Bacteria living in your gut is collectively known as the gut micro-biome, may play a major role in inflammation and chronic diseases like obesity. This article is about Probiotics and weight loss and the things that you need to know.
Many people view bacteria as all bad; however, the majority of your gut bacteria perform critical tasks, including digesting plant fibers and manufacturing essential vitamins, like vitamin K. Some of these bacteria, known as probiotics, are considered beneficial to human health and may even help create novel treatments for disease. Research has even shown some probiotics help weight loss.
The two main groups of bacteria associated with weight are the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. A higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes is often observed in obese and overweight humans, while leaner humans typically present a higher Bacteroidetes level relative to Firmicutes.
Science shows that Firmicutes are more efficient at extracting energy from food compared to Bacteroidetes. Large Firmicutes populations in your gut microbiome means that most of the food you consume is converted to energy or stored away as fat. Even if your diet is the exact same as someone with more Bacteroidetes relative to Firmicutes, you actually consume more calories.
Overuse of antibiotics, high stress levels, environmental pollutants, eating too many processed carbs, and high-fat diets can lead to a higher Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio, which eventually might lead to a dysbiotic gut.
In the future, researchers hope to find specific probiotics that can be used to increase Bacteroidetes populations and ultimately help achieve weight loss by either reducing appetite [Source] or decreasing caloric intake [Source].
Probiotics and Weight Loss: What you Need to Know
The majority of studies have shown that Lactobacillus strains are effective at helping weight loss; however, there are other probiotics that are beneficial to overall health, including Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus, which may also be beneficial to weight loss.
- One preliminary study [Source] found that Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus reduced body fat significantly over the study duration of six weeks.
- An additional study observed overweight patients taking Lactobacillus rhamnosus or a placebo. The probiotic group lost 50 percent more of their weight than the placebo group.
- Lactobacillus gasseri has also shown promising results for weight loss [Source], with some patients losing up to 8.5 percent of their body weight.
- Lactobacillus paracasei is also associated with increased levels of certain hormones, which may decrease fat storage [Source].
In addition to specific types of bacteria that might help weight loss, increasing your overall microbial diversity is a great way to encourage optimal gut health. Studies [Source] have found that increased diversity can be linked to lean individuals and better overall health.
Most probiotics only contain one strain, which will not contribute to microbial diversity. Power-17 [Source] contains 17 targeted strains to encourage gut health and the diversity of communities living in your gut.
Probiotics are not a cure for obesity and typically do not help people achieve weight loss when used alone. However, combining probiotics with a change in diet is an effective way to help you reach your goals.
Other than probiotic supplements, you can also try adding probiotics to your daily diet. You probably already know that yogurt includes probiotics, but you can also find them in kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, pickled vegetables, and more. When searching for yogurt at your local grocery store, steer clear of products high in sugar.
Plain Greek yogurt with added fresh berries or seeds is a great way to get your daily dose of fiber and encourage the growth of good bacteria. In addition, look for fermented veggies and sauerkraut [Source] in the refrigerated aisles of your local farmers’ market. Chain grocery stores don’t typically carry these products without first heat treating them.
Most modern countries struggle to include the recommended daily dose of 25 to 38 grams of fiber. Make sure to eat a high-fiber diet with good carbs as these diets help crowd out potentially bad bacteria and encourages the good bacteria to flourish. In addition, try to decrease your fat intake as it encourages the growth of Firmicutes, which absorb fats and lead to weight gain.
Avoid sugars and highly processed carbs. We know Firmicutes thrive on sugars and often grow in sugar factories [Source].
Increase your bean consumption as they encourage the growth of Bacteroidetes [Source]. You might find it difficult to digest beans, which might indicate your Bacteroidetes levels are low. Try adding beans to your diet slowly to reduce symptoms instead of avoiding them altogether.
Tipping your Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes might be the missing puzzle piece for weight loss. Dieting in combination with probiotic supplements and foods might allow you to reach your weight loss goals.