Probiotics are often brought up in healthy weight loss discussions, but what does the research say? Do probiotics and fat loss have a direct link?
In this blog post, I share the interesting research and conclusions made about probiotics and fat loss.
Will Probiotics Help Me Lose Weight [Video]
Probiotics are all the rage, but will they help you lose weight? In this video share the research and interesting facts about probiotics and fat loss.
Do Studies Link Probiotics and Fat Loss?
If we look at the research, we see that the direct link between probiotics and fat loss is weak.
A systematic review published just a few months ago (1), took a look at relevant research from 1946 to 2016.
It came to the conclusion that the effect of probiotics on fat mass was non‐significant.
Another systematic review paper, published in 2015, came to the same conclusion stating that after analysis, “the data showed no significant effect of probiotics on body weight and BMI.”(2)
Are Probiotics Worthless When It Comes to Fat Burning?
First of all, both of the research papers mentioned above had trouble finding studies that met their criteria.
For example, the more recent review (pictured above) started out with 800 articles, but only included 15 in their final paper.
Of those included, the subjects only stayed on the probiotics for three to 12 weeks, which seems like a short time to fully evaluate how fat loss was impacted.
Secondly, when we take into consideration the positive effect probiotics have on the gut microbiome, we see that probiotics have an indirect, but an intriguing impact on fat loss.
For instance, numerous studies show that the gut microbiome of an obese person differs substantially from that of a lean person.
In fact, this next study supports that observation.
Researchers Performed an Interesting Experiment
The researchers tested gut microbiome differences by performing gastric bypass surgery on obese mice (3).
Soon after surgery, they noticed that the gut microbiome of the mice changed in a way that resembled that of a lean mouse.
The researchers were intrigued by the results, so they went a step further…
Transplanting Gut Bacteria Results in Better Gut Health
The researchers transplanted the intestinal bacteria from the gastric bypass mice into unaltered mice.
This caused the mice with the transplant to rapidly lose weight.
The Full Story of Probiotics and Fat Loss Has Not Been Written Yet
When we look at the big picture, we need longer-term studies and more understanding of the link between the bacteria in your gut and how probiotics influence fat loss.
I will say that I did not start taking a probiotic myself until recently.
Choosing a Probiotic
When it comes to probiotics, you don’t want to look for the cheapest brands because they either contain hidden sugars or a poor variety of good bacteria.
For example, the first ingredient of a probiotic I picked up at a local drug store is maltodextrin, which is basically sugar.
I personally take “Pure Encapsulation” which is a brand I trust.
This high-quality brand does not contain sugar and has 10 billion CFU, (or colony forming units) of many different strains of bacteria.
How Many CFUs Should I Take Per Day?
Aim for 20 to 50 BILLION CFUs Per Day. [Austin powers anyone?]
TIP: A good full-fat yogurt with no added sugar is another way to get probiotics if you are not taking a probiotic capsule.
Help Your Gut Bacteria – Add Prebiotic Foods to Your Diet
I will also say that if you are going to make the investment of taking a probiotic every day to grow your gut garden, you’ll be best served if you eat in a way that fertilizes that garden.
Prebiotic-rich and high-fiber foods you should add to your diet include:
- leafy greens and vegetables
As well as fermented foods like:
- Kombucha, (which is a fermented tea).
Probiotics Are the Seeds of Your Bacterial Gut Garden and Prebiotics Are the Fertilizer
If you’re taking a probiotic but eating a poor diet that is filled with sugar and/or lacking in fibrous plant foods, then you are taking one step forward and one step back.
It’s great that the low-carb and ketogenic style diets are growing in popularity, but you don’t want to abandon the nutrients your body thrives on like leafy greens and vegetables.
(1) Borgeraas, H., et al. “Effects of probiotics on body weight, body mass index, fat mass and fat percentage in subjects with overweight or obesity: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Obesity Reviews 19.2 (2018): 219-232.
(2) Park, Sunmin, and Ji-Hyun Bae. “Probiotics for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrition Research35.7 (2015): 566-575.
(3) Liou, Alice P., et al. “Conserved shifts in the gut microbiota due to gastric bypass reduce host weight and adiposity.” Science translational medicine 5.178 (2013): 178ra41-178ra41.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.