Here’s some good news for yogurt lovers: consuming probiotics could help you lose weight and keep it off… at least if you’re a woman.
Scientists already know that the bacteria living in the digestive tracks of obese people — their “intestinal flora” — is quite different from that of lean people. The difference is mainly due to the effects of high fat, low fiber diets. They also already know that the type of bacteria in your gut can have a direct effect on your body weight.
So the question is: can adding the right kinds of “good” bacteria to your body — by taking probiotic supplements for example — help you lose pounds and keep them off?
Researchers from the Université Laval recently made an effort to find out. They studied 125 overweight men and women for 24 weeks, putting them on a special weight loss diet for the first 12 and a “weight maintenance” diet for the last 12. Half of the subjects were given 2 probiotic supplement pills per day while the other half got a placebo. After the study was over, the female participants who took the probiotic had experienced much better weight loss results than everyone else.
In fact, the women who received the probiotic supplement lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t take the supplement!
The researchers say they aren’t sure why the male study subjects didn’t get the same weight reduction benefits from the probiotic. According to the lead researcher Professor Angelo Tremblay:
“We don’t know why the probiotics didn’t have any effect on men. It may be a question of dosage, or the study period may have been too short.”
Interestingly, the study also found that the probiotic users experienced a drop in leptin production. Leptin, a hormone created by body fat cells, is probably the most important chemical regulator of appetite/hunger, metabolism, eating behavior, and body weight. Anything that can reduce its levels in the blood is usual beneficial in terms of faster and easier weight loss.
The researchers theorize that the probiotics help to limit the amount of inflammation-boosting chemicals in the blood, which could lower the risk of glucose intolerance, obesity, and even type 2 diabetes.
FYI, the probiotic supplements contained Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a type of beneficial bacteria found in some types of yogurt and kefir. Similar results can most likely be attained with other high-quality probiotic bacteria, but more research is needed to know for sure.