Obesity is, unfortunately, an epidemic in the United States, with millions suffering the ill effects of carrying too many pounds. That, of course, has led many to seek biohacks for weight loss, with both good and not-so-good results.
One of the better biohacks, though, is the use of probiotics to help with weight loss. In today’s article, we’ll take a look at why and how probiotics work. Also, if using them for weight loss makes sense or isn’t worth the trouble. If you’ve got a few (or a lot) pounds to shed, read on to find out if probiotics can help! Enjoy.
Fact 1- Your GI Tract is Loaded With Microorganisms
You may not know it, but there are millions of microscopic creatures in your body at all times. Thankfully, most of them are ‘good’ bacteria that help you digest your food and help your body produce essential vitamins like K and B. Gut bacteria also help your body break down fiber, which your GI tract can’t digest normally.
Fact 2- There are 2 Kinds of Good Bacteria in your Gut
While there are many different kinds of bacteria in the GI tract plus germs, microbes, viruses, and more, only two types of bacteria are considered ‘good’ bacteria; bacteroidetes and firmicutes. More importantly, these two bacteria are believed to play a role in regulating your body weight.
Fact 3- Overweight People Have Different Gut Bacteria than Thin People
Studies performed on both animals and humans have found that gut bacteria is different between those who are average weight and those who are overweight. In those studies, overweight people showed higher amounts of firmicutes and fewer of bacteroidetes. (Studies haven’t shown a correlation yet between the two, though.)
Furthermore, overweight people have been found to have a less diverse amount of bacteria in their gut than thin people. That can be a problem as, with less diversity, less (and lower quality) digestion is happening, which is a key to good health.
Fact 4- Overweight People Tend to gain Weight More Easily due to Less Diverse Gut Bacteria
This is one of the most damning problems with being overweight; it tends to make you even fatter. For example, in one study, when lean mice were given a bacteria transplant from obese mice, the lean mice started becoming obese also. That’s in part, again, due to a less diverse range of bacteria in the GI tract.
Fact 5- Probiotics Influence Appetite and Energy Usage
Truth be told, how probiotics affect scientists don’t well understand fat and body weight. However, it seems that probiotics influence appetite (and energy levels) by producing acetate, propionate, and butyrate, all of which are short-chain fatty acids.
Other probiotics seem to inhibit the absorption of fat, increasing the amount that is flushed out (no pun intended) when you go to the bathroom. In short, they reduce the number of calories you absorb from food and thus prevent you from accumulating those calories and getting heavier.
Fact 6- Probiotics Release Hormones That Regulate Appetite
Certain hormones are used by the human body to burn calories and fat. These are the hormones glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY). When you take probiotics, both of these appetite-reducing hormones are released into your body and keep you from overeating.
Fact 7- Probiotics Might Reduce Fat Storage
One interesting finding about probiotics is that, when you take them, the amount of fat regulating proteins made in your body is increased. That includes the protein angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4). The amount of storage space for fat in your body is decreased by increasing these proteins’ levels.
Fact 7- Taking Probiotics May Help Reduce Your Belly Fat
Several recent studies have concluded that probiotics go well with decreasing the body’s fat percentage. One of the most important of them is the lactobacillus family, including Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus. And one fascinating study, participants who ate yogurt with both saw a reduction in their body fat by almost 4% over six weeks.
Another study of 114 obese adults showed that there was a significant decrease in body fat mass and waist circumference after 12 weeks of using probiotics with lactobacillus sakei. Many of the participants lost 50% more weight when taking probiotics than those given a placebo.
Fact 8- Lactobacillus Gasseri Shows the Most Promise for Weight Loss
Lactobacillus gasseri, which is another form of lactobacillus microbe, has shown the most promising effects when it comes to weight loss and belly fat loss. Studies in both rats and humans have demonstrated excellent results, including reducing body weight, body mass index, hip circumference, and, most importantly, fat around major organs. Even more critical for those wishing to lose a few pounds around their belly, belly fat was reduced by nearly 9% when supplementing with lactobacillus gasseri.
Fact 9- Several Probiotics have been Shown to Possibly Prevent Weight Gain
Here’s a fact; it’s easier to prevent weight gain than to lose weight after you’ve already become obese. That’s why preventing unwanted weight gain is a valuable option when looking to avoid obesity. Now, frankly, the studies being done have been small, and the results, even though favorable, have been small as well. In short, more studies need to be done to determine if probiotics can actually prevent a person from gaining weight.
Fact 10- Weight Loss Due to Probiotics Varies from Person to Person
Here’s the thing; everyone is different. Some will have excellent results when using probiotics to lose weight, while others may have no results whatsoever. It’s even been shown that some probiotics can lead to weight gain instead of weight loss. The results vary from person to person and from one probiotic strain to another.
Probiotics seem, at least on the surface, to help with weight loss and preventing weight gain. Frankly, the results depend on several factors, including the person and the probiotic type they are using when supplementing. Some probiotics might have a modest effect on your weight, and some may be a bit more. In most cases, though, a healthy, low-fat, low-calorie diet is also necessary.
All that being said, taking a probiotic supplement is a healthy idea whether you’re obese or not. Probiotics can help improve your digestion, reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, and reduce inflammation, a significant cause of ill health. In short, whether you need to lose a few pounds or just want to be as healthy as possible, supplementing with probiotics is an excellent idea.