What’s The Best Time to Take Probiotics? (According to Research)

If you feel as though you’re not getting the most out of your probiotic supplement, the time of day you’re taking it may have something to do with the problem! Read on to discover the optimal time to take your probiotics everyday to maximise your results.

Best time of day to be taking probiotics?

This topic is a pretty tricky one because you need to know how to navigate your stomach’s acidity to ensure as many probiotics survive as possible.

In each serving of your probiotic supplement, the amount of live and viable organisms is measured by Colony Forming Units (CFU).

Not all of the CFU’s will reach your intestines and it’s estimated that around 1-10 billion CFU must reach your gut for any health benefits to be felt, so it’s important to take your probiotic at the correct time each day.

Optimal consumption window?

So how do we achieve this? For maximum survival rates, the most optimal time to take your probiotic is no more than 30 minutes before your meal or, preferably, right before you start eating.

This is because your stomach becomes extremely acidic whilst eating, so ingesting your probiotic 30 minutes before or right before you start eating allows it time to move through the stomach before the onslaught of acids and digestive enzymes hits. 

Whatever you do, don’t take your probiotic after your meal if you can avoid it. This 2011 research study showed that probiotics taken 30 minutes after a meal were not able to survive in high numbers, decreasing their potency.

Stick to taking your probiotics 30 minutes before or with your meal to get the most out of your supplement (and your money!).

Meal size and content

It also matters how big your meal is and what you’re eating. Optimally, you should be taking your probiotic with a light to medium sized meal as it will be digested the quickest and easiest, taking your probiotics on a swift delivery towards your gut. A larger meal will digest slower and hang around in your stomach longer, slowing down your probiotic and exposing it to harsher conditions for longer.

the most optimal time to take your probiotic is no more than 30 minutes before your meal or, preferably, right before you start eating.

As for the content of your meal, fattier meals are actually able to buffer the probiotic more as they require less acids to be produced by the stomach. Sugars and carbohydrates also have this effect on a lower scale. Additionally, if you’re taking your probiotics with foods rich in prebiotics, they will be fueled on their journey through your body. This includes everyday diet staples like garlic, bananas, onions and oats!

Capsule coating

The last thing to note here is to pay attention to the coating on your capsules. A good quality supplement should have an enteric coating on their probiotic capsules, this will protect the probiotic against harsh conditions in the body for longer so that it can get where it needs to be.

If you have this kind of coating on your capsule then it’s less important what time of day you take it at – but we always recommend following the ‘30 minutes before or with your meal’ rule, just to be safe. 

Breakfast, lunch or dinner? 

This largely depends on the reason you’re taking your probiotics. If your main objectives fall under the umbrella of general health and digestive improvements then it’s best to take them with your first meal of the day so that you can feel the benefits throughout the day whilst your body and digestive system is most active.

However, if you’re taking probiotics for more specific digestive issues like bloating, gas, and lactose intolerance, then it’s best to find a probiotic that you can take just before every meal. Alternatively, you can take your probiotic with the meal that’s closest to when the issues generally occur.

If you’re taking your probiotic because you’re struggling with insomnia and other sleep issues, having it with dinner will help you feel the effects through the night.

In Summary: It’s all about figuring out the best timing for your specific health concerns along with the corresponding probiotic strains in your supplement and taking them with the meal that’s closest to when your issues arise.

How often do I need to be taking probiotics? 

Generally speaking, most probiotic supplements should be taken daily, allowing a steady influx of beneficial bacteria into your gut. Each supplement will have certain serving sizes which will dictate how many capsules you should be taking daily to get the correct amount of CFU’s, this will usually be 1-2 capsules daily.

Taking your probiotic daily as recommended means you’ll be able to help negate the everyday impacts on your gut microbiome, including your diet, toxins in the air and water, stress, antibiotics and more.

With the bacteria in your body outnumbering your actual cells by about 10 times, it’s important to do what you can to replenish and maintain your gut flora daily. Its important to consult your doctor before trying anything new and always read the label as each supplement will be different.

When should I start feeling the effects of my probiotic?

Many individuals feel improvements within the first couple days of taking their new probiotic supplement. However, it’s recommended that you wait around 3-4 weeks to reassess your health to see if it or any other specific issues you were experiencing have improved. This allows enough time for your body to adjust to the supplement. 

In the first couple weeks you may notice mildly uncomfortable digestive side effects like gas and bloating, this is generally normal and should subside after the 2 week mark.

If not, it’s a great idea to speak with your doctor and see if they can recommend a better plan of attack for you and your specific health concerns. Remember, probiotics aren’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of product and may take a little experimentation to get right. 

Conclusion

To sum it all up, the best time to be taking your probiotic is 30 minutes before or directly with a meal to avoid harsh stomach acids and give your beneficial bacteria a buffer to transport them through your body safely. Whether this is at breakfast, lunch or dinner is dependent on your health concerns – for overall health the best time is breakfast (or your first meal of the day).

Be sure to choose a probiotic with an enteric coating and take it with a light meal consisting of some fats to give your probiotic the best chance at getting exactly where it needs to be. And most importantly, remember to be patient and listen to your body. If you don’t believe your probiotic supplement is working the way it should be, have a chat with your doctor to figure out why.

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