Probiotics and Weight Loss: The Facts

When it comes to losing weight safely and healthily we are always encouraged to use the timeless combination of good diet/regular exercise over faddy diets or dangerous eating disorders. But did you know that probiotics have also been proven to help battle the bulge, reducing belly fat and helping you to lose weight? Probiotics are live micro-organisms (including bacteria and yeast) that can be found in supplements and fermented food such as yoghurt and other dairy products. There are many different strains of probiotic but they usually fall within two groups – Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

They can have a wealth of general health benefits including improving heart health, digestive issues and immune function and are generally regarded to as 'good' or 'helpful' bacteria. This is because there are already several hundred different types of micro-organisms within the body and by adding to them you are helping to balance the levels of good and bad bacteria to a healthy level. When it comes to weight, studies have showed that obese people tend to have higher levels of bad bacteria in their gut. By restoring the balance and increasing the amount of good bacteria in the system through a probiotic intake, the body is able to implement weight loss in a number of ways.

Firstly, it is thought that probiotics are able to suppress the the absorption of fat in the food we digest – in other words less fat is absorbed by the body and is instead passed out of the body in waste matter. Probiotics are also believed to increase the production of the appetite reducing hormone which doesn't just reduce the likelihood of you wanting to eat, but also helps you burn calories and fat. Along with this, they also reduce inflammation which can drive obesity and increase levels of protein which can lead to reduced fat storage. In short, the use of probiotics can help the body become less susceptible to obesity and weight gain. But can probiotics help you if you are already overweight and looking to get trimmer and reduce belly fat? Studies seem to suggest so. One study, carried out over a period of three months, demonstrated that one group of women using probiotics lost 50% more weight than another group who were taking a placebo alternative. Those taking probiotics continued to lose weight long after the experiment finished.

The same concept applies to belly fat with another study indicating that those who took the specific probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri lost approximately 8.5% of their belly fat. When they stopped using it they gained all of this weight back over the period of a month. Sounds simple doesn't it? Unfortunately the evidence isn't always quite that straightforward. Conflicting results show that different types of probiotic can have different effects on the body. While research suggests that the Lactobacillus group of probiotics can have anti-obesity properties and help those who are already obese to lose weight, other studies suggest that different strains of probiotic have no effect on weight loss at all and in some cases can even lead to weight gain.

One such probiotic is the Lactobaccillus acidophilus. Further research demonstrates that another strain known as VSL#3 can actually help prevent weight gain even on a high calorie diet – two groups were overfed by 1000 calories for the period of a month and a group taking probiotics demonstrated far less weight gain and lower body mass. So generally the effect of the probiotic on weight may depend not only on the strain but the individual's metabolism and statistics.

In conclusion, while some studies show a promising link between probiotics and weight loss, the results are conflicting and do suggest that different strains work in different ways. For this reason it would be helpful to combine a suitable probiotic into a healthy living regime but not to rely on it solely for weight loss. After all, there is no replacement for a well balanced diet and regular exercise. Bear in mind that probiotics have a multitude of other health benefits such as improving immune function, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, settling digestive disorders and even fighting against mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

All of our posts reflect our philosophy at A Healthy View

A whole real food perspective on food and life.  Extremes do not work but clean, whole, tasty and easy food choices can create a lifetime of good habits that lead to a lean, happy, and healthy person. 

Contact us on our website for our next Low Sugar Lifestyle program or a nutritional consult.   Article by Helen Dawson, A Healthy View Consultant

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