What time of day do you take a probiotic? What time of day do you take a prebiotic? You don’t just pop them and hope for the best.
Probiotics are living organisms remember that. That means that we have to take them at a specific time. Prebiotics are fuel or food for those probiotics they grow and feed the bacteria. So two totally different worlds. So I want to dive into when we should really be taking them.
I’m going to lead off with the easy one probiotics you do not want to take with food or after food. You usually want to have yourself be a little bit digested so either an hour to two hours after your meal or 30 minutes prior to a meal.
There was a study that was published in the journal beneficial microbes that found that if you took a probiotic with a meal or within 30 minutes after eating a meal, It would greatly diminish the survivability of the bacteria.
You see here’s what’s going on we’re trying to colonize and plant those bacteria. If you take them along with food it is just making them sit in the gut for a longer period of time. Being exposed to the harsh gut environment hydrochloric acid kills the microbes.
We don’t really have the microbes in our stomach we have them in our colon and our gut right. So we don’t want them sitting there getting broken down but that’s the easy part. Probiotics out of the way as close to an empty stomach as you can be.
But prebiotics are the fuel for that so in theory, it would make sense oh should I take my prebiotics along with my probiotics, so that it helps colonize them. Well not necessarily because once again you run into that same kind of issue.
But you also want the prebiotics to be sustainably feeding those probiotics throughout the course of the day. And remember you’re not just taking a prebiotic to support a probiotic that you’re taking.
You’re more so taking a prebiotic to support what is already in your gut okay now there are different forms of fiber and I want you to remember something. We are designed naturally to process fiber along with food okay.
Now that doesn’t mean that fiber alone is bad but you want to make sure that if you are taking in a copious amount of fiber like a prebiotic fiber supplement or something that has a lot of prebiotic fiber, That you’re taking it in with other food because imagine this if you have a bunch of fiber that comes into your gut completely unadulterated and has nothing to slow it down it’s going to enter your small intestine and your colon intact.
This means you’re going to have a lot of gas a lot of bloating you’re going to still get a powerful effect but it’s going to be uncomfortable. So if you take it with food it allows slower processing which also allows it to potentially reach more bacteria.
I want you to again envision this let’s say you’ve got one particular strain of bacteria in your gut that is very very hungry. And you give yourself a bunch of fiber with nothing else that fiber rushes through intact and that one bacteria that are really hungry just eats all of it needs too much of it.
So the other bacteria don’t necessarily get what they need right but if we have a slower sustained release then it’s going to work a little bit better. Then we have to look at diversity for a second because that’s very important too.
Let’s say we have two different kinds of fiber short-chain fibers and long-chain fibers which really is the case but there’s a lot of in-between there as well. Long-chain fibers are arguably much better because they’re from things like inulin or artichoke or asparagus things like that that break down really slow.
Things that you can kind of guess if you were to consume a lot of them they’d kind of give you gas if that’s the case that’s generally going to be something that’s a long chain fiber which is very very good.
Because they break down slowly but they also feed specific kinds of bacteria. They are also very good at producing short-chain fatty acid bacteria or feeding short-chain fatty acid-producing bacteria.
Short-chain fatty acids are what we’re really after so what’s interesting is there are different kinds of fibers and if you have one kind of fiber exclusively you’re growing one kind of bacteria.
You have a bunch of bacteria that is going categories you need to support it evenly so the diversity of the fibers that you get is super important. One thing that I would recommend if you’re having an issue with getting diverse fibers is to check out lollipop soda.
It’s not like it’s just a soda the point isn’t to be a quote-unquote soda the point is to be a fiber soda. They have all kinds of like Jerusalem artichoke inulin in it they have the good kinds of short-chain fibers and long-chain fibers.
If you drink an ollie-pop soda not only do you have a low carb low-calorie soda that tastes really good but you have something that gets you all the fibers that you want to. So whenever people are saying I don’t know how to get a bunch of these different fibers, I usually say just drink a lollipop they are designed to be rich in the different prebiotic fibers that you need.
Now, what time of day should you be taking your probiotics and your prebiotics. So with your probiotics, it’s not as big of a deal what time of day you take them. Usually, I would recommend taking them in between lunch and dinner.
That way you have some stability to your gut because you’ve had some food but you are not completely full of food where it’s slowing down gastric emptying. So I would say like 30 to 60 minutes prior to dinner give it a chance to absorb and then eat dinner, That’s going to be your best bet.
But what about prebiotics so I usually recommend staggering them in an inverse way to how you would stagger calories.
Now what I mean by that is I really do talk about having most of your calories allocated towards the morning and then having a little bit less with lunch and a little bit less with dinner.
Breakfast like a king lunch like a prince dinner like a pauper.
You’re gradually declining to align with your circadian rhythms better and not mess up your sleep-wake cycles. So with prebiotics, you want to go a small amount in the morning a moderate amount with lunch, and most of them along with dinner.
And the reason that I say that is because what happens is these particular fibers prebiotic fibers that help the promotion of what is called a glucagon-like peptide. That has to do with the short-chain fatty acids they produce this regulates glucose homeostasis and not only does it help stabilize your blood sugar before you go to bed so you sleep better.
But it also makes it so you’re not going to eat as much significantly. It makes a big impact and there’s a lot of evidence that demonstrates that so I would recommend having like 20 of your fiber or less with breakfast 30 percentage around lunch and 50 with dinner.
So if you’re going to add the artichoke you’re going to add the asparagus you’re going to add those fibers in they should be stacked with dinner. Which usually makes sense it also makes sense from a fiber bloating perspective too you don’t want to be bloating a bunch with lunch.
But full disclaimer once your body adapts and gets the microbial diversity that you want and understands how to consume these fibers. You don’t typically get as bloated it’s like if you were to go and have just like five pieces of artichoke right now and you haven’t had artichoke you get bloated.
Just like if you were to have an ollie-pop soda right now you might feel a little bit bloated right. It’s just it’s a lot of fiber for your body to understand and you don’t have necessarily the microbial diversity to consume all of it yet.
So the excess is gas but the goal is building up that microbial diversity so you have the wide range and the plethora of microbes to help with short-chain fatty acid production. To make your body better at glucose signaling to make your body better at fatty acid utilization to make your body better at that gut-brain axis signaling with the vagus nerve.
It all comes back down to balance so just to recap probiotics empty stomach prebiotics typically with food spread not evenly but less in the morning mid-range with lunch and most at dinner.