Can You Lose Weight With Probiotics? An Interesting Approach to Weight Loss

One decade, we’re told we need to cut fat from our diets if we want to lose weight, the next one, that we need to count our calories, and the other, that we should ditch carbs and so on.

Even if the research is still nascent, studies keep proving that our bacterial communities from our bodies may influence weight. So, the secret to weight loss seems to lie in our stomach’s bacteria, and probiotics might be of real help when it comes to our gut and therefore to losing excess weight.

The Connection Between Our Gut and Weight Management

Welcome to Your Microbiome, the Source of Your Overall Health!

Each of us has up to 2 kg of microorganisms in our stomach and, together, all these microbes make up our unique gut microbiome. These microbes include trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses and they all help the organism to produce amino acids and vitamins. They are also essential for our immune and digestive systems, for our blood pressure and also for our mental health.

At present, numerous studies show that the microbiomes of obese humans lack diversity, but that they are also full of Firmicutes, a class of gut microbes present in obese animals.[1]

A more recent study took the tests even further with fecal transfers from humans to mice. The results and the study were published in the journal Science in 2013, and they showed that healthy mice with a normal weight could be made obese by transferring fecal matter teeming with gut microbes from obese individuals. The study also found that transferring fecal matter from lean humans could prevent mice from gaining weight.

Where Are We Going Wrong?

A seemingly timeless advice is that, in order to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we eat. Scientists, however, argue that this approach fails to take into consideration one essential thing:  that each’s microbiome is unique, and this means that each person will respond differently to sugar, fats, and carbohydrates. Some specialists claim that it isn’t just calorie-controlled diets that are bogus, but any diet plan that excludes whole food groups will damage your microbiome and will increase the risks of gaining weight.

Exclusion diets may be helpful for losing weight during the first few weeks because apparently, they involve less eating and a careful selection of what we eat. But, on the long-term, such diets will decimate our microbes by reducing their diversity and the result can be weight gain.

An imbalanced gut flora will stop our digestive system from working properly, so our use of calories will not be as efficient, and also our energy levels will drop. It is important to know that increased fatigue means that cortisol – the fat storing stress hormone – kicks in, and it will lead to heightened insulin and blood sugar levels. All in all, weight gain becomes inevitable if you have an imbalance of bad and good bacteria in the gut.

The scraves for variety, and we should look at our body as a microbe garden which requires a diverse diet of fiber-rich nutritious foods, a garden with rich soil and plenty of species which needs to be full and healthy. We should also pay more attention to the artificially refined foods because they wreak havoc on the biodiversity of our microbiome.

Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Scientists, researchers, and doctors are continuously discovering the great importance of our digestive health for our entire body. They all believe that supporting intestinal/digestive health and restoring the gut’s integrity will be the future of modern medicine

The more diverse and healthy our microbiome is, the healthier we are. A less diverse microbiome has been linked to more than 170 serious health issues including diabetes, arthritis, depression, fatigue, brain fog and obesity. Our microbiome is extremely influenced by everything we consume and the more chemicals, sugars, toxins and artificial junk we eat, the lower our gut’s diversity becomes.

Did you know that taking one dose of antibiotics may permanently reduce the diversity of our microbiome? Antibiotics kill harmful bacteria in the body which can be good for an illness, but they also kill the good ones in the process, and the result is a reduced diversity of the microbiome.

It’s crucial to maintain a proper balance of species in our gut, and the good bacteria which are called probiotics are critical to our digestive system. Probiotics help us digest food, eliminate waste, regulate the metabolism and promote a healthy immunity. It seems that our digestive system functions properly when a balance of 20% harmful bacteria with 80% is achieved.

A very significant amount of scientific studies have proven the various benefits of taking a quality probiotic supplement, linking probiotics to higher energy levels, weight management, mental clarity and stronger immunity. So, one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diversity, while also balancing the microbiome, is a high quality probiotic.

Here are the main health issues caused by an unhealthy microbiome:

  1. Autoimmune Diseases

An autoimmune disease occurs when the body recognizes healthy cells as foreign and starts to attack them. This results in inflammation and a total breakdown of the body’s immunity.

Although the exact causes of autoimmune diseases are yet unknown, specialists believe that they occur when we have an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in our bodies.

  1. Mental Health

In our hectic and highly stressed world, more people are reporting having health issues with anxiety, chronic stress, and depression. What we should become aware of is the fact that all of these are indicators of an unhealthy gut, even if it’s hard to believe that our gut and its bacteria could affect our mental health.

500 million neurons are embedded in the intestinal wall, and they make up our enteric nervous system – ENS – or the second brain which is responsible for balancing our mood, for reducing anxiety and stress and for keeping our overall mental health. The neurons in the ENS are made up of the same cellular tissue as the brain, and they hold the key to influence our feelings and our thoughts.

  1. Weak Immunity

75% of our immunity is found in our GI tract, and our microbiome has an enormous impact on our digestive process and some digestive issues can literally disable our immunity from functioning at optimal levels.

If our digestive system is compromised, this will weaken our immune system as well. An overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast or fungus, can suppress the immune system and will invite all kinds of chronic illnesses to invade the body.

  1. Type 2 Diabetes

Recent research has discovered that there is a direct link between an unhealthy gut and type 2 diabetes. In the studying of gut bacteria of individuals with and without type 2 diabetes, it was discovered that those who had the disease had higher levels of harmful bacteria which weren’t supporting their gut health.

Dr. Mark Hyman, the author of the book The Blood Sugar Solution, uses the term diabestity to show the link between obesity and diabetes. He believes that anyone who is obese is also most-likely a pre-diabetic and that the risk of developing diabetes exponentially increases with the weight.

The connection between diabetes and weight is vital to understand, in order to see if the microbiome has a direct impact on the weight management. Research has shown that a less diverse microbiome leads to weight gain, obesity and also diabetes.

  1. Skin Conditions

Our skin is our largest organ, and it can say extremely much about our overall health. Skin conditions like rosacea, acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis can be very uncomfortable and distressing, and it’s crucial to understand that they are symptoms of something wrong happening within our body. There are various studies which were published in the Journal of Dermatology which show the strong connections between gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating, constipation, bad breath, acid reflux) to the development of various skin issues (acne, dermatitis, rosacea).

  1. Acid Reflux

This severe digestive problem occurs when our stomach overproduces acid that slithers up all the way to our esophagus. By fixing our gut, we can definitely get rid of this health condition once and for all.

Burps, gas and bloating are caused by bacteria during our digestive process. As our gut bacteria work to digest and to break down food, gases will be released during the process and if you consistently experience bloating, gas or burping, you definitely have an unbalanced digestive tract. A high-quality probiotic can reduce gas, acid reflux, burping or bloating.

  1. Diarrhea/Constipation

With a healthy and balanced gut, the elimination should be smooth and easy, with no severe urgencies or disturbances. Maintaining a healthy gut is the only way to regulate the process.

  1. Weight Gain

It has already been proven that people with a healthy weight have a more diverse and balanced gut than those who are obese or overweight. It seems that obese individuals have very different gut bacteria than slim ones. Gut bacteria appears to alter the way we store fat, the way we balance glucose levels in the blood and also the way we respond to hormones which are responsible for making us feel hungry or full. The wrong mixture of microbes can help raise the risks of obesity and diabetes from the moment of our birth. The key to all of this is a healthy balance and diversity of good bacteria, and the best way to keep a healthy gut is by taking a daily probiotic.

Gut Bacteria Influences Weight Management

Our gut bacteria are forming a type of internal ecosystem in our body. Together, as a community, it is said that the microbiome is almost like an extra organ which plays an influential role in the development and the progression of various common diseases and also metabolic disorders, including high cholesterol and obesity.

The microbiome is far from being a static environment, and it can be changed and manipulated by a large number of factors, and diet is the main one.

An imbalance of the bacterial community in the gut influences weight management and the primary suspect is also one of the main drivers behind metabolic disease: minimizing low-grade inflammation.

The first clues were seen in some rodent studies when transplantation of gut bacteria from obese mice caused the lean ones to gain fat cells rapidly.

Lots of scientists and researchers have found differences between the gut microbiome of obese and lean individuals as well, and this prompted studies into which species of bacteria were actively playing a part.

The analysis showed that relative proportions of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes bacteria are significant for energy balance. Changes in energy balance can also cause changes in weight, and it seems that weight management involves more than just calories in and out. Could probiotics unlock the cure for obesity? That’s what we want to find out.

5 Ways an Unbalanced and Wounded Gut Can Increase Weight Gain

With obesity, we encounter other health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and trouble managing blood sugar. This constellation of health problems is called the metabolic syndrome, and it affects one out of three Americans. Many of the people who have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome will also develop a fatty liver, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

There are certain changes in our inner ecosystem which may help to predict obesity. For example, the number of certain bacteria (Bifidobacteria) is higher in children who maintain a healthy weight, than in the case of those who later become overweight or obese.

Researchers have been able to discover five ways that prove that the gut health has a significant influence on our weight:

  • Metabolism: gut bacteria collect energy from food and some harvest more than others; the bacteria from our gut provide 4-10% of our daily calories.
  • Hormonal balance: gut bacteria also regulate the release of gut hormones and these control blood sugar, reduce leaky gut and also encourage the feeling of being full – the satiety.
  • Genetics: our genome helps shape our inner ecosystem. For example, genetic mutations which affect the levels of the satiety hormone named leptine are associated with more fat forming bacteria and less beneficial Bifidobacteria.
  • Inflammation: unhealthy gut bacteria produce some toxins which trigger a systemic inflammatory response. Studies have shown that the levels of bacterial toxins are higher in individuals who struggle with type 2 diabetes or obesity. In some animal studies, the results demonstrated that high concentrations of bacterial toxins cause weight gain, without shifts in the diets.
  • Leaky gut: also known as intestinal inflammation, the leaky gut causes problems with blood sugar and obesity. When the gut barrier becomes leaky, the bacterial toxins make their way into the bloodstream. A dose of probiotics like Bifidobacteria has been proven to reduce leakiness and to improve the levels of blood sugar.

How Probiotics Promote Weight Loss

Despite having a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, many people enter the great journey of weight loss very poorly prepared. Even worse, some of them begin to pursue weight loss through means of some dangerous synthetic substances that feature various risky side effects. If you want to experience a healthy weight loss naturally, there’s no better and safer tool than a reliable probiotic. Probiotics can ensure your body cleanse itself of toxins, pollutants and also body fat.

Probiotics support various processes in the body that have a great impact on weight loss. Let’s take a look at some of how probiotic supplements can lead to weight loss.

  1. Boosting the Metabolism

One of the most revolutionary ways in which the beneficial bacteria help with weight loss is by enhancing the metabolism. Research has shown that when taking high-quality probiotics such as those that feature Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus, individuals experience an increase in their metabolic rate. Probiotics have proven to be so beneficial that all subjects supplementing with one have seen a decreased body fat. The reduction of fat is caused by a direct increase in energy expenditure via fat oxidation. The body is not focused on storing fat; it uses it as fuel for energy.

  1. Fighting Genetics

Beneficial bacteria also help you fight the genetic factor which might have led to overweight or obesity. Our genes are critical when it comes to shaping our intestinal gut flora and our ability to digest and assimilate foods properly. If the genes are working against us, it seems that a probiotic supplement may help. It will encourage a rich environment of beneficial and healthy bacteria.

  1. Reducing Inflammation

People who are suffering from obesity or type 2 diabetes (which are both some serious weight health conditions) have higher levels of inflammation inside their bodies. Aside from a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet, probiotic consumption has the power to reduce inflammation and to support the body’s natural fat burning abilities. Probiotics can directly reduce high levels of inflammation.

  1. Combating the Metabolic Syndrome

Probiotics are the perfect tool that can combat the metabolic syndrome. This is not just a simple disorder, but it consists of some cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, increased levels of adipose tissue or body fat. All of these conditions will dramatically increase the risks of life-threatening events such as heart attacks or strokes. By supplementing with probiotics, you are reducing these risks, and you are also targeting the belly fat.

  1. Burning Belly Fat

Throughout a study, obese people consumed a fermented milk product for 12 weeks, and they reduced 4.6% of their abdominal fat. They consumed 200 grams of a fermented milk product that contained a Lactobacillus strain. More studies showed similar results, but how exactly do the beneficial bacteria promote a slimmer waistline?[2]

The primary reason, as we already said before, is the fact that obese people have an imbalanced gut: too little good bacteria, and excessive unwanted strains (such as Firmicutes – specialized in extracting calories from sugar and turning them into fat). The scientists believe that the bacteria reduced body fat by preventing the intestines from absorbing fat calories. The liver secretes bile salts (some soapy chemicals) which mix with fat and help in its digestion. By destroying those bile salts, beneficial bacteria will interfere with the absorption of fat. Unlike synthetic weight loss drugs that prevent fat absorption, probiotics will not cause unpleasant digestive side effects.

  1. Releasing of GLP-1

Probiotics may help release the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormone GLP-1. It has been proven that high levels of this particular hormone may help you burn calories and fat.

  1. Increasing the ANGPTL4

Probiotics increase the levels of the protein ANGPTL4, and this leads to decreased fat storage.

Taking Probiotics for Maximum Weight Loss Benefits

The first step if you decide to take probiotics for weight loss is to invest in a trusted and proven brand that offers an extensive variety of dominant bacterial strains. It’s important to always look for the following strains in the probiotic’s composition:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus[3]
  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Lactobacillus helvecticus
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactococcus lactis
  • Bifidobacterium

Lactobacillus Gasseri – The Best Probiotic Strain for Weight Loss

From the weight of evidence which is currently available, Lactobacillus gasseri seems to be the probiotic strain that can best assist weight loss in humans.

This is most commonly found in our digestive tract, but it is also common in the vaginal tract, protecting the area of infections.

A 2015 study of 30 healthy individuals was one of the first controlled trials in humans which study Lactobacillus gasseri in particular. Researchers prepared two different batches of fermented milk: the active milk with the probiotic strain in it, and the control milk without the strain. Remember that both were equivalent in energy (146.4 kJ), fat (0.1g), protein (3.7g), carbohydrate, and sodium content (40mg) per 100 grams and they were indistinguishable regarding their taste.[4]

Fecal samples which were taken at the beginning and the end of the trial showed that the group of individuals who consumed Lactobacillus gasseri had an increased amount of fat excreted in their feces after two weeks of drinking the milk. The other group had no changes in the fecal fat excretion after the same amount of time of drinking the control milk.

The scientists suggested that Lactobacillus gasseri suppresses dietary fat absorption in the small intestine, so it also inhibits the calorie intake.

The findings also supported some previous Japanese research that showed fermented milk with Lactobacillus gasseri can reduce BMI (body mass index), waist circumference, abdominal fat and the visceral fat, a hazardous type of fat which accumulates around the internal organs.

This type of probiotic strain is also linked to other health benefits such as reducing high cholesterol, optimizing the respiratory health and combating menstrual pain.

Consider Natural Probiotics for Weight Loss

Fermented and Food Sources of Lactobacillus Gassseri

If you are determined to maximize the number of probiotic strains that you place in your gut to support your weight loss, be sure to start including in your diet some probiotic food sources. Below, you’ll find the best probiotic-based sources of whole foods which are available on the market:

  • Pickles (make sure it is fermented by checking the label)
  • Sauerkraut (make sure it is fermented by checking the label)
  • Kefir (look for low sugar ones and stay away from commercial yogurt)
  • Kimchi (avoid the ones with high sugar in their composition)
  • Probiotic milk (raw milk)
  • Miso soup
  • Tempeh
  • Raw and local honey

As for the strain of Lactobacillus gasseri, it is found in most fermented foods. Lactic acid fermentation is considered the healthiest type, and it typically uses Lactobacillus bacteria to fuel the whole process of fermentation.


Eating more quark, yogurt and pickled veggies such as sauerkraut will boost your intake of many Lactobacillus species.

Products which are fermented in vinegar (acetic acid fermentation) can also be very beneficial, but it depends on the way they were made. For instance, raw vinegar such as apple cider vinegar still contains probiotics, while most store-bought products usually have the bacteria filtered and pasteurized to prevent them from breaking down into water and carbon dioxide.

Fermented meats like salami and chorizo are also a viable option, but they’re not considered very healthy.

The Relationship Between Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes for Losing Weight

Aside from eating probiotic foods, one of the best supplements to take along side your probiotics is a digestive enzyme. Digestive enzymes help to break macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They are also beneficial for improving digestion and nutrient absorption.

Digestive enzymes are perfect for your diet in case you have had digestion issues in the past. They are safe, natural and their pair perfectly with probiotics. They also boost weight loss as the body can break down and utilize nutrients that may have been stored as fat.

FAQ: Probiotics and Weight Loss

  1. What to Watch Out When Buying Probiotics?

One of the most important things to do when you’re purchasing a probiotic supplement is to check the label to determine if the supplement is shelf stable or if it requires refrigeration. Many probiotic supplements cannot handle room temperature or above, and the bacteria will die, leaving you with a useless product.

  1. If I Stop Taking Probiotics, Will I Gain Weight?

This depends a lot on your digestive ability, the length of time on probiotics and your lifestyle choices. If you skip the probiotics a few days or a week, you shouldn’t see any difference regarding your weight. But if you completely remove probiotics from your diet, then it’s possible that the result will be weight gain. But, as we already said, this depends on a lot of factors and your lifestyle choices. If you remove them, but you also maintain healthy eating habits and an active way of life, it’s possible that you won’t notice any considerable weight gain.

  1. If I’m losing weight, is it because I’ve started taking probiotics?

Yes, this might be a possibility. It depends on how long you have been taking them. After two weeks of consuming probiotics, your body should have built a solid basis of flora which supports a healthy weight loss.

  1. Is it safe to take probiotics after weight loss surgery?

Probiotics are very beneficial, and it’s highly recommended to take them after you’ve had weight loss surgery. They can help with common side effects associated with bariatric surgery, and they also support weight loss.

  1. How fast can I lose weight if I Take probiotics?

There is no universal answer regarding the length of time needed for your body to adjust to the probiotics. Every individual will have a different response to them, but on average you should be able to see the first results within 2-3 weeks of consuming a probiotic along with your diet; you shouldn’t forget to keep a healthy eating program and lifestyle.

  1. Can I also use probiotics for weight gain?

This mostly depends on your method of gaining weight. If you are underweight or if you lack muscle mass and you’d like to increase them both, probiotics might help you. They do promote weight loss, but they can also support weight gain by contributing to break down and assimilate the excess nutrients you will be consuming. You’ll gain weight from an increased caloric intake, and the probiotics can help you by protecting against digestion issues, and they’ll promote a healthy weight gain.

Some studies have found that certain probiotic strains will lead to weight gain and a good example is the Lactobacillus acidophilus strain.[5]

What Can You Do to Maintain a Healthy Gut and to Lose Weight?

  • If you’re looking to lose weight and to restore your gut health, you should start by ditching alcohol and sugar. They are toxins that stop the good bacteria from growing, and instead, they feed harmful bacteria, so by eliminating these two from your diet, you’ll do a lot of good for your gut, weight and also for your energy levels.
  • On the other hand, even if they contain fructose which is a kind of sugar, fruits are not the enemy. Berries, in particular, are ideal for combating craving and whole fruit with pulp is beneficial for your microbiome. The fiber and polyphenols from fruit can balance the effects of the fructose. Strawberries are good because they contain a high amount of fiber and more than 95 polyphenols which act as antioxidants.
  • Overweight people will benefit from a kick-start such as a detox or intermittent fast, because harmful bacteria may flood the microbiome.
  • You also need to cut out all processed foods.
  • The Mediterranean diet meets most of the criteria for a balanced gut-friendly diet because it has variety: yogurt, olive oil, dairy, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruit, grains, fish and occasionally other meat.

Overall, there certainly is a strong connection between our gut bacteria, probiotics, and weight loss. Striving to lose weight is a challenging journey and many people, unfortunately, become too frustrated during the entire process, so they eventually give up.

Don’t let yourself quit, and, instead, prepare to be successful with every help you can get. Probiotics have already been shown to support a healthy and a safe weight loss. And, what’s more important, they also promote your overall health. Choose the best probiotics, a healthy diet, some daily exercise, and arm yourself with patience to achieve your weight loss goals.

Can You Lose Weight With Probiotics? An Interesting Approach to Weight Loss
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Can You Lose Weight With Probiotics? An Interesting Approach to Weight Loss
Probiotics offer a"All Natural" solution to weight loss. Find out what are the main benefits of losing weight with help from probiotics.
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