Since I’m sort of on a probiotic kick right now, I thought I’d address the best probiotic for weight loss. If you’ve been following along, I recently wrote a blog about the best probiotics for kids, and the basics of that article apply for adults. In general, probiotics are imperative for gut health in both children and adults. Research also suggests that probiotics affect your body’s metabolic rate and body composition.
First, let’s start with the most obvious question: How are probiotics helpful for weight loss?
The answer: The gut microbiome.
Antibiotics, processed foods, the environment, and a poor diet in general can wipe out entire colonies of good bacteria. Basically, if the good outweighs the bad, the “biome” in the gut is happy. However, if the bad takes over- disaster can occur. The worst part, people are living with this daily and it can present as “common” symptoms such as gas, bloating, allergies, yeast infections, and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
We, as health practitioners, have a habit of treating symptoms as opposed to getting down to the root of the problem. If this is new to you, check out my article on the best probiotics for kids where I explain the gut microbiome.
So, how can we support the gut?
You guessed it! Probiotics.
Back to my original question… are probiotics good for weight loss? If so, how? Research shows that probiotics can support weight loss in many ways. The first is improving the microbiome. We’ve been studying the DNA of obese vs lean people for years and have found a key difference is the bacteria in the gut.
In fact, a study (in mice) found that when lean mice were implanted with the gut microbiota from obese mice- their body weight increased without any other changes in food consumption! Shocking right?! Their summary was that “manipulation of gut microbial communities could be another approach in the treatment of obesity.” And how does one improve these communities? Probiotics. Certain foods and particular strains of probiotics are good for weight loss by improving the microbes. Let’s discuss.
What probiotic strains are good for weight loss?
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the two most common probiotics on the market. These probiotics have been found to improve metabolism and potentially even reduce belly fat (win!). There are specific strains in the lactobacillus family that are likely more beneficial. One study found the following after giving participants a probiotic yogurt for a period of 4-6 weeks:
- Lactobacillus amylovorus confers a total body fat loss of 4%.
- Lactobacillus fermentum confers a total body fat loss of 3%
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded other strains may reduce adiposity (fat), body weight, and weight gain and included:
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- The combination of L. rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Certain food products also contain these probiotics. And, as a registered dietitian, I always promote getting as much as we possibly can out of food prior to taking a pill.
Probiotic rich foods range from dairy products to sauerkraut, and are becoming increasingly popular. In the study mentioned above, the participants were given yogurt with lactobacillus. In the second study participants where given a product made from fermented milk. Not sure what foods have the highest amount of probiotics?
The following are probiotic foods that may support weight loss.
- Kefir. Don’t let the name intimidate you! It’s just a fermented yogurt drink- and it tastes good! Kefir has a wide variety of probiotic strains and is used in hospitals to treat symptoms of GI disorders such as gas, bloating and diarrhea. Just one small serving (2 oz) can provide enough probiotic to possibly help lose weight.
- Kimchi. If you’ve never had Kimchi you are really missing out on a unique and flavorful food. Made with cabbage and garlic, it is fermented and contains powerful probiotics. You can mix it with rice or use as a topper for asian dishes.
- Yogurt. You certainly have heard that yogurt is good for your gut, and it also contains calcium, Vitamin D and protein. The greek version is thick and creamy and an even better source of protein. A few of my favorites are Siggi’s Icelandic Yogurt and Fage Total Greek Yogurt. Both yogurts are full of protein, low in sugar and provide a powerful probiotic punch.
- Chickpeas. Technically, chickpea is a legume. A legume is a member of the pea family and this particular plant is high in fiber (good for gut) and resistant starch. Did you know chickpeas are also loaded with protein and iron – and may even help you lower cholesterol. Need a recipe for chickpeas? Try this one for Easy Vegan Chickpea Curry!
- Kombucha. Kombucha is a type of tea that is fermented and contains massive amounts of probiotics. It also has certain antioxidants, B vitamins and folic acid. If you don’t like one brand, keep trying. The flavors of kombucha can vary greatly between brands. My absolute, hands down, tastes like a beach vacation is the coconut lime from Humm. And I’m not the only one that loves it! It is frequently out of stock at my local grocer. If you want to try and order from amazon – here is my affiliate link– I order in bulk.
Are the best probiotics for women different than the best probiotics for men?
What is the best probiotic for women? I would be remiss if I didn’t share the difference in the research in the probiotics for women vs. men. There is some really promising research on the best probiotic for women.
Recent studies published by the British Journal of Nutrition found that lactobacillus rhamnosus may help obese women to achieve sustainable weight loss. The women were given either a probiotic supplement or a placebo (fake pill) for a 3 month period. The women taking probiotics lost 50% more weight compared to the group taking a placebo pill. They also continued to lose weight during the weight maintenance phase of the study! As a female, this is very encouraging.
What is the best probiotic for Men? It turns out research on the best probiotic for men is a little more inconclusive. In this meta analysis of several studies, the researchers found that in general several types of probiotic are beneficial for men, and may reduce their BMI (Body mass index). Most of these studies used a strain of Lactobacillus reuteri, gasseri or planetarum.
As mentioned, it is always my goal as a dietitian for my clients to improve diet through food intake before relying on a pill. But, in the case of probiotics good for weight loss, that can be difficult.
I completely understand that kimchi, kombucha and kefir may not be a daily routine in anyone’s diet! For that reason I’ve listed the best probiotic supplements for women and the best probiotic supplements for men as well.
Disclaimer: all claims I have made are based on research and supported by evidence based articles. That being said, there is no guarantee that if you eat probiotics or probiotic rich foods you will lose weight.
But hey, every little bit counts. It is important to note that with any study, there are also research articles that claim no changes were seen after implementing a probiotic. My advice is to know the facts and see what works best for you- as long as implemented in safe and recommended dosage my educated opinion is that a probiotic certainly can’t hurt!
Finally, what is the best probiotic supplement for weight loss.
My research has included reading article after article on probiotics and of course practical experience with my clients, however, I cannot say I’ve personally tried all of these probiotics for weight loss. I have done my due diligence research into company ethics, storage options (refrigerated vs stored on the counter), and ingredients. There is a wide variety of supplements on the market- so make sure you are doing your research prior to buying! My favorites are below:
1. *Love Bug – Here’s The Skinny. “Here’s the Skinny has 8 targeted bacterial strains + a prebiotic designed to support your digestion and metabolism.” These strains include Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG – all of which have been studied for their possible effect on weight and body composition.
2. *Orthomolecular Probiotic 225. This is one amazing product. This probiotic supplement contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus casei – all included in the best probiotic for weight loss studies.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), this company only sells medical grade supplements through licensed medical professionals (like me!). Therefore, the establishment selling these on amazon can bump up the price! I will happily facilitate a purchase of these for HALF the price but only after we’ve worked together as I can’t (or won’t) recommend a product until we’ve had a consult.
3. *Culturelle. Culturelle has been selling digestive aids for a long time. Culturelle claims “It’s the only leading probiotic supplement brand with 100% Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the most clinically studied strain.” Lactobacillus rhamnosus is one of the strains we’ve seen in the study’s researching the best probiotic for weight loss.
4. *PB8. This is actually the product I take! As with the others here, this supplement contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus plantarum, magnesium stearate, silica, Lactobacillus salivarius, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus casei. This product is for men and women. It also claims to be vegan “ free of gluten, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, or eggs.”
**I’m not vegan but appreciate the effort for my vegan clients.
Thank you for reading friends! As always if you have any questions or comments give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org – Happy Eating!
*These are affiliate links, meaning I make a small percentage off of the sale of these products. THANK YOU!