Probiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism

Probiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism

Probiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism

We once thought that weight loss was all about calories in, calories out, or just diet and exercise. Or perhaps, it’s in your genes or hormones leptin. However, your gut bacteria might actually have more to do with your weight than you think. Read this post to learn about how probiotics could help you lose weight and improve your metabolism.

1) Reducing Calorie Harvest from Foods

In mice and rats, obesity-related microbes can harvest more energy from food than the microbes that are found in lean animals [1].

Compared with lean mice with normal genes, the gut bacteria of obese mice have more genes that can burn carbohydrates for energy [2].

How the gut bacteria metabolize primary bile acids to secondary bile acids affect our metabolism by activating the farnesoid X receptor, which controls fat in the liver and blood sugar balance [3].

Also, activation of bile acid receptors can increase metabolic rate in brown adipose tissues (fat that burns fat) [4, 5].

Intestinal microbiota can affect host fat storage [6].

In mice, diet accounts for 57% of changes in their gut microbiome [5].

3) Fecal Transplants

Gut bacteria from stools of healthy and lean humans transferred to obese people with type 2 diabetes increased insulin sensitivity and gut bacteria diversity in a clinical trial on 18 people . However, this study did not observe significant changes in body mass index 6 weeks after the transfer [7].

In a case study, fecal matter was transplanted from an overweight donor to a lean patient for C. difficile infection treatment. After the transplant, the recipient had increased appetite and rapid unintentional weight gain that could not be explained by the recovery from the C. difficile infection alone [8].

Feeding obese and insulin-resistant rats with antibiotics or transplanting them with fecal matters from healthy rats reversed both conditions [9].

In identical twin rats with discordant phenotypes (e.g., one obese and one lean, despite identical genetics), the gut bacteria also seems to control their metabolism. Germ-free mice (with no gut bacteria) populated with the obese twin had increased fat cells and reduced gut bacteria diversity compared to mice that were populated with the lean twin’s fecal matter [10].

In humans, more clinical studies would be necessary to determine whether fecal microbiota transplants can have long-term effects on insulin sensitivity or weight, even though fecal microbiota transplant improved the gut microbiome for up to 24 weeks in a small trial on 10 people [11].

Presently, there are several phases 2 and 3 clinical trials for fecal microbiota transplant [12].

While results thus far have shown that fecal microbiota transplant is a promising therapy for metabolic problems, it does come with risks, including [12]:

  • Infections getting carried over with the stool transplant
  • Side effects such as diarrhea or fever
  • Negative traits or health problems could potentially be transferred along with the gut bacteria

4) Controlling Appetite and Satiety

Prebiotic fermentation by the gut bacteria may increase gut hormones that promote appetite and glucose responses (such as GLP-1 and peptide YY), as seen in a clinical trial on 10 healthy people and a study in rats [13, 14].

5) Reducing Inflammation from “Leaky Gut”

Weight gain is associated with “leaky gut” (intestinal permeability). This may increase circulating pro-inflammatory lipopolysaccharides in the bloodstream (endotoxemia) [15].

Metabolic endotoxemia can result in chronic, low-grade inflammation as well as increased oxidative damage associated with cardiovascular disease [16].

In mice with metabolic syndrome, treatment with a probiotic led to a significant reduction in tissue inflammation and “leaky gut” due to a high-fat diet (metabolic endotoxemia) [17].

Bacteroidetes vs Firmicutes – The Obese vs Lean Link?

Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes phyla (groups) comprise ~90% of the human gut bacteria [18].

In one small study on 12 obese people, high Bacteroidetes levels correlated with weight loss [19].

A larger study in humans found that obesity was indeed associated with [2]:

  • Reduced levels of Bacteroidetes
  • Reduced bacteria density
  • More bacteria genes that metabolize carbohydrates and fats for energy

Studies in mice and rats also confirmed the link between Bacteroidetes and leanness. Bacteroidetes are also more abundant in lean animals, while Firmicutes are more abundant in their obese counterparts [20, 21, 22].

However, in these studies, it was unclear whether the obesity-inducing high-fat diet caused the bacteria predominance or the bacteria caused the obesity.

Interestingly, mice that have 2 copies of the leptin gene also have a 50% reduction in Bacteroidetes, suggesting that obesity may also change the gut bacteria composition [23].

Note:Lactobacilli, Streptococci, and Staphylococci are Firmicutes, whereas Bifidobacteria are actinobacteria, which are neither Firmicutes nor Bacteroidetes.

Although a high number of Firmicutes ( Lactobacilli) in the gut seems to correlate with obesity, supplementation with Lactobacilli helped with weight loss in many cases.

Probiotic Strains for Weight Loss and Metabolic Health

Consuming probiotics can reduce body weight and BMI. A greater effect may be achieved in overweight subjects, when multiple species of probiotics are consumed in combination or when they are taken for more than 8 weeks [24].

Consult your doctor before taking probiotic bacteria. Never consume probiotics or implement any other lifestyle and dietary changes in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes

Mixed Probiotic Blends

L. acidophilus, B. animalis ssp. lactis and L. caseireduced BMI, fat percentage, and leptin levels in a clinical trial on 75 overweight individuals [25].

Oral administration of B. longum, B. bifidum, B. infantis, and B. animalis decreased glucose levels, ameliorated insulin resistance, and reduced the expressions of inflammatory adipocytokines in obese mice [26].

In two clinical trials on almost 150 obese children, the intake of synbiotics (probiotics + prebiotics) resulted in a significant reduction in BMI, waist circumference, and some cardiometabolic risk factors, such as total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides [27, 28].

Several studies have demonstrated that individual probiotic bacteria strains can help with weight loss. However, many of these are observational in nature, while others were done in animals.

Bifidobacterium animalis

Humans with more B. animalis have lower BMI, while those with less of this bacteria have higher BMI [29, 30].

Daily ingestion of milk containing B. animalis ssp. lactis significantly reduced the BMI, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and inflammatory markers in a clinical trial on 51 people with metabolic syndrome [31].

Bifidobacterium breve (B-3)

B. brevelowered fat mass and improved GGT and hs-CRP in 52 adults with obese tendencies [32].

B. brevereduced weight and belly fat in a dose-dependent manner. It also reduced total cholesterol, fasting glucose, and insulin in a mice model of diet-induced obesity [33].

Lactobacillus gasseri BNR17 (BNR17 and SBT2055)

In 2 clinical trials on 272 overweight adults, these probiotic strains [34, 35]:

  • Decreased body weight
  • Reduced waist and hip circumference
  • Reduced belly fat and fat under the skin

However, their constant consumption may be required to maintain this effect [35].

Both L. rhamnosus and L. gasseri significantly lowered weight in mice [36, 37, 38], while L. gasseri also reduced body weight in rats [39].

Lactobacillus paracasei

L paracaseidecreased energy/food intake in a small trial on 21 people and a study in piglets [40].

Water extract of L. paracaseireduced body weight in obese rats. It decreased the formation of lipid plaques in the aorta, reduced fat cells size, and inhibited fat absorption, thereby reducing fat production (lipogenesis) [41].

Lactobacillus Plantarum (PL60 and PL62)

L. Plantarum PL60 and PL62 produce a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which can help increase fat burning in obese mice. After 8 weeks, L. rhamnosus PL60 reduced body weight and white fat tissues without reducing caloric intake [42, 43].

A low-calorie diet supplemented with L. plantarum reduced BMI in a small trial on 25 adults with obesity and high blood pressure [44].

Lactobacillus rhamnosus (CGMCC1.3724)

In a clinical trial on 125 obese adults, this probiotic strain [45]:

  • Induced weight loss
  • Reduced fat mass
  • Reduced circulating leptin concentrations

Additionally, L. rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 improved liver parameters in a small trial on 20 obese children with liver dysfunction noncompliant with lifestyle interventions [46].

Lactobacillus salivarius Ls-33

In a clinical trial on 50 obese adolescents, introducing L. salivarius Ls-33 increased certain groups of bacteria. Importantly, it raised the Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes ratio, associated with leanness [47].

Clostridium butyricum (CGMCC0313.1)

C. butyricumreduced fat accumulation in liver and blood, lowered insulin levels, and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in obese mice. Furthermore, C. butyricum administration ameliorated GI and fat tissue inflammation [48].

Because this probiotic has only been tested in humans, there is no evidence that its weight-loss and antidiabetic effects will be the same in humans.

Probiotics Associated with Weight Gain


The following probiotics have been associated with weight gain in human and animal studies. You may want to avoid these if you are trying to lose weight [49]:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – in both humans and animals
  • Lactobacillus fermentum – in animals
  • Lactobacillus ingluviei – in animals
  • Lactobacillus reuteri – in humans, although it helps with some obesity-related symptoms [50].

Further Reading

For technical information, check individual probiotic posts:


The Best Probiotics for Weight Loss

Probiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism

Home Nutrition Probiotics

View as slideshow

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Most of us have heard of probiotics; they help restore the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the digestive system.

When gut balance is whack, you may feel bloated, be constipated, have diarrhea, or experience many other digestive ills.

Resetting your gut balance with probiotics may improve these—and many other aspects of health as well. A healthy gut microbiome might even add years to your life.

Kirill Kurashov/Shutterstock

Exactly how probiotics may encourage weight loss is not 100 percent clear, but the evidence is building.

“There are a lot of bits and pieces of preliminary evidence that our gut biome and by extension, manipulating it by way of probiotics, may have a positive effect on weight management,” says Scott Kahan, MD, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, DC. In one interesting mouse study, animals underwent weight-loss surgery or a sham procedure, and as expected, the mice who had the real surgery lost weight. But then the researchers transplanted bacteria from the gut of the weight-loss surgery group into the guts of mice that didn’t—and then they lost weight too! “In a few years, we will know a lot more about the gut microbiome and how to manipulate it with probiotics for weight loss,” predicts Dr. Kahan.


To understand the potential affects of probiotics on weight loss you need to start with an understanding of the key players. There are two first-families of bacteria in the gut: Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes.

“Lean individuals have a higher proportion of bacteria from the Bacteriodetes family, while obese individuals have more from the Firmicutes family,” says Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist in Mount Pleasant, SC.

“The implication is that by modulating our gut flora to maximize Bacteroidetes and minimize Firmicutes, we can optimize healthy energy harvesting from our food and kick our obesity problem to the curb.” Put another way: “If we choose the right blend of bacteria, the scale can tip in our favor,” he says.

But which are the best probiotics for weight loss?

Billion Photos/Shutterstock

This member of the Bacteroidetes family may be the single best probiotic for weight loss.

When researchers Université Laval in Quebec, Canada placed 125 overweight men and women on a 12-week weight-loss diet, followed by a 12-week period aimed at maintaining body weight, the women who took two probiotics from the L.

rhamnosus family daily lost twice as much weight, compared with their counterparts who did not take probiotics. (The probiotics did not affect weight loss in men.) Look for L. rhamnosus on the label of dairy products or supplements—and then learn the best way to store your probiotics.


Another potential winner in the Lactobacillus family is L. gasseri, which has been associated with reductions in body weight and fat deep inside the abdomen. One recent randomized, placebo-controlled trial (albeit a small one) found that participants taking high doses of L. gasseri for 12 weeks lost more abdominal fat than those who took the placebo.

The best probiotic will have diversity, says Dr. Bulsiewicz. “The ideal probiotic would feature the Bacteroidetes family, specifically several types of Lactobacillus bacteria including L. gasseri,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says. “A perfect example of this is the Advanced Gut Health Probiotic by Genuine Health. It includes ten types of Lactobacillus including L. gasseri.

It also has five additional Bacteroidetes bacterial strains.”


Among the numerous probiotics for weight loss listed above, there are also L. fermentum and L. amylovorus—two more strains that can help you shed pounds.

In one small study, participants who ate yogurt that contained L. fermentum or L. amylovorus lost more body fat during a six-week period than dieters who didn’t. (P.S.

: Animal research suggests probiotic-rich foods yogurt may also help improve mental health.)

Prebiotics are plant carbohydrates such as inulin and certain saccharides that feed good-for-you bacteria in your gut. Even the best probiotic could get a boost from having plenty of this precursor around. Foods high in prebiotic fiber include soy beans, whole-wheat, asparagus, artichokes, onions, and leeks—plus some of these six gut-friendly foods.


The best probiotics and foods restore bacterial balance, but others things disrupt it. And one culprit may be artificial sweeteners, says Dr. Kahan.

One 2014 study in mice found that when mice ate certain zero-calorie sweeteners, the numbers and types of bacteria in their guts changed—and not for the better.

 Mice in the study who were fed real sugar did not experience these negative changes.

Kiian Oksana/Shutterstock

One clue you may benefit from a probiotic: If you’ve recently taken antibiotics.

Antibiotics destroy many strains of gut bacteria, including helpful ones; so next time you are prescribed antibiotics, ask your doctor if you should take probiotics at the same time.

“It’s also smart to eat in ways that promote a healthy gut,” says Dr. Kahan. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans tend to promote healthy gut microbiome, he says.

  • Scott Kahan, MD, director, National Center for Weight and Wellness, Washington, DC.
  • Science Translational Medicine: “Conserved Shifts in the Gut Microbiota Due to Gastric Bypass Reduce Host Weight and Adiposity.”
  • Will Bulsiewicz, MD, gastroenterologist, Mount Pleasant, SC.
  • British Journal of Nutrition: “Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 Supplementation on Weight Loss and Maintenance in Obese Men and Women.”
  • Journal of Medicinal Food: “Lactobacillus gasseri BNR17 Supplementation Reduces the Visceral Fat Accumulation and Waist Circumference in Obese Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.”
  • Journal of Functional Foods: “Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as Probiotics Alter Body Adiposity and Gut Microflora in Healthy Persons.”
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Prebiotics and Probiotics: Creating a Healthier You.”
  • Nature: “Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance by Altering the Gut Microbiota.”

Originally Published on Medically reviewed by Michael Spertus, MD, on August 26, 2019 Originally Published: September 20, 2019 Get new articles delivered right to your inbox!


Probiotics for weight loss: Do they work?

Probiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism

If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works.

Probiotics are live organisms that occur naturally in the gut. Many supplements and fermented foods also contain probiotics. Some people wonder if probiotics can help them lose weight.

Taking a probiotic supplement may help keep the intestinal flora balanced and promote a healthy body by boosting the digestive and immune systems.

While the research is still in the preliminary stages, some information suggests that probiotics could help a person lose weight, or that poor gut health has links to obesity.

In this article, learn about probiotics and weight loss, including whether they work and how to use them.

There are many different microorganisms in and on the human body, mainly in the form of friendly bacteria. Researchers think that some of these bacteria may play a role in weight loss and gain.

In the gut, the beneficial bacteria help break down and digest food. They also help create nutrients and vitamins for the body to use. The probiotic bacteria feed on fibers and turn them into helpful compounds.

An unhealthy digestive system may lead to dysbiosis, which refers to an imbalance in the gut microbes.

When too many harmful microorganisms grow, there may not be enough of the helpful bacteria available to keep these harmful organisms in check. It also typically means the diversity of bacteria in the gut is lower.

Research from 2013 suggests that gut dysbiosis contributes to the development of obesity, though it may not be the underlying cause.

As the author of a 2015 study notes, people at a healthy weight and people with obesity show marked differences in their gut flora.

Their research found that changing the gut flora in animals caused them to lose or gain weight accordingly. However, in humans, changing the gut flora did not result in weight loss or gain.

This evidence does suggest, however, that there is a shift in a person’s gut flora when they gain weight. While changes are associated with obesity, they do not seem to be the underlying cause.

The researcher identified the following factors that can change a person’s gut flora from a thin to an obese pattern:

  • a high-fat diet
  • a high-calorie diet
  • the use of artificial sweeteners
  • a disrupted diurnal rhythm

There is a small body of evidence suggesting some probiotics may help people lose weight.

Research in The British Journal of Nutrition studied the effects that one type of probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, had on people with obesity.

Women who took the probiotic supplement lost more weight during the study than women who took a placebo. Additionally, the group taking a probiotic supplement continued to lose more weight in the weight-maintenance stage, after they finished dieting. The same effects did not occur in men, however.

Another 2013 study looked at the effects of Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus.

During the study, individuals who were overweight but otherwise healthy ate yogurt that contained these Lactobacillus strains for 6 weeks. At the end of this period, the participants had lost an average of 3–4% body fat.

Researchers have also examined effects of Lactobacillus gasseri for fat loss. In this study, people with extra belly fat who drank fermented milk products containing the helpful bacteria lost 8.2– 8.5% of their belly fat over 12 weeks.

However, when they stopped drinking the milk, all of this belly fat returned. This suggests probiotics can help people lose weight in some cases, but researchers still need to do more studies to back up this claim.

Low bacterial diversity may also influence obesity. For instance, the author of a 2015 review found that there is a link between low gut flora diversity and inflammation in the body.

Low microbial diversity may also be a risk factor for problems associated with obesity, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

With these facts in mind, taking probiotics could benefit not just a person’s weight loss efforts, but their overall health.

The most common probiotics are from the groups Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Each of these contain many different bacteria.

Probiotics may also contain other bacteria along with other organisms, such as the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii.

The more popular bacteria on the market and most studied for their health benefits include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus fermentum
  • Lactobacillus amylovorous
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum

However, the gut contains hundreds of different types of microorganisms, totaling over 100 trillion microbes.

There is no evidence that one type of probiotic can help a person lose weight more effectively than any other kind.

There are two different ways a person can add beneficial probiotics to their regular diet:


There are many probiotic supplements available. These products typically include strains of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium bacteria. Sometimes they contain both.

Probiotic supplements are available for purchase in health food stores, pharmacies, and online.

Fermented foods

Share on PinterestSauerkraut contains helpful bacteria.

Many foods also contain these healthful organisms. Yogurt may be the most well-known dietary source of probiotics. Yogurt is milk which ferments with specific Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium strains.

Other fermented foods that often contain helpful bacteria include:

  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • kombucha
  • fermented, raw cheeses
  • raw apple cider vinegar
  • kimchi
  • natto, miso, or tempeh

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health state that different probiotics may work in different ways, performing a wide variety of functions, including:

  • outcompeting harmful bacteria to keep the gut balanced
  • maintaining a healthful balance of helpful microorganisms
  • stimulating the immune system response
  • protecting the barrier of the digestive tract from harmful microorganisms

In addition to promoting healthy digestion, probiotics may have many other effects. Research from 2015 suggests that a healthy gut colony is important for numerous body functions, such as:

  • overall nutrition
  • growth
  • regulating the immune system
  • keeping the hormones balanced
  • regulating mood
  • promoting the proper growth of the nervous system

Research on probiotics is still relatively new and growing. Scientists believe that there is a link between reduced bacterial gut diversity and obesity.

Also, some evidence in humans shows that some probiotics, such as some Lactobacillus strains, may help people lose weight or body fat.

However, probiotics are not a guaranteed weight loss strategy. Experts think they could be one part of a comprehensive weight loss program. They will not replace diet and exercise efforts.

The best way to use probiotics for overall health and weight loss may be to include them in a nutritious, varied diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods.


5 Benefits of Probiotics for Weight Loss

Probiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism

What happens in the gut does not always stay in the gut. A growing body of research shows that when the digestive tract is in proper balance, often with the assistance of probiotics, the rest of the body can benefit as well. It seems that certain probiotics may even be able to help some individuals to attain their weight loss goals.

What are the Benefits of Probiotics for Weight Loss?

Certain studies are now finding that probiotics, whether those found in foods or supplements, may be able to help individuals to lose those extra pounds.

A research study that was published by Lay, et al, in the journal Nature found that the balance of good bacteria is different in those who are obese when compared to those who are leaner. As the obese participants in the study lost weight, the balance of this microbiota became more equalized, showing how excess stores of fat can affect digestive health.

This could make it appear that obesity, or the storage of excess adipose tissue, can negatively impact gut flora. Scientists are finding that this association may go both ways. By regulating the balance of the microbiome in the gut through the use of probiotics, individuals may be able to lose excess weight.

  1. Increased Fat Elimination

For some dieters, removing consumed fat from the body before it has a chance to do damage would be a great help. Probiotics may increase the amount of dietary fat that is released by the body through feces, according to the results of a study published in Lipds in Health and Disease by Japanese researchers.

Fat consumed by the subjects was not as easily digested for use or for storage by the body in those who were given certain probiotics, resulting in the excess consumed fat being eliminated by the body through the digestive tract.

As the fat was being emulsified through normal bodily processes, fat droplets were found to be larger in those who were given the specific probiotics. While the mechanism of action is unknown at this time, perhaps the larger droplets of fat are not able to be used as easily by the body, allowing them to be released as waste.

Taking the appropriate probiotics for weight loss could be beneficial for those who want to lose weight while eating a balanced diet to help prevent the accumulation of excess fat while they are trying to lose what they already have.

Those who have a hard time losing those extra pounds because they feel hungry all of the time might want to think about using probiotics for weight loss. It seems that certain probiotics may actually influence how satisfied you feel by regulating the way your body reacts to a hormone called leptin.

Leptin is produced by fat cells to let the brain know that there is enough stored away for energy. The brain can then signal the body to reduce the appetite. However, those who are obese may develop what is known as leptin resistance, where the brain can no longer properly identify those signals when leptin levels get way too high.

Research in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that probiotic supplementation helped leptin signals to reach the brain, allowing subjects to feel more satisfied after eating. In turn, this can help individuals to eat fewer calories to better help with weight loss.

While certain probiotics have been shown to move some of the extra fat that is consumed the body before it can cause problems, it appears that probiotics may help to reduce the amount of additional fat that is stored in the body. The reduction of increased fat stored occurred even with excess food intake.

Research by Osterberg, et al, published in the journal Obesity showed that those who were given a certain probiotic gained less weight while eating too many calories compared to those who were given a placebo.

Another study shows how the good bacteria of the gut may affect this. Aronsson, et al, in a study published in PloS One, found that a certain protein can help to prevent the accumulation of fat within adipose tissue.

This protein is increased with a proper balance of the microbiome in the gut, effectively reducing how much consumed fat gets stored for later use. While these studies did not necessarily show the benefits of probiotics for weight loss, it showed that the use of probiotics can help with weight management by reducing the amount of extra calories that are stored as fat.

Another way that probiotics have been shown as useful in regards to body weight is in their ability to reduce the amount of fat that is currently being stored by the body. This process actually begins in the gut, according to research by Omar, et al, that is published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

By increasing the number of specific good bacteria in the intestines through the use of supplementation of probiotics, researchers were able to induce a change in body composition in the subjects.

The probiotics changed the way the body utilized food for energy, allowing for an increase in the use of existing fat stores for fuel. Individuals noted a decrease in body fat, specifically around the organs.

The probiotics given in the study helped subjects to enjoy more weight loss, a healthier BMI, and loss of belly fat.

By equalizing the levels of beneficial bacteria that are found in the digestive tract, probiotics can help the body to function more effectively. The same study that showed probiotics may reduce the amount of fat that is already stored in the body draws interest in the ability of these same probiotics to increase metabolism.

A health metabolism continues to use calories, even when you are not exercising. Fat is a little more difficult for the body to digest, so many dieters find that they lose muscle over fat stores when eating a calorie-restricted diet.

Because probiotics may change how the body utilizes macronutrients for fuel, these beneficial bacteria can help the body to burn fat for fuel rather than the protein stored in muscle. Those who take probiotics with their healthy diet and exercise program may enjoy a higher calorie burn even during inactive periods.


Best Probiotics For Women – Foods and Supplements for Weight Loss

Probiotics for Weight Loss & Metabolism

Taking probiotics for your gut health is one thing. (Who's gonna say no to fewer stomach issues and more bathroom regularity? No one—that's who.)

But can these teeny-tiny bacteria—found in dietary supplements and fermented foods—help you lose weight, too? They do live in your stomach, after all.

First: What the heck are probiotics anyway?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that naturally live in your body already, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

“Probiotics are substances that encourage the growth of bacteria, specifically beneficial bacteria, that help to keep intestinal health in balance,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Eating in Color. “A healthy balance of good bacteria in the body may help regulate weight and ward off a range of health issues.”

Those other health issues include digestive problems irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), along with allergic skin diseases atopic dermatitis, and even the common cold, per the NCCIH.

But wait—can probiotics also improve your vaginal heath?

So, can probiotics help with weight loss?

Honestly, no one knows for sure—that's because most probiotic research has focused on how to improve digestive issues or immune health.

The most promising evidence on probiotics and weight loss comes from a 2013 study in The British Journal of Nutrition, which studied the effects of one strain of probiotics, lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG).

Researchers followed 125 men and women throughout a 12-week weight-loss program, giving half the participants LGG and the other half a placebo. At the end of the trial, the women who took probiotics lost more weight than the women on the placebo. The probiotics group also went on to continue losing weight after the trial had ended (the placebo group only maintained).

That sounds legit, right? Well…kind of. Caroline Apovian, MD, director of nutrition and weight management at Boston Medical Center, says the difference in weight loss between the probiotic and placebo group in this study just barely qualifies as noteworthy.

“There was no weight loss difference overall between the probiotic and placebo groups,” she says, “but there was a significance when you separate [out] the women in the probiotic group.” Even then, she notes, the women in the probiotic group only lost about 1.8 kilograms (or just under four pounds) more than the placebo group.

Still, probiotics promote overall health, which never hurts when it comes to weight loss. “Gut bacteria lines the intestines and comes in contact with the food you eat, [so] the thought is that this may impact how you absorb nutrients,” says Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area.

It’s important to remember, however, that exactly how probiotics for weight loss may work is educated theories and speculation—it's unclear if or why there's a connection. Apovian adds that while it’s entirely possible that a probiotic-filled healthy gut could be more amenable to weight loss or weight maintenance, it also might be thanks to another kind of cause and effect.

“It may certainly be that those people who eat healthy have healthier guts and not the other way around,” she says. “As far as which came first [the healthy diet or the healthy gut], it’s ly the healthy diet.”

So…how can I add more probiotics to my diet?

While you can get probiotics through food, the easiest way to get some probiotics in your diet every day without fail is ly through a probiotic supplement.

But here's the thing: There are dozens of probiotic supplements on the market, with different supplements containing different strains.

Unfortunately, according to Apovian, the few studies that have been done so far offer no real evidence about which probiotic strains might work best for weight-loss results.

In the 2013 British study, LGG was chosen—but why? “They just picked one!” Apovian says.

If you still want to experiment with probiotics for weight loss, though, Gorin says to hit up your doctor for the go-ahead before taking any supplements—while probiotics are generally considered to be safe, they may cause some gastrointestinal upset at first, bloating and gas. Once you get the green light, you can try any of the following:

Culturelle specifically advertises that it uses the LGG strain (previously studied for its relationship to weight loss), and Gorin also recommends Florastor for helping to promote healthy gut bacteria.

VSL#3 is another probiotic supplement that's more potent than most (it contains eight different strains of live bacteria). It’s most often prescribed along with certain medications to manage chronic digestive issues irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

Gorin notes that one study in Obesity found daily supplementation with VSL#3 may provide some protection against weight gain when eating a high-calorie, high-fat diet. However, the sample size was limited: only 20 non-obese men were studied.

Similarly, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found a link between loss of body fat and the probiotic strains lactobacillus fermentum and lactobacillus amylovorus (3 percent and 4 percent, respectively), but only 28 participants were studied.

But what if I don't want to take a supplement? Can I get probiotics anywhere else?

You sure can—in fact, it might be better to get your probiotics from food sources. “I would always urge people to eat food first,” says Gorin—that way, you're getting other nutrients too, in addition to probiotic benefits.

Apovian agrees, saying that most probiotic foods are healthy foods and it certainly can’t hurt to eat them (which is pretty much her takeaway on probiotics overall: they may not do a ton of good, but they won’t really do much harm, either). Here are a few ways to get probiotics from food:

1. Stock up on yogurt.

Fermented dairy products, yogurt and kefir, are high in the lactobacillus probiotic.

“Not all yogurt contains probiotics, so it’s important to read the label and visit the company’s website to look for transparency about this,” says Gorin. (Hint: look for the National Yogurt Association's “Live & Active Cultures” seal. Chobani and Fage brands are typically safe bets.)

If you would rather drink your dairy than eat it with a spoon, you can try kefir, a fermented drink made from cow’s or goat’s milk and cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria.

2. Load up on picked cabbage

yogurt and kefir, vegetables that are fermented—especially pickled cabbage, sauerkraut and kimchi—are reliable ways to pump up your probiotic ratio.

One caveat about pickled cabbage: Most of the products sold in U.S. stores have been through a heating process called pasteurization for safety, which can destroy both good and bad bacteria. So, if you really want to reap the fermentation benefits, look for unpasteurized products or make your own.

3. Go all in on fermented cheeses

So, cheese isn't ly to be first on your list when you think of probiotics, but it turns out, fermented cheeses Gouda, cheddar, and Swiss are made with lactic acid bacteria, a probiotic, says Jackie Newgent, RD. Quality matters here too (more fermentation equals more probiotics), so make sure the person behind the counter points you to the finest aged Gouda there is.

4. Use apple cider vinegar…on salads

Many purported health benefits of ACV are pretty conflated (and are not actually scientifically proven), but ACV really does have probiotics to help your gut health. Instead of taking it via shot (or diluted in water, even), try adding it to your salad dressings for an extra kick of healthy bacteria.

The bottom line: Probiotics won't work weight-loss magic—but they can help with gut health, so it doesn't hurt to give them a try.