The Best Prebiotics for Weight Loss

Published by Rebecca Baron on

We’ve heard of probiotics, but pre-biotics now too? Lately, prebiotics have become a buzzword all across the health world, and are even starting to show up in numerous food advertisements. Prebiotics have even been seen to help with weight loss, but not all are created equal. What are the best prebiotics for weight loss?

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics is simply the food your good bacteria to eat. Probiotics are the living organisms where their presence benefits our guts, and prebiotics are non-living matter they eat. If you think of your gut as a garden, prebiotics are the fertilizer, and probiotics are the seed. Prebiotics are commonly found in plant based foods, and are made up of various kinds of fiber and resistant starches. Our standard diet already give way to food sources for the bad bacteria, so filling up on these insoluble fibers that probiotics can ferment is even more important.

Fun Fact: The digestive system is often considered the “second brain,” even having nerves for direct communication with the central nervous system. Probiotics are considered a significant component of this communication system, even affecting mood. You are what you eat!

How Prebiotics and Probiotics Contribute to Weight Loss

Whether you are trying to gain or lose weight, there needs to be balanced in the gut. Some strains of prebiotics also help in the conversion of certain nutrients. Your flora needs to flourish. When you are bloated, not only do you feel uncomfortable, but your body is signaling distress.

If you suffer from bloating, or hold extra weight in the abdominal area, you may want to look into your diet and consider rebuilding your gut flora.

Grains, even whole grains, will keep that belly fat on!

Are all prebiotics created equal?

Not necessarily. Some foods contain prebiotic fiber but are inflammatory to the gut. Cutting out grain and rice will speed up weight loss results. Many people will avoid gluten and grains entirely to help with their weight loss goals. Not only do they consume less bulky calories, but they are also avoiding the inflammatory gliadin enyzme completely.

Here are our best prebiotic picks for healthy weight loss:

1. Artichokes

Artichokes not only are a good source of prebiotics AND probiotics, with an array of vitamins and minerals such as folate, magnesium, and vitamin C. In addition to being good source of prebiotics, artichokes have also demonstrated usefulness in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

Artichoke extract also helps stimulate the eNOS enzymes, a flavonoid that has been shown in studies to widen blood vessels. Artichoke is also good at alleviating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), improving mobility in the large intestine.

2. Cabbage

Cabbage is also a good probiotic when fermented with live gut-beneficial bacteria. Think kimchi and sauerkraut. These foods not only introduce the probiotics but also provide food for them to flourish.

There are many types of cabbage, with various different features and benefits. All cabbage provides a great soluble fiber, and are good sources of iron, vitamin C and K. Savoy cabbage has been noted as an especially good prebiotic.

3. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are incredibly nutrient-dense. Similar in appearance to a poppy seed, not really having any distinct flavor. Like tofu, they taste however you flavor them. They are great binders in food products, smoothies, even baked goods. Packed in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber; not to mention more antioxidants than blueberries!

Chia seeds are incredibly water absorptive (hydrophilic) and can hold up to twelve times its weight in liquid. The fiber chia seeds provide is incredibly hydrating, as well as satiating. The water bound around the fiber in a gelatinous like surrounding takes a long time to break down, which means you feel fuller for longer. MyChiaSeeds.Com does an incredible break down on how chia seeds work, it’s worth checking out.

Chia gel can also be used as a vegan alternative to eggs in baked goods.

You can make chia seed into a delicious coconut pudding, the combination flavors being endless. Try my coconut chia pudding recipe out, for little grab-n-go healthy treats.

4. Grapefruit

Grapefruit does not only provide good prebiotic fiber, but has been known as beneficial for weight loss. Not only does it work as an appetite suppressant, but grapefruit is also heart-healthy by especially targeting LDL cholesterol levels.

Grapefruit is one fruit that can help regulate diabetes and blood sugar levels. Rich in an antioxidant called Quercetin, which benefits many parts of the body but is most known for its effect on the liver.

Piling on table sugar certainly won’t help with weight loss goals though. I know it enhances the flavor, but watching inflammation is key towards weight loss. If you are a recovering sugar addict, start weaning yourself down by adding just a small dusting on top of your grapefruit. When you start a path towards healthier eating, you’ll eventually find your desire for sugar to lessen over time. I find that Ruby Red grapefruits don’t need any added sugar!

5. Greens

This one nearly tops them all. Greens, ranging from kale, collards, and all cruciferous cousins. These foods are not only great prebiotic fiber, but full of antioxidants.

A salad a day keeps the pounds at bay. I have touted the benefits of leafy greens for many years, as the liver loves it and you should learn to love it too. A salad is a wonderful way to incorporate getting enough vegetables in the diet. Baby spring are a good choice, as they are rich in vitamin A and C, minerals like calcium and iron. Baby spring greens are easier to digest, and unlock another layer of beneficial botanical properties called phytonutrients.

One time I decided to go an entire month of eating salad every day, and I found it not only gave me more energy, but calmer more stable mood throughout the day.

There are also benefits to cooked greens, such as steamed spinach and kale. The light cooking helps breaks down the cellulose plant structure, and allows their vitamins and minerals to be better assimilated. Kale makes a great addition to stir-fry or mixed into a Cesar salad. Try lightly steamed broccoli, blackened garlic Brussels sprout or cauliflower rice risotto as a alternative to grains. Incorporating your diet with both cooked and raw vegetables is ideal for healthy gut bacteria.

Post-biotics? Lately there as been some misleading marketing in the supplement industry, touting post biotics included too. A post biotic is the waste byproducts from probiotics, antimicrobial peptides that target bad bacteria population growth. Some probiotics even make nutrients for us, including amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin K for healthy blood composition. Don’t be duped into paying more money to get these in pill form. There is no real need or benefit to buy these in supplement form. Get these naturally from a healthy gut flora.

6. Nuts

Believe it or not, but nuts can help with weight loss goals. Rich in resistance starch and healthy fats, these particular types of nuts are your best bet for weight loss.

  • Cashews– have a significant amount of resistant starch, perhaps in correlation to their starchier texture compared to other nuts.
  • Almonds– not only a good prebiotic fiber, but has been known to boost good probiotic levels.
  • Pistachio– research has shown that pistachio has a more powerful probiotic effect than almond, especially in a particular type of butyrate-producing probiotic.
  • Flaxseeds– not only rich prebiotic fiber, flaxseeds are also incredibly healthy. A good source of omega3 fatty acids, and useful against insulin resistance. Flaxseeds have multiple benefits to the digestion system, which will help aid in better assimilation of nutrients from your food. One study showed that flaxseed improve gut microbiome in obese participants.

Nut flours have become increasingly popular and more available. They are a great alternative to grain flours, while catering to various kinds of dietary choices. Whether you are vegan, gluten-free, or keto, these type of nut flours allow one to enjoy your favorite foods like pizza, cookies, or pie crusts. Almond-flour is one of the more popular options on the market, but if you are allergic to nuts there are alternatives such as coconut or cassava flour.

7. Onions

Red Onion is delicious raw or grilled!

You’re in luck because this vegetable is a staple ingredient is many types of food. Fortunately for us, onion is also beneficial for weight loss! Onion surprising is a good source of Quercetin. Not only do onion provide that prebiotic fiber, but also contains inulin, which supports the immune system.

Try to incorporate more of these into your diet:

  • Shallot– sweeter more delicate onion flavor
  • Garlic– good for the heart and warding off parasites
  • Leeks– improves digestion, protects the eyes and aids in weight loss.

You can enjoy them many different ways. Yellow or white onions are easy to add to stir-fry, soups, chili, even sauteed mushrooms. I especially enjoy red onion grilled over a flame, try them in a veggie kabob. Red onion also is a must have ingredient in my mango salsa recipe.

Here is an old tutorial I made on how to make pickled red onions. These go great on omelettes, salads or tacos!

8. Watermelon

Who doesn’t love a nice cold slice of watermelon on a warm day? Watermelon and most melons are good sources of prebiotics. We are highlighting watermelon though because of its high vitamin content and hydrating benefits. Watermelon is a better choice for weight loss, because its water volume makes it less sugary than other melons.

Photo by Rachel Claire

Not only is watermelon incredibly hydrating, but packs a lot of lycopene. Usually referred to in tomato-based products, watermelon gets its hue from the same antioxidant. Lycopene is an antioxidant that works at protecting your skin, fighting off cancer cells, and improving heart function. Lycopene can also strengthen your eyes, and help with overall inflammation in the body.

In fact, a cup of watermelon is an equivalent to one serving of water. Staying hydrated will ward off misleading hunger cues, and keep you from overeating. Watermelon has also been shown to help lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness, especially in post-menopausal women. Watermelon is a great prebiotic treat to help with weight loss.

Enjoy watermelon on an empty stomach for easy digestion and assimilation. Melon digests more quickly than any other food, and is great to have alone.

But if you want to enjoy watermelon in a culinary way, I recommend making it into a salad with light spring greens, some cucumber, mint and feta cheese!

Final Thoughts

Now you know all the vast array of prebiotics found in everyday food, you may think twice before buying prebiotics in supplement form. Your best bet is a high quality probiotic supplement, and aiming to have fresh fruit or vegetables with every meal. A diet rich in plant food, with a focus on less inflammatory foods will do the trick. There is no need to buy expensive powders or pills.

My goal here at the Carrot Campaign is to help you find the information to make the best choices for yourself. When you begin to listen to your body and stop living in chronic pain and discomfort, life seems to start getting better in other ways. Health is the ultimate wealth.

For the Love of Food

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