Most of us search for ways to lose weight easily - a magic pill that could shave off pounds while you chow down on chocolate cake. Of course, there really isn’t anything we can ingest that will cause the kind of weight loss we seek; although, anyone hoping to shed a few pounds would seriously benefit from getting the proper amount of sleep. The only other absolute in terms of reaching a healthy weight is having a healthy gut - or, feeding the healthy bacteria that live within our digestive system.
A variety of beneficial gut bacteria (aka probiotics) reside on and within the human body. Research routinely shows the influence these bacteria have on weight gain and loss.
Most of these bacteria are friendly, operating to our benefit. For example, probiotic gut bacteria aid in food breakdown and digestion, feeding on the fiber in the food we eat and proliferating to crowd out harmful bacteria.
Unfortunately, our guts also harbor harmful bacteria. When these grow out of proportion, we have what is called dysbiosis - an imbalance among our gut bacteria. Often this results from a diet high in sugars, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods, as well as unhealthy lifestyle habits such as sleeping less than we should (guilty) or drinking too much coffee (again!) Given that people at a healthy weight and people who are obese have markedly different gut bacteria, it is believed that dysbiosis within the gut contributes to obesity.
In fact, there is abundant evidence suggesting that some probiotics may help people lose weight, and yet, one can’t just buy any product on the shelf and expect it to perform miracles. If you’re interested in repopulating gut bacteria after a course of antibiotics, excessive diet soda or artificial sweetener consumption, a less than wholesome diet, or too many sugar free foods containing maltitol, proceed with caution: many of the options available to us are placebos at best.
Don’t Fall for the Gummies!
They may be fun and delicious, but gummy probiotics do not contain any of the requisite bacterial strains that aid in weight management (these are killed off when the gelatin is heated to make the gummy). Furthermore, the sugar used to bind the gummy crowds out any benefits. Similarly, if a supplement is advertised as “sugar free” and sweetened with the artificial sweetener maltitol, beware: Maltitol causes severe gastric discomfort even in small quantities.
Other questionable probiotic foods contain too little of these healthy bacteria to make a difference. Probiotic chocolate sparked my interest, until I realized I’d have to eat 14 bars a day to reap any benefits – which, to be fair, anyone who knows me would say I’m quite capable of doing. But, all that sugar would negate any positive outcome. If one thing is clear about probiotics, it is that products that seem too good to be true probably are - especially if they fail to explain the exact quality and quantity of the probiotic strain.
The Science Behind Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
One study in particular observed the positive effects on weight loss of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, an important compound in Losers’ Chews (The British Journal of Nutrition).
In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial, each subject consumed two capsules per day of either a placebo or a Lactobacillus formulation combined with the prebiotic inulin (also present in Losers’ Chews). Weight loss in women in the probiotic/prebiotic group was significantly higher than that in the placebo group. Notably, women in the probiotic/prebiotic group continued to lose body weight and fat mass during the weight-maintenance period, whereas opposite changes were observed in the placebo group. Probiotic-induced weight loss was associated with significant reductions in fat mass and increased circulating leptin concentrations. Leptin is the hormone responsible for satiety.
In other words, this study concludes that Lactobacillus rhamnosus can help overweight women achieve sustainable weight loss. Based on these findings, and my experience of 20+ years in the nutrition and weight loss industry, the best supplements for gut health, optimal metabolism and weight loss should contain this strain of Lactobacillus.
Another 2013 study also looked at the effects of Lactobacillus. Overweight but otherwise healthy participants ate yogurt that contained Lactobacillus strains for 6 weeks. At the end of this period, the participants had lost an average of 3-4% body fat. These findings were echoed in a further study in which people with extra belly fat who drank fermented milk products containing the helpful bacteria lost 8.5% of their belly fat over 12 weeks.
Vitamin D and Weight Loss
In a study published by medical news, individuals with higher levels of belly fat and larger waistlines were more likely to have lower vitamin D levels.
Recent studies have found that vitamin D might also protect against heart failure, diabetes, bone health and cancer, and that vitamin D deficiency causes both weight gain and hair loss. With more than 40 percent of the population of the United States being vitamin D deficient, this is a serious issue. Some researchers have referred to it as "an ignored epidemic," estimating that over 1 billion people worldwide are functioning at a lesser than ideal level.
With these facts in mind, taking prebiotics combined with probiotics and vitamin D could benefit not just a person's weight loss efforts, but one’s overall health.
There’s much we’re still learning about probiotics and prebiotics. But, as research proves, gut bacteria’s beneficial role in the human body becomes clear. Remember, ingredient transparency backed by science is key - a principle that guides all of our product development at NutriSuits.
Check out Losers’ Chews to get your daily dose of prebiotics, probiotics and vitamin D.