There is lots of data that suggests probiotics and help you lose weight. This article details the facts and lists some of the sources of probiotics.
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Will Taking Probiotics Help Me Lose Weight?
Can probiotics really help with weight loss are the claims justified and backed by clinical data? This article presents the facts on the subject.
It explains what probiotics are in relation to weight loss, looks at some of the claims made for them, and points out what the latest research data suggests.
As you are probably aware, the term “probiotics” is used for foods and supplements that provide a very special type of live bacteria.
Today, we refer to it as probiotic bacteria but it used to be pretty common practice to call it flora.
It’s and also known as gut microbiota.
People often refer to it as “good bacteria” too because that’s exactly what it is.
Instead of causing harm, probiotics benefit the health and some studies show they may help with weight-loss as well.
Although research is still in the preliminary stages, some evidence suggests poor gut health may actually cause obesity.
If this is so, the fact that probiotics help with weight-loss should not come as a surprise.
Recommended Article: Which probiotic supplement is regarded as the most effective by customers who regularly buy gut health products.
What are Probiotic Bacteria?
The name Probiotic bacteria does not cover a single type of bacteria.
It’s an umbrella term for all the good types of bacteria that normally reside in the human gut. The most popular probiotic bacteria on the market include:
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus amylovorous
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
There are, of course, many more strains present in the gut but the ones listed above are common to many probiotic products.
As you may have noticed, the bacteria names are double-barreled and Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus turn up again and again.
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are families of bacteria, the second half of the bacteria names refers to individual strains.
The bacteria listed above are also the strains that have received the most study for their health benefits.
However, the human gut is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Believe it or not, the number present is generally around 100 trillion microbes. Not all of these microbes are probiotic.
Probiotic bacteria is good bacteria. It enhances the immune system, aids digestion, and benefits the health in numerous ways.
Unfortunately, it has to share its home with bacteria that is more hostile in nature.
Often referred to as “bad bacteria” the hostile organisms have the potential to damage our health.
Fortunately, the probiotic bacteria fights these hostile organisms and keeps their numbers down. That’s one of the main things that makes probiotic bacteria so good for the health.
A Short History Lesson
Scientists discovered probiotic bacteria’s existence over 150 years ago.
Then, in 1907, an immune system expert (Élie Metchnikoff) suggested modifying the normal gut microbiota by topping-up the levels of good bacteria.
He believed doing so would present health benefits and slow the aging process too.
More extensive research began during the 1990s. The data supported Metchnikoff’s theories and “probiotic” became a new buzz word in health and fitness circles.
How Probiotics Help You to Lose Weight
One of the things probiotic bacteria does is help your digestive organs break down and digest food. It also manufactures vitamins and other nutrients the body can use.
The nutrients are actually a byproduct the bacteria creates while it is feeding on the prebiotic fibers that are present in certain types of food.
Studies have found that certain strains of the Lactobacillus family can help you lose weight and belly fat. In one study, eating yogurt with Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus reduced body fat by 3–4% over a 6-week periodhttps://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-and-weight-loss
As already touched upon earlier, probiotic bacteria regulates the levels of bad bacteria present in the gut.
If the bad bacteria starts to get the upper hand it can lead to an undesirable imbalance of gut microbes. This condition has a name. It’s called dysbiosis.
One of the things dysbiosis does is interfere with digestion. This slows energy metabolism. Apart from making you feel tired and out of sorts, a retarded metabolism can also cause you to gain weight.
A Look at Some Research for Probiotics and Weight Loss
Research conducted at the University of Alabama in 2015 certainly suggests a link between dysbiosis and obesity but it also suggests it may not be the underlying cause.
However, research conducted elsewhere supports the use of certain probiotic bacteria strains as a weight loss aid.
One study, which was published in The British Journal of Nutrition, examined the way Lactobacillus rhamnosus affected people who were already obese.
The women who were given the probiotic bacteria in supplement form lost more weight than women who were given a placebo.
Furthermore, the women taking the probiotic supplement continued losing weight in the weight-maintenance stage, after they stopped dieting.
Unfortunately, for reasons yet to be determined, the men involved in the study did not show the same positive response.
Sexist bacteria? Possibly, but let’s not forget this is just one of many studies investigating the things probiotic bacteria can do.
An earlier study, conducted in Canada in 2013, evaluated the value of Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as weight loss aids.
The study ran for six weeks. During that time, the overweight individuals who took part consumed yogurts that provided the two Lactobacillus strains. This resulted in an average body fat reduction of 3-4 percent.
In a study of a slightly different nature, Japanese researchers set out to evaluate the potential of Lactobacillus gasseri as pertains to fat-loss.
All the test participants had excess belly fat. They drank fermented milk products that provided Lactobacillus gasseri and, after 12 weeks, lost 8.2 – 8.5 percent of their belly fat.
When they stopped drinking the probiotic drinks, all the belly fat returned. This further supports the connection between Lactobacillus gasseri and fat-loss.
However, experts still argue the need for further investigation.
How to Use Probiotics for Weight-Loss
There are three ways to top-up your levels of probiotic bacteria. The first one is to use supplements.
The second way is to eat probiotic products that are created especially for this reason. A third option is to eat foods that are naturally potent in probiotic bacteria.
However, don’t go looking for a magic bullet. Although some research suggests probiotics can help with weight-loss, one thing is for sure. They will not replace the need for diet and exercise.
If you think you can go on eating lots of high-fat, sugar-rich foods and successfully lose weight because you are topping up your good bacteria levels, you will be sorely disappointed.
Any serious attempts to lose weight require a firm commitment to reducing your calorie intake to a level that is low enough to force the need for fat burning.
Consuming probiotics might speed your progress but those friendly gut bacteria won’t do all the work for you.
Now we’ve got that important point out of the way, lets look at some of the ways you can get extra probiotic bacteria inside you.
Probiotic Supplements for Weight Loss
If you go shopping for probiotic supplements, you should have no difficulty finding plenty of options in pharmacies and certain stores. Typically, they will contain strains of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, or both.
If you prefer to shop online, you will find your options increase considerably, though not all the products you see will be as potent as the manufacturers claim.
Pill-type supplements are easily the most common, but some manufacturers offer liquid-form probiotic bacteria you take by the drop.
During the past 30 years, probiotic yogurt has become tremendously popular.
Check out the chillers in most supermarkets and you’ll generally find several different brands and formats.
Although potted probiotic yogurt remains a popular choice, many people prefer to sip their probiotic bacteria in the form of a yogurt drink instead.
Now we’re getting back to basics. People have been topping up their levels of probiotic bacteria by eating fermented foods for a long time.
A couple of hundred years ago, they had no idea they were doing this and, even now, many people who eat these foods may not realize what they contain.
Fermented cabbage dishes are a good example. Many people eat them solely for their taste. In Germany, this type of food is called sauerkraut.
Across the border, in the Netherlands, they call it zuurkool. In both countries, it’s a popular hot dog accompaniment but a lot of hot dog lovers will be blissfully aware they are snacking on something that is probiotic.
Kefir is another good probiotic food that may have the potential to help you to lose weight. The same can be said for feta cheese.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that’s popular in parts of Europe. It’s made from milk and kefir grains.
Cow’s milk and goat’s milk are the two types of milk generally used for this purpose.
Kefir consists of grain-like bacteria cultures. Needless to say, when this live bacteria combines with milk, it multiplies.
The name Kefir is taken from the Turkish word that refers to a feel-good sensation after eating.
Kefir is a potent probiotic that generally leaves yogurt options in the shade.
Feta is a brined white curd cheese made from sheep milk. Sometimes it has goat milk in it too.
Apart from being a source of probiotic bacteria, feta is also lower in calories than many other kinds of cheese. That being the case, a nice feta cheese salad could be a good meal option while dieting.
If feta cheese is not your thing, you could try cottage cheese instead.
It’s also a good source of probiotic bacteria and, with only 98 calories per hundred gram serving, it’s diet-friendly food too. And let’s not forget most of those calories come from protein, not fat.
A Few More Options
Thus far, we’ve only looked at options you are likely to be familiar with. Now let’s pay a passing nod to a four more.
- Kombucha: A fermented drink that comes from the Far East. It’s slightly effervescent, contains a little alcohol, and, of course, generous helpings of probiotic bacteria.
- Kimchi: A gut-friendly Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables.
- Natto: A Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. It has a strong flavor, you’ll either love or hate, but many Japanese people eat natto with rice as a breakfast dish.
- Tempeh: Another eastern fermented soybean dish. This one comes from Indonesia. In this case, the special fermentation process binds the beans together to make a kind of cake. It has an earthy flavor that enhances with age.
Probiotics for Weight Loss: Is it an Option for You?
Although there is still a level of controversy surrounding the viability of using probiotics for weight-loss, research shows it’s a method that appears to work for certain individuals.
The only way to find out if probiotics will work for you in this way is to start topping up your good bacteria levels and see.
It’s also important not to lose sight of the fact these bacteria offer value in other areas.
Some of the benefits include:
- Maintaining a healthy balance of gut microbiota
- Stimulating healthy immune system response
- Shielding the barrier of the digestive tract from potentially harmful microorganisms
- Aiding nutrition
- Helping balance hormone levels
- Regulating the mood
The truth is, most people who take steps to top-up their probiotic bacteria levels do so because they want to improve their overall health.
Although the association with weight-loss is certainly there, probiotics offer so many other potential benefits, any fat loss attained may be best seen as a nice bonus rather than a specific goal.