Probiotics have been the rage for the last several years, and for good reason.
These healthy gut bacteria have shown pretty remarkable benefits in studies, from improving skin conditions and chronic fatigue, to even improving serious digestive issues like IBS. [*]
But the benefits don’t stop there. Many claim that probiotics are also great for helping with weight loss, which has given more fuel to the fire, so to say, to the probiotic trend.
Here we answer the common question as to whether probiotics actually do help with weight loss, if it’s a good idea to take them if you’re trying to lean out, and how to take them.
What Are Probiotics And Why Are They So Beneficial?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are naturally found in your gut, fermented foods, and even in soil. When we’re healthy, we naturally have a balanced ratio of probiotics in our gut that help keep bad bacteria from taking over.
Research has found that many digestive, skin, and even some neurological issues we experience in our modern world are due to lack of good bacteria in our guts. This is one of the reasons why introducing probiotics to someone’s diet who has a “bad” bacterial overgrowth can lead to improvement, simply because these good bacteria help fight off the bad.
The reason we see such widespread benefits of probiotics (like improving mental health) is because what is happening in our guts is intrinsically linked to the other systems in our bodies, including our brains, hormones, immune system, and nervous system. In fact, our gut is often referred to as the “second brain” of our bodies, since signals are sent to and from our intestines to our brain.
As such, when our guts are healthy and thriving with good bacteria, our body receives balanced, efficient signals that keep it functioning optimally. Whereas when we don’t have enough good bacteria, we receive signals that throw our bodies out of balance, resulting in various conditions.
Can Probiotics Help With Weight Loss?
As you can see, probiotics have been proven to help your body return to balance through your gut. Naturally, a common question regarding supplementing with probiotics is if they will help re-balance your weight!
Several studies do show that altering the composition of your gut bacteria to include more probiotics can result in fat loss, and possibly even help mitigate weight gain. [*]
However (and this is a big however), keep in mind that no single food or supplement is going to be the magic pill to weight loss. We’ve had a lot of questions regarding diet and supplements for fat loss over the years, and our stance remains the same: that even if a single supplement or food is helpful on our weight loss journey, it doesn’t mean that we can rely on it and not cultivate a foundation of healthy behaviors.
Or, to put it simply, the biggest factor in returning to your ideal body weight is your overall health, which depends upon your overall diet, your movement patterns, your happiness, and even your stress levels. If these foundations are not in place, adding something like probiotics to the mix is likely going to leave you disappointed.
However, if your foundation is solid, then incorporating probiotics can definitely help make it even stronger. They can help improve your digestion (which improves how well you absorb nutrients, which leads to better nutrition overall), and even keep your immune system running optimally, which equals less “sick” days.
We have observed that focusing on holistic health above all, before focusing on a single substance, is the key factor in losing weight and keeping it off.
How To Take Probiotics
Now for the fun part: how do you incorporate probiotics into your lifestyle, provided your foundations are in place?
We’re going to look at diet first, since this is the most holistic and natural way of getting a dose of beneficial bacteria. Add the following foods to your regime daily, either a serving or two:
• Sauerkraut (add a couple tablespoons to a salad or on top of veggies)
• Kimchi (add a couple tablespoons to grains like quinoa with soy sauce, or to salads)
• Coconut, cashew, and almond yogurts (choose unsweetened varieties and top with granola as a snack or breakfast)
• Coconut or water kefir (start with 1/4 cup and drink alone or add to smoothies or mix with natural juice)
• Kombucha (look for lower-sugar varieties and find a flavor that your like the most at your local health food store)
(as a side note, eating cooked and cooled starches like cold potatoes in a potato salad can “feed” your good bacteria in your gut, helping them multiply)
As for probiotic supplements, there are a few things you should look for in your local health food store to find a good brand:
• 10-15 billion CFU’s (a measure of probiotic potency referred to as colony-forming units.) for daily support.
• Choose from the refrigerated section. There have been debates as to whether heat or light damages probiotics.
• Make sure there are no added sugars or additives.
• Look for a wide range of different strains of bacteria (4-10)
Remember: consistency AND foundations are the key to your success!