Probiotics: What dieters have been weighting for?

A certain strain of probiotics may help women lose weight and keep it off, according to a new study.

A strain of probiotics may hold a key to dieting's holy grail: something that helps you lose weight and keep it off.

A new Canadian study published in the British Journal of Nutrition studied the affect of Lactobacillus rhammosus, a probiotic found in some European yoghurts, on 125 obese, but otherwise healthy people. The research was noted on NPR's The Salt blog.

Researchers from the Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada studied the subjects for 24 weeks. For the first 12, all of them were put on a supervised, calorie-restricted weight-loss diet. For the second 12 weeks, they were on a weight-maintenance program where they received a personalized diet plan, but no further calorie restrictions. During this time, half the subjects consumed two daily pills packed with probiotics – about the same amount as in a single serving of yogurt. The other half received placebos.

The probiotics seemed to make a big difference in slimming. At the end of the first 12 weeks, the women who received the probiotics lost an average of 9.7 pounds, while the women who took the placebo lost only an average of 5.7 pounds.

Even more exciting to veteran of yo-yo dieting: during the second 12 weeks, the women on probiotics kept losing weight, while the placebo group merely maintained their weight loss.

The bugs seemed to prefer helping the women in study lose weight. The men in the study who took the probiotics didn't lose any more weight than men who took the placebo.

A Japanese study published last summer in the British Journal of Nutrition also linked a probiotic strain to fat loss.

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