Probiotics offer many benefits to our bodies, not just the digestive system. Studies have long established that they’re also good for improving our immune system. They might even be good for the heart and help prevent anxiety.
Considering their many benefits, you’d want to make the most of probiotics by taking them at optimal times. So, how long after taking probiotics can you eat?
The timing actually matters:
- The researchers of one study discovered that probiotics might be best taken 30 minutes before a meal.
- This study also showed that it might still be fine to take probiotics along with meals.
- But taking probiotics 30 minutes after the meal can render them useless and no longer potent for that particular meal.
That means that you can eat your meal anytime before the 30-minute mark after taking probiotics.
Why does timing matter and how do meals affect probiotics? Let’s dive into each one below.
Does Timing Of Probiotic Intake Matter?
Yes. Intake timing is important if you want most of the probiotics to survive and remain potent.
Your gut comprises the organs along your gastrointestinal tract, but the “good gut bacteria” in probiotics best work in your small and large intestines.
However, to reach the intestines, the probiotics still need to make it through the acidic environment of your gastrointestinal tract, particularly the stomach.
This means that if you want those good bacteria to stay alive through the harsh journey past your stomach, you’d want to make the quickest journey possible.
One way of ensuring that happens is to take your probiotic supplement on an empty stomach. The probiotics could breeze through the acidic tract, survive with as many potent CFUs (colony forming units) as possible, and reach your intestines to work their magic.
When’s The Best Time To Take Probiotics?
30 minutes before meals is the best time to take probiotics – as this will give it the best chance of reaching your gut and doing its job. If you forget to take them before eating, that’s okay! You can still take it a few hours after your meal.
Knowing that timing is important, be sure to note the best times to take probiotics to maximize their benefits.
When Should I Eat After Taking Probiotics?
Plan out your meals so that you’ll be eating your meals around 30 minutes after you take your probiotics.
If you don’t like the taste of the probiotic capsules or drinks, you can always take them with water or milk (if you aren’t allergic to them).
How Long After A Meal Can I Take Prebiotics?
If you already ate your meals, it’s not a good idea to catch up on probiotic use by taking them immediately after a meal.
Studies show that this isn’t likely to work because, by the time the probiotics reach your stomach, it would be filled with more digestive acids as it works to process the food you ate.
Instead, it’s best to wait around 2-3 hours after a meal before taking your probiotic supplements.
Taking Probiotics At Bedtime
Remember that probiotics reach the small intestines faster on an empty stomach. So, it makes sense to take them at bedtime. But that only works if you’ve had your meal at least 2-3 hours before going to bed.
Hours Or Timing To Avoid
There are conflicting data on when to take or avoid taking probiotics.
But some nutrition experts argue that taking them before breakfast isn’t ideal because they don’t have any food to digest in the stomach after you “fasted” while you slept the entire night.
However, other studies show that this doesn’t matter because the most important thing is that they get past the acidic stomach as fast as possible to reach their “safe” haven in the small intestines. You’ll eat some food a few minutes later, anyway, so they can have food to process and eat soon enough.
It’s important to note, however, that it’s best to avoid taking probiotics 30 minutes after eating because they’ll simply be killed off by the more hostile environment in your stomach as it has released more digestive acids by this time.
Are There Side Effects If I Take Probiotics At The “Wrong” Time?
The good news about probiotics is that they’re fairly well tolerated by most people, and they rarely cause major side effects.
Some people might experience bloating or gas, but that’s usually temporary and isn’t a result of taking probiotics at the “wrong” time.
The timing is important to help ensure survivability, and potency, and that the probiotics reach your small intestines, but it has nothing to do with avoiding side effects.
What Happens If You Take Probiotics With A Meal?
Some probiotic brands actually recommend taking their products with food to ensure that these live bacteria can have something to chomp on upon arrival at their destination.
However, you aren’t likely to experience side effects, even for those products that aren’t recommended for taking along meals. Instead, the bacteria might not be as potent or within the viable CFU count to be effective in your gut.
Why It’s Not Ideal To Take Probiotics After A Heavy Meal
Our stomachs produce large quantities of digestive acids when it detects food. This helps the organ digest the food and break each one down into small pieces before they’re moved to the small intestines.
This highly acidic environment, harsher than other times (when the stomach isn’t digesting food), can easily kill the probiotics that are designed to travel through the organ towards the small intestines.
What If I Split Up The Probiotics Before & After The Meal?
Again, that wouldn’t cause any side effects.
However, considering that probiotics are at a high risk of dying as they try to pass through the more acidic stomach if you take them after a meal, you’ll render half of the supplement useless. Half the dose might not be enough to achieve the best effects, so it would be like wasting your money.
How Long Does It Take For Probiotics To Work
The answer actually depends on several factors, including the following:
- Dosage or estimated number of CFUs
- “Vehicle” that delivers the probiotics to your gut
- The potency of the probiotic strains used in the product
However, since digestion is a fast process (it takes 6-8 hours for food to pass through your stomach and small intestines), probiotics are designed to work within this window.
Still, it could take at least 2-3 weeks before you can feel significant benefits from taking probiotics. The most important thing is to be consistent in taking your probiotics and to drink or take them at around the same time each day for optimal effect.
Factors That Affect Probiotic Effectiveness (will stomach acids kill them?)
Several factors can affect probiotic effectiveness:
Stomach Acids Can Kill Them
First, probiotics are bacteria or microorganisms that need to be alive to work. Dead probiotics can’t do anything – that’s why taking expired probiotics can be useless.
Like many other live microorganisms, they can be affected by heat and the acidic digestive chemicals released by your stomach. The journey through your stomach can kill them all off!
It can be a good idea to pick probiotics in an extended-release capsule form because the coating could protect the live gut bacteria through their journey.
Poor Product Quality
It’s actually hard to tell whether the product contains the actual CFUs and live organisms listed on the label. After all, the FDA doesn’t regulate probiotics because they’re considered dietary supplements.
If you bought probiotics with poor product quality, the packaging might look good but the contents might not work well.
Probiotics have a fragile nature but need to survive the rigors of the manufacturing process, storage, and the rough journey through the acids in your stomach. If only too few make it through that journey, then their effectiveness will be compromised.
Wrong Strain Used
There are thousands of different gut bacteria strains – and they don’t work for all symptoms. Finding the right match can be tricky, but you can find help from your nutritionist or pick a trusted brand that works with nutritionists and health experts to pick the best probiotics for their products.
Poor Storage & Handling
Because they’re sensitive to heat and moisture, probiotics can already die or become deactivated even during the manufacturing process or while being shipped from the factory or warehouse to your home.
But even if they survived that journey, the way you store them at home is also a big factor.
Always check the label for the manufacturer’s storage recommendations. Often, this means storing the products in a cool, dry place or even refrigerating to extend their viability and potency.
However, since they’re affected by moisture, be sure that the container is air-tight and the product can be stored inside your fridge without moisture condensing inside them.
Incorrect Dose Or Too Few CFUs
If the CFUs are too few, the good gut bacteria that actually reach your small intestines can be too few and might no longer be effective.
You Didn’t Take Them Properly (with food vs. before or after meals)
And if they did manage to meet all the criteria and factors above, probiotic effectiveness could still be greatly affected by when you took them.
Because even for the best, most potent probiotics, the timing still matters a lot.
For them to be truly effective, you should make sure to take them before eating anything.
It might be best to wait 30 minutes after taking the probiotics to eat your meals to give them a head start and make sure they reach your stomach and small intestines faster.
One study showed that probiotics may be best taken 30 minutes before a meal for best results, but you can also take them along with meals if you’re pressed for time. However, probiotics might not work at their best if taken along with meals.
However, the study indicated that taking probiotics 30 minutes after eating is a big no-no because they can be less potent and rather useless for that particular meal.
Why It’s Important To Take Probiotics At The Same Time Each Day
The best way to enjoy the effects of probiotics is to take them every day. Consistency is the key. Regular intake ensures that the probiotic levels in your gut remain at an ambient level.
Although the actual time isn’t really a big deal as long as you take probiotics around 30 minutes before a meal, taking them at the same time each day helps you stick to the schedule.
Maximizing Health Benefits Of Probiotics (how to ensure probiotics will work, with or without meals)
Yes, the timing matters when it comes to taking probiotics. However, their potency and viability are also important if you want the supplement to actually work.
Here are some tips to maximize their benefits, whether or not you take them at the right time, with or without meals:
- Store probiotics properly by keeping them in a cool, dry place (unless they require refrigeration or other forms of storage).
- Keep the bottle or pack away from heat.
- Try not to move the supplements to a different container, such as a weekly pill organizer, because they could also lose their potency easily with exposure to moisture.
- As much as possible, choose a multi-strain product because studies show that different strains might work for different symptoms or conditions.
- Choose the higher CFU but make sure to take the right dose to avoid complications. While most studies show that probiotic overdose isn’t likely to cause major side effects except excessive gas, bloating, and an upset stomach, one person may have experienced anxiety attacks after taking too much (400 CFUs a day).
- Take the probiotic as suggested (check the label or packaging).
- Also check the label for ingredients that might be unsafe for you, especially if you’re allergic to something, such as milk. Some probiotic products are based on milk or might have other ingredients that can trigger an allergic reaction.
Meal Composition Can Matter
Different types of probiotic strains might tackle different symptoms or gut conditions, but they all rely on prebiotics or dietary fibers for nourishment.
One study showed that probiotic supplements appear to be more effective or viable and show higher survival rates when taken with low-fat milk or oatmeal than with apple juice or water.
Lactobacillus probiotics might have a better chance of survival when taken with carbs or sugars because they rely on glucose found in these foods when they’re in an acidic environment.
Delayed-release probiotic products might have the highest chances of survival than the other varieties. They’re often designed to survive the harsh stomach acids, getting them released by their capsules when they reach their correct destination (the intestines).
So, if you choose this type of probiotic, you won’t really need to worry too much about timing because they are more likely to survive your stomach acids.
Recommendations: Choosing The Right Probiotics
The right probiotics are potent, and effective, and are more likely to reach the correct destination in the gut. That can be achieved by these two probiotic products:
- Yourbiology Gut+
- Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8
Let’s dive into their best features below.
Yourbiology Gut+ Probiotics
Yourbiology Gut+ features four live, potent strains of good gut bacteria packed in patented MAKtrek® Bipass Technology made from brown seaweed to shield the probiotics from harsh stomach acids until they reach the small intestines.
You’ll get the best value for your money with this product containing 40 billion CFUs of potent bacterial strains (per serving of 2 capsules):
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Bifidobacterium lactis
This shelf-stable probiotic also comes packed with prebiotic fibers (fructooligosaccharides) to provide food for your probiotics after their long, harsh journey.
What’s great about this product is that it’s ideal for men and women, doesn’t require refrigeration but has zero preservatives, contains clinically backed bacterial strains, and is free from potential allergens like gluten, dairy, and soy.
Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8
A probiotic especially designed for men, Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8 contains 10 carefully picked probiotics for high-performance gut support:
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus paracasei
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus fermentum
Each serving (three capsules) contains 20 billion CFUs of these potent bacteria. This probiotic product also comes with prebiotics (dietary fiber inulin from chicory and fructooligosaccharides) as the good gut bacteria’s packed lunch.
Not only does it have 10 bacterial strains, but this probiotic also features added benefits from the following:
- 10 mcg of vitamin D
- 10 mg of protease
- 25 mg of lipase
- 20 mg of amylase
How Long After Taking Probiotics Can I Drink Coffee?
Probiotics can die with exposure to heat, so it’s not a good idea to take them with hot coffee (or any other hot food). Instead, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes after taking probiotics before you drink your coffee.
How Long Can I Take Probiotics With Other Medications?
Some medications may interact with certain probiotics.
These can include:
- Antifungals, including ketoconazole, clotrimazole, griseofulvin, and nystatin
However, do not start, stop, or alter the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s approval.
It’s best to tell your physician that you’re taking probiotics regularly so they can advise you whether the medications they prescribe can interact with these supplements.
If in doubt, you might consider stopping probiotic intake instead and wait until you get clearance from your doctor to take them along with your medications.
You know, there are a few reasons why timing is important when taking probiotic supplements.
First, probiotics are live organisms that need to be taken at the right time in order to be effective. Second, certain probiotic strains are more effective at specific times of the day. And finally, the gastrointestinal tract has natural rhythms that can impact the effectiveness of probiotics.
Taking probiotics at the right time is important because they are live organisms. They need to be taken when they are still alive and active in order to work effectively.
So, when can you eat after taking probiotics? The answer is that it entirely depends. But the ideal time is always 30 minutes before eating a meal. This will help your body to best absorb the beneficial bacteria from the probiotics and get the most out of them.
If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not you should take your probiotics before or after a meal, just ask your healthcare provider for advice.