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Digestive Enzymes and Weight Loss

digestive enzymes weight loss

Digestive Enzymes and Weight Loss

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This article contains:

  • What are the factors involved in weight loss?
  • What are digestive enzymes, and how do they work?
  • How do digestive enzymes help with weight loss?
  • What are the benefits of taking digestive enzyme supplements?
  • How long does it take digestive enzymes to work for weight loss?

Digestive Enzymes & Weight Loss

Gone are the days of the “calories in-calories out” paradigm – when people believed weight loss was nothing more than taking in good calories and exercising off the excess calories. Thanks to science, we now know that many weighted factors make up your body profile. Among those factors are digestive enzymes. While scientists have been exploring the effects of digestive enzymes on our health for decades, only recent studies have been able to more clearly identify the significant role of digestive enzymes and weight loss.

Now we will explore the true nature of weight loss and what digestive enzymes can do for your health, happiness, and digestive health.

What are the factors involved in weight loss?

Your weight is not a stand-alone condition. There are a number of factors that affect your weight, health, and lifespan. These factors work together to create a complicated puzzle of interactions and reactions. Here is a brief summary of these factors and how they play into your weight loss.

  • Family history and genes. Weight ties back to whether one or both parents are overweight as well a genetic make-up. This can affect the amount of fat you store, where you carry that fat, and how difficult it is to lose fat.
  • Race and ethnicity. This is different from genes because race and ethnicity play a role in lifestyle, cultural influences on food, as well as access to nutrients and healthcare.[1]
  • Age. Nearly everyone gains weight as they age. Adults who have a normal BMI (Body Mass Index) will begin to gain weight as young adults, followed by a reversal of that weight gain when they reach 60-65 years of age.
  • Whether you are born male or female may also affect where and how the body stores fat. For example, everyone gains weight around their middle. Women tend to also gain weight around their hips and buttocks area.
  • Eating and physical habits. Food intake is more than the calories and types of food you eat. How you eat (e.g., snacks throughout the day, large meals, fasting) and when you eat (e.g., early morning breakfast, late dinners or snacks, long or short periods between meals) are also crucial. Activity, including how and when you are active, also plays a role.
  • Sleep. The amount of sleep, quality of sleep, and when you sleep according to your natural biorhythms and age, all play a role in your weight.[2] For example, those who get less sleep than they require are more likely to snack more and choose foods that are high in calories. [3]
  • Stress. More than just the amount of stress in your life, the weight will go up or down according to the ways an individual can cope with stress.[4]
  • Medical conditions. While obesity is the result of weight gain, there are medical conditions that actually cause obesity, such as adrenal tumors, pituitary lesions, and some diseases.
  • Medications. A common side-effect of many, if not most medications is weight gain.
  • Digestive and endocrine health. This is just a general term for the many influences on health and weight that stem from the digestive[5] and endocrine[6] systems. These may include gut bacteria, digestive enzymes, and hormones.

What are digestive enzymes, and how do they work?

Simply put, enzymes are a special type of protein molecule that facilitates specific chemical reactions in order to facilitate the chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that your body can absorb. There are different types of enzymes that break down different types of food or nutrients.

The digestive system is made up of several organs that help to break down food into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, sugars, and vitamins. Different enzymes exist at different points in the digestive system to encounter the foods they are meant to break down at the right time in the digestive process.

When your body does not produce enough of these enzymes, those compounds that would typically be broken down, pass through to the large intestine, and sometimes the small intestine, causing symptoms of digestive discomfort. This includes can gas, bloating, diarrhea, and more.

Even more important than simply being uncomfortable, when undigested food particles pass to the intestines, instead of being broken down and utilized by your digestive enzymes, your body is robbed of essential nutrients and energy it needs to function. Additionally, particles can enter the bloodstream, causing the body to attack these unrecognized particles as if they are pathogens. This overtaxes the immune system and may even lead to autoimmune disorders.

Your body produces several types of enzymes in order to take advantage of the nutrients in your food. There are three major types of digestive enzymes:

1. Amylases

Amylases break down carbohydrates. They are made in the salivary glands to help with the breakdown of food as it enters the digestive system. They are also made in the pancreas to complete the digestive process. Amylase is responsible for the breakdown of starches into simple sugars.

Those who suffer from an amylase deficiency will end up with undigested carbohydrates molecules passing through the colon. Instead of being broken down by amylase, these carbohydrates will be broken down by the bacteria and microbes in the intestines. At this point, the carbohydrates will begin to ferment, producing water and carbon, which leads to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

For this reason, taking an amylase supplement will assist with proper digestion of starches and carbs, relieving the digestive system of unnecessary stress.

2. Protease

Protease is tasked with the breakdown of protein into amino acids and small peptides. Amino acids are the building block proteins that play a vital role in the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Peptides are amino acid chain responsible for healthy skin.

Your body, the pancreas to be specific, naturally produces fewer protease enzymes, or any other enzyme for that matter, as you age. This can leave many with a deficiency that leaves fragments of undigested proteins in the digestive system. Unfortunately, these protein molecules can become toxic over time and have been linked to serious conditions such as colon cancer.[7]

When you supplement with this digestive enzyme, you reduce a significant amount of stress on your pancreas to try and produce protease on its own. Studies have shown that protease supplements also reduce the possibility of, and symptoms pertaining to meat allergies.

3. Lipases

Lipases enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of fat into glycerol and fatty acids. It is made by cells in your stomach and the pancreas. With the help of lipases, your body is able to absorb vital fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamin A, D, E, K, and essential fatty acids.

A lack of lipase enzymes can lead to undigested fats passing through your intestines. As your gastrointestinal tract suffers from too much fat content, you may experience cramping and fatty stools. Ongoing insufficient lipase can cause medical conditions, such as leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome. A long-term problem with lipase deficiency may lead to malnutrition. It can also mean the lipase producing cells in the pancreas are damaged, which may be an indicator of one of the chronic diseases that cause damage to the pancreas, such as cystic fibrosis.

When you take a lipase supplement, you are not only avoiding discomfort; you are reducing the likelihood that you will develop various syndromes and malnutrition.

How do digestive enzymes help with weight loss?

While utilizing digestive enzymes does not guarantee weight loss, they are a major factor in weight management. Even though each enzyme has a specific function, there are common problems that arise when the body is having a hard time producing enzymes., including the following:

Nutrient absorption

Digestive enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of foods into vitamins and nutrients you can absorb and use. When dysfunction creates a problem with your enzymes, it limits your ability to absorb vital nutrients. Over time, continued problems with digestion can create a number of chronic illnesses and an unhealthy cycle of nutrient deficiency. Eventually, your cells will become inflamed and malnourished. You’ll experience water retention. And you’ll collect waste build-up.

Poor dietary habits, such as eating processed foods, refined sugars, fast food, and foods with additives and preservatives, can trigger and mimic the same unhealthy cycle. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement will help to counteract a vicious cycle developed from poor habits. Supplements will help you optimize your nutrient absorption, and can reduce or eliminate toxic symptoms, such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Bowel regulation

When the body is unable to digest food properly, it can lead to a number of problems that can cause you to gain weight. Poor digestion means inflammation and an increase in water weight. It also translated into waste build-up. The average colon can hold up to ten pounds of impacted stool. This not only leads to inflammation and an increase in water weight, but it can also lead to an increase in fat in the body.

Poor digestive function slows the metabolism leading to an increase in fat production and overall fatty weight gain throughout the body. When you add digestive enzymes to your diet, you are helping your body regulate the passage of waste, reducing water weight and inflammation, leading to the maintenance of a healthy weight.

Healthier microbiome

A poor diet can cause ongoing harm to the delicate balance of microorganisms your body is trying to maintain. These microorganisms keep your entire body in check, not just your digestive system.

The microbiome of your body, when placed in a state of unbalance, can weaken all other systems in your body. For example, your immune system will experience a weakened state, leaving you vulnerable to illness and disease, as well as limiting your ability to heal from wounds and recover from illness. It can create significant problems for your neurology.[8] It can lead to toxicity in your blood, and so much more.

Adding digestive enzymes to your diet can help restore balance to your microbiome, optimizing your overall health, across systems.

What are the benefits of taking digestive enzyme supplements?

The benefits of supplementing your enzymatic function can significantly improve your overall health.[9] Amylase supplements will assist in the digestion of starches and carbs. Protease supplements reduce the possibility of meat allergies and help your body process proteins more efficiently.

Enzyme supplements also relieve the significant stress and strain placed on your digestive organs, particularly the pancreas, which creates and regulates more enzymes.

Supplements, in combination with probiotics, help the body to optimize nutrient absorption, eliminate toxins, and reduce common symptoms that add to weight gain, such as gas, bloating, constipation, inflammation, food allergies, and water weight.

You can use enzyme supplements to restore balance to your delicate microbiome, which significantly impacts all your body’s systems, leading to the prevention of disease, improved mental health, avoidance of malnutrition, and optimize overall health.

By adding these enzymes to your supplement regimen, you are able to lead a healthier life and will help you effectively manage your weight.

When looking for the right supplements, consider that many enzymes rely on interactions with each other in order to best digest your food. Instead of looking for something that supplements a single enzyme, choose a quality digestive enzyme supplement that will include several enzymes. Aside from the top three, these are also common enzymes worth supplementing.

  • Alpha-galactosidase. An enzyme that helps the body digest legumes.
  • Beta-glucanase. This enzyme assists with yeast digestion.
  • Cellulase, hemicellulose, and xylanase. These assist with fiber digestion.
  • An important enzyme that helps you digest the sugars in dairy.
  • This ensures the digestion of phytic acid.

How long does it take digestive enzymes to work for weight loss?

While there is no time frame that can be guaranteed for everyone, the body does adjust to supplements relatively quickly. In general, everyone will have a different response. However, the average timeline for results is two-to-three weeks. Keep in mind that in order to work properly, supplements need to be taken regularly, according to the directions, and in combination with healthy dietary habits and an active lifestyle.

Striving to lose weight is a journey. It is easy to become frustrated. Many give up. However, understanding the role of food and our health is vital. Getting to know how your body processes food, such as the role of digestive enzymes on your nutrition, your entire body, and your overall health can be ground-breaking as you decide to choose the best supplements for weight loss. As you now know, choosing the right digestive supplement does not just improve your digestive health and help you finally reach your weight loss goals. Choosing the right supplement will have a significant impact on your overall health.

A complete digestive enzyme matrix for maximum digestion of proteins, carbs, and fats.


[1] Flegal KM, Kruszon-Moran D, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Trends in obesity among adults in the United States, 2005 to 2014. JAMA. 2016;315(21):2284–2291.

[2] St-Onge MP. Sleep-obesity relation: underlying mechanisms and consequences for treatment. Obesity Reviews. 2017;18(suppl 1):34–39.

[3] Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SA, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations: final report. Sleep Health. 2015;1(4):233–243.

[4] Block, J. P., He, Y., Zaslavsky, A. M., Ding, L., & Ayanian, J. Z. (2009). Psychosocial stress and change in weight among US adults. American journal of epidemiology, 170(2), 181–192.

[5] König, J., Wells, J., Cani, P. D., García-Ródenas, C. L., MacDonald, T., Mercenier, A., … Brummer, R. J. (2016). Human Intestinal Barrier Function in Health and Disease. Clinical and translational gastroenterology, 7(10), e196.

[6] Patrice D Cani, Elodie Lecourt, (2009). Gut microbiota fermentation of prebiotics increases satietogenic and incretin gut peptide production with consequences for appetite sensation and glucose response after a meal, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(5), 1236–1243.

[7] Koch S., Anthonsen D., Skovbjerg H., Sjöström H. (2004) On the Role of Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV in the Digestion of an Immunodominant Epitope in Celiac Disease. In: Back N., Cohen I.R., Kritchevsky D., Lajtha A., Paoletti R. (eds) Dipeptidyl Aminopeptidases in Health and Disease. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 524. Springer, Boston, MA

[8] Griffiths, J.A., Mazmanian S.K., (2018). Emerging evidence linking the gut microbiome to neurologic disorders, Genome Medicine, 10(98).

[9] Jaclyn M. Omara, Yen-Ming Chana, Mitchell L. Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons. Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 116–123.

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