Yo Mon Frozen Yogurt Press

Pass the Fro-Yo, Trim the Fat

Yo Mon girlGet your spoons ready, girls, and bring on the yogurt!  Researchers have found evidence that bacteria found in yogurt may help women lose weight when on a diet and keep it off!  Hallelujah and pass the low-fat fro-yo! The findings, which were recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition, also mention how probiotics might react with the microbes living in all of our intestinal tracts to help in the fight against obesity.

So, here’s how the study went down: Nestle and researchers at the Universite Laval in Quebec, drafted 125 obese men and women and engaged them in a 24-week long study.  The regimen was divided into two 12-week periods.  For the first 12 weeks, participants had a supervised, calorie-restricted weight-loss diet; and the second 12 weeks was all about maintenance.  Participants were given a personalized diet plan but no calorie restrictions.  Now, here’s where things get interesting.  During the whole 24-week period, half of the participants got two pills a day of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a probiotic commonly found in yogurts.  Each pill had about the same amount of this probiotic as a serving of yogurt.  The other half of the participants got placebo pills.

The results bring good news for yogurt lovers everywhere.  During the first 12 weeks, women in the probiotic group lost an average of 9.7 pounds, while the women in the placebo group lost an average of 5.7.  But it only gets better: During the second 12 weeks, the group of women taking placebos maintained their weight loss, but the women taking the probiotics just kept taking the weight off!  On average, these women lost another 11.5 pounds.  The women in the probiotic group not only lost nearly twice as much weight, they also lost more fat mass and saw a 25% drop in their blood levels of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and metabolism.   Are you smiling yet?

Sorry, guys, but the probiotics didn’t seem to have any effect on the men studied.:(  Apparently, the men didn’t experience much change in the microbes living in their stomachs.  The women, though, were a completely different story.  According to the article we read by Maria Godoy on NPR’s website, “The probiotic treatment, the researchers note, appeared to ‘substantially and significantly’ reduce the amount of bacteria in the Lachnospiraceae family in the ladies’ bellies. Those beasties belong to a group of bacteria that have previously been linked with obesity — although, as the researchers note, scientists are still trying to pin down exactly what role they may play.”  In the past few years, researchers have found that “lean people” have more species of microbes (and in larger numbers) living in their bellies than people who are obese.

Scientists aren’t ready to swear to any of this research or to promote probiotics as a antidote to obesity—clearly more research is needed to find the exact role probiotics play in losing weight and which strains of bacteria are most beneficial.  For now, they say (and so do we!), to watch what you eat, make good food choices, and be aware.  But we’re thinking a little yogurt wouldn’t hurt.;)