Getting to Know the Facts About Probiotics Use for Weight Management

By Ross Pelton

Scientific Director, Essential Formulas

Ross Pelton is a pharmacist, nutritionist, author and a health educator who is widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on drug-induced nutrient depletions. He was named one of the top 50 most influential pharmacists in the United States by American Druggist magazine for his work in Natural Medicine.

Probiotics are not usually the first thing people think of when considering weight management options. However, the truth behind these microbes may have you changing your mind about them. Probiotics are living organisms that benefit the intestinal microbe balances. They are generally associated with foods like yogurt, sourdough, and buttermilk.

How Do Probiotics Work With Your Gut?

Probiotics work with the gut to keep it clean and healthy. These living microbes work to displace bad bacteria in the gut, leaving room for your body to properly digest the healthy foods you consume. – additionally, a healthy balance of “friendly” bacteria in the gut is essential to maintaining the intestinal tissue and encouraging regularity.

As your gut health improves, so too does your overall well-being because your gut is responsible for the majority of your immune system’s strength. When you feel healthy, you are more motivated to lose weight. In one study, it was reported that those who used probiotics in addition to a weight management program were able to lose more weight over a 12-week period than those who didn’t consume probiotics.

4 Facts About Probiotics

Almost everyone has heard about probiotics, but there are some surprising benefits to them that you may not be aware of. Here are four facts about probiotics.

Fact 1: Promote healthy Blood Pressure

Those who suffer from high blood pressure are more likely to experience heart health issues. While consuming more plant-based foods and exercising regularly can help combat high blood pressure, a study in 2014 concluded that consuming healthy probiotics can help support healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure already in the normal range.

Fact 2: Encourage Muscle Growth

Certain probiotics can introduce different natural chemicals in your body that can help with muscle growth. Lactobacillus produces lactase, which breaks down milk sugars, and lactic acid, which assists the body’s ability to absorb minerals that can then be used as fuel for muscle growth. Together they produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which cells consume to give the body energy.

Fact 3: Lead to a Better Mood

When you are under stress, your body’s gut microbe composition changes, which can impact other areas of the body, such as the central nervous system. Probiotics encourage a healthy gut that can change your body’s feelings and help promote a better overall mood.

Fact 4: Used for Healthy Weight Management

Probiotics help the body digest food and use the nutrients it provides. One study found that probiotics encouraged greater weight management in both men and women. The study looked at 125 people and found that those participants who were using probiotics lost nearly twice as much as those who weren’t. Additionally, those who took probiotics continued to lose weight during a maintenance period of the study rather than simply maintain.

Probiotics for Weight Management

Probiotics and weight management may not be common knowledge, but understanding how these healthy bacteria interact with your body can help paint a clearer picture of the benefits. Probiotics produce certain short-chain fatty acids which have an impact on appetite and energy usage. These fatty acids then reduce the need to absorb other dietary fats which results in the body increasing the amount it expels with waste. The probiotics take fewer calories from certain fatty foods because they are unneeded.

Additionally, probiotics release appetite-regulating hormones and increase levels of fat-regulating proteins. These two areas help burn calories as well as decrease the amount of fat the body stores.

While these are great benefits for preventing weight gain, you may still be wondering how they can help with your current weight. Probiotics have been used in several studies to see how they may impact weight mana, and these studies found that probiotics help to lower overall body fat percentages. One study found that women in a weight management program who used a probiotic supplement lost 50% more weight than those who were using a placebo. In a second study, 114 obese adults were given either a probiotic supplement or a placebo. Those with the supplement decreased body fat mass and lost circumference size in their waist.

In terms of weight management benefits, probiotics in the Lactobacillus family have shown the best results. These types of probiotics can be found in a number of foods, such as yogurt, milk, and kefir.

Truths and Myths About Probiotics

While probiotics have many added benefits, particularly for weight management and management, a few myths “oversell” the benefits of these healthy bacteria.

Myth: Probiotics Act As a “Cure All”

Yes, probiotics can help boost the immune system, but they are not an isolated supplement that can be taken like a medication or an antibiotic. However, when probiotics are used with healthy practices such as washing your hands and brushing your teeth, your body’s health can significantly improve.

Myth: Probiotics Create a Healthy Diet

We’ve discussed the benefits of including probiotics in your diet, but they can never take the place of a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins. Probiotics, however, can help aid your body in digesting these foods by promoting a healthy gut in addition to helping your body digest and absorb fats.

Myth: Antibiotics and Probiotics Counteract Each Other

In addition to killing bacteria that may be causing an infection, antibiotics reduce the quality of good bacteria in your gut, creating dysbiosis. Antibiotics should be followed by using a good probiotic product with diverse strains to help restore your body’s own beneficial bacteria.

Myth: Consuming Probiotics Once a Month Will Help With Weight Management

Intentionally consuming probiotics once a month is a great place to start, but the body sheds its intestinal wall every 12 days, which means all the healthy bacteria may go with it. Using probiotics as a regular part of a routine for diet and weight management can help keep your body full of healthy bacteria that can help maintain a healthy body.

Myth: Postbiotics Won’t Help as Much as Probiotics

Probiotics are vital micro-organisms that produce essential postbiotics that synergistically help the body improve its overall health and can contribute significant benefits to weight management and diet. The biggest difference between the two is simply one is alive, and the other is the byproduct of the live version. Postbiotics, which are not live cultures, can be particularly beneficial for those with certain illnesses whose bodies may struggle with a live culture.

Benefits of Taking Probiotics

As you have seen so far, probiotics offer many benefits for your overall health by focusing on your body’s ability to maintain a healthy digestive system. They help maximize the nutrients your body receives, process fats, and keep your immune system boosted. Each type of probiotic can help the body in different ways:

  • Supporting gut health.

    For those who suffer from various gastrointestinal issues, probiotics such as Saccharomyces boulardii can help with diarrhea, also known as “leaky gut.” This same probiotic can help with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel syndrome.

  • Relieving constipation.

    Constipation is the result of increased travel time to the bowels from the gut. Probiotics like Bifidobacterium lactis have been most efficient in improving that transit time while increasing stool frequency and stool consistency. This bacterium can even help reduce the body’s release of gas.

  • Helping with weight mangement.

Prebiotics and probiotics such as Lactobacillus gasseri and Bifidobacterium have proven beneficial in several studies to help aid those who are looking to reduce weight and body mass index. These bacteria have helped improve body health in those who are reducing caloric intake and want to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

  • Improve mental health.

    While having good gut health can help to improve mental health, specific probiotics such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus can also be effective for relieving anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. These are the same probiotics that encourage weight management and weight management.

Are Probiotics Good for Weight Management

Overall, probiotics have shown strong results in helping with weight management. By encouraging the absorption of only the fats you need and maximizing the nutrients from the foods you eat, your body doesn’t feel it is necessary to overeat to compensate for what it feels is missing. However, probiotics work with the digestive tract, which means you could find some side effects that may not feel good until your body balances itself between the good and bad bacteria. During this process, you may find that you feel bloated or gassier, have a change in the consistency or color of your stool, and experience other digestive discomforts. These side effects tend to be temporary and could be signs your probiotic is working.

What Probiotics Are Good for Weight Management?

The most popular probiotic strains used in weight management include:

  • Saccharomyces boulardii.

    These help to reduce colon inflammation and diarrhea and may have a boosting effect on endurance.

  • Lactobacillus family.

    This family consists of a wide variety of probiotic strains that help with strengthening the gut, increasing serotonin levels, improving bowels, supporting the immune system, and more.

  • Bifidobacterium family.

    This family of probiotics helps to improve gastrointestinal health, helps fight against illnesses through immune system boosts, and supports a healthy tone of the intestinal wall in the colon.

  • Akkermansia muciniphila.

    This species of probiotic bacteria is the subject of on-going research since it appears to play an important role in glucose metabolism by supporting GLP-1 hormone levels and encouraging healthy weight management.  This species has also been shown to help strengthen overall gut health.  Many of the studies are preliminary, but promising.

Using these strains, you can find the probiotic supplements that are right for you.

Using Probiotics for Weight Management: Potential Risks and Side Effects

While using probiotics as a regular part of your diet can help promote healthy weight management, it is important to understand the side effects of different types. While the following represent potential risks, our bodies are built for healthy bacteria such as those provided by probiotics.

Unpleasant Digestive Issues

Some people may be impacted by digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and increased thirst when taking probiotics. These are most often found with bacteria-based probiotics. Yeast-based probiotics may increase constipation. However, these side effects are most common when starting a probiotic regime and tend to go away as your gut balances out.

Allergic Reactions

Because probiotics are found in many different types of foods, consuming certain products may cause allergic reactions, such as those who are allergic to lactose. Others who are allergic to dairy, egg, or soy may also experience allergic reactions. Knowing your food allergies can help find a probiotic that will avoid this.

Interactions With Medications

As with any supplement, ask your doctor how probiotics may interact with the effects of any medications you are taking. Some probiotics may reduce the effectiveness of the medication, or the medication could reduce the effectiveness of the probiotics. This is particularly true with antibiotics.

Infection Risk

While most people will never experience an infection, some people may find that the yeast or bacteria that is in the probiotic could end up in the bloodstream. This is particularly true for those with suppressed immune systems. However, the likelihood of an infection occurring is extremely rare.

As with any supplement regime, be sure to discuss with your doctor what side effects you may be at risk for and how probiotics could interact with any medications you are taking.

Probiotics Takeaway

Understanding how probiotics can help improve your gut health, better your mental health, and aid in weight management make these bacteria worth exploring. Probiotics can’t function in isolation, but with the right diet and daily regimens, they can help your body stay healthy.

At Essential Formulas, we offer a variety of probiotic products to help you on your health journey. If you have questions about probiotics or want more information, contact us today.



By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
Scientific Director, Essential Formulas

Ross Pelton is a pharmacist, nutritionist, author and a health educator who is widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on drug-induced nutrient depletions. He was named one of the top 50 most influential pharmacists in the United States by American Druggist magazine for his work in Natural Medicine.

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