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Probiotics Work No Matter When You Take Them

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Rebecca Guild ● 2 min read

Theories surrounding when is the best time to take a probiotic supplement in order to yield the best, actionable benefits has long been a source of contention. 

The schools of thought vary widely. Is on an empty stomach better than during or following a meal? Or should we take probiotics at bedtime? One recently published study has highlighted that there seems to be little difference to the measurable outcomes. 

This study, published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, investigated the impact upon gut microbiota composition following one month’s administration of a probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium longum BB536. L. rhamnosus and B. longum are two of the most common genera of probiotic species found in the probiotic supplement market today. 

In a secondary layer to their investigations, the study also looked at the impact of whether or not administering probiotics 30 minutes prior to a meal versus 30 minutes after a meal had a significant impact on the resultant microbiota compositions following treatment. 

Recruited for the study were 20 healthy subjects, comprising 8 males and 12 females. Half the subjects were given their sachet of probiotics to be taken 30 minutes before breakfast and the other 10 were give their sachet to take 30 minutes after breakfast. The probiotic sachet contained 4 billion CFU of B. longum and 10 billion CFU of L. rhamnosus.

Stool samples were taken at baseline, one week prior to probiotic therapy, after one month of therapy and a follow-up sample was taken at one month  after the therapy. 

Analysis of the stool samples revealed that B. longum and L. rhamnosus were detectable in the majority of subjects following the therapy regardless of when the probiotics were administered. Furthermore, levels of those bacteria were also present up to a month later following therapy. 
Interestingly, it was evident that following therapy, there was a greater abundance of beneficial microbes such as Akkermansia muciniphila. At the same time, the authors concluded that this probiotic therapy also yielded a decrease in levels of microbes typically associated with negative health outcomes such as firmicutes and proteobacteria. 

Overall, authors concluded that the B. longum and L. rhamnosus appear to be “acting as beneficial biomodulators of gut microbiota” and that the “timing of probiotic administration did not significantly influence the colonisation”.

...timing of probiotic administration did not significantly influence the colonisation.


  1. Toscano M, De Grandi R, Stronati L, et al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium longum BB536 on the healthy gut microbiota composition at phyla and species level: A preliminary study. World J Gastroenterol 2017;23(15):2696-2704. [Full text


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