You may not know it, but there is a battle raging inside your body every second of every day that has a large impact on your ability to lose weight. It’s primarily taking place inside your gut. On one side we have the “good gut bacteria,” the ones promoting good health and vitality. On the opposing side we have “bad gut bacteria,” the scoundrels robbing you of your ability to lead your best life. With obesity and chronic disease rates on the rise, it might appear that the bad gut bacteria may be winning the battle. But the good gut bacteria have a potent weapon in the form of probiotics that may just be the thing to help win the war.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” In other words, probiotics are microscopic heroes that do your body good, especially when it comes to losing weight.
In a 12-week study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, overweight women taking probiotics were able to lose twice as much weight as participants taking a placebo. More recent research further bolsters these claims. A new small study published in the journal Obesity found that participants taking probiotic shakes had lower body mass indexes than those taking a placebo shake after four weeks. Although the mechanisms are not yet clear, scientists believe that probiotics may interfere with the absorption of calories by fortifying the intestinal walls, leaving fewer calories for the body to store as abdominal fat.
Even better news is that probiotics can be found in some of the tastiest foods. Here are some ideas below that will please your gut and taste buds. Or, if you prefer, you can take a probiotic supplement (but just do your research on product quality).
Yogurt. This tasty snack contains “live and active cultures” our bodies need for improved health. A study published in The Journal of Functional Foods found that participants consuming yogurt with probiotics were able to lose 4 percent of their body fat at the end of this six-week study.
Soft cheeses. Who said you can’t have cheese if you’re trying to lose weight? Fermented soft cheeses carry probiotics throughout the digestive system. Not all the bacteria we consume can make it through the treacherous tract of digestion, but research has shown that probiotics in these cheeses can survive the trip. But, since many soft cheeses can pack high calorie and fat levels, watch your portions!
Pickles. Pickle lovers rejoice! Good bacteria grow on naturally fermented pickles. Remember, avoid sweet pickles and choose those that are in sea salt and water instead of vinegar and you will get a powerful punch of probiotics.
And even MORE good news. Probiotics have a trusty sidekick in a food ingredient called prebiotics Prebiotic foods are rich in fiber, which helps keep the hunger cravings away while contributing to a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria environment) in your body. Asparagus, bananas, legumes, oatmeal and raw chicory root are all great prebiotics.
Get your good guy bacteria in tiptop shape now! By keeping the bad bacteria in your gut in check with the help of probiotics and prebiotics, you may discover just how much more effective – and enjoyable - your weight loss efforts can be.