The Microbiome and Athletic Performance: Can Good Gut Bacteria Boost Your Fitness?

The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms, known collectively as the microbiome. These tiny organisms play an important role in our overall health, including our athletic performance. Recent research has shown that the composition of the microbiome can have a significant impact on our ability to perform physical activity, and specifically, whether we can maintain a high level of fitness over time.

It is well-known that exercise can improve our gut health by increasing the diversity of our microbiome. However, the question remains: can good gut bacteria actually boost our fitness levels? In this article, we will explore the link between gut health and athletic performance, and provide tips on how to improve your gut health for better athletic performance.

The Link Between Gut Health and Athletic Performance

Studies have shown that athletes tend to have a more diverse and beneficial microbiome than sedentary individuals. This is likely due to the fact that exercise increases the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are produced by certain gut bacteria and have been shown to improve athletic performance.

SCFAs are important because they can be used as an energy source by our muscles during exercise. In addition, they have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce muscle damage and aid in recovery. When we exercise, our muscles need an adequate supply of energy to perform at their best. By increasing the production of SCFAs in our gut, we can provide our muscles with an additional source of energy, which may help us to perform better during physical activity.

Several studies have also suggested that the composition of the microbiome can affect our body’s response to physical activity. One study found that the levels of certain types of bacteria in the gut were associated with better endurance performance in athletes. Another study found that mice with a certain type of gut bacteria were able to run longer distances than mice without this bacteria.

How to Improve Your Gut Health for Better Athletic Performance

Consume Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial for our gut health. They can be found in foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, as well as in supplement form. Probiotics work by colonizing the gut with beneficial bacteria, which can help to improve gut health and boost athletic performance.

Consume Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onions, bananas, and asparagus. By consuming these foods, we can help to support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and improve overall gut health.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Finally, it is important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in fiber and nutrients. This will help to support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and improve overall gut health. Some foods that are particularly beneficial for gut health include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources.


The link between good gut bacteria and athletic performance is becoming increasingly clear. By improving our gut health through the consumption of probiotics, prebiotics, and a healthy diet, we can potentially improve our athletic performance and overall health. While more research is needed in this area, it is clear that taking care of our gut health is essential for optimal athletic performance. So, the next time you hit the gym or go for a run, remember that your gut bacteria may be playing a bigger role than you think!

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.