When is the Best Time to Take Probiotics? Plus Scientifically Proven Benefits

Last updated on January 25th, 2024 at 10:57 am

While many individuals support their daily diets with good bacteria, there’s still much debate on the best time to take probiotics for optimal efficacy. Some recommend ingesting them first thing in the morning, while others suggest swallowing them right before bed. 

However, determining the ideal time to take your probiotic supplements involves factors like:

  • When you eat your meals
  • Your stomach acid levels
  • The composition of your meals
  • The quality of the supplement

Let’s delve into the science behind these gut-friendly bacteria and what affects the best time to take probiotics for immune system boosting. We’ll also examine their proven benefits to help you decide if you’d like to incorporate them into your daily routine.

When Is the Best Time to Take Probiotics?

<alt tag: take your probiotics on an empty stomach for the best results>

Generally, the best time to take probiotics is when you have an empty stomach. 

Manufacturers screen probiotic strains to ensure they survive transit from the mouth to the colon [1]. Research shows that probiotics taken while gastric acid levels are low have a better chance of surviving than those consumed after a meal [2]. 

Swallowing your supplements before you begin digestion food ensures that more healthy bacteria colonizes your gut to support your immune system.

Your digestive tract is more neutral before eating because your body hasn’t started producing large quantities of stomach acid. This environment makes the passage of the probiotics to your gut easier and prevents the degradation of the live microorganisms.

Aim to take your supplements around 30 minutes before eating rather than during or after a meal.

The Type of Probiotic You Use Affects When You Should Take It

Probiotics are available in several forms, including capsules, powders, and drops. The microbes inside these products must endure stomach acids and enzymes before colonizing your large intestine [1].

Microbes in capsules tend to survive digestion better than those in powder or liquid form, regardless of when you take them. Choosing these probiotics makes choosing when you swallow them less crucial for ensuring efficacy.

In addition, specific bacterial genera, or families, survive stomach acid better than others:      

GenusPrimary EffectsResistant to Stomach Acid?
BifidobacteriaImprove lactose digestion and reduce diarrheaYes
LactobacilliReduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrheaYes
SaccharomycesTreat digestive system disordersNo
StreptococcusProduce lactic acidNo
EnterococcusAlleviate irritable bowel syndromeNo
BacillusImprove digestive health No

Selecting a capsule or tablet containing Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, or one resistant to stomach acid like Ortho Spore IG capsules, can allow you to take your supplement whenever you’d like.

<alt tag: you might not have to take probiotics on an empty stomach if you choose capsules> 

Your Meal May Help Probiotic Bacteria Survive

Popping your supplements before consuming certain foods could maximize their effects.

Research suggests the survival rates of the cultures in probiotics increase when consumed before 1% fat milk or oatmeal. Scientists also found eating small amounts of fat ensures the bacteria stay alive while passing through the gut [2].

The Lactobacillus strains, in particular, rely on glucose in acidic environments, so popping your supplement before indulging in sugar or carbs could improve its efficacy [3].

The Quality of Your Probiotic Supplement Matters

<alt tag: a probiotic regimen ensures optimal gut health>

Timing and having a low stomach acid does matter, but for you to actually experience the health benefits of probiotics, 100 million to 1 billion of these microorganisms must reach your intestine [4].

As these cells can die while on the shelf, ensure you purchase only high-quality products guaranteeing at least 1 billion live cultures, or colony-forming units (CFUs), on their labels [5]. 

These reputable options usually contain potent Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains in a bio shield capsule—a coating that’s more likely to withstand harsh stomach acid and release its contents into your gut.

Also, use your probiotic supplement before its expiration date and follow the instructions on the packaging regarding whether to store it in the fridge or keep it at room temperature.

These approaches help the beneficial bacteria do their job. They also remove the pressure of remembering to swallow your pills at the correct time of day.

Can Taking Probiotic Supplements at the Wrong Time Cause Side Effects?

<alt tag: healthy individuals aren’t likely to experience side effects when they take the right probiotic supplement>

Not really. Life can be chaotic, and schedules frenzied, making it easy to forget to take your probiotics when you usually do. But the good news is that most people tolerate the bacteria well, and timing your doses is more to ensure the bacteria’s survival than prevent adverse reactions. 

When starting a new supplement regimen, many individuals experience temporary bloating and flatulence  [6]. Other than these minor discomforts, the healthy bacteria doesn’t cause side effects.

5 Proven Health Benefits of Taking Probiotic Bacteria

There’s an increasing amount of evidence showing that consistently ingesting a probiotic supplement offers a range of health benefits [7]. Here’s a breakdown of five proven advantages.

1. Optimizes Gut Function

Keeping your gut microbiome balanced ensures the normal functioning of the digestive tract. Disproportionate levels of good and bad bacteria might lead to disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease. 

Probiotics can help restore healthy ratios of beneficial microflora and optimize digestive processes [8]. There’s also evidence that these supplements inhibit pathogenic bacteria from adhering to the gut walls, preventing infection [9].

2. Speeds Up Illness Recovery

Besides lowering the chances of developing diseases, probiotics help your body recover from illnesses.

An investigation on mice showed that supplements containing Lactobacillus offer protection against the pneumonia virus, increasing survival rates [10]. Beneficial bacteria also bolster immune response by improving the efficacy of the system’s cells.

3. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections

It’s estimated around 40–60% of women experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) during their lifetimes. This uncomfortable condition often results in pelvic pain and frequent urination accompanied by a burning feeling.

Regularly consuming probiotics reduces the risk of developing UTIs by up to 50% [11]. The supplements also reduce their frequency and subdue the condition’s unpleasant symptoms should a bladder infection occur. 

Women who develop UTIs often can benefit from using our daily Renal Complex capsules for additional kidney support. They contain 150 mg of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) that protects the urinary system.

4. Supports Skin Health

Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema often affect your emotional health. People dealing with these dermal issues can also develop depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem.

More evidence suggests that taking probiotics helps prevent these disorders, and UV-induced damage [12]. The supplements also boost ceramide levels in the dermis to manage dryness [13].

Boost your skin’s microbiome by incorporating healthy bacteria into your routine. They encourage a glowing complexion that instills confidence and a better self-image.

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5. Reduces Diarrhea

Probiotics can help with diarrhea caused by infections by slowing gut motility to reduce the condition’s severity. These cultures fight harmful bacteria by competing for nutrients and changing the gut environment, making it less favorable for pathogenic activity [14]. 

The supplements also reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by up to 51%. They balance the disturbance of the gut microbiota these medications often cause [15].

Travelers who frequently experience diarrhea after arriving at their destinations may also benefit from a probiotic regimen. These bacteria significantly reduce the occurrence of discomfort [16].

Take Advantage of Beneficial Bacteria

<alt tag: healthy gut bacteria reduce the risk of developing certain medical conditions>

Taking probiotics is one of the best ways to maintain gut health. These supplements offer a wide range of benefits with few side effects and could help with a wide range of medical conditions.

From boosting the immune system to speeding up recovery times after illness, the list of ways these microorganisms can benefit your body continues to grow.

If you’re interested in enhancing your gut bacteria, explore our selection of premium probiotics. We only stock products from reputable brands to ensure your journey to better health is worry-free.

Our service is customer-centered, and our knowledgeable team is happy to provide you with any advice you require to get your probiotic regimen going. You could also visit our other blogs for more in-depth articles on nutrition and your well-being.


[1] https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/60/suppl_2/S85/379032?login=false

[2] https://www.wageningenacademic.com/doi/epdf/10.3920/BM2011.0022?role=tab

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1151822/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3909163/

[5] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20208051/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002586/

[9] https://academic.oup.com/femspd/article/26/2/137/604193

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404433/

[11] https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/15/3523

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24364369/

[13] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352647515000155

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6532699/

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745464/

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232657/


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Medically reviewed by Dr. Jamy Antoine, D.C. — by Chris Bowman — On February 23, 2023


Chris Bowman

Chris Bowman is the CEO and Co-Founder of SimplyNutrients.com and has over 15 years of experience in nutritional sciences and wellness. Simply Nutrients is a part of Dr. Jamy Antoine's Select Health Practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is passionate about helping people live healthier lives by using the best practices of nature, nutrition, and medicine.