Recent research has revealed an unexpected new use of probiotics: weight loss. At least three recent studies have discovered this benefit. . . .



The first one looked at the effect of probiotics on weight in children. The study included 77 obese children. All the children were put on a calorie reduced diet and a physical activity program, but only half of them were put on a probitic/prebiotic supplement. The study lasted for 1 month. The kids on the probiotics had significantly more weight loss and decreases in body mass index and measures of body fat. They also had significant reductions in oxidative stress. Their total cholesterol and heart harmful LDL cholesterol went down significantly more than in the group that didn’t get the probiotics (Benef Microbes 2015;6:775-82).

The second study discovered that probiotics have the same benefit in adults. This double-blind study included 134 people between the ages of 18 and 65 who properly completed the study. Unlike the first study, none of the people in this study were overweight. The people were divided into 4 groups: they either took probiotics or a prebiotic fiber supplement or both or a placebo for 6 months.

Both the probiotic group and the probiotic/prebiotic supplement group lost weight. Compared to the prebiotic group and the placebo group, they lost 4-4.5% body fat or about 1.4kg. Most of the fat loss was abdominal fat loss: an important distinction because losing weight in the abdominal area may be the most important kind of weight loss for living a longer, healthier life (Ann Intern Med 2015;doi:10.7326/M14-2525).

The people who supplemented both the probiotic and the prebiotic had an increase in lean body mass, and both the probiotic group and the probiotic/prebiotic group consumed fewer calories (EBiomedicine 2016;doi:org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.036).

A different kind of study has also found that probiotics can have weight benefits. In this study, 20men were put on a high fat diet for 4 weeks and took either a placebo or a probiotic. The high fat diet resulted in less gain in body mass and fat mass in the probiotic group. This study suggests that probiotics might offer some weight gain protection against a high fat diet (Obesity 2015;23:2364-70).


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