Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide numerous health benefits. They can be ingested through supplements as well as natural fermented foods.
Probiotics are already known to improve digestive health, heart health and immune function, to name a few.
However, some new studies suggest that probiotics may also help you lose weight and belly fat in order to achieve a flat tummy. Keep reading to know how your gut bacteria affect your body weight and how you can use it to your advantage for a shapely abdomen.
What is Gut Microbiome?
Sometimes you need to look inwards when all high intensity workouts and dedicated exercises fail to deliver the flat stomach you want. The bacteria found in the gut can help you lose weight and effectively burn stubborn belly fat.
Your gut microbiome has 40 trillion microbes in it, which is more than the number of cells in your body and a lot more cans of beer and slices of pizza Drew Carey has drank and eaten, respectively, in his life which says something. It is a lively thriving place that holds the key to your health and weight regulation.
Not all gut bacteria are good – kind of like not all Iron Man or Star Wars movies are good (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were horrendous in fact but this is another subject). 15% of the human microbiome comprises of neutral or harmful bacteria.
The other 85% good bacteria or probiotics overcome these minute numbers and prevent infections or illnesses. These friendly bacteria are known to assist with digestion and optimal absorption of nutrients.
They are also responsible for producing certain essential nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin K and short chain fatty acids.
Bacteria thrive upon a lot of fiber that is indigestible to human beings. They break down the fiber into easy-to-absorb short chain fatty acids that is required to maintain an overall healthy weight.
How Does Gut Microbiome Influence Weight?
The activities of your gut bacteria, apart from aiding digestion and providing beneficial nutrients also include weight regulation. Two main families of bacteria residing in the gut – bacteroidetes and firmicutes, are related to weight gain.
Studies have shown that overweight people or those at a risk of obesity have more firmicutes and less bacteroidetes. This ratio is completely different from the bacterial composition of healthy weight individuals.
Animal studies have confirmed that weight gain can occur due to an unhealthy or imbalanced gut microbiome. When the gut bacteria from obese mice were transplanted into lean mice, the lean mice began gaining weight within a few weeks.
These studies indicate a causal relationship between gut microbiome and weight gain which is almost as apparent as linking patriotism with Jack Bauer and Barney Ross.
How do Probiotics Help Burn Belly Fat?
Using the influence of gut bacteria on weight gain can have huge implications on your weight loss efforts. Fat storage around the abdomen can be difficult to get rid of, particularly when it becomes stubborn and unresponsive to exercise or diet.
Certain probiotics are believed to inhibit the absorption of fat, thereby increasing the amount of fat excreted through stool. In other words, certain probiotics make you harvest fewer calories from your food, helping you lose weight quickly.
The liver secretes soapy bile salts which mix with fat molecules and help digest it. However, the good bacteria in your body destroy these bile salts and interfere with fat absorption.
Probiotics also help with belly fat by releasing certain hormones and proteins. GLP-1 is the body’s satiety hormone or appetite reducing hormone.
A healthy gut microbiome ensures effective release of this hormone to help you burn calories and fat. Probiotics are also known to increase levels of the protein ANGPTL4 which helps in decreasing fat storage.
There have been many studies that link obesity and belly fat with inflammation in the brain. Increased presence of harmful strains in your gut (when it is out of balance) can cause increased inflammation in your gut.
Probiotics are found to reduce systemic inflammation and protect against obesity and other diseases, by improving gut health.
Research on the Weight Benefits of Probiotics
According to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus helped combat dietary fat absorption and increased the amount expelled daily. This resulted in the reduction of belly fat by 3–4% over a 6-week period.
Another study investigated the effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus on 125 overweight dieters. During the 3 month study, women taking the supplements were found to lose 50% more weight as compared to the group taking placebo. Most women lost a few inches from their waistline as well which Mimi from The Drew Carey Show may want to look into but that’s another subject.
Lactobacillus gasseri has shown the most promising effects on losing belly fat of all the probiotic bacteria studied till date.
Studies in Japanese adults have shown impressive results when 210 people with a lot of belly fat were found to reduce body weight, fat around organs, BMI, waist size and hip circumference, after taking Lactobacillus gasserifor 12 weeks.
Belly fat among all participants on probiotics was reduced by 8.5% during the study period. However, they gained back all the weight once the probiotics were stopped.
You can maintain a healthy gut bacterial balance by regularly taking probiotic supplements, to prevent inflammation, serious illnesses and weight gain.
Prevent Weight Gain with Probiotics
There are some probiotics that work towards weight loss, while others specifically work in preventing weight gain. It is crucial that you take a healthy balance of both these types of bacteria to lose tummy fat and get a flat stomach.
A probiotic formulation called VSL#3 was found to significantly reduce fat gain and weight in a 4 week study. Participants were overfed by almost 1,000 calories daily which is kind of just a snack to Thurman Merman in Bad Santa but oh well.
Participants on placebo were seen to gain body mass by 5 lbs. as compared to participants on probiotics. Even with a high daily calorie intake, probiotics as part of a regular diet are found to help in weight loss and prevent weight gain.
Choose the Right Strain
There are some probiotic strains, like Lactobacillus acidophilus that may help you gain weight and increase your body mass. Hence, make sure you choose the right probiotic. It is best to pick a supplement designed specifically for losing belly fat to ensure you do not hog on the wrong bacteria accidentally.
The Right Goal to Have
Prebiotics are important to lose weight along with probiotics. These are a kind of indigestible plant fiber that works as a nourishing source for probiotics.
You can help probiotics set up colonies with prebiotic supplements. This will help you get rid of stubborn belly fat quickly to enjoy a flat tummy.