Can probiotics help with weight loss?

hand holding probiotic pill that might help with weight loss

Probiotics for weight loss research

A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of a probiotic (lactobacillus gasseri) added to fermented milk and if probiotics help with weight loss and reduce abdominal fat in Japanese men.

The study was published by researchers at a Japanese dairy company and looked at the effect of probiotic supplements (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 (LG2055)) on weight loss in obese Japanese men.

The 3-month study of 87 men that had a BMI between 24.2 and 30.7 kg/m2 looked at weight loss and abdominal fat loss when given fermented milk either with or without the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055. At the end of the 12-week study, there was a substantial weight loss in the group consuming the fermented milk with the probiotic (1.4% decrease or -1.1 kg) and a decrease in BMI (1.5% decrease or -0.4 kg/m2) as well as a 4.6% decrease in the amount of abdominal fat tissue measured by CAT scans before and after the study.

A couple of thoughts on this study; First, it’s interesting to see that adding a probiotic may have some short-term benefits on weight loss as well as decreasing abdominal fat, which can be a risk factor for heart disease. However, the group selected for the study mostly falls within the “Overweight” category on the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale (25 to 29.9 kg/m2). I’d be curious to see this same study done with test subjects that were in the Obese Class I & II(BMI of 30.0 to 34.9 kg/m2 and BMI of 35-39.9 kg/m2) and “Morbidly Obese” (BMI of greater than 40%) to see if the weight loss was similar or greater.

There’s also no mention of if any prebiotics were added to the probiotic consumed since most typical diets tend to be low in these healthy higher fiber foods, the amount of prebiotics as part of the diet could affect how well (or not so well) the probiotics work to help with weight loss.

If there was a follow-up study done, it could look at the effect of prebiotics as well as probiotics on weight loss. Does adding prebiotics to probiotics have a bigger impact on weight loss or decrease in abdominal fat? Is there a measurable change in the gut biome from the addition of the probiotics and is the increase in the lactobacillus gasseri in the small and/or large intestine really what’s contributing to the weight and fat loss?

It would also be helpful to see a fuller discussion about possible mechanisms for the weight loss in the probiotic group. Is there a higher production of postbiotics short-chain fatty acids like butyrate that explain the weight and fat loss from the additional probiotics or is there another mechanism at work?

Additionally, I’d also like to see a longer study (6 to 12 months) to demonstrate the long-term effectiveness of the probiotics in maintaining the weight loss, and additional results to determine if this weight loss effect would be enhanced by exercise and/or nutrition changes.

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