I got to drop this weight.
Eve Guzman: Okay, cool. So it wasn't a little bit bigger. It was a lot of bigger. So my highest weight was 277 pounds. So I was almost 300 pounds, 5' 1, and about a size 24. I got to the point where I was just plain fed up of being fat. There was no way to really be nice about it and make it sound sweet. But I was really to the point where I was miserable and I was depressed. The turning point for me was when I got to the point where I had two pairs of jeans and I was rotating them in and out. I would wear one, and then I would wash the other pair while those were being washed, back and forth. I was burning holes into them because my thighs were so big.
So I was like, okay, got to get some new clothes. I was in college. I was like, let me go and try to find some jeans that fit, and I couldn't find anything. That was the point of turning for me because I went through about 20 pairs of jeans in that dressing room. I realized I had to do something. So that's the darkest, the lowest point was being almost 300 pounds and I can't find a pair of jeans. So that's when I realized that a lot of my obesity was coming from not moving enough and needing to eat better and eat less.
Some nights I was eating two or three bowls of spaghetti. So you would make this huge pot of spaghetti and it's there. I would eat it at 5:00 and 6:30, it's still there. I'll eat some more. 8:00, go back, eat some more. So things changed for me when I really started analyzing what I was eating and I started tracking everything I was eating. I started eating less and then I started eating more nutritious foods. Then moving more, I started off with a jump rope and a Tai-bo video, and I would work out in my kitchen because I'm short and I could still jump rope in the house. That's how it went from the dark to the light.
Andrea Wien: When you were going through that initial process of getting involved in eating better, starting to move your body more, what were your resources? Were you just doing this all ... You're like, I've heard that this is working. This could work. What was your guiding light?
Eve Guzman: So my guiding light was me, my background in science. I got my bachelor's in biology and I had a focus in molecular biology and I'm like, I'm a smart girl. I can figure this out. Calories in, calories out, basic nutrition. So I was using a little nutrition book that had all the calories, it was Calorie King, and I would look up every single thing I was eating. I would manually add up all the protein, the carbs, the fats, the calories, everything. I figured out how many calories a day I should be eating, what a deficit should be for me, and that's how I got to where I was using this basic stuff I had learned getting my degree to lose weight. So that, the internet, which was not as resourceful as it is now, but it was basically going solo.
Andrea Wien: At that point, how was your gut health?
Eve Guzman: Oh, I don't know. It was pretty bad. I went from eating two McDonald's cheeseburgers every day, 99 cents a piece, and then a value sized French fries every day. I had a lot of oily foods. I wasn't getting much vegetables. The only thing I was eating vegetable wise at that point was potatoes and corn, no leafy greens, complex carbs, nothing was high fiber. I remember being bloated all the time, besides the fact that I was overweight, but I remember having indigestion, heartburn. I just felt oily.
Andrea Wien: I think too, even though maybe you weren't having as many digestive symptoms, the depression, feeling down, all of that now we're starting to learn is so tied to what's going on in our gut, that gut brain axis and that connection that we have. So your symptoms, even though maybe they weren't completely digestive at that point, you were exhibiting symptoms of imbalance in the microbiome, for sure.
Eve Guzman: Yes, definitely.
Andrea Wien: So you drop about 60 pounds, you see People Magazine cover and you think, that's me. I'm going to go. I'm going for it.
Eve Guzman: Yeah. I was like, why not? These people are on the front of these magazines. They're losing all this weight naturally. I'm like, I've lost some weight. I think I can do this. So I would see them on the end cap getting groceries, and I told my husband, I'm going to be in that magazine. I'm going to lose weight. I'm going to be in there. That was about 2011. I'm like, I can do this. I can get into this magazine. That's my future.
Andrea Wien: Do you think if you wouldn't have had that goal, you would have still had that drive and that fire inside of you to keep going with the weight loss?
Eve Guzman: I don't know. I don't think so. I think that was another turning moment where I pretty much said, why not me? That was where I kind of went from, oh, I just want to get down to 200 pounds, get to 190 and feel normal and feel average to, these people have this amazing life. They've done this amazing journey on their own. Why not me? So that kind of tipped me over the edge to go from this average weight loss goal to something major.
Andrea Wien: Did you say, okay, I'm going to call People Magazine. I'm going to tell them what I'm up to, we're just going to get myself in this magazine and that's it? How did that work out?
Eve Guzman: I wish. I think that's what people think happened, but actually I started documenting my journey on Instagram, showing everything that I was eating, all the changes in food, me exercising. Then I was hashtagging every photo #halfmysize, repeatedly over and over again. I was tagging them in every single photo. So that was my way of holding myself accountable, but saying, hey People, here I am. Please see me.
Andrea Wien: So when was that turning point where they finally did see you?
Eve Guzman: So in April, 2014, I finally hit the half my size point. I had this private victory at home. Oh my God, I made it. I got down to about a size eight. I had lost 138 pounds and nothing really changed. I just kept using the hashtag. Then one day they emailed me out of the blue and they're like, hey, we've been watching you all year. We see that you've lost all this weight, and we would really love to interview you and have you in our Half Their Size issue.
Andrea Wien: That's so exciting and such a momentous occasion to finally be recognized for something that you've been working on so hard. It sounds like, okay, I just did it. And I went with it and it sounds so easy. So for someone who might be listening to this and thinking, I'm at that breaking point, I need to do something, what can you tell them to keep them motivated but also a little bit about the slipups that I'm sure you had along the way?
Eve Guzman: So a lot of people, they just think about where they're at and how upset they are and where they want to be. But you really have to look at where you are to see the changes that you need to make one by one to get there. So for someone just starting out, I would tell them to look at their food, start looking at how much you're actually eating. What's your caloric intake? What are you eating for protein, carbs, and fat each day. But look at where you're at instead of hiding from it and take on one thing at a time and focus on progress over perfection as you're trying to get to that goal. Then always remember, when you hit that breaking point, you start off with motivation. You're so hyped to get to the gym on Monday, you meal prep on Sunday, you're so excited. You're going to make all these changes.
Then Wednesday rolls around and you run out of steam and you have to remember that motivation gets you started, but it's really the dedication that's going to get you to the goal. So that means you have to get started with the motivation, but you have to do the things that you're supposed to do when you don't want to do it. That will happen. No one has this beautiful journey that every day they're motivated and they want to get up at 4:30 to hit the gym at 5:00. You have to keep doing the things that you should be doing when you don't want to do it.
Andrea Wien: You also mentioned now in your work with clients, you see a lot of women who come to you and are either low carb, incredibly low carb, or no carb because they've maybe read on somewhere that they should cut carbs. That's how you lose weight. For the gut microbiome, that can be detrimental. So obviously we don't want people out there eating croissants and pizza and these very starchy, refined carbohydrates, but carbohydrates are a necessary part of gut health and overall health. So what is your advice when someone comes to you and they're eating that way and you really need to kind of dial in their macros?
Eve Guzman: For someone like that, which a lot of those types of clients that come to me typically are experiencing gut health issues, I would definitely have them focus on adding complex carbohydrates into their diet, even if it's very, very slowly. Because if you're on a diet where you are not eating carbs or you're completely restricting, you're not getting any prebiotics in there, you're not getting any fiber, you're having slower digestion because there's nothing bulky in your gut to actually get things through. I don't mean just a fiber supplement or a pill. I mean real food and real complex carbs. So I would have those women start to add the carbs in slowly, even if it's just two half cup servings every day. Going from nothing to that, that is exactly what I do for my clients when I'm looking at their macro nutrient profile.
Andrea Wien: You had the same issue when you started cutting weight, because you got into bodybuilding after all of this. So during this process, People Magazine comes to you, you're in the magazine, you're blogging for them. You've made this radical transformation. You've moved out of the biology lab and you have this whole new life and you think I can really start competing at a higher level and you go low carb to cut. So tell us a little bit about what happened to your own gut health.
Eve Guzman: It was definitely unexpected for me. The goal to get on stage is to get lean. If you're figure competitor, it's like, okay, get down to 10 to 12% body fat. What happens is you've got to cut calories all over, but you take a major hit when you have to cut both carbs and fat. What happened for me and a lot of competitors, I started experiencing just a boatload of gut issues and that ranged from indigestion, bloating, abdominal discomfort, having aversions to foods that I never had issues with when I went low carb, and I mean extremely low carb, just to get lean enough for the stage.
Andrea Wien: So when did you start to realize, because this isn't something that a lot of bodybuilders talk about these digestive issues that they're having, and you even said you felt you were all by yourself. So when did it start to be something that you became more vocal about or realized that other people were struggling with?
Eve Guzman: So I really started noticing it when I was about four weeks out from my last competition. I'm like, man, I'm not able to go to the bathroom and how am I going to look lean and have this flat stomach and abs if I can't even go to the bathroom? So I started searching online Instagram hashtags to see if other competitors were talking about it. There weren't very many competitors talking about it, but my friend Alex was, and I started listening to what she was saying and what she was going through. All I could think was me too. That is me. Then other people started talking about it. Then I got on Instagram stories and I started talking about it. Then people were hitting me up in my inbox and they're like, man, I'm on my third year of competitions. No one talks about this. I can't believe you guys are finally saying that you can't go number two.
Andrea Wien: Then around the same time you had your gut report done here at BIOHM and we actually have those results. So we're going to just look at them and dissect what was going on in your gut and why you may have had some of these issues going on. Then also some of the recommendations that were made that transformed your gut health. So really when we look at this report, we're seeing a couple of different bacteria and bacterial phylum. So Bacteroides and Firmicutes are two of the most common strains that we see in gut bacteria. In a traditional, normal gut, we have about 75% Bacteroides, probably about 20% of Firmicutes, and then there's a mix of some other bacterias and proteobacteria is one of the ones that's in that smaller range of the slivered mix. Proteobacteria is normal in a healthy gut, but we do see it often in much higher proportions when someone is having gut issues.
So it can be a very pathogenic strain. For you all three, Bacteroides, Firmicutes, and proteobacteria were pretty even. So we're having way higher percentage of proteobacteria than we would like to see in a normal gut, and that could contribute to many of those issues that you were having. So tell us a little bit about what you did when you got these results to really dial it in because you were already very aware of macros, you knew what was going on in terms of how to fuel your body, but how to fuel your microbiome was a little bit different.
Eve Guzman: With the food choices that I was making, I ended up taking a lot of the things out that were triggers for me. So I'm lactose intolerant. I shouldn't be eating ice cream, but I started eating less of it. I started eating less of milk and creamer. I removed corn from my diet. I was looking for more gluten free options when it came to a lot of the carb choices that I was having. Then I dropped the amount of soy that I was consuming drastically. I also went back to adding a collagen supplement into my diet and adding more fermented foods in because those were things that I knew that had worked a little bit better for me in the past, and I started adding those things back in. Ginger and turmeric, I added those back in. My husband and I got into a ritual where we were actually slicing it up, boiling it, putting it in large Mason jars and adding it to tea each morning.
Andrea Wien: Ruining everything in your kitchen with the orange color, your fingers, Everyone's like, she's been cutting turmeric.
Eve Guzman: Yeah, but it's great to reduce inflammation, not only for your gut, but also for your joints, if you're a runner, you're lifting weights and you're sore. Then I started cutting out a lot of artificial sweeteners. So the biggest things that really get to me are the artificial sweeteners and protein bars. If you're listening to this, you may understand, but a lot of those sweeteners can constipate, you cause a lot of bulking in your gut. When you're trying to eat those for convenience and not eating whole foods, it really holds back your digestive system and microbiome of being where it actually needs to be. So I cut a lot of those protein bars out. I was adding in more whole foods, more plant based sources for carbs, and I was eating more beans, even though I didn't want to. I also dropped more of the red meat choices that I had in my diet and started focusing on more of the fatty fish.
Andrea Wien: How long after you started making these food choices did you really notice a change?
Eve Guzman: About three or four weeks. It was really quick, but these were food choices that I was making in addition to using the BIOHM products. So I was implementing the prebiotic and then the super foods greens, but I thought, okay, I got to make these changes and it may take me eight weeks or three months. It was three to four weeks and I was experiencing a huge reduction in the symptoms.
Andrea Wien: Then also you were putting so much stress on your body. There was the stress of competition. There was weight loss, there was diet stress, even from eating lower carb. So how big of a role did stress management play in the alleviation of these symptoms?
Eve Guzman: Oh my gosh. A lot. Yeah. So when I got the report, I was expecting, okay, I need to change these things with my foods. I need to take these supplements. But then I was like, wait a minute. There some non nutritional things here that I need to change, and stress management was one because I was experiencing adrenal fatigue. I was having a hard time bearing the workload of having a global online business and being a mom of two kids and a wife. Then I realized that I was taking on a lot trying to be wonder woman and that stress was another thing that was damaging my second brain, which is my gut.
Andrea Wien: What kind of tools did you use to reduce that stress, to make you breathe a little more, just to calm your nervous system?
Eve Guzman: So I ended up doing one of the breathing patterns, which was given to me as a recommendation after getting my gut report back. I started investing in time like going to get a pedicure, having 30 minutes of the day where I focused on myself, reading, podcasts, just relaxing, and then putting less things on my plate. So where I could hire an assistant to do small tasks for me, or even if it was just graphic design for a nutrition ebook. I was basically taking some of the things off of my plate where I could reduce the stress and add better quality of life to my current workload.
Andrea Wien: So the stress management paired with the changes to the diet really helped you to overcome some of those gut issues that you were dealing with. Today, how are you feeling?
Eve Guzman: Oh my gosh. So much better, a whole new life. When I was having those symptoms, I was crying at night because I would look in the mirror and you know how everybody wakes up in the morning and they're like, that's when I'm the leanest, I look the best. They're checking their stomach. I was waking up looking five months pregnant and I was extremely bloated. Here I was, post-competition, having abs all the time. I did not feel my best and it was depressing, especially being a public figure. here I am, I didn't have the answers to what was going on. Now I felt I was taking control of my gut health again.
Andrea Wien: What advice would you have for someone who maybe is in that same position who is cutting weight, they look good, but they're still not feeling great?
Eve Guzman: So a lot of times people are so focused on the aesthetics that they don't realize what they're doing internally to their bodies to get that desired look. So one, you have to ask yourself, is it worth it? Then two, what can you be doing for your gut health to basically make sure everything on the inside is running it should? So major recommendations that I have is if you're experiencing some of these issues, one, get the gut report done, check it out, see what's going on, see where you're starting and then start making some simple changes. Those can be implementing a probiotic like BIOHM's into your daily regimen, getting the prebiotic in there so you basically have the food for the probiotic to work as effectively as it should, and then eating fermented foods and make sure you're eating healthy fats, complex carbs, getting activity, reducing your stress management. These are things that are basic, healthy things that most people should be doing, but they forget about it when they're really just driving after that aesthetic look of being lean.
Andrea Wien: Eve, thank you so much for coming on the show. If people want to keep in touch with you here at your up to hear more about gut health and everything else you have going on, where can they find you?
Eve Guzman: So the number one place you can find me as Instagram. That's my favorite platform. I'm on there every single day. My Instagram handle is @eve_fitchick. Then you can also find me on my website at gtransformationfitness.com.
Andrea Wien: Great. We will link to all of that in the show notes. Thanks so much for coming on. We'll talk soon.
Eve Guzman: No problem. Thanks guys.
Andrea Wien: As always, thank you so much for listening. Visit biohmhealth.com to check out the show notes and more information about this episode. Don't forget, enter BIOHM10 at checkout to receive 10% off any BIOHM purchase I'm Andrea Wien and we'll see you next week.
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