Have you been struggling to lose weight despite how many times you’ve hit the gym or skipped that dessert? It may be time to turn to your gut. Probiotics can be a great tool for supporting your health and weight loss goals. This is especially true when used in combination with a healthy, balanced diet, and plenty of exercise.
However, it can be overwhelming to consider the different types of probiotic strains and their potential effect on your health. It’s important to first truly understand what probiotics are and how they support your health.
What Are Probiotics?
There are millions of live microorganisms in your digestive tract – some good, some are bad. The good bacteria is known as probiotics. Probiotics are essential for optimal health as they support healthy bodily functions and nutrient absorption.1
Probiotics are friendly healthy bacteria that can be found in foods like yogurt as well as in supplement form. They provide important gut health which in turn may contribute to improvements in your overall well-being including:2
- Weight loss
- Immune function
- Skin health
One of the most common probiotics is Lactobacillus, which you can find in fermented foods like yogurt or apple cider vinegar.3 Lactobacillus assists the digestive system in breaking down lactose sugar into lactic acid in the gut. This helps create an acidic environment in the gut that germs do not like helping to improve overall health.
Do Probiotics Work For Weight Loss?
Multiple studies have examined the effects of probiotics for weight loss. An unhealthy, unbalanced digestive system may lead to an imbalance in gut microbes, otherwise known as dysbiosis. In a 2013 study, gut dysbiosis was directly linked to the development of obesity. In addition, a 2015 study showed that obese people and normal-weight people have markedly different gut flora and thus, different gut health.4 These studies give evidence for the idea that using probiotics such as Lactobacillus to support healthy, friendly gut bacteria may also support weight management as well.
What Does The Scientific Research Say About Gut Bacteria And Your BMI?
Research has studied the link between gut bacteria and body mass index (BMI). Most notably, in a study examining the link between probiotic use and BMI, participants who had been taking probiotics like Lactobacillus and Firmicutes had a statistically significant lowering of their BMI, meaning that probiotic use correlates with a lower rate of obesity.5
This provides evidence that probiotics like Lactobacillus can help you lose weight. In addition, the same study also found that taking probiotics was significantly correlated to a reduction in waist size, also showing that probiotic use can support a trimmer, leaner body with less belly fat.
Remember That Probiotics Can Only Do So Much: Diet And Exercise Are Always The Biggest Key To Weight Loss
Of course taking a probiotic supplement or eating more fermented foods is not a magical weight loss method. Instead, combining probiotic use, such as taking a probiotic supplement, with the most critical strategies for weight loss, namely diet and exercise, is key to shedding unwanted pounds.
Follow these tips for dieting and exercise to help you lose weight in combination with probiotic use:6,7
- Add fiber and good fats to your diet – Fibrous foods like vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and beans can help you feel fuller for longer, and provide key nutrients to give you energy for a tough workout. In addition, a high-fat diet of healthy fats, like avocado and oily fish, can help you feel full longer and avoid unnecessary snacking.
- Stay active – When people think of “exercise,” they normally think of expensive gym memberships or difficult fitness classes. Instead, you can simply add activity into your day, such as a walk on your lunch break or parking farther from the store entrance. Exercise doesn’t have to be complex; little moments of activity throughout your day can add up to more calories burned overall.
- Stop eating sugar – Sugar in soft drinks and processed foods can wreak havoc on your health and add unwanted calories. In addition, your digestive system burns off this sugar quickly, leaving you feeling hungry and unsatisfied shortly after eating. This can lead you to eat more, possibly leading to weight gain. Also, be aware that some fermented foods like yogurt have tons of added sugar! Go for the plain flavor or unsweetened version when buying yogurt.
- Cook at home – Eating in restaurants is fun, but can include huge portion sizes and tons of added sugar. Cooking at home helps you control what goes into your food, promotes smaller portion sizes, and helps you avoid weight gain.
- Lift to get lighter – Most people think they need to do crazy amounts of cardio to shed pounds, but lifting weights is linked to losing fat and building muscle. By toning your body through weightlifting, you also support your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories throughout the day.
- Set realistic goals – It is good to have mentors to look up to during your weight loss journey, but remember, attempting to obtain the “perfect” body can lead to destructive behaviors. All weight loss journeys should be about feeling better, rather than looking a certain way.
When using probiotics for weight loss, know that probiotics aren’t a magic fix. However, in combination with other methods of weight loss, and when used appropriately, probiotics can help regulate digestion to maximize weight loss and avoid obesity.
With some effort, knowing the benefits of probiotic usage can improve your health and well-being. Talk to your doctor about whether or not incorporating more probiotics into your diet is right for you.
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