Emerging opportunities for probiotics in sports nutrition: Page 4 of 5

May 21, 2019

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Bacillus subtilis Improves Body Composition and Accelerates Recovery

While the functional properties of probiotics are highly strain-specific, research is showing that there’s more than one species of the Bacillus genus that holds promise for sports nutrition. John Deaton, PhD, vice president of science and technology for Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes (Kennesaw, GA), says that clinical trials are now demonstrating the efficacy of Bacillus subtilis in exercise formulations.

A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial4 funded by Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes followed 23 Division I female collegiate athletes during offseason training and assessed the efficacy of Bacillus subtilis as a sports supplement. Over the course of 10 weeks, participants performed three to four upper- and lower-body workout sessions per week and were randomized to receive either 5 billion CFUs per day of Deerland's Bacillus subtilis DE111 strain (n=11) or a matching placebo (n=12). All participants also received a protein and carbohydrate-enriched recovery drink after exercise. Participants were assessed on tests of strength, agility, body fat composition, and muscle thickness at baseline and again at the end of the 10-week offseason training period.

After 10 weeks, the recovery drink-plus-probiotic group saw a statistically significant increase in body fat loss relative to the recovery drink-plus-placebo group. Subjects in the experimental condition saw a 2% decrease in body fat, compared to a 0.2% decrease in the control group. The study authors concluded that probiotic supplementation may be an effective means of improving body composition in collegiate athletes, but caution that the exact mechanism of action remains unclear and requires further study. The study authors also hypothesize that probiotics’ immunomodulatory properties could promote the repair of musculoskeletal tissue after exercise.

Deaton says that in addition to body composition and recovery, probiotics are also desirable as sports supplements for athletes who experience digestive distress. High-protein diets and other sports nutrition trends can create digestive issues that probiotics are ideally suited to address.

“A large number of long-distance runners tend to experience digestive problems due to reduced blood flow to the intestines,” Deaton notes. “Athletes also have very high nutrient needs, which are better fulfilled when digestion is improved.”