About half of Americans say they are trying to shed some pounds according to a recent survey. Can probiotics help with weight loss? This is a question many people are asking. After all, probiotics are essential for an overall healthy body. As it turns out, there are some types of probiotics that do promote weight loss. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. But before we jump in, it’s essential to understand what probiotics are and how they work.
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Probiotics are microorganisms, specifically bacteria, that you can consume. There are both good and bad bacteria that live in the body. While bad bacteria can cause nasty infections and illnesses, good bacteria are essential to the proper functioning of the body.
There are two primary ways to consume probiotics. First, probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods. However, it’s difficult to fit enough of these foods with healthy bacteria into your every-day diet. That’s why many people go with the second option: probiotic supplements.
There are several types or strains of good bacteria. Each has its own benefits. That’s why it’s important to understand the different strains, so you get more of the types of bacteria that your body is lacking. While one strain may help with immune health, another strain may help with digestion. We’re going to focus on different probiotics for weight loss.
How Can Probiotics Help Weight Loss?
There are several ways that that probiotics can help with weight loss. They can help both directly and indirectly. The key is having a healthy overall balance of gut bacteria—primarily bacteroidetes and firmicutes. These two bacteria families are known to help regulate body weight.
One indirect way that probiotics can help with weight loss is by providing the body with essential vitamins that promote a healthy weight. Certain probiotics help with the production and use of B vitamins. B vitamins are essential for breaking down fats, carbs, and proteins as well as managing appetite. Probiotics can also help break down fiber that the body cannot digest and turn it into short-chain fatty acids that the body can benefit from.
Researchers believe that there are several types of probiotics that can prevent the absorption of dietary fats. Instead of absorbing these fats which ultimately leads to putting on pounds, they are excreted in feces. The Lactobacillus family of bacteria is known to have this fat absorption-inhibiting effect.
There are three other ways that probiotics seem to help with weight loss. First, they may help by releasing an appetite-reducing hormone known as GLP-1. This hormone may help your body burn more fat and calories. Second, probiotics can increase the body’s levels of ANGPTL4—a protein that may reduce the storage of fat. And finally, probiotics may also help reduce brain inflammation. Brain inflammation has been linked to weight gain and several other serious health problems.
There are many studies on different types of probiotics and their benefits for weight loss. But since there are so many kinds of bacteria living in the body—around 1,000 different bacteria in the gut alone—many of them have not yet been explored. Let’s talk about the best-known probiotics for weight loss today.
Best Probiotics for Weight Loss
1. Lactobacillus gasseri
Lactobacillus gasseri may be the most effective known probiotic for weight loss. Several studies done on both animals and humans have shown significant results for shedding body fat. One study done over 12 weeks showed a reduction in body weight, BMI, and waist size. These effects are believed to be due to the fact that lactobacillus gasseri inhibits the absorption of fats so that they are instead excreted.
When the subjects stopped using the probiotic, they gain back the 8.5% of belly fat they lost within only a month. This may suggest that Lactobacillus gasseri should be a part of a regular diet to experience long-term fat loss.
2. Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus
Studies show that lactobacillus amylovorus and lactobacillus fermentum may also help with weight loss. These probiotics are found in certain types of yogurt as well as in many supplements. One study showed that over six weeks, lactobacillus amylovorus caused a 4% loss in body fat and lactobacillus fermentum caused a 3% decrease in body fat. This is believed to be due to the way that these probiotics affect the body’s metabolism.
3. Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Research papers on Lactobacillus rhamnosus suggest that this probiotic works to enhance diets. One study compared two groups of people that were overweight. Both groups were put on the same diet. However, one group took lactobacillus rhamnosus along with the diet, and the other group was given a placebo. The group that used the probiotic experienced 50% more weight loss than the placebo group. No studies have yet shown the effects of this probiotic without the use of a diet.
VSL#3 is a unique combination of probiotics which seems to help manage body weight. However, rather than promoting weight loss, it seems to instead help prevent weight gain. Researchers gave VSL#3 or a placebo to a group of participants and put them on a diet that required them to overeat. Instead of reducing calories, the participants were given an extra 1,000 calories every day. The group that used the VSL#3 probiotics gained significantly less fat than the placebo group. This suggests that this concoction of probiotics can help protect people from gaining weight to begin with.
The Probiotic You Should Avoid for Weight Loss
While the probiotics we just talked about may help improve weight loss (or at least prevent weight gain), there is one probiotic that you may want to avoid if you would like to lose weight. This probiotic is lactobacillus acidophilus. In one study, Lactobacillus acidophilus actually promoted weight gain in many participants.
Weight Loss, Probiotics, and Diets
As you can see, probiotics may play an essential roll in managing your body weight. While there is much more research to be done, studies are showing promising results in favor of using many different types of probiotics for fat loss. Keep in mind that a bad diet is a bad diet—probiotics won’t entirely make up for unhealthy foods. But they may enhance our weight loss efforts—making diets and exercise more effective so we reach our weight loss goals sooner.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.