Probiotics may help to improve our health in a number of ways. A couple days ago, we discussed how probiotics may help improve liver function. If you read that post, you may recall us saying that probiotics help to balance the “good” and “bad” bacteria in our gut, thus helping our digestive system. Since probiotics are good for the digestive system, it may not be surprisingly to find that probiotics also may help you lose weight and belly fat.
Remember that probiotics are microorganisms that come from outside the body. When in your digestive system, they are able to benefit the body in multiple ways.
The main benefits of probiotics are:
- Ability to modify intestinal microbiota (i.e. change bad bacteria to good bacteria)
- Improve the intestinal barrier
- Help with inflammation in the digestive system
- Help balance the good and bad bacteria
- Studies have found that probiotics may improve digestive health, heart health, immune function, liver health, etc.
There has also been a tremendous amount of research studying how probiotics can help you lose weight and belly fat.
Probiotics & Weight Loss
There have been several connections studied for how probiotics assist with weight loss. An understanding of how bacteria works to break down food in the digestive system is important to understanding how probiotics work.
Bacteria in the gut basically helps break down foods that are high in fiber, foods that are harder for the body to digest. The bacteria turns fiber into beneficial short-chain fatty acids. Two types of bacteria are thought to exist in the gut, these are called bacteroidetes and firmicutes. Studies have found that normal weight people have different amounts of gut bacteria than those who over obese or overweight. This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics may assist weight loss by helping the body balance these types of bacteria in their gut.
It is also thought that probiotics may inhibit the absorption of dietary fat. When you eat fatty foods, your body absorbs these fats. However, by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fat, more fat is excreted with feces. This means that you take away less calories from the food you eat.
In a study in the British Journal of Nutrition (1), researchers at a Quebec university in Canada found that women who had taken a probiotic along with a healthy diet lost more weight than those who did not take the probiotic.
The study was conducted on 125 overweight men and women. They followed a 12 week weight loss diet and then a 12 week maintenance period. Half of the 125 participants took a probiotic pill every day and the other half took a placebo pill. What the researchers found was that women in the probiotics group lost 9.7 pounds after the first 12-weeks and continued to slim down in the maintenance period, losing another 1.8 pounds, on average, in the next 12 weeks. Meanwhile, the group who took placebo pills lost 5.7 pounds during the first 12 weeks and were able to maintain their weight in the second 12 week period, but did not continue to slim down.
The women who had swallowed the probiotic pill everyday had less of the intestinal bacteria that is related to obesity. The researchers believe that probiotics helped the women to slim down by making the intestinal walls more permeable. By having more permeable walls, fewer molecules associated with obesity, and type 2 diabetes were able to enter the bloodstream (2).
Another study suggests that eating yogurt with the probiotic from the lactobaciullus family reduced body fat in participants by 3-4% over 6 weeks (3).
Another study, suggests that probiotics may also do the following:
- May help release the appetite-reducing hormone referred to as GLP-1. Increased levels of this appetite-reducing hormone may help you burn more calories and fat.(4)(5)
- May increase levels of the protein ANGPTL4, leading to less fat storage.(6)
- Reduce inflammation and restore a health inner ecosystem (balancing those bacteria in the gut)
We suggest adding a probiotic blend to your supplement regime, as well as eating a low-fat and high fiber diet to slim down. Incorporating a healthy diet with an active lifestyle and a probiotic may help you lose weight and belly fat and feel confident about your body!
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