Recent studies are suggesting the link between probiotics and weight loss are real. Let’s take a look at how these friendly bacteria can help you lose weight.
Most people think that all bacteria and microbes are bad, the truth is that there are some microbes that are very beneficial for our bodies. These friendly bacteria (or in some cases, yeast) reside in our digestive tract and other parts of our bodies, and aid with everything from better digestion and absorption of nutrients to enhanced immunity.
Bacteria are only a problem when there are excessive amounts of the wrong type in the wrong place. Read more about SIBO here.
Studies Exploring The Link Between Probiotics And Weight Loss
According to the first study (conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition), probiotic weight loss is not a myth. Over a 24-week period, 125 overweight people of both sexes were put on a weight-loss diet for the first 12 weeks and a maintenance routine for the remaining 12 weeks. Half of them were given probiotic pills while the other half were given placebos.
After the first 12 weeks, women taking probiotics lost an average of almost 10 pounds, while those on placebos lost just under 6 pounds. During the 12-week maintenance period, the first group continued to lose weight (almost 2 pounds more) and had less obesity-causing intestinal bacteria, while the rest maintained a steady weight. The effects of probiotics for men were not so noticeable.
A Japanese research team conducted a study where 210 overweight people were divided into three groups, and each of them were given 7 ounces of fermented milk every day. Two of the groups were also given a probiotic (L. gasseri SBT2055, which is believed to help with weight loss) in varying potencies with the milk.
Over the next 12 weeks, both groups lost between 1% and 3% of belly fat, and the people who were given the probiotic lost around 8% to 9% of harmful visceral fat too. This is the kind of fat that accumulates around organs like the heart, leading to various medical conditions, and reducing visceral fat is just one of the many benefits of probiotics.
How Do Probiotics Influence Your Weight?
According to many researchers (including authors of the studies above), probiotics for weight loss improve digestion, thereby increasing the absorption of nutrients needed by your body and helping to expel toxins.
Since maintaining weight and nutrition absorption are linked to the gut, here are some of the main ways in which probiotics can help:
- Metabolism: The probiotic bacteria that inhabit your gut help to break down the food you eat and convert it into energy. Some strains are known to be better at this, which is why probiotic supplements are often used to aid digestion, but even the existing bacteria in your system can account for 4-10% of the calories you burn every day.
- Hormonal Balance: A lot of medical conditions (like diabetes) are linked to hormones within the body, and gut hormones are responsible for everything from maintaining proper blood sugar levels to signaling your brain that your stomach is “full”. Probiotic bacteria can help to regulate the release of hormones and keep them balanced.
- Genetics: Your genes account for more than your eye color or height. They also decide how well your body can deal with everything from fat-forming foods to disease-causing pathogens. Your gut ecosystem plays a huge role here too, since bad bacteria can cause genetic mutations that affect leptin levels (the hormone that makes you feel “full”).
- Inflammation: An imbalance in healthy versus unhealthy gut bacteria can lead to higher toxin levels being released, which will trigger a systemic inflammatory response in your body. These bacterial toxins are higher in obese people or those with type 2 diabetes, and may also cause you to gain weight even with no diet changes.
- Leaky Gut: Hormonal imbalances and excessive bad bacteria in your gut can lead to leaky gut or intestinal inflammation, as well as cause blood sugar issues and obesity. Leaky gut is especially harmful, since it can pave the way for bacterial toxins to enter your bloodstream. The condition can be helped with a regular intake of probiotics.
If you’re health-conscious, then you know that losing weight is about more than just looking better. Staying in shape also helps you remain fit and promotes better general health, so it’s worth understanding how probiotics can influence weight and help you reduce it. Of course, you can’t rely on them alone, so follow a healthy diet and regular exercise regime too!