Well Being

Banish Belly Fat With Yogurt (And Other Probiotic Foods)

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A couple weeks ago we heard how supplements of the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics could help lower cholesterol. Now, a small study touts the power of probiotics to promote fat loss — especially loss of the extra dangerous and dreaded ‘belly fat‘ — by interfering with our body's absorption of fat calories.

You've probably heard by now that belly fat is particularly bad for your health, indicating you're at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and even premature deathMind you we're not talking an inch to pinch around the midsection here, but it doesn't have to be a seriously significant gut, either, to cause trouble. 

In this study, let by Canadian researcher Peter Jones, a group of slightly overweight subjects were fed a daily serving of yogurt spiked with one of two types of probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus fermentum or Lactobacillus amylovorus). After about 45 days, the group giving L. fementum yogurt had lost 3% of their body fat and those given the other type had lose 4% body fat. In both groups, most of the fat lost was belly fat.

“Normally we digest all the food and absorb all the calories,” said Jones, of the University of Manitoba. “We think the probiotics interfered with the absorption of those calories, so that more calories went out the tailpipe and there were less calories to pack on the abdominal fat.”

Scientists aren't quite sure why this is, but the working theory is that it's related to “bile salts.” Bile salts are released by the liver to help our bodies digest fat.

“By destroying those bile salts, which is what those hungry little bacteria do, they interfere with the absorpiton of fat,” said Jones.

This doesn't mean probiotics will suffice if you're not also eating right and exercising. But for people trying to lose weight or fat through the regular channels, probiotics could provide an added fat-burning boost.