How a Quality Prebiotic Can Help You Lose Weight
You can lose a substantial amount of weight supplementing with a prebiotic. Here's how it works.
By Beau Berman
When people talk about weight loss, they typically focus on calories and macronutrient ratios. While these factors certainly play a role in weight loss, they fail to address a critical area of importance: the gut microbiome.
According to emerging research, a healthy gut microbiome may be the hidden key to weight loss. While both probiotics and prebiotics play a crucial role in supporting a healthy gut, studies repeatedly show that prebiotics are a particularly useful tool when it comes to weight loss.
In this article, we'll be exploring how a quality prebiotic can help you shed unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Here's what you need to know!
What's the difference between a probiotic and a prebiotic?
Probiotics are live microorganisms found in certain foods and supplements that work to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, tempeh, and kefir or can be consumed in the form of a supplement.
On the other hand, prebiotics act as a food source for probiotics, helping beneficial bacteria flourish in the gut. However, unlike probiotics, prebiotics don't contain bacteria. Instead, they're indigestible fibers that bypass the small intestine and travel to the colon, where they're broken down into nutrition that helps good bacteria multiply.
(Want to do a deep dive on the difference? Learn more here.)
How do you obtain prebiotics?
Prebiotics naturally occur in plant foods but can also be consumed in supplement form to boost the amount of prebiotics you receive. However, when it comes to the most effective types of prebiotic supplements, clinical research shows that one stands tall above the rest: human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).1
HMOs are a crucial component of breast milk that feed the intestinal microbiota and drive the maturation of an infant's gut. HMOs aren't just reserved for babies, however. Adults can supplement with synthetically-derived HMOs to support their gut health.
How does supplementing with HMO prebiotic help with weight loss?
A healthy and diverse microbiome is essential to maintaining a healthy metabolism, and consequently, gaining control over your weight. This is supported by fascinating studies in mice: If you take the fecal matter (which contains the microbiota) from a lean mouse and transplant it into an obese mouse, the obese mouse loses weight. On the flip side, fecal microbiota from an obese mouse transplanted into a lean mouse results in the skinny mouse gaining weight.2
Studies in humans show similar results, although more research in humans is needed.3
While eating a diverse range of plant foods and probiotic-containing foods is an excellent first step, supplementing your diet with a prebiotic can take your gut health and weight loss success to the next level.
Here are the main ways prebiotics (HMO, in particular) can support your weight loss efforts:
1. Increases bifidobacteria in the gut
Prebiotics play a key role in gut health by nourishing the beneficial bacteria present in your gut. HMO has been shown to be effective and efficient in increasing the abundance of a particular type of beneficial bacteria in the gut called bifidobacteria.4
This is important for weight loss because studies consistently show that bifidobacteria is found in higher concentrations in people who are lean and lower concentrations in those who are obese or diabetic.5
This suggests a linkage between the presence of bifidobacteria in a person's gut and their ability to lose or maintain their weight.
2. Increases Akkermansia muciniphila populations in the gut
Another type of beneficial bacteria that has been shown to aid in weight loss and management is called Akkermansia muciniphila. Research consistently shows that people who are obese or have metabolic syndromes have lower levels of this bacteria in their guts.6
One study found that supplementing with Akkermansia muciniphila for three months improved several metabolic parameters, including insulin resistance, circulating lipids, visceral fat, and body mass.7
One of the best ways to increase the amount of Akkermansia muciniphila in your gut is to supplement with HMO prebiotic. HMO has been shown to help Akkermansia muciniphila multiply in the gut, improving metabolic health and supporting weight loss efforts.8
3. Suppresses appetite
Once prebiotics travel to the large intestine, they begin to ferment, producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). Not only do these fatty acids help the good bacteria in the gut multiply and thrive, but they also suppress appetite by sending signals to your brain that you're full.9
So naturally, this will help you in your weight loss efforts by preventing or limiting overeating or mindless snacking.
4. Affects how food is digested and absorbed
Studies suggest that the bacteria in your gut play a role in what nutrients you absorb and how energy is stored in your body. For example, one study compared the gut bacteria in 77 pairs of twins, one who was obese and one who was not.10
The study found that those who were obese had different gut bacteria than their non-obese twin. In particular, obesity was associated with lower gut bacteria diversity, meaning there were fewer types of bacteria in the gut. By supplementing with HMO, you'll be supporting the beneficial bacteria in your gut, creating a more dense and varied microbiome, which supports a healthy weight.
5. Improves overall gut health
Prebiotics help strengthen gut health overall. Research has shown HMO to be vital for digestive health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria (primarily bifidobacterium), inhibiting the adhesion of pathogens, taming inflammation, and normalizing gut movements.11
All of these factors play into a healthy gut which, in turn, helps you maintain a healthy weight.
The Bottom Line
While eating a healthy diet and exercising are essential for fat loss, so is a gut that's populated with a variety of beneficial bacteria. To support a healthy gut microbiome, consider taking a prebiotic supplement, particularly HMO. Research shows that HMO increases specific beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting weight loss, suppressing appetite, and improving overall digestive health.
At Layer Origin, we offer PureHMO Prebiotic Powder made with a type of HMO called 2'-Fucosyllactose (2'FL). The HMO prebiotics used in our formula are produced using fermentation technology instead of isolating from human milk.
If you've been struggling to lose weight despite seemingly doing everything right, an unbalanced gut microbiome could be to blame. HMO may just be the thing you need to finally break through your weight loss plateau!