Probiotics are live microorganisms that are found in both supplements and fermented foods 1. They are known to improve digestive health, heart health, and immune function. Research now suggests that probiotics can also help you lose weight.
How Gut Bacteria May Affect Your Body Weight
Bacteria make up the majority of the hundreds of different types of microorganisms in your digestive system. They are responsible for producing several important nutrients, including vitamin K and some B vitamins. These friendly bacterias help break down fiber and turn it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids.
Several studies have found that normal-weight people have different gut bacteria than overweight or obese people 2. During these studies, people with obesity had more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes, compared to normal-weight people3.
How Probiotics Affect Changes in Weight:
- It is believed that certain probiotics could inhibit the absorption of dietary fat, thus increasing the amount of fat excreted in your stool4. What does this mean? Probiotics make you harvest fewer calories from the foods you eat.
- Probiotics may help your body release the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormone GLP-1. Increased levels of this hormone have shown to help you burn calories and fat5.
- Probiotics may increase levels of the protein ANGPTL4. This may lead to a decrease in stored fat6.
- Some studies show that obesity is linked to inflammation in the brain. By improving gut health, probiotics may reduce systemic inflammation and protect against obesity and other diseases7.
- In one study, eating yogurt with Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus reduced body fat by 3–4% over a 6-week period8.
- During a 3-month study period, 125 overweight dieters taking probiotics lost 50% more weight compared to the group taking a placebo9.
- One study followed 210 people with belly fat. It found that taking Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks reduced body weight, fat around organs, BMI, waist size and hip circumference. Even more impressive is that their belly fat was reduced by 8.5%. When the study was over, participants stopped taking the probiotic and gained back all of their belly fat within 30 days10.
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1. Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic, 2014 Aug;11(8):506-14. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66. Epub 2014 Jun 10
2. Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity, 2006 Dec 21;444(7122):1022-3
3. Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest, 2006 Dec 21;444(7122):1027-31
4. Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses fatty acid release through enlargement of fat emulsion size in vitro and promotes fecal fat excretion in healthy Japanese subjects, 2015 Mar 20;14:20. doi: 10.1186/s12944-015-0019-0
5. Beneficial metabolic effects of a probiotic via butyrate-induced GLP-1 hormone secretion, 2013 Aug 30;288(35):25088-97. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.452516. Epub 2013 Jul 8
6. Decreased fat storage by Lactobacillus paracasei is associated with increased levels of angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4), 2010 Sep 30;5(9). pii: e13087. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013087
7. Functional Foods in Health and Disease | Probiotics as regulators of inflammation: A review
8. Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons, January 2013
9. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women, 2014 Apr 28;111(8):1507-19. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513003875. Epub 2013 Dec 3
10. Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in a randomised controlled trial, 2013 Nov 14;110(9):1696-703. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513001037. Epub 2013 Apr 25