Research: Probiotics and Weight Loss

Research wordResearch word

Probiotics can assist with weight loss and weight maintenance but they are not a magic cure for obesity.


While you are probably reading about probiotics or prebiotics in all of your health and wellness magazines, I am sure the articles are leaving a lot of wonder and doubt in your mind. The words are the huge buzzwords of choice in the wellness industry today but don’t fret too much because this article will explain and provide some much-needed clarity on the topic. I will also provide some calrity on whether they can help with weight loss.

What is a prebiotic and probiotic? Dietary prebiotics are typically nondigestible soluble and insoluble fiber that passes undigested to the colon and stimulate the growth or activity of advantageous bacteria. Probiotics, on the other hand, are the live microorganisms that are being fed by the fiber and are believed to create positive health benefits as they devour the fiber.

We have been told the benefits if fiber or prebiotic intake for decades, but the suggestion for probiotics is more recent. Probiotics are considered generally safe to consume. Of course, there may be unwanted side effects in rare cases. The newbie to the block, probiotics, has been toughted as a cure of irritable bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other illnesses.

So what does the research show? At least one study from 2015 showed a positive relationship between changes in gut or colon bacteria and obesity​[1]​. Although adding probiotics in mice in this study resulted in weight loss, the same was not true in humans. Another study fromn 2013 looked at Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplementation and its effect on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women over 24 weeks​[2]​. The study shows that the Lactobacillus rhamnosus helped obese women to achieve sustainable weight loss. It did not have the same effect in men, but there is no reason to believe it would not work in both. Clearly, more research is needed.

The bottom line: Most of us do not get enough fiber. I would recommend adding both a prebiotic and probiotic to your diet. Although the evidence is not perfect, increasing can’t hurt and fiber-rich prebiotic food will definitely make you feel fuller. Talk to your medical provider about prebiotics.

  1. [1]
    D. S. H. Bell, “Changes seen in gut bacteria content and distribution with obesity: causation or association?,” Postgraduate Medicine, pp. 863–868, Oct. 2015 [Online]. Available:
  2. [2]
    M. Sanchez et al., “Effects of a Diet-Based Weight-Reducing Program with Probiotic Supplementation on Satiety Efficiency, Eating Behaviour Traits, and Psychosocial Behaviours in Obese Individuals,” Nutrients, p. 284, Mar. 2017 [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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