For many years now, there have been a lot of talk about the supposed health benefits of probiotics.
Every day now, we seem to see more and more new products that promise to introduce the daily recommended amounts of probiotics into your diet in a simple, and for some of them, an expensive way.
But are they really worth giving it a try?
Do probiotics really can enhance your overall health, focusing on your metabolism, and even inducing weight loss?
This article follows an investigation on the many supposed health benefits of probiotics, focusing on their ability to achieve weight loss and maintain a healthy metabolism.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that have multiple health benefits once consumed or applied to the human body.
They can be found in many different foods and dietary supplements that we can take advantage of for the purposes of boosting our health.[i]
For a lot of people, the concept of consuming foods rich in any microorganisms or bacteria as a way to improve their health maybe be counterintuitive to understand. Not all bacteria and microorganisms are bad for our health.
Probiotics are the ones that you would like to intentionally include in your diet more as a way to use all of the beneficial effects that they have to offer.
Some probiotics help with food digestion and help to produce vitamins and nutrients that our body later uses, while some probiotics are even capable of destroying disease-causing cells.
Probiotics can contain a wide variety of different microorganisms.
However, there are two types of bacteria that interest us the most, and that is the Lactobacillus and the Bifidobacterium. The truth is that there are different types of microorganisms with different functions and beneficial effects.
While one type of Lactobacillus may help prevent certain illnesses, it does not mean that another type will be capable of doing the same thing.
Can probiotics help with weight loss and improve metabolism?
So to answer the question of the day – Can probiotics help improve your metabolism? And perhaps more importantly – Can you use probiotics to enhance your weight loss process?
While results often differ, the consensus points to probiotics efficiently helping you lose weight in a healthy way while improving your metabolism, as well.
Let's see how that happens.
Probiotics help reduce belly fat
Probiotics offer to increase the amount of dietary fat that is to be eliminated from the body through feces.
This is the effect that you would like to achieve while trying to lose weight, as it will help you get rid of the annoying belly fat.
In a study done back in 2013, the participants have been consuming yogurt rich in Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus over a period of 6 weeks. At the end of the study, the participants have reported reduced body fat by 3-4%.[ii]
Probiotics can reduce the appetite
Yet another helpful effect that comes from the regular consummation of probiotics is reduced appetite.
Probiotics have been shown to have the ability to suppress the appetite, allowing you to enhance your weight loss process without having to starve yourself. Probiotics influence upon the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone known as GLP-1.[iii]
In addition, not only will this hormone help reduce your appetite, but research has also shown that increased levels of GLP-1 in the body can help burn more calories and fat on a daily level.[iv]
Probiotics can reduce fat storage
While some probiotics can help you increase the amount of fat that is being eliminated from the body, others can help you reduce the amount of additional fat that is being stored in the body as well.
By combining these two beneficial effects, you have an equation that will result in nothing more than effective weight loss.
Research published in Obesity has shown that those who have been given a certain probiotic have experienced less weight gain while consuming more calories than the daily recommendation as compared with those who have taken a placebo and consumed the same amount of calories at the same time.[v]
Probiotics enhance your metabolism
Now, not only do probiotics reduce the number of stored fats, while preventing more of them to be stored in the body as well, they are also acting to enhance your metabolism so that you can increase the amount of burned calories on a daily level.
By maintaining a healthy gut, probiotics can help change how your body is using macronutrients for fuel. Even in a calorie-restricted diet, probiotics can help burn fat instead of protein as the main fuel source, thus increasing the number of calories and fats that are being burned.
Probiotics support proper nutrient absorption
Making sure that you intake all of the recommended nutrients on a daily level will not do the trick alone. What that equation is missing is proper nutrient absorption in order for a healthy metabolism and an effective weight loss to happen.
Being unable to absorb all of the nutrients will equal to you feeling unsatisfied and hungry all of the time. And this, in return, will probably result in consuming more calories than you actually need, thus harming the results of your weight loss process.
Luckily, probiotics are able to maximize the nutrient absorption so that your body can actually use all of the helpful nutrients that you introduce with each meal.
Probiotics can prevent weight gain
Now let's say that you have had a successful weight loss, but you are now worried that you will once again gain all of that lost weight back.
Probiotics have been suggested to be able to prevent weight gain efficiently. A 4-week study has shown that despite the fact that the participants have been fed by over 1000 calories a day, they have still managed to reduce weight gain and fat storage.[vi]
Other health benefits of probiotics
Apart from being a great addition to your diet in terms of helping you achieve weight loss and improve your metabolism, there are many other health benefits to be expected, as well.
Studies suggests that maintaining a healthy gut colony is essential for a number of other body functions. This means that taking probiotics will directly help improve your gut colony, while at the same time indirectly helping with:
- Improving the mood
- Maintaining a healthy hormone balance;
- Overall nutrition of the body;
- The growth process of the body;
- Improving the function of the immune system etc.[vii]
Taking probiotics can be especially beneficial in certain times of your life. For example, women in menopause, who are going through difficult changes because of the hormonal imbalances that are happening in their body can use probiotics to improve their mood, and all of the difficult menopause symptoms by maintaining better control over their hormone levels.
Men can take advantage of the same benefit knowing that they are also facing hormonal imbalances as a result of the aging process that causes their testosterone levels to decline.
How to use probiotics?
As mentioned earlier, there are two ways that you can use to introduce more helpful probiotics to your diet. You can either choose to eat more foods or take dietary supplements. Many foods are excellent sources of probiotics.
We will share a long list of the best probiotic-rich foods in the next section to help you incorporate more of them into your everyday diet. As for dietary supplements – they can be found at the local pharmacy or bought online. Some probiotic dietary supplements contain strains of Lactobacillus, while others contain strains of Bifidobacterium.
There are, however, dietary supplements that contain both of these famous probiotic types. You can consult the pharmacist or your doctor to help you choose what the best option for you is.
What are the best probiotics for weight loss and improved metabolism?
Here is the most delicious part of the article. In the following, we will share a list of foods that are rich in probiotics that we highly recommend to include in your diet more often.
Perhaps you will hear some of these foods for the first time, or maybe you will be surprised to hear that your favorite food is also a great source of probiotics.
- Yoghurt, which is perfect source of protein and probiotics able to help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, improve bone health, and it can be even consumed by those with a known lactose intolerance since the present probiotics in the yogurt turn some of the lactose into lactic acid, providing the well-known sour taste of the yogurt[viii]
- Kefir is a fermented probiotic drink known for its health benefits regarding the digestion, bone health, and the state of the immune system
- Kombucha, which is either a fermented black or green tea. Although there is a lack of scientific studies done on humans, we already know so much about the health benefits of kombucha, especially on the digestive system, from research done on animal subjects and test-tube studies
- Pickles are low in calories while being high in helpful probiotics and Vitamin K. Just remember – they are also high in sodium so anyone who is struggling with high blood pressure should watch over his/her consummation of pickles
- Sauerkraut is a good source of many vitamins, including Vitamin B, C, and K, while it contains great amounts of iron and magnesium and healthy probiotics as well. Anyone with eye issues should take advantage of eating sauerkraut as it is filled with lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that play a great role in maintaining good eye health
- Tempeh serves as a high-protein source for vegans and vegetarians, but it is also a good source of probiotics. It is also high in phytic acid, thus helping the absorption of iron and zinc in the body, and it is a rich source of Vitamin B12
- Buttermilk or to say better – traditional buttermilk over the cultured buttermilk that has little to no probiotics. Traditional buttermilk – the liquid that is gathered after the butter is being produced, is what can serve as a great probiotic source in your diet
- Kimichi contains a very special probiotic known as Lactobacillus kimichi, which has been found to enhance the digestive health efficiently[ix]
- Miso is a great source of a number of nutrients and several vitamins and minerals including fiber, manganese, copper, and Vitamin K which are present in great amounts
- Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese in their fermented form are what serve as both delicious and beneficial addition to your diet. Look for the finest aged cottage cheese or gouda to assure that you have the best source of probiotics
Probiotics can be found in a variety of foods and dietary supplements. They serve as a great addition to our everyday diet, offering the help that our digestive system needs.
By providing your body with these helpful bacteria, you may be able to experience some of the benefits.
[i] Reid, G., Gadir, A. A., & Dhir, R. (2019). Probiotics: Reiterating What They Are and What They Are Not. Frontiers in Microbiology, 10. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00424
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6425910/
[ii] Omar, J. M., Chan, Y.-M., Jones, M. L., Prakash, S., & Jones, P. J. (2013). Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons. Journal of Functional Foods, 5(1), 116–123. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2012.09.001
Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464612001399
[iii] Yadav, H., Lee, J.-H., Lloyd, J., Walter, P., & Rane, S. G. (2013). Beneficial Metabolic Effects of a Probiotic via Butyrate-induced GLP-1 Hormone Secretion. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288(35), 25088–25097. doi: 10.1074/jbc.m113.452516
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23836895
[iv] Pannacciulli, N., Bunt, J. C., Koska, J., Bogardus, C., & Krakoff, J. (2006). Higher fasting plasma concentrations of glucagon-like peptide 1 are associated with higher resting energy expenditure and fat oxidation rates in humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 84(3), 556–560. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/84.3.556
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16960169/
[v] Osterberg, K. L., Boutagy, N. E., Mcmillan, R. P., Stevens, J. R., Frisard, M. I., Kavanaugh, J. W., … Hulver, M. W. (2015). Probiotic supplementation attenuates increases in body mass and fat mass during the high-fat diet in healthy young adults. Obesity, 23(12), 2364–2370. doi: 10.1002/oby.21230
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26466123
[vi] Osterberg, K. L., Boutagy, N. E., Mcmillan, R. P., Stevens, J. R., Frisard, M. I., Kavanaugh, J. W., … Hulver, M. W. (2015). Probiotic supplementation attenuates increases in body mass and fat mass during the high-fat diet in healthy young adults. Obesity, 23(12), 2364–2370. doi: 10.1002/oby.21230
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26466123
[vii] King, S., Glanville, J., Sanders, M. E., Fitzgerald, A., & Varley, D. (2014). Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(1), 41–54. doi: 10.1017/s0007114514000075
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24780623
[viii] Rizzoli, R. (2014). Dairy products, yogurts, and bone health. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(5). doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.073056
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24695889
[ix] Kim, J., Han, H. U., & Chun, J. (2000). Leuconostoc kimchii sp. nov., a new species from kimchi. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 50(5), 1915–1919. doi: 10.1099/00207713-50-5-1915
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11034488