How to lose weight with probiotics

Losing weight with probiotics – myth or reality?

Jul 09, 2024Felicitas Frank

Probiotics are good for the gut flora, that is undisputed. However, they are increasingly being advertised as a weight loss aid. Is there really something to it? In this article, you will find out whether probiotics can really help you to achieve your desired weight and how best to use them.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are foods or products that contain live bacteria that naturally occur in our intestines. There, they are extremely important for digestion, as they break down our food into its components and ferment non-soluble components such as fibre, producing vitamins and other substances that maintain the correct environment in the gut. Since most immune reactions also take place in the gut, probiotics are not only good for digestion, but also support your general health. Researchers have even found a link between the gut microbiome and mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. This means that a balanced gut flora is essential for health and well-being.

→ You can find out more about intestinal bacteria and the possible complaints they can cause in this article

Each microbiome is different

A person's microbiome is as individual as a fingerprint. The bacteria and other microorganisms that settle there and the number of them can also change over the course of a lifetime, depending on how we eat, where we live and what illnesses we may be afflicted with. For example, people who mainly eat animal products have significantly more bacteria in their intestines that specialise in the fermentation of proteins, while the microbiome of vegetarians and vegans has many more bacteria that can mainly ferment carbohydrates. The microbiome even adapts to a change in diet within a short period of time. Researchers attribute this to the time when humans' were still hunters and gatherers. Animal products were a form of food that was irregularly available, while plants were quick and easy to obtain. So our microbiome had to be able to cope with a week-long plant-based diet just as well as with animal foods as soon as they were available.1

What role does the gut flora play in weight loss?

Of course, diet plays an important role when it comes to dieting and losing weight. Alongside an active lifestyle, it is the most important aspect in achieving your desired weight. Most people who are overweight also have an imbalance in their gut flora. For example, researchers have found that people who are overweight often have a very large population of Firmicutes and significantly fewer species of Lactobacillus in their gut flora.2 The genera Prevotella and Gardnerella have also been linked to obesity and inflammatory reactions in the gut.3 The types and numbers of bacteria present in our microbiome therefore not only play an important role in how well and quickly we digest and absorb nutrients, but also in whether we lose weight easily or gain weight again with every little slip-up.

Another important aspect of the relationship between the microbiome and body weight is the brain-gut axis. The composition of the gut flora releases different messenger substances and hormones that ensure that we feel hungry or full.4 Based on these findings, researchers are convinced that transplanting the microbiome bacteria from a healthy person to a person suffering from an eating disorder, for example, could treat disorders such as anorexia or overeating. However, the microbiome is such a complex system that it is not possible to draw conclusions from one person to another. The interaction between a person's diet and the colonisation of the gut is a delicate balance that has been formed over decades. The same colonisation in another person does not necessarily lead to the desired results.5 In this respect, research must become even more precise and clear.

Probiotics to help lose weight

However, it is undisputed that the composition of the microbiome and the activity of the individual microorganisms in the gut play an important role in the processing and metabolism of our food, which in turn has an influence on our body weight.

How to easily integrate probiotics into your daily routine

The great advantage of probiotics in supporting your diet is that they are super easy to integrate into any daily routine. You don't need a lot of time or special recipes or anything like that. Even if you eat a yoghurt as a snack between meals or drink a Kombucha instead of a glass of water with your meal, you are doing something good for your gut flora. When it comes to yoghurts and other fermented products, you should make sure that they have the label "contains live cultures" or that they have not been heat-treated. Only then do they really contain live bacterial cultures.

It is also important to ensure that the bacteria have enough food to settle and multiply in your gut flora. Dietary fibre is ideal for this, for example in the form of psyllium husks, which you can stir into your yoghurt. These fibres cannot be completely broken down by the digestive system and act as prebiotics. This means that they are fermented by the bacteria of the microbiome, producing important messenger substances, vitamins and other substances that maintain the acidic environment in the gut.

Supplementing probiotics – what to look out for

Another way to incorporate more probiotics into your daily routine is to take probiotic or synbiotic supplements. These usually provide you with many different types of bacteria with little effort and, ideally, also contain prebiotics. If you want to take probiotics – whether to help you lose weight or for your general well-being – you should bear the following important points in mind.

Lose weight with probiotics

Support your gut flora now!


1. Diversity

A wide range of bacteria is important so that your gut flora is as well prepared as possible for everything you consume throughout the day. Good probiotic supplements contain at least 20 different bacterial strains. You should also make sure that the strains are capable of reproducing and can colonise and multiply independently in your gut flora. This will provide your microbiome with long-term and sustainable support.

2. Prebiotics

Pure probiotics only contain intestinal bacteria. However, if they are not "fed", they will die in the gut and simply be excreted again. In the worst case, overgrowth of individual bacterial strains can even lead to short-term diarrhoea. So-called synbiotics, which also contain prebiotic ingredients, are better. These include inulin or various plant fibres, which are very high in fibre and can be processed immediately by the microorganisms you ingest. This allows the bacteria to settle better and more permanently.

3. Resistant capsules

To ensure that all the bacteria arrive alive in the gut, where they can do their work and provide you with optimal support, they have to be protected from the aggressive gastric acid. To this end, some manufacturers use enteric-coated capsules that have an additional coating. The gastric acid cannot harm this coating and the capsules reach the gut undamaged, where they open gradually and release the little helpers.

4. The plus for your intestinal lining

With all the thoughts and worries about the microbiome and the gut flora, we must not forget the intestinal lining. It protects the gut and thus the entire organism from bacteria in the gut attacking the immune system. Many inflammatory bowel diseases have a weakened or disturbed intestinal lining as an underlying problem. Vitamins B2 and B6 are particularly valuable for maintaining and protecting the health of the intestinal mucosa and are often already included in high-quality synbiotics.




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