Probiotics for weight loss: What is the evidence?

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Anecdotally, some probiotics — usually beneficial bacteria — may aid weight loss, but what does the science say? In this Honest Nutrition feature, we investigate.

Probiotics are amongst the most popular nutrition supplements on the market. They have links to an array of health benefits, including improved gut health and enhanced immune function.

Some research also suggests that probiotics may affect weight loss.

However, there are safety concerns related to the widespread use of probiotic supplements as well.

This Special Feature discusses recent scientific findings related to probiotics and body weight.

What are probiotics?

The journal Frontiers in Microbiology cites the definition of probiotics as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

Certain foods naturally contain probiotics, while some manufacturers add concentrated doses to other foods. However, this article focuses only on probiotic supplements.

Probiotic supplements contain large doses of live bacteria, typically Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, that may contribute to improving the composition of colonic gut bacteria and promote health.

Research into the health effects of probiotics has grown tremendously over the past 20 years, as have sales of probiotic supplements.

Some estimates predict that probiotic sales will exceed $64 billion by 2023. This is because of the many links between probiotics and various health benefits.

Even though scientists are still investigating how probiotics work in the body, research has shown that they play a role in enhancing immune function, decreasing inflammation, and positively impacting nervous system function.

Additionally, a 2020 article suggests that probiotics might be a potential treatment for overweight and obesity.

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