Should I Take Probiotics for Weight Loss?

Did you know that you can use probiotics for weight loss (as well as improve nearly every other aspect of health)? Find out how!

Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of training people from all walks of life. People with different backgrounds, different interests, and different exercise experiences.

However, despite all these differences, I would estimate that about 75% of them all had the same training goal.

To lose weight.

Now, personally, my approach has always been very simple.  Lift weights using heavy compound movements 3-4 times per week and eat a diet that is full of lean protein and a myriad of colorful veggies.

See, simple.

Despite its simplicity, this approach worked wonders with the vast majority of my clients. But, unfortunately, it did not work for all of them.

In fact, some people would work with me for months but see very minimal weight loss. They would get stronger, build a bit of muscle, and generally feel better.  But they really struggled to shift any fat.

And for the longest time, I could not work out why.

Until I had a light bulb moment.

Gut Health and Weight Loss

You see, I was listening to a podcast with the health genius Ben Greenfield (a health professional who we have interviewed here, actually).  He was discussing the role that gut health can play in immune system function and nutrient absorption.  During this chat, he also happened to mention that an unhealthy gut can also impair weight loss.

I was shocked!

Read More: Ask an Expert: Ben Greenfield of Ben Greenfield Fitness

So, I started doing some of my own research.  And I quickly found that there is some pretty clear evidence demonstrating that if your gut health is out of whack, then you will struggle to lose weight.  

I mentioned this to a few of my clients and a couple of them decided to implement some probiotic supplements into their regime.  Amazingly, after about 4 weeks, they started to see some pretty significant weight loss.

It was almost as if their gut health was acting as a bottleneck, limiting their ability to lose weight.  The probiotics improved their gut health, widening this bottleneck. As a result, all the work they were putting in started to cause some pretty serious weight loss.  

Like I said — amazing!

Is There Research to Support Using Probiotics for Weight Loss?

Woman standing on a scale

This is where things really start to get interesting!  

See, in the wide world of supplements, probiotics are relatively new to the game.  Despite this, there is still a decent body of research looking into their ability to help you lose weight.

And I should note that this research has been extremely promising.

In fact, supplementing with probiotics for as little as three weeks has been shown to cause significant weight loss.  And if you supplement for up to 12 weeks, you see even greater weight loss.

This suggests that longer duration probiotic supplementation causes larger changes in your gut health.  Over time, this can contribute to more weight loss!

With this research, I do want to restate something that I have already outlined above.  

While probiotics can indeed create some weight loss, I think most of their benefit comes from the fact that they enhance your capacity for weight loss.

This means that for you to lose weight you still need to maintain a slight energy deficit on a weekly basis.  And to manage this, you still need to eat well and exercise regularly.  (Often easier said than done, I know.)

Related Reading: Can Probiotics Boost Athletic Performance

How Might Probiotics Help You Lose Weight?

I have actually discussed how probiotics can help you lose weight in detail in another article (which can be found here).  However, I thought it might be worth going over again briefly here too.

See, probiotic supplements increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut.  In doing so, they can influence your body weight in four key ways. These are:

Combined, these effects can really improve your ability to lose weight!

What Probiotic Strains Appear to Aid Weight Loss Best?

With all this information, it is important to remember that not all probiotics are created equal.  

In fact, there are a vast number of different types of good bacteria found within your gut. As a result, there are many different types of probiotic “strains” (types of bacteria) that you can supplement with to improve your gut health.  Some, however, appear to be more effective than others.

Those that seem to have the best effects on weight loss include:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium longum

So, if you think that probiotics might hold the key to unlocking your weight loss potential, but you are not sure where to start, check this list.  You want to make sure that any probiotic supplement you choose has at least one of the above probiotic strains included in its formula.

Are Probiotics Safe for Weight Loss?

The fact that probiotics actually cause weight loss is pretty damn impressive.  I mean, there are hundreds of different “fat-burning” supplements on the market and I would argue that most of them do very little.  (Read: “nothing at all”.)

I’m sure this makes you wonder, “What’s the catch?  I mean, if they help me lose weight, they must come with some side effects?  Right?”

Well, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that this is not the case at all.

In fact, there is a pretty large body of evidence clearly stating that, for most healthy people, there are no real risks of side effects when it comes to probiotics.  While a few individuals might have very short-term constipation or diarrhea when they first start taking them, this tends to disappear after the first few days.

This is pretty good when you consider that most other “weight loss supplements” (if you can even call them that…) can come with a number of nasty side effects.

I should highlight the fact that this holds true for most healthy people.  It is important to note that there are a couple of types of people who might find probiotics might a bit risky. But I will touch on that later!

How Do You Know If You Should Take Probiotics for Weight Loss?

Four people running in the sunrise

There are few specific situations that can significantly alter your gut health for the worse or are a serious sign of poor gut health.  These include:

If any of this sounds like you and you have either:

A) recently experienced some noticeable weight gain

B) recently been struggling to lose weight

then this is a good sign you might want to look into probiotics for weight loss!

Related Article: The Best Probiotics for Weight Loss

How Do You Know If You Shouldn’t Take Probiotics for Weight Loss?

Something that I said above was that probiotics are pretty much completely safe for healthy people.  However, I also alluded to the fact that there are certain people who might have a few issues with probiotic supplements.  

With this in mind, you might want to avoid probiotics if:

Additionally, if you have had allergic reactions to probiotics in the past, then it is probably in your best interest to avoid them in the future as well.

What are the Best Sources of Probiotics for Weight Loss?

We all know probiotics have become popular as a form of supplement (in fact, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article if they hadn’t!).  But, supplements are not the only place you can get in some probiotics.

Probiotics are also found in certain foods — called “fermented foods”.

Best Food Sources of Probiotics for Weight Loss

Sandwich with sauerkraut, corned beef and pickles

To keep it simple, fermented foods are any foods that have undergone a process of fermentation. During this fermentation process, probiotic microorganisms were added to the food to change their flavor and texture.

But, as an added bonus, they also offer another awesome way you can get in some probiotics!

Some of my favorite fermented foods include:

  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • miso
  • pickles (from the refrigerated section)

There are two main reasons why I really like including these foods into my diet.  

Firstly, since they are whole foods, they also contain a heap of healthy vitamins and minerals in addition to probiotics.  

And, secondly, they taste great!

But they do also have a downside.  

See, it is really hard to work out how much of a specific probiotic is contained in fermented foods.  This is because they rarely (if ever) list the types of microorganisms that were added during fermentation or how much.  

Obviously, this can make things a little bit tricky if you’re trying to boost your levels of one type of healthy gut bacteria.

As a result, you might want to include a probiotic supplement into your daily routine and not rely solely on a diet that is rich in fermented foods!

Best Brands of Probiotic Supplements for Weight Loss

Now, fortunately for you, I’ve already written an article outlining the top five probiotics for weight loss on the market at the moment.  Each of these is made by a great quality company and includes one or more of the key probiotic strains listed above.

In short, they are perfect options!  So, make sure you head on over and check them out!  

Take Home Message

Because of their ability to improve nearly every aspect of health, probiotics have become one of the most popular supplements on the planet.  Amazingly, it appears that they can even help you lose weight!

By reducing calorie absorption, increasing your insulin sensitivity, changing your hormone levels, and increasing your nutrient absorption, probiotics can make your healthy diet and exercise routine more effective. As long as it’s safe for you to take them (i.e. you don’t have a weak immune system, autoimmune condition, or kidney disease), probiotics can make a great addition to your healthy weight loss regimen!

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