Probiotics and Weight Loss: The Best Supplement for Losing Weight?
We all wish there were that miracle supplement to help us lose weight. However, this is a bigger fairy tale than Hansel & Gretel. No weight loss supplement can do the work on its own. You also need to follow a healthy gut diet plan and exercise. However, there is a strong link between probiotics and weight loss. Since the majority of the weight you want to lose is most likely around your gut, probiotic supplements might make sense for your weight loss routine.
Why Do People Gain Weight?
To understand the connection between probiotics and weight loss, you need to understand why we gain weight in the first place. Weight gain can come from several different factors creating the (im)perfect storm that has ravaged our body.
Causes of weight gain include:
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Side Effects of Medication
- Lack of Exercise
- Illness or Injury
Obviously, there are more reasons people gain weight. However, these are some of the most common. Of them, we saved the best for last. By best, we mean worst.
Poor Diet and Obesity
It shouldn’t come as a shock that what we eat has a lasting impact on if we develop obesity. You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that the more pounds of food that you eat, the more pounds you are going to put onto your frame.
A meta-analysis on humans and obesity found,
“Binge eating is considerably more common among adults with obesity than in the general population, and individuals who binge eat are more likely to become obese than individuals without disordered eating 1.”–Neurosci Biobehav Rev.
The consistency of what we eat isn’t the only reason why one-third of the population is overweight 2. WHAT we’re eating matters, too. We’re not saying you should eat three pounds of anything. However, you’ll feel a lot more stuffed eating three pounds of steak than three pounds of broccoli.
Chances are you’re going to have steak in every meal before broccoli. So, filling up on these fatty foods multiple times a day end up clogging the system.
Over time, these dietary choices can cause tears in the gut lining, resulting in Leaky Gut Syndrome. In other scenarios, your small intestine can back up, causing Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
That’s right; your diet does more than just cause obesity. Poor choices can also have a horrible effect on your gut biome. Long-term poor dietary choices can result in several gastrointestinal disorders.
How Weight Gain Affects Gut Biome
Sure, we all want to look good. However, losing weight should be more than a cosmetic concern. When you have excess weight going on outside, there is usually something wrong going on inside.
Research on weight gain and gastroenterology diseases found you have “increased odds” of developing 3:
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Erosive Esophagitis
- Barrett’s Esophagus
- Esophageal Adenocarcinoma
- Erosive Gastritis
- Gastric Cancer
- Colonic Diverticular Disease
- Liver Disease
- Pancreatic Cancer
Yeah, that’s quite the rap sheet. However, the reason behind this is that a lifetime of poor diet choices does a number on your gut biome. The most significant disruptor of our microbiome is inflammation.
Inflammation and Diet
Think of a typical lunch. Highly-processed deli meat on gluten-enriched bread and lactose-rich cheese. Is it topped with an artificially-made condiment?
In this sandwich, you have the top two allergens in the world, gluten and dairy. Then they’re sandwiched, literally, with highly-processed foods made with additives we could never pronounce. All of these ingredients are a recipe for a steaming broth of inflammation.
Sure, a sandwich is nice for a quick lunch once in a while. However, every day? That starts to add up. Now, think about all the snacks, dinners, and breakfasts that are also within these questionable food guidelines. We think you get the point.
Damaged Intestinal Flora
The point is, inflammation starts to fester and destroys healthy bacteria. In the same breath, this immune reaction also creates leaks in your gut lining.
That opens the door for toxins and harmful bacteria to leave your intestines and enter your bloodstream. Furthermore, the good probiotic bacteria have died off due to inflammation. So, there is no army to stop the bad bacteria from colonizing the gut biome.
Artificial Sweeteners, Weight Gain, and Gut Flora
Even scarier, these bacteria like to eat the same items that are destroying the good bacteria in the first place. Yup, they have a sweet tooth, too.
Research on the toxicity of artificial sweeteners to microbes found,
“FDA-approved artificial sweeteners and sport supplements were found to be toxic to digestive gut microbes…We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system…This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues 4.”– Science Daily
Six of the ten sweeteners that caused this adverse reaction was:
- Acesulfame Potassium-K
Please look at labels before you purchase anything. Stay clear of these fake sugars if you are trying to improve probiotics and weight loss goals.
As harmful bacteria take over, they become an exclusive bunch. They thrive in inflammation and do everything they can to ensure the body remains that way for them.
The key to a healthy gut and losing weight is to have a diverse number of bacteria strains in your body. That way, they can perform unique functions for your system that other stomach bacteria can’t.
When you have more diverse microbes, you can improve nutrient absorption, digestion of food, and the removal of harmful bacteria from the system.
Bacteroidetes and Weight Issues
Research on both mice and humans found two interesting facts about the gut biome and weight gain. Mammals with high levels of Firmicutes bacteria strains tend to be overweight. They also seem to be lacking Bacteroidetes.
One human study noted that,
“Higher caloric intake was associated with a 20% growth of Firmicutes and a 20% reduction in Bacteroidetes, which was directly related to the gain in body weight 5.”– Nutr. Today
Even more interesting is that there is a strong correlation between a lack of Bacteroidetes in the gut biome and mental health issues. Furthermore, depressed children are 70% more likely to become obese 7. These studies just further drill home the relationship between probiotics and weight loss.
Lactobacillus and Weight Loss
While too many dairy products can contribute to weight gain, don’t throw your cheese out just yet.
There are many health benefits to dairy-based products as well. One is that they have an abundance of Lactobacillus stomach bacteria.
Multiple strains of Lactobacillus probiotics have shown to benefit those who are looking to lose weight.
Results found that after six weeks,
“Lactobacillus amylovorus decreases gut microflora content of Clostridium leptum. Consumption of Lactobacillus amylovorus confers a total body fat loss of 4%. Consumption of Lactobacillus fermentum confers a total body fat loss of 3%.”– Journal of Functional Foods
Another Lactobacillus strain also showed promise in helping people lose weight. This study followed overweight people who drank fermented milk rich in Lactobacillus gasseri. After twelve weeks, the average person lost 8.2% to 8.5% of their body fat 8.
Lastly, one analysis found that women can lose weight with Lactobacillus rhamnosus. More interesting, these women lost weight after they already dieted 9.
This experiment was conducted during their weight-management stage. In the weight-management stage, the typical person has plateaued and won’t lose extra weight. However, these women shed excess pounds thanks to Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
It should also be noted that men didn’t see the same results. That says a lot about women’s gut biome and the differences hormones can make. So, as a women’s body changes after menopause, it might be in their best interest to get a probiotic bacteria with Lactobacillus to fight off excess weight gain.
Benefits of Probiotics for Weight Loss
Probiotics and weight loss already seem like the perfect match just based on the fact that probiotics help absorb nutrients, fight off bad bacteria, and help us shed excess pounds. However, these beneficial microbes do even more.
A common byproduct of stomach bacteria is butyrate acid. This pivotal acid acts as a catalyst for the secretion of Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) 10. GLP-1 is a hormone that lets us know that we feel full. Therefore, probiotics may help us feel satiated longer.
Also, stomach bacteria strains of Lactobacillus paracasei increases levels of the protein, angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4), in our gut biome 11. This protein helps break down fat so that we store less of it around the gut lining.
Probiotics and Weight Loss with Microbiome Testing
As you can see, there are so many stomach bacteria that have different interactions with our bodies. The same can be said about the foods we eat. Even if we’re overweight, we still have different tastes from the overweight person down the street from us. Therefore, not one gut biome will look the same.
Sure, studies are excellent for giving us generalizations. We have a solid foundation as to which bacteria strains help you gain weight. We also know which probiotics and weight maintenance go hand-in-hand.
With that knowledge, we can help you find the right strain-specific probiotic to meet your unique gut biome. Thanks to microbiome testing, we send you everything you need to take a gut test at home. Based on these results, we can determine which stomach bacteria is causing your system to be set up for weight gain.
Knowing which intestinal flora are in your gut biome, we can recommend targeted probiotics to help shift the balance back to the beneficial bacteria. That way, you stand a chance to lose weight and keep it off for good!
- 1 Razzoli, M., Pearson, C., Crow, S., & Bartolomucci, A. (2017). Stress, overeating, and obesity: Insights from human studies and preclinical models. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 76(Pt A), 154–162. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.01.026.
- 2 “Obesity and Overweight.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 16 Feb. 2018, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight.
- 3 Camilleri, M., Malhi, H., & Acosta, A. (2017). Gastrointestinal Complications of Obesity. Gastroenterology, 152(7), 1656–1670. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2016.12.052.
- 4 “Artificial Sweeteners Have Toxic Effects on Gut Microbes.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 1 Oct. 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181001101932.htm.
- 5 Davis C. D. (2016). The Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Obesity. Nutrition today, 51(4), 167–174. doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000167.
- 6 Rajan, T. M., & Menon, V. (2017). Psychiatric disorders and obesity: A review of association studies. Journal of postgraduate medicine, 63(3), 182–190. doi:10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_712_16.
- 7 Omar, Jaclyn M., and Yen-Ming Chan. “Lactobacillus Fermentum and Lactobacillus Amylovorus as Probiotics Alter Body Adiposity and Gut Microflora in Healthy Persons.” Journal of Functional Foods, Elsevier, 9 Oct. 2012, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464612001399.
- 8 Kadooka, Yukio, et al. “Effect of Lactobacillus Gasseri SBT2055 in Fermented Milk on Abdominal Adiposity in Adults in a Randomised Controlled Trial: British Journal of Nutrition.” Cambridge Core, Cambridge University Press, 25 Apr. 2013, www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/effect-of-lactobacillus-gasseri-sbt2055-in-fermented-milk-on-abdominal-adiposity-in-adults-in-a-randomised-controlled-trial/304E3E2EE11E0D3D4F5D85E7046118A1.
- 9 Sanchez, Marina, et al. “Effect of Lactobacillus Rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 Supplementation on Weight Loss and Maintenance in Obese Men and Women.” British Journal of Nutrition (2014), Cambridge University Press, 25 Apr. 2013, www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/effect-of-lactobacillus-gasseri-sbt2055-in-fermented-milk-on-abdominal-adiposity-in-adults-in-a-randomised-controlled-trial/304E3E2EE11E0D3D4F5D85E7046118A1.
- 10 Yadav, Hariom, et al. “Beneficial Metabolic Effects of a Probiotic via Butyrate-Induced GLP-1 Hormone Secretion.” The Journal of Biological Chemistry, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 30 Aug. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23836895.
- 11 Aronsson, Linda, et al. “Decreased Fat Storage by Lactobacillus Paracasei Is Associated with Increased Levels of Angiopoietin-like 4 Protein (ANGPTL4).” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 30 Sept. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20927337.