During LeanBiotics’ Diet & Exercise Program, you’ll use their physician formulated nutritional supplements to “jump start” your weight loss, which we’re told can also restore balance to your microbiome, enhance energy, maintain regularity, reduce cravings and bloat, and just help you feel healthier.
To accomplish, LeanBiotics claims their program involves five steps, which they liken to tending a garden:
Step 1: Remove the Weeds – Using their Cleanse supplement, this is where the company claims you’ll prepare your digestive tract for the beneficial bacteria in the next step.
Step 2: Nourish Your Microbiome – LeanBiotics’ Prebiotic supplement is supposed to provide key nutrients that can help beneficial bacteria thrive. You’ll also focus on probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, miso, pickled and fermented vegetables, kombucha, and more.
Step 3: Replenish Your Microbiome – Next, LeanBiotics’ Probiotic supplement will reintroduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive tract. In your diet, you’ll focus on consuming quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, while learning how to make better food choices.
Step 4: Sustain Your Microbiome – Now, the Lean Meal RS meal replacement drink will further promote beneficial bacteria, while limiting “bad” bacteria.
Step 5: Boost Your Microbiome – Finally, you’ll augment your results with exercise, like walking, lifting weights, or playing sports, 3-5 times per week.
Whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight, can you really expect LeanBiotics to work? Can you accomplish much of the same using other, less expensive products? These are just a couple of the important questions we’ll cover in this review.
What Are Probiotics? Prebiotics? Can They Help You Lose Weight?
Before diving in and taking a closer look at LeanBiotics’ different products and claims, we first need to lay some groundwork. Why? This way, we can make sure we’re all on the same page, as we’ll reference many of these basic ideas throughout this review.
A Crash Course In Probiotics
In a nutshell, your digestive tract (also known as your gut, or “microbiome” as LeanBiotics phrases it) is home to trillions of bacteria cells and dozens—perhaps even hundreds—of different strains. Each of these strains is responsible for a variety of functions; some promote good benefits like balanced digestion, reduced bloating and gassiness, and boosted immune response, while “bad” bacteria might promote the exact opposite.
In a lot of instances, these good and bad bacteria remain in relative balance. However, after a recent round of antibiotics, illness, frequently eating a poor diet, excess stress, and more, the bad bacteria can quickly outnumber the good, leading to unwanted side effects. But by reintroducing billions of beneficial bacteria per dose, probiotic supplements may be able to bring back some balance.
Where Do Prebiotics Come In?
Although they have a similar name, prebiotics aren’t bacteria at all. Instead, this is a type of non-digestible (usually fiber-based) ingredient that bacteria feed on. This way, these bacteria have a nutrient-rich food source as soon as they reach your gut.
Are Probiotics Effective for Weight Loss?
In Can Probiotics Help You Lose Weight?, we learned that, while there exists reams of clinical evidence indicating probiotics may be responsible for some measure of weight loss, much of it is of questionable quality.
While you can read the article at you leisure, this means that—by and large—it’s yet to be “proven” that probiotics can help you lose inches or a meaningful amount of weight, compared to traditional diet and exercise. But, what about LeanBiotics’ claims of “lean” and “obese” bacteria? Here’s how they put it:
“Certain types of “obese” bacteria called Firmicutes both extract more calories from food, which is then stored as fat, and trigger your cravings for high-fat and sugary foods.
An overpopulation of Firmicutes crowds out your microbiome like weeds in a garden so that health-promoting “lean” bacteria called Bacteriodetes have less opportunity to flourish.”
According to MicrobeWiki, Firmicutes tend to be higher in the gut of obese individuals, and are often associated with increased fatty acid absorption, furthering the cycle of weight gain. On the other hand, mice with more normalized tended to have less Firmicutes and greater levels of Bacteriodetes.
However, while this is certainly positive and something that should continue being explored by the scientific community, it’s important to emphasize that correlation does not imply causation. In other words, it’s not a scientific fact that reducing Firmicutes in your gut—or taking probiotics in general—will help you lose inches or pounds.
With this solid foundation to work from, let’s talk about LeanBiotics’ different supplements and see how well you can realistically expect them to work.
A Closer Look at LeanBiotics’ Supplements
Overall, there are four supplements in the LeanBiotics Diet & Exercise Program:
LeanMeal RS Cleanse
According to the company, this patent-pending formula is supposed to help support regularity and lay the groundwork for improved digestive health.
- Cascara Sagrada (bark) 250mg
- Cleansing Herbal Blend 410mg: Oregon Grape (root), Milk Thistle Extract (80% Silymarin)(seed), Oregano Leaf, Peppermint Leaf, Licorice Root, Ginger (root)
There isn’t enough clinical evidence to indicate that any of these ingredients will “cleanse” toxins from your body, other than increasing your regularity. Like any other laxative, this will also cause you to temporarily lose a little water weight, which will return as soon as you drink something.
Important note: As we outline in Colon Cleanse & Detoxification Supplements May Not Be What They Seem, most doctors recommend avoiding cleanse supplements altogether, as your body typically does a very good job of removing toxins without any outside interference.
LeanBiotics tells us that their Prebiotic supplement can “target the bacteria you want to flourish,” promote the growth of the “lean” bacteria we discussed above, promote the feeling of fullness, maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and more.
Since most of these ingredients are intended to feed beneficial bacteria in your gut, there’s no direct benefit for humans for the most part, although glucomannan expands in your stomach and can cause a temporary feeling of fullness.
We briefly alluded to it in the previous section, but we have some serious reservations about the efficacy of these first two supplements. However, this requires some in-depth explanation, so we’ll come back around to it shortly.
LeanBiotics Probiotic Supplement
LeanBiotics claims their patented time release BIO-tract Delivery Technology can help protect the 16 billion microbes in each dose from stomach acid, guaranteeing they “arrive at your intestines intact.”
- Proprietary Blend: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis
- Inulin 100g
As a genus (a fancy word that means family), Lactobacillus is the largest group of lactic acid bacteria. In addition to helping improve digestion, plantarum, rhamnosus, and gasseri (different species) may help reduce certain skin conditions, combat certain allergies, and more.
Similarly, Bifidobacterium infantis and lactis appear to be especially adept at addressing constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and urinary tract infections; reducing cholesterol, and more.
Lean Meal RS (Vanilla Flavor)
LeanBiotics tells us that their Lean Meal RS meal replacement powder can help reduce you caloric intake, while delivering high-quality carbohydrates, proteins and fats to your microbiome.
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum
Note: No dosages were listed on Lean Meal RS’s label, although all reflected 25% of the daily value (except for phosphorus, which was listed at 9%).
Regardless, while many of these ingredients are part of a healthy diet, there’s insufficient clinical evidence showing they can improve digestive health or shed pounds or inches in otherwise (i.e. non-deficient) individuals.
Will You Experience Any Side Effects From LeanBiotics Supplements?
As you can see, between all four LeanBiotics supplements, there are dozens of different ingredients, which means there are many potential side effects.
However, the reality is that the vast majority of individuals won’t experience any side effects whatsoever from these ingredients. And for those who do, they probably won’t be anything worse than mild, temporary digestive upset.
There are a couple exceptions, though. For example, WebMD says this about licorice: “Consuming licorice daily for several weeks or longer can cause severe side effects including high blood pressure, low potassium levels, weakness, paralysis, and occasionally brain damage in otherwise healthy people.” Given this, you’ll definitely want to consult with your doctor before taking LeanBiotics’ Cleanse, or any of their other supplements.
WebMD also notes this about glucomannan: “Solid tablets containing glucomannan are POSSIBLY UNSAFE for adults and LIKELY UNSAFE for children. These can sometimes cause blockages of the throat or intestines.”
Since this is exactly what you’ll find in the Prebiotics supplement, it’s yet another reason you should consult with your doctor.
A Note About LeanBiotics’ Cleanse & Prebiotic Supplements
Remember when we talked about the effectiveness of LeanBiotics’ Cleanse and Prebiotic supplements above? Here’s where we come back to it.
According to LeanBiotics’ Complete Healthy Weight Loss Program, you’ll take their Cleanse and Prebiotic supplements simultaneously for the first 14 days. Basically, this means you’ll be flushing your system at the same time you’re supposed to be “fertilizing your garden”—thereby removing this food for the bacteria that you’ll be reintroducing with the Probiotic supplement.
Even if you “cleansed” your system and added prebiotics in two separate steps though, we have to wonder: Why would you immediately add a food source for any of the random bacteria that survived? In our mind, it seems more logical to take prebiotics along with probiotics, so you’re reintroducing the precise bacteria you want, while simultaneously providing a food source for them to flourish.
Finally, LeanBiotics claims their Prebiotic will “target the bacteria you want to flourish,” but here’s the concern: While you can certainly add specific bacteria into the gut using probiotics, or remove certain strains using bacteriophage supplements, you can’t select for specific species based on the food you provide.
Whew! We know this was a lot of in-depth information, but you definitely have a solid grasp at this point. Let’s move on to something a little more laid back, like pricing.
How Much Does LeanBiotics Cost?
LeanBiotics’ individual supplements are priced as follows:
- Cleanse (60 capsules): $28
- Prebiotic (120 capsules): $28
- Probiotic (60 capsules): $40
- LeanMeal RS (1.7lb): $59
Available in French Vanilla and Dutch Chocolate flavors, their entire Diet & Exercise Program is priced at $137.50, which includes Cleanse, Prebiotic, Probiotic, and LeanMeal RS supplements, along with a Drink Mix Bottle).
All orders come with free priority ground shipping, as well as a 30-day money back guarantee, less S&H charges. In order to request one, VitaMedica’s customer support department can be reached at (888) 367-8605 or [email protected]
Just who is VitaMedica?
Who Manufactures LeanBiotics? Are Their Customer Reviews Positive?
In addition to LeanBiotics, VitaMedica manufactures a host of other nutritional supplements, including those focused on healing and recovery, acne, anti-aging, and weight management. Based out of Torrance, CA, the company had an A+ rating with the BBB and no closed complaints as of 8/12/16.
LeanBiotics was founded by David H. Rahm, M.D., a board-certified anesthesiologist who is also responsible for formulating the company’s supplements. According to the company’s website, Dr. Rahm claims that the Diet & Exercise Program is “the culmination of my years of experience in helping patients maintain a healthy microbiome and a healthy weight.” To do this, Dr. Rahm claims the program—and all of the company’s supplements—are rooted in evidence-based formulations.
From a customer perspective, it seems many of LeanBiotics’ products come with mostly positive feedback, including Healthy Skin Formula, Surgery Program Kit, and more. In general, most compliments reference positive benefits (e.g. noticeable weight loss, reduced allergies, improved skin, etc.), while most complaints referenced failure to experience results.
From clinical evidence to pricing and reputation, we’ve covered a lot in this review. Now, let’s bring it all together as we wrap things up.
Is LeanBiotics the Right Weight Loss Tool for You?
The fact of the matter is that, in general, probiotics have been shown to provide dozens of potential benefits. Which is why you’ll find hundreds of different probiotic supplements out there, including popular options like Probiotic America, ProbioSlim, PerfectBiotics, and many more.
Based on our research and reviews from hundreds of readers like you, despite the different CFU counts and bacteria formulations, most of these supplements seem to work about as well as any other. Also, like LeanBiotics’ BIO-tract, nearly all of these feature some kind of technology that allows the bacteria to survive passage through your stomach—otherwise, they’d be rendered useless.
Given this, you might want to focus more on company reputation than on marketing angle when deciding where your hard-earned money should go.
Speaking of the company: Again, it’s positive that VitaMedica was founded by a board-certified anesthesiologist and that their Diet & Exercise Plan contains a lot of usable information (especially if you’re new to dieting). However, since:
- There’s limited clinical evidence showing their supplement’s ingredients can help individuals lose weight, and
- There’s even less evidence indicating that your body needs—or can reliably benefit from—any type of cleanse,
… we’ll let you decide whether or not this constitutes an “evidence-based” approach to health and wellness.
In the end, if you’re looking to lose weight and keep it off, the only reliable methods of accomplishing this are by eating healthy and getting enough exercise. Sure, probiotics might help give you a boost (along with improved digestion and other benefits), but based on what we’ve discussed here, it remains unclear exactly why you should choose LeanBiotics over the competition.
Looking to continue your research? Be sure to read through our Probiotics Buyer’s Guide.
Before going: Did you try LeanBiotics’ Diet & Exercise Program or any of their supplements? Did they help you lose weight? If so, how much? Previously, have you been unable to lose weight? Tell us all about it in your review below!
More on Weight Loss:
- What Supplement Companies Don’t Want You to Know: Operation Big, Fat Lie
- Forget Diet Pills—Lose Weight by Changing Your Habits
- One Step at a Time: How Walking a Little Bit Every Day Can Boost Your Health in a Big Way