A Probiotic + Fiber Supplement Can Aid Weight Loss, New Study Shows
Carrying excess weight, especially body fat, is a contributor to poor metabolic health (like high blood sugar or cholesterol levels). And if that's the case, healthy weight loss can be an important component to improving your metabolic health, which also impacts your heart1, brain2, and overall longevity3. The gut microbiome is an underrated factor in weight loss success that's highly influenced by both fiber and probiotics.
Fiber can help nourish that microbiome and support weight loss efforts.* One of the most recommended ways to bump up your fiber intake is to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat. That’s because these foods are high in nutrients (hello fiber, vitamins, and minerals) and low in calories. And probiotics—especially in the form of supplements—deliver beneficial strains of bacteria directly to the gut, contributing to a healthy, weight loss-promoting environment.*
About the study
The two main dietary components of this study were increasing fruit and vegetable intake and taking a synbiotic supplement. Synbiotic is a fancy term for a supplement that combines probiotics and prebiotic fiber.
Prebiotic fiber is a certain type of fiber that nourishes the beneficial microbes in the gut (not the bad ones).
Now researchers were particularly interested in seeing if adding the synbiotic to increased fruit and vegetable intake helped people adjust to a high-fiber diet (most notably accompanied by bloating and stomach discomfort), and whether the supplement helped improve measures of metabolic health like blood sugar levels, blood fat levels (aka triglycerides), and good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).
So they randomly assigned 55 Hong Kong Chinese adults (between the ages of 20 and 65) with overweight or obesity to one of three groups for a total of eight weeks:
- Increased fruit and vegetable consumption
- Synbiotic supplements (with the probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 and the prebiotic fiber polydextrose)
The synbiotic supplements + fruit and vegetable intake had the greatest impact
Sure enough, a synergistic effect was seen. Those who ate more fruits and veggies and took the synbiotic supplement had significant improvements and experienced the greatest weight loss effects at the end of two months.
In addition, they also had improved blood sugar control, improved cholesterol levels, and decreases in a certain type of—bacteria (Megamonas)—which is actually linked to better measures of body composition.
Probiotics and prebiotics are supportive for weight loss
This study offers further evidence that supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics can be a potent addition—but not the sole route—to support other efforts of weight loss.*
The probiotic strain that has the most convincing evidence for weight loss or weight management support is actually Bifidobacterium lactis B420.
So if your goal really is weight loss, choosing a product that includes Bifidobacterium lactis B420 is a smart choice. (Luckily our favorite weight loss probiotic does and also packs the two strains for bloating used in this study).*
Increasing fruit, vegetable, and overall fiber intake should be the first change you make to your diet to aid weight loss. But a fiber supplement (even if you don’t think you need it, you do) and a targeted probiotic can help make sure your gut is in prime condition to aid in healthy, sustainable weight loss.*
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist and mindbodygreen's supplements editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts and enjoys connecting people to the food they eat and how it influences health and wellbeing.