Probiotics and weight loss - can a probiotic make you skinny?
A 12 week randomised, controlled trial on 87 generally healthy adults with “obese tendencies” found those fed the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 showed statistically significant decreases in abdominal fat, as well as body weight, BMI, waist and hip circumferences, and body fat mass as compared with their control group (3).
The probiotic selected in the study came from human intestine and had been found to reduce enlarged fat cells caused by a high-fat diet in rats. The strain had also been found to bind with cholesterol and promote its clearance (2).
Do you match the participants’ profiles?
• Between 33–63 years old
• Body mass index (BMI) between 24.2 and 30.7kg/m2,
• Abdominal visceral fat area between 81.2 and 178.5 cm2
• Apart from their weight and fat stores participants did not have any serious health concerns including liver disease, autoimmune diseases or diabetes.
• All participants were able to drink milk as the probiotic was in fermented milk.
• Participants were Japanese (3).
So do you have car keys at the ready to race out and hunt down Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055?
The good news:
• Previous and more recent studies on the same strain of probiotics have been able to reproduce similar results (1).
• Research on the influence of bacteria on obesity is an exploding area of study and many more discoveries are soon to be released (2).
The not so good news:
• The study size was very small, only 87 participants.
• Men far outweighed women: 59 men and 28 women.
• Potentially Japanese diets and lifestyles may interact with the probiotic strain in ways that our ethnic heritage does not.
• Two of the researchers listed on the study were from dairy manufactures. However no conflicts of interest were declared (3).
Would I recommend it?
If you were between 33 – 63, overweight, with fat stores around your tummy Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 could certainly be one element of your tailored treatment plan. It is important to also eat a diet rich in the foods probiotic bugs enjoy eating so make sure you also increase your veggies and fibre in general.
1. Cani, P. D., & Delzenne, N. M. (2011). The gut microbiome as therapeutic target. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 130(2), 202-212.
2. Delzenne, N. M., Neyrinck, A. M., Bäckhed, F., & Cani, P. D. (2011). Targeting gut microbiota in obesity: effects of prebiotics and probiotics. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 7(11), 639-646.
3. Kadooka, Y., Sato, M., Imaizumi, K., Ogawa, A., Ikuyama, K., Akai, Y., … & Tsuchida, T. (2010). Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(6), 636-643. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.19;