Gut Health

The Best Time to Take Probiotics (Food & Supplements)

Does it matter when you take probiotics to make them more effective? We'll answer this question with specifics regarding the best time to take probiotics whether they are in food or supplements.

Bacteria is with you every day—and not just when you touch a dirty grocery store cart or someone nearby sneezes. Even right now, there are millions of bacteria living on your skin and in your gut. Sounds scary? It isn’t!

It’s perfectly natural and, more importantly, these microscopic organisms are crucial for your best health and well-being.

Surprising, but true: not all bacteria are bad. In fact, there are trillions of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, that help keep your body functioning at its prime. And supporting your best digestive, immune, and even emotional health requires that you have plenty of these good guys on hand (and in your body) at all times.

Not sure about the best way to introduce healthy bacteria (probiotics) into your system? Read on to find out more about probiotic foods and supplements, as well as specifics regarding when to take probiotics.

Plus, we’ll give you a “cheat sheet” of our favorite suggestions for adding probiotic-friendly foods to your daily diet.

How Your Gut Microbiome Works

Before we start exploring the world of probiotics, let’s look at their home: your gut microbiome.

As we mentioned, your body is absolutely teeming with microbes. These include beneficial (or “good”) bacteria and pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria that occur naturally in your body.

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Two of the most well-known strains of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. They live on your skin and in your mouth, nose, and gut.

Your gut microbiome is especially important because it houses the vast majority of your body’s bacterial colonies, beneficial and pathogenic.

But your gut has limited space, so the good and bad bacteria are often locked in a power struggle for “real estate.”

When one type of bacteria flourishes, it’ll starve and crowd out the other type.

Ideally, your beneficial bacteria will outnumber the harmful bacteria in quantity and quality. This helps you maintain strong gut health, supports your immune system, and promotes your overall health and well-being

Unfortunately, the opposite is more often the case.

When pathogenic bacteria colonies outnumber your probiotics, this imbalance is known as dysbiosis, and it can negatively impact your digestive health, slow down your immune response, and lead to a number of physical, emotional, and mental health issues.

How do you overcome this imbalance, and avoid it in the future?

This is where probiotic foods and supplements can help.

Young woman sanitizing her hands before snack at a restaurant

Why Do You Need Probiotics?

To truly understand how probiotics can help, let’s look at how the bacteria in the human body have changed drastically over the past decades.

If you lived in a “perfect” world the way Mother Nature designed it…

The soil would be microbially rich with critically important, gut-health-promoting beneficial bacteria. Plants would grow organically, free of chemicals and toxins, and be naturally covered with health-promoting bacterial strains.

Every bite of food you consumed would provide beneficial bacteria to your body, where they could once again start their important, gut-cleansing and balancing journey down the intestinal tract.

After digestion, they would be excreted and returned to the soil—not flushed into the sewage system—where they would start the process all over again.

In this idyllic scenario, the beneficial bacteria in your body would live in harmony with nature, supporting and fueling each other.

But in today’s industrial world, we have interrupted that natural cycle in virtually every way possible.

Since the late 40’s and the advent of conventional farming, we have been systematically sterilizing beneficial bacteria out of:

  • The soil
  • All our agricultural growing practices
  • All our food processing systems
  • Our environment in general

We’ve somehow decided that all bacteria are bad bacteria.

And in our misguided attempts to remove all bacteria, we’re also eliminating the beneficial bacteria that our bodies need.

Instead of receiving beneficial bacteria in a natural, organic way, you now have to supplement with probiotics.

Adding probiotics on a daily basis will help elevate the number of good bacteria in your system and keep your gut functioning optimally.

There’s simply no other way you can make sure your body receives the bacterial support it needs!

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are bacteria found in food, drink, and supplements that are similar or even identical to the beneficial bacteria that already live in your gut microbiome.

When you consume probiotics, they make their way through your digestive tract, ultimately ending their journey in your gut. Once there, they join forces with the existing beneficial bacteria, adding to both their strength and numbers.

As the colonies of good bacteria thrive, the colonies of bad bacteria lose their power. Eventually, this restores the balance of your gut microbiome.

In this way, probiotics can help your body achieve and maintain a healthy bacterial balance in your gut.

The Importance of Balancing Your Microbiome

Ideally, your gut always contains more probiotic bacteria and fewer pathogens.

But these days, it’s all too easy to disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiome, leading to an increase in bad bacteria.

So what can cause the overgrowth of bad bacteria? Here are the most common reasons.

  • Bad bacteria enter your body through a cut, scrape, or mucous membranes.
  • Stress emboldens pathogens and can tip the scales in their favor.
  • Antibiotics disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut flora.
  • Diets high in processed foods or sugar negatively affect beneficial bacteria,[1] giving bad bacteria the space to thrive.

Regardless of the cause, this overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria can result in illness, infection, digestive issues, and a slower metabolism.

Adding probiotic foods and supplements can promote the colonies of beneficial bacteria and bring balance to your gut microbiome.

The Benefits of Probiotics

How exactly do probiotics help support your overall well-being?

There are numerous health benefits of probiotics. Probiotic foods and supplements raise the levels of beneficial bacteria in your body. They also help balance your gut microbiome to encourage your overall health and well-being.

Support Your Immune System

One surprising benefit of probiotics is that they support healthy immune function.

Believe it or not, roughly 70–80% of your immune system is housed in your gut. A healthy gut, thanks to probiotics, leads to optimal, active immune response.

This can help you:

  • Fight off illnesses and infections
  • Reduce symptoms
  • And recover more quickly when you do get sick

Other Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics have also been shown to shine in other areas, especially when it comes to digestive health conditions.

Research shows that they may be helpful in treating or avoiding[2]:

Fermented food. Vegetable preserves. Sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, kimchi etc in glass jars, with pepper and garlic. Healthy probiotic diet

Probiotic Foods

Timing is everything when it comes to probiotic food and drink.

Probiotic foods aren’t as rich in beneficial bacteria as probiotic supplements. On top of that, there’s no real way to measure how much of that good, helpful bacteria even makes it to your gut. So it’s especially important to make sure you’re eating them at the right time.

Probiotic foods are most effective on an empty stomach. On the other hand, studies show that probiotics eaten after a meal are less effective.[3]

See, for the beneficial bacteria in probiotic foods to make it to your large intestine—the “gut” of your gut microbiome—it must first complete the treacherous journey through your digestive tract. In fact, the bacteria must pass through the bile, enzymes, and acids designed to break down food, drink, and any other particles.

Unfortunately, these are also strong enough to break down and destroy probiotics. Even worse, when you eat, your body produces even more gastric acid to aid with digestion. This can be incredibly harmful to probiotic foods. For this reason it’s ideal to eat probiotic foods at the right time for best utilization.

When Is the Best Time to Eat Probiotic Foods?

With all that in mind, for most people, probiotics will be most effective at these times:

  • Early in the morning (before breakfast)
  • Before a meal
  • Right before bed

Remember, the beneficial bacteria in probiotic foods are already lower in number and quality when compared to the spore probiotics found in certain supplements. So you want to give them a fighting chance by taking them at the right time!

Adding Probiotic-Friendly Foods to Your Diet

Adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet is one easy way to increase the number of helpful gut bacteria.

For the most part, these are food and drinks that have been fermented, a chemical breakdown process that promotes the growth of microorganisms, including beneficial bacteria.

Here are some of the most popular probiotic-rich foods and drinks:

  • Buttermilk
  • Cheeses (only some, check your labels!)
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt (low sugar ideally) (Try this delicious recipe!)

With the ever-growing popularity of probiotic-friendly foods, most of these are easily found in your favorite grocery store.

A Probiotic-Friendly Diet

Here are some simple, delicious suggestions for adding probiotic-friendly foods to your daily diet.

Early Morning or With Breakfast

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir milk with cereal
  • Smoothie made with kefir milk

With Lunch

  • Sauerkraut (choose the unpasteurized)
  • Pickles (or other pickled vegetables) added to a salad or sandwich
  • Miso soup

With Dinner

  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Kombucha

At Bedtime

  • Probiotic lavender tea

Experiment with different options and look online for some new recipes. You’ll be sure to find tasty ways to add probiotics to your diet!

Probiotic Supplements

Spore-based probiotic supplements are the easiest and most effective way of supporting your beneficial bacteria and optimizing your gut health.

Why Should You Choose Spore-Based Probiotic Supplements?

  • Better bacterial strains: These types of supplements are rich in spore-based beneficial bacteria, the kind our ancestors received organically from nature.
  • Higher chance of survivability: Spore-based probiotic supplements are generally hardier than probiotic foods, especially when faced with the trek to your gut. The strains in Just Thrive Probiotic are encased in a natural, endospore shell and are 100% guaranteed to “arrive alive” in your gut, ready to work their magic.
  • Measurable dosage: Just because certain foods are probiotic-friendly doesn’t mean that you know the exact amount of probiotics they actually contain—or how much of that beneficial bacteria even survives the voyage to your gut microbiome.
  • More appealing: Probiotic foods aren’t for everyone. The fermentation process usually leaves a distinct taste and odor that isn’t for everyone. Then there are food allergies, intolerances, and diet to think about.
  • Easier to take: Probiotic supplements generally come in capsules. If you don’t like swallowing capsules, they can be opened and mixed into your favorite recipes, snacks, and smoothies. Just be sure to choose a probiotic that can withstand high temperatures if cooking or baking without losing potency (Just Thrive Probiotic can!). Or, you can chew a probiotic gummy, which is also a great way to promote good gut health for children.

When to Take a Probiotic Supplement

Just like with probiotic-friendly foods, the timing of when you take probiotic supplements is crucial in maximizing their efficacy and positive benefits.

If you’re trying a traditional, non spore-based probiotic (like a Lacto/Bifido brand) you’ll want to take it as far away from a meal as possible. Just like with probiotic foods, traditional probiotics have a hard time surviving past your stomach acid.

Comparatively, high-quality spore-based probiotic supplements give optimal results with your biggest meal. This is because spore probiotics use your food as fuel to strengthen their gut-nourishing efforts.

If you follow a more American dietary structure, that means you’ll probably be taking a probiotic capsule with dinner. But if you eat your biggest meal at midday, like people in many Mediterranean or Caribbean countries do, then you should take your probiotics at lunchtime.

Tips For Taking Probiotic Supplements

Here are some other things to keep in mind when taking probiotics.

Start Slowly

When you first start taking a probiotic supplement, start off slowly. Your body needs time to acclimate. For the first week, take 1/2 or 1 full capsule every other day only. Slowly increase your dosage until you’re taking 1 full capsule, every day, with your biggest meal.

Give It Time to Work

Keep in mind that probiotics, like any other supplement, won’t necessarily work overnight. They take consistency. A quality supplement may start showing results in just 2 to 3 doses. You’ll usually notice this with higher energy, better sleep, and an easing of digestive symptoms. But it can take up to 90 days to see the full results.

Be Aware of Life Stages

During certain times in your life, it’s even more important than ever that you consistently take your probiotic supplement.

  • Your immune health is closely tied to your gut health. Cold and flu season is especially tough on your immune system, so make sure you give it maximum support with your probiotic supplement.
  • Antibiotics can have a devastating effect on your gut microbiome, virtually wiping out all bacteria, both beneficial and pathogenic. While traditional probiotic supplements are ineffective in the presence of antibiotics, certain strains of spore-based probiotics have been clinically proven to survive and thrive. To promote the growth of new colonies of “good” bacteria, be vigilant about taking spore probiotics when you’re taking antibiotics.
  • For women, pregnancy and nursing can put a strain on your body’s resources. Probiotics supplements can help you maintain your overall well-being while you’re busy growing and nurturing your baby.

Woman holding pills bottle and searching probiotic information online on smartphone in living room

Finding the Right Probiotic Supplement

Are you ready to get your digestive system, immune health, and overall well-being back on track with probiotics?

Then it’s crucial that you pick the right probiotic supplement, and here’s why.

Probiotic supplements are formulated to deliver high quantities of beneficial bacteria (in the trillions!) to your gut while working with your body’s normal functions, including the gastric acids in the digestive system.

In that sense, probiotic supplements can be a life jacket for your beneficial bacteria.

It is important to note that the number of CFUs (colony-forming units) in a probiotic isn’t that important. This is a point of confusion for many people, due to misinformation and misconceptions (i.e. more is better).

Survivability, on the other hand, is critical, and if your probiotics are not taken at the right time and not formulated for survivability, it doesn’t matter how many probiotics are in your supplement.

Like any nutritional supplement, probiotics from different sources can vary greatly in effectiveness. Survivability studies with some of the leading probiotics (as high as 250 billion CFUs) indicate that 99% of the strains cannot survive digestion.[4] This shocking finding suggests that most people are paying for products with less than 1% survivability. When it comes to optimizing your levels of beneficial bacteria, it’s crucial to choose the highest quality option: spore-based probiotics.

Spore-based probiotics are created using microorganisms commonly found in soil and vegetation. This specific type of beneficial bacteria has a much higher survivability rate in harsh environments, such as the gastric acids in your stomach, than the probiotics formed in food or sub-par probiotics.

In contrast to other strains of beneficial bacteria, spore-based probiotics thrive during the digestive process[5], naturally guarding themselves from your stomach acids, and using the food you eat as fuel (i.e. prebiotics) to better colonize your gut microbiome.

How to Choose a Probiotic Supplement

With so many options on the shelves, choosing the right probiotic supplement can seem overwhelming. Here are the top three things you should consider when shopping for the best solution for your gut microbiome.

Confirm Clinical Survivability Tests

Carefully read labels and websites to make sure any probiotic supplements you purchase have passed clinical tests. This ensures that the beneficial bacteria will survive its trek through gastric acids and into your gut microbiome.

If the manufacturer can’t prove clinical results, choose a different product.

Verify DNA

Supplement companies aren’t required to list their ingredients on the label. This can lead to poor quality, useless fillers… or worse.

Always choose products that are “DNA Verified.” This guarantees that your supplements contain the strains and potency listed on the label.

Only Buy Spore-Based Probiotics

Probiotics only work at maximum effectiveness if they make it to your gut alive! And that means choosing spore-based probiotics.

Spore-based probiotic strains are naturally tougher and have a higher survival rate in harsher environments.

Look for spore-based bacterial strains such as:

  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Bacillus indicus
  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Bacillus clausii

Stay Healthy With Just Thrive Probiotic

Because of their incredibly beneficial results to your overall health and vitality, taking probiotics should be part of your daily routine.

And spore-based probiotic supplements are the best way to do that!

Vastly more effective than probiotic foods and containing superior bacterial strains, spore probiotic supplements support optimal wellness.

Just Thrive Probiotic is clinically proven to make it all the way to your gut 100% alive, with four powerful spore bacterial strains that have been in use for years and are scientifically verified:

  • Bacillus subtilis HU58
  • Bacillus indicus HU36
  • Bacillus coagulans
  • Bacillus clausii

Together, this team of super-powered spore-based strains promote your gut health, support a healthy immune response, and help you feel your best physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Not only that, Just Thrive Probiotic is:

  • Backed by clinical research, both the formula and each strain, so you know just what these specific probiotics can do
  • DNA tested, so you can trust that what you see on the label is what you get in the bottle
  • Proven to survive from mouth to gut 100% of the time

>> Feel the spore-based difference with Just Thrive Probiotic.

Plus, with options for a 90-day supply as well as an optional subscription service (that saves you time and money!), you can make sure that you always have probiotics on hand, for your health and well-being.

Still not sure? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

EVERY Just Thrive purchase is covered by our Bottom of the Bottle, 100% money-back guarantee.

That means you can try Just Thrive Probiotic to see how well it works for you… and we’re betting that you’ll see a positive difference.

But if for any reason you’re not satisfied, simply ask for a full product refund at any time. Even if it’s 3 months or 3 years later… Even if the bottle is empty!

>> Tap HERE to test drive Just Thrive Probiotic, 100% RISK-FREE, and save 30% on your first month's subscription with code SUB30.

P.S. - If you prefer not to swallow a capsule, you can opt for Just Thrive Probiotic Gummies. They have all the same effectiveness and benefits, but in an easy-to-chew, great-tasting gummy.

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  1. Miclotte L, Van de Wiele T. Food processing, gut microbiota and the globesity problem. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;60(11):1769-1782. doi:10.1080/10408398.2019.1596878
  2. Understanding the health benefits of taking probiotics. Harvard Health Publishing. Published August 8, 2022. Accessed August 18, 2023.
  3. Tompkins TA, Mainville I, Arcand Y. The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract. Benef Microbes. 2011;2(4):295-303. doi:10.3920/BM2011.0022
  4. Richards L. Quality control of probiotics is lacking, study suggests. NutraIngredients. Published November 20, 2015. Accessed August 18, 2023.
  5. McFarlin BK, Henning AL, Bowman EM, Gary MA, Carbajal KM. Oral spore-based probiotic supplementation was associated with reduced incidence of post-prandial dietary endotoxin, triglycerides, and disease risk biomarkers. World J Gastrointest Pathophysiol. 2017;8(3):117-126. doi:10.4291/wjgp.v8.i3.117