Probiotics for weight loss

Can probiotics help you lose weight? Several studies show that probiotics can help you lose weight, in this article we will discuss probiotics for weight loss.

What are probiotics?

  • Probiotics are live microorganisms that are found in certain foods and supplements.
  • The most common probiotics are bacteria.
  • Some yeast strains can also be considered probiotics.

Probiotics for weight loss and bacteria in our intestinal tract

Bacteria in our intestinal tract are very important they perform several important functions such as supporting digestion. Gut bacteria also help our body produce important nutrients including vitamin K and certain B-vitamins.

A course of antibiotics can alter bacteria in our gut which can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea. Probiotics can help restore bacteria in our intestinal tract.

Probiotics for weight loss and change of bacteria in our intestine

Several studies suggest that a change in intestinal bacteria may increase your risk of weight gain.

The concept that gut microbes may play a role in obesity came from studies comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals. People who were obese had more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes, compared to normal-weight people.

Health benefits of probiotics

According to the NIH,

  • “Some probiotics may help to prevent diarrhea that’s caused by infections or antibiotics. They may also help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. However, benefits have not been conclusively demonstrated, and not all probiotics have the same effects.”

Probiotics for weight loss

  • There are some studies to support probiotic use for weight loss but more studies are needed. Let us review some of the studies.

Probiotics for weight loss -Decrease in

abdominal fat with probiotics

probiotics for weight lossCan eating yogurt decrease belly fat?

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition,

showed supplementation with Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 resulted in decreased belly fat. Continued use was needed to sustain these results.

Another study showed weight loss with probiotics, “Modulation of gut microbial composition from probiotic consumption contributed to altered energy metabolism and body composition”.

Another study in the British Journal of Medicine also suggested probiotics for weight loss, “LPR-induced weight loss in women was associated not only with significant reductions in fat mass and circulating leptin concentrations but also with the relative abundance of bacteria of the Lachnospiraceae family in faeces. The present study shows that the Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 formulation helps obese women to achieve sustainable weight loss.”

  • Leptin resistance is thought to be associated with obesity.

Probiotics for weight loss -Do probiotics

decrease fat absorption

  • Probiotics may help decrease fat absorption in the intestine.
  • Feces has been shown to contain more fat in the presence of one probiotic (Lactobacillus gasseri). This means your body is absorbing less fat. The fat is moving through the intestines and ending up in in the feces.

A study in

  • Lipids Health Dis. 2015 Mar 20;14:20. doi: 10.1186/s12944-015-0019-0.  states, “The influence of Lactobacillus gasseri on the physicochemical properties of fat emulsion provides a mechanism for the probiotic-mediated suppression of lipid absorption and promotion of fecal fat excretion in humans”.

Probiotics for weight loss -Can probiotics prevent weight gain?

One article in Obesity suggested that certain probiotics helped prevent weight gain, “VSL#3 supplementation appears to have provided some protection from body mass gain and fat accumulation in healthy young men consuming a high-fat and high-energy diet.”

Can probiotics result in weight gain?

If you considering a probiotic you need to know that there are different types. One study suggested that Lactobacillus acidophilus administration resulted in significant weight gain in humans and in animals (SMD 0.15; 95% confidence intervals 0.05–0.25). ”

Probiotics for weight loss -Do probiotics

influence appetite reducing hormones?

Probiotics may help release appetite suppressing bacteria.

“These findings suggest that probiotics such as VSL#3 can modulate the gut microbiota short chain fatty acid -hormone axis. Moreover, our results indicate that probiotics are of potential therapeutic utility to counter obesity and diabetes.”

Probiotics may help with heart health

Some studies suggest that probiotics can help lower cholesterol levels low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). In one review article, twenty-six clinical studies and two meta-analyses are reviewed.
“Of the probiotics examined, L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 was found to best meet TLC dietary requirements by 1) significantly reducing LDL-C and total cholesterol, with robustness similar to that of existing TLC dietary options, 2) improving other coronary heart disease risk factors, such as inflammatory biomarkers”

Probiotics for weight loss -An association

between obesity and inflammation

Studies suggest that inflammation may increase the risk of obesity. Probiotics are thought to  reduce inflammation in the gut.
Probiotics and Inflammatory disease
A 2014 review of more than 30 studies, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology by an international team of researchers, determined that in some cases, probiotics help to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome for reasons that are not entirely clear, although it may be that they impede the growth of harmful microbes. Source- Scientific American

Unproven treatments of probiotics

According to the NIH, there is insufficient evidence to show that probiotics can help improve,
  • Allergic disorders such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
  • Tooth decay
  • Liver disease
  • Prevention of the  common cold. One review article did suggest a shorter duration of the cold.
  • Prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight infants.
  • Travelers diarrhea source

Probiotics for weight loss -Possible


  • People with weakened immune systems should avoid probiotics, there is a risk of infection as live organisms are ingested.

Probiotics for weight loss -Who regulates these


FDA regulation and probiotic supplements

  • Many probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not require FDA approval before they are marketed.

According to the NIH, ”

  • If you’re considering a probiotic dietary supplement, consult your healthcare provider first.
  • If you’re pregnant or nursing a child, or if you’re considering giving a child a dietary supplement, such as probiotics, it’s especially important to consult your (or your child’s) health care provider.”

probiotics for weight loss

This is an example of a probiotic which contains a number of different strains. This product does not have to be refrigerated and is vegetarian, gluten Free, dairy free, soy free Garden of Life Probiotics Supplement for Women – Dr. Formulated Once Daily Women’s for Digestive and Gut Health, Shelf Stable, 30 Capsules


Sources of probiotics

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods and supplements.

Foods which contain probiotics 

  • Yogurt, look for active or live cultures. Try to avoid those brands with high amounts of sugar.
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi which is also a fermented cabbage.
  • Miso is made from fermented soybeans.
  • Kombucha which is fermented tea.
  • Some cheeses, look for live cultures.
  • Kefir
  • Sourdough bread
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour pickles
  • Tempeh which is made from fermented soybean.

    Is there a difference between a prebiotic

    and a probiotic?

    Yes, there is a difference between prebiotics and probiotics.

    Prebiotics are non-living and are derived from plants.  Prebiotics may act as a “fertilizer” for our gut bacteria but they are not living organisms like probiotics.

Summary of probiotics for weight loss

Strong scientific evidence to support specific uses of probiotics for most health conditions including obesity  is lacking.

There is not enough literature to support that probiotics alone will help you shed the pounds but you should consider consuming them along with a well balanced diet and plenty of exercise.

If you are considering a probiotic look for Lactobacillus gasseri, VSL#3, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces as there are some studies listed above that suggest their benefits. There are many different strains, read the labels and know what you are purchasing. In addition, these supplements are not FDA regulated.

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