Probiotics May Help with Fat Loss

Kerry Beeson BSc (Nut. Med.) Nutritional Therapist

Some exciting new research has found that daily consumption of yoghurt for six weeks containing probiotic strains of Lactobacillus amylovorus or Lactobacillus fermentum, has been associated with a significant reduction in body fat mass.

The recent placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over clinical trial in Canada involved 28 healthy but overweight participants. They were randomly assigned to consume yoghurt for 43 days which contained either L. fermentum (1.39 billion colony forming units), L. amylovorus (1.08 billion colony forming units) or yoghurt with no added ingredient (the control group).

The statistically significant results (compared to baseline measurements) found that total body fat mass decreased by 4% for those consuming the yoghurt containing L. amylovorus, 3% for those who consumed yoghurt containing L. fermentum and a 1% reduction was noted in the control group.

Interestingly, changes in gut microflora were also noted in the groups consuming the probiotic strains, including a decrease in levels of Clostridia, and there was a concurrent increase in the presence of Lactobacillus strains. Health professionals can visit this genus entry in the Probiotics Database: Lactobacillus.

The authors concluded that changes in the composition of gut flora which may be mediated by probiotic supplementation, could contribute to having positive and significant effects on fat loss, body composition and metabolism, and may also assist in reducing the development of obesity.

We think these results are very interesting, and it is nice to see testing on humans. More trials are certainly needed in this area, looking at larger numbers and more probiotic strains. Research so far into probiotics and weight loss has been fascinating, but preliminary. Whereas we do not yet know if taking probiotics can really encourage weight loss, where there has been more research is in the suggestion that obese people are likely to have very different microflora to their lean counterparts.

Omar et al (2012). Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in health persons. Journal of Functional Foods. In press, Corrected proof.