What is the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics? A Review

  • By Performance Lab
  • 13 minute read
What is the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics? A Review

Gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan-friendly—today, clean and green are hot when it comes to our food and supplement products.

However, what’s also getting an increasing amount of attention are foods and supplements that are “probiotic-enhanced,” meaning that they come with billions of living bacteria for your gut.

Sounds grody, but it’s actually pretty great: probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, are essential to the efficiency and comfort of the digestive system.

After all, we have more bacteria in our gut than we have human cells. On a sheer number basis, it’s not inaccurate to say that we’re actually more bacterial than human.

With that in mind, are taking “probiotic supplements” really the best approach to improving the beneficial bacteria already present in our gut? Or is there a better way to improve our gut health?

In fact, there is, and it goes by the name of prebiotics.

But what exactly are the differences between prebiotics and probiotics? Do you have to choose between taking one or the other, or is it okay to take both simultaneously? How do you know when you should take prebiotics or probiotics?

In this article, we cover all these answers and more, including an analysis of the best prebiotic supplement you can take to nourish your already present gut probiotics: Performance Lab® Prebiotic.

Let’s get into it.

The Beginner’s Guide on Prebiotics vs Probiotics

Considered the “forgotten organ,” the gut microbiota is a crucial factor in human health and disease. If the human host takes care of his/her bacterial guests in the gut with a healthy diet and prebiotic-rich foods, the bacteria will surely return the favor.

Unfortunately, much of the modern, ultra-processed diet isn’t exactly all that friendly to our intestinal microbes. Without sufficient prebiotic content in our diet, the beneficial bacteria in our gut dwindle and die, leaving more room for unhealthy bacteria to invade and encourage the spread of disease and many metabolic risk factors.

This is why taking a prebiotic supplement, such as Performance Lab® Prebiotic, is such a gut-health gamechanger. Consider it as a gift to your bacterial guests.

Here’s a glance at the formula:

Best Prebiotic Supplement for Probiotic Support: Performance Lab® Prebiotic


Prebiotics boost probiotic levels and activities, and this is undoubtedly the case with Performance Lab® Prebiotic, a premier prebiotic formula powered by probiotic-boosting Orafti® Synergy1 Inulin-FOS fiber naturally sourced from chicory root.

Performance Lab® Prebiotic works by:

  • Boosting Bifidobacterium probiotics in the gut, the preferred probiotic strain for improving overall gut health and comfort.
  • Enhancing digestive comfort and nutrient absorption for improved nutrient status across the board.
  • Nourishing existing gut microbiome, as opposed to introducing billions of live cultures of 10+ probiotic strains, which often come dead on arrival.
  • Encouraging digestive regularity and appetite control for an overall boost on your digestive system and relationship to your diet.

Delivering bifidogenic inulin-FOS, a soluble prebiotic fiber that supports both prebiotic status and digestive regularity, Performance Lab® Prebiotic offers an excellent formula for getting your “movements” back on track and your relationship to food in a much healthier place.

The downstream effects of a healthy gut, from the gut-brain axis to cardiometabolic health, are immense, making it worthwhile to secure your gut health whether you’re experiencing discomfort or not. And by avoiding synthetics and unnatural additives, Performance Lab® Prebiotic is a clean, safe prebiotic option for daily, long-term use for users of all dietary lifestyles.

Supplement Facts: Inulin-FOS (as Orafti® Synergy1) (FructoOligoSaccharides from Chicory Root), NutriCaps® Pullulan Capsule, NuFlow® Rice Concentrate

Get the Best Deal on Performance Lab® Prebiotic Here

For a more in-depth breakdown of Performance Lab® Prebiotic’s formula, jump down below to the “Best Prebiotic Supplement for Probiotic Support” section below. Otherwise continue reading to understand better the differences between prebiotics and probiotics, as well as how to take either of them to encourage the nourishment and growth of your good bacteria without risking any side effects or other digestive issues.

What is the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Though distinguished by one letter (“pre” and “pro”), prebiotics and probiotics are vastly different in their structure and function. In the basic terms, prebiotics are “food,” whereas probiotics contain “live bacteria.”

Here is a more clear-cut description of the differences between prebiotics and probiotics:

  • Probiotics – though a blanket term used to refer to all beneficial bacteria in the gut, “probiotics” contain various living strains of bacteria that comprise a healthy intestinal microbiome.
  • Prebiotics – these are essentially “bacteria food”; prebiotics are special fibers that mainly feed the good bacteria in your gut, nourishing your probiotics to stimulate their growth, development, and activity.

Taken either dietarily or as supplements, probiotics provide living cultures of bacteria, whereas prebiotics encompass the fibrous parts of foods that your body can’t digest without the aid of beneficial bacteria—or “probiotics.”

By nourishing the beneficial bacteria already present in your gut, many view prebiotics as more generally useful than probiotic supplements, which introduce new live cultures to your body.

This isn’t to underplay the importance of probiotics. However, what makes prebiotics uniquely advantageous is their relation to probiotics: prebiotics are essential primarily for their nourishing contribution to probiotics.

But considering that probiotic supplements only work insomuch that they’re alive, and that probiotics tend to denature reasonably quickly, whether due to shelf-life expiration or deactivation in the digestive system, their fragility can make them less reliable than prebiotic fibers.

Can You Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together Without Risking Your Health?

Yes, you can take prebiotics and probiotics together. More importantly, you perhaps should take prebiotics and probiotics together to build beneficial gut bacteria fast and reliably.

Though prebiotics hold a significant advantage over probiotic supplements, due to their greater shelf-lifespan and ability to survive the digestive system before reaching the beneficial bacteria in your colon, adding new probiotics to your prebiotic-enhanced diet may further improve your overall gut health and performance.

Read more about when to take prebiotics in our article.

The Benefits of Prebiotics + Probiotics (or Synbiotics)

When a food source contains both prebiotics and probiotics, it’s referred to as a “synbiotic.” Synbiotics involve a degree of symbiosis between prebiotics and probiotics in that they encourage the health of probiotics, which in turn make better digestive use of prebiotic fibers—as well as various other nutrients that the gut has a difficult time digesting otherwise.

With that in mind, taking a synbiotic approach to improving your probiotic status with prebiotics may significantly enhance:

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  • Digestive Comfort and Performance
  • Immunity and Pathogen Resistance
  • Nutrient Absorption and Status
  • Fat Loss and Weight Control
  • Cardiometabolic Health

And more. From the gut-brain axis to immunity, the various overlapping health systems with the gut microbiota are immense, covering virtually all aspects of health and fitness.

Insomuch that they elevate your gut health, taking prebiotics + probiotics may, directly and indirectly, improve your overall health, including both daily vitality and long-term longevity. Don’t let your gut health decline when you can easily maintain it with a daily dose of prebiotic supplementation.

When to Take Prebiotics and Probiotics for Optimal Gut Health

Daily and consistently—that’s the most straightforward answer to the question of “when to take prebiotics and probiotics.” By daily supporting your gut microbiome, prebiotic and probiotic supplements help to selectively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria over harmful bacteria and pathogens. This, in turn, encourages all the digestive and health benefits mentioned above.

However, for the more complicated question of “when do you know that you should take prebiotics and probiotics”—in other words, what are the symptoms of poor probiotic status?—the answer to this may vary.

In general, symptoms of poor probiotic status include:

  • Frequent abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Ongoing signs of bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea or “the runs”
  • Excess Gas
  • Poor mental performance and energy
  • Increased simple carb (sugar) cravings

Likewise, poor nutrient status and all the accompanying side effects of malnutrition may accompany poor gut microbiome, considering the importance of beneficial gut bacteria to optimal nutrient digestion and absorption.

So, to answer the question again: take prebiotics and probiotics daily.

Even if you’re not experiencing any of the listed side effects, prebiotic supplementation may help sustain a healthy gut for the long run.

Top Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods

Improving your daily and long-term gut health with prebiotic and probiotic supplements is a smart move, especially if you feel your intestinal microflora have gone significantly off-track. However, to keep your gut health from going off-track altogether, it’s helpful to include the following prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods in your diet:

Top Prebiotic Food Sources

  • Chicory Root
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Apple Skin
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Bananas
  • Legumes
  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Oats
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks

Top Probiotic Food Sources

  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso Soup
  • Pickled Vegetables

Do Prebiotics Have Side Effects?

For the most part, side effects with prebiotics, especially prebiotic supplements, are rare. You’re more likely to experience issues with a lack of prebiotics in your diet than too much.

Having said that, consuming large doses of prebiotics may come with a similar range of side effects associated with “overeating fiber,” namely in the forms of abdominal bloating, discomfort, mild stomach cramps, and feelings of “being blocked”—i.e., constipation.

If you begin experiencing intestinal discomfort with your prebiotic use, you should see improvements by merely reducing the dose of prebiotics you’re consuming.

The Weight Loss Benefits of Prebiotic Supplements and Food

Focusing on the potential “side effects” prebiotics threatens to miss out on celebrating the immense benefits of prebiotics. One of the critical health advantages of taking prebiotics is how prebiotic supplements can help you better manage your weight and nutrient levels.

Most diet plans focus on calorie intake, calorie expenditure, macronutrients, micronutrients, and so on—and while, yes, these are fundamentally important to any weight management strategy, what’s often overlooked is the importance of your gut microbiome to achieving a more desirable body composition.

Relating to the “global pandemic complex” of obesity, a group of researchers reviewed both human and animal studies on the effects of modifications of gut microbiota composition on variations in body weight and body mass index. Their review discussed their findings from “animal studies and human clinical trials suggesting potential beneficial effects of prebiotic and various probiotic strains on those physical, biochemical, and metabolic parameters related to obesity.”

Improving your gut microbiota may significantly enhance your relationship with your diet and, consequently, your overall fitness and body composition.

Best Probiotics and Prebiotics Supplements to Increase Beneficial Gut Bacteria

Taken alone or with probiotics, prebiotic supplements may significantly improve your gut microbiome. However, the type of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) you should seek to grow, as well as the types of prebiotic supplements you should take to improve these particular bacterial strains, include:

Bifidobacterium + Lactobacillus

Not all bacteria are the same—there are “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria, especially where intestinal microflora are concerned. Likewise, not all “good” bacteria (probiotics) are the same. In fact, between the two most common strains—Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus—one is typically preferred over the other.

These two probiotics differ in the following ways:

  • Bifidobacterium – a highly competitive probiotic strain that helps limit the growth of “bad” bacteria in the gut, reduces gut pH to a healthy threshold and assists with nutrient absorption.
  • Lactobacillus – a common probiotic found in the diet, especially dairy products such as yogurt, Lactobacillus helps metabolize certain sugars to produce lactic acid.

Because of Bifidobacterium’s competitive nature, bifidogenic (Bifidobacterium-promoting prebiotics) are typically preferred for prebiotic supplementation. Selectively promoting healthy Bifidobacterium levels contributes to an overall healthier gut microbiome, as this probiotic metabolically outcompetes harmful bacterial strains more effectively than other probiotics.

Inulin-FOS (FructoOligoSaccharides)

Associated with chicory root, a very good prebiotic fiber source, inulin-FOS supplies two soluble fibers with prebiotic properties. The combination of inulin’s “long-chain” structure with FOS’ “short-chain” molecular structure gives inulin-FOS a two-for-one gut health advantage over many other prebiotic sources.

Inulin-FOS supports your gut health in two categories:

  • Probiotic Support – digestive performance, pathogen resistance, immune function, and nutritional status
  • Soluble Fiber Support – digestive regularity, weight control, heart health

In a study on the health effects and sources of prebiotic dietary fibers, including inulin-FOS, a list of the health benefits of prebiotic dietary fibers included verbatim:

  1. Increases in Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli
  2. Production of beneficial metabolites
  3. Increases in calcium absorption
  4. Decreases in protein formation
  5. Decreases in pathogenic bacteria populations
  6. Decreases in allergy risk
  7. Effects on gut barrier permeability
  8. Improved immune system defense

Inulin-FOS’ bifidogenic qualities make it particularly useful at encouraging a healthy gut microbiome composition, one that promotes the predominance of Bifidobacteria over unhealthy gut microbes.

Best Inulin-FOS Supplement: Orafti® Synergy1

Combining chicory root-sourced inulin and FOS as a single, premium, patented ingredient, Orafti® Synergy1 is the best inulin-FOS supplement for gut health. Backed by clinical research, Synergy1 has been clinically demonstrated to be not only safe and effective, even for younger users. Still, it may also assist with your bacterial gut health under conditions of gluten-free eating.

Pullulan (Fermented Tapioca)

While the main ingredients of a formula are essential (of course), it’s also important not to overlook the quality and quantity of the “Other Ingredients.” Where many supplements, prebiotic and otherwise, screw up is in their choice of additives.

Cheap, synthetic, hard-to-absorb additives may counterproductively harm your gut health, working against the prebiotic aims of their formulas. NutriCaps®, on the other hand, supply all-natural, premium, patented capsules constructed out of fermented tapioca (pullulan). This prebiotic-infused dietary source only assists with the aim of Performance Lab® Prebiotic’s microbiota-supporting efforts.

To learn more about how NutriCaps® fits in the greater scheme of Prebiotic’s overall gut-healthy design, let’s take a more in-depth look at the formula:

Best Prebiotic Supplement for Probiotic Support: Performance Lab® Prebiotic


Supplying 2-in-1 probiotic + soluble fiber support for an all-around healthier metabolic and microbiome composition, Performance Lab® Prebiotic is a one-size-fits-all prebiotic fiber formula that can help improve the digestive performance of people of all dietary lifestyles.

Whereas probiotic supplements overload the gut with 20+ billion mixed cultures, many of which may not align with the user’s gut biota, Performance Lab® Prebiotic nourishes your already present probiotic colonies, reorienting them to a healthier biotic composition.

Performance Lab® Prebiotic Formula Analysis

  • Orafti® Synergy1 (Inulin-FOS), 2 g
  • NutriCaps® Pullulan Capsule
  • NuFlow® Rice Concentrate

The primary active ingredient in Performance Lab® Prebiotic’s formula is Orafti® Synergy1 Inulin-FOS, the best inulin-FOS fiber ingredient for probiotic support.

Compared to live-cultured probiotic supplements, which may come dead on arrival by the time you consume them, this inulin-FOS is more resilient, bypassing undigested through the GI tract to arrive intact in the colon, where it selectively feeds Bifidobacterium probiotic strains.

Why does Performance Lab® Prebiotic selectively nourish Bifidobacterium with inulin-FOS? Three reasons:

  1. Bifidobacterium seems to adhere to the intestinal lining more readily;
  2. Bifidobacterium is highly competitive, likely due to this bacterial strain’s heightened energy-scavenging potential from a wider variety of nutrients;
  3. Bifidobacterium’s superior metabolic performance may outcompete harmful bacterial strains more effective than other beneficial bacteria.

By nourishing and stimulating the growth of Bifidobacterium rather than introducing new strains to the gut, Performance Lab® Prebiotic takes a more organic approach to support your gut health.

What’s more, the use of NutriCaps®, a prebiotic-infused capsule, and Nu-Flow®, a natural rice concentrate that negates the “need” for synthetic anti-caking additives, allows for Performance Lab® Prebiotic to work without relying on unnecessary synthetics and artificial additives, many of which typically harm gut health—which is, of course, counterproductive to this formula’s aims.

The combination of enhanced prebiotic fibers and clean, additive-free capsules elevates Performance Lab® Prebiotic above standard prebiotic and probiotic supplement options that tend to take the cheap, inferior route, or the super expensive route, to improving your intestinal microflora.

Overall, Prebiotic is the safer, cleaner, and more effective prebiotic fiber option for daily, long-term use.

Get the Best Deal on Performance Lab® Prebiotic Here

Stack with Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi for Optimal Nutritional Performance

NutriGenesis® Multi for Men

Performance Lab® Prebiotic improves nutrient digestion and utilization, and Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi has the nutrients—in fact, 17+ essential vitamins and minerals key to your overall health and performance. Together, Performance Lab® Prebiotic + NutriGenesis® Multi is a complementary stack for enhanced bio-performance, nutrient status, and overall health.

Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® works by supporting:

  • Foundational nutritional status for healthy whole-body biological performance, including physical and cognitive fitness.
  • Micronutrient replenishment to combat the poor nutrient levels of the modern “ultra-processed” diet.
  • Daily vitality and long-range immunity associated with virtually all physiological processes dependent upon micronutrient status.
  • Gender-specific nutrient needs and hormonal support for healthier sex hormone activity, sexual health, and development.

By splitting into two types —“For Men” and “For Women”— Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi tailors its dosages to meet the nutritional needs of everyone. Additionally, by complexing its micronutrients with probiotic-cultivated NutriGenesis® vitamins and minerals delivered in prebiotic-infused NutriCaps® capsules, Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi is also one of the cleanest, greenest, and most effective multivitamins for users of all dietary and athletic lifestyles.

The combination of vitamins, minerals, and natural absorption-enhancing cofactors, such as probiotics, fibers, enzymes, and antioxidants, make Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi for Men and Women the gut-healthiest multivitamin available.

Supplement Facts: Vitamin A+ (as Retinol and Beta-Carotene), Vitamin C+, Vitamin D+, Vitamin E+, Vitamin K+ (K1 & K2), Vitamin B1+, Vitamin B2+, Niacin+, Vitamin B6+, Folate+, Vitamin B12+, Biotin+, Pantothenic Acid+, Calcium+, Iron+, Iodine+, Magnesium+, Zinc+, Selenium+, Copper+, Manganese+, GTF Chromium+, Molybdenum+, Potassium+, Inositol+, Boron+, Vanadium+

Get the Best Deal on Performance Lab® Multi Here

Improve Your Gut Bacteria with Healthy Supplements

Prebiotic-infused NutriCaps® and probiotic-cultivated NutriGenesis®—these two staples of the Performance Lab® line of supplements make all Performance Lab® products the gut-healthiest formulas for overall health and performance. However, the specific promotion of gut microbiota makes Performance Lab® Prebiotic the best prebiotic supplement for the job.

Upgrade your microbiome with a daily serving of Performance Lab® Prebiotic, a fitness-focused source of probiotic-boosting Orafti® Synergy1 Inulin-FOS fiber.

Delivering an all-natural, patented inulin-FOS fiber in all-natural, prebiotic-infused capsules, Performance Lab® Prebiotic is altogether 100% natural, eco-friendly, vegan-friendly, non-GMO, synthetic-free, stim-free, and safe for daily, long-term use by health enthusiasts of all dietary lifestyles.

Get the Best Deal on Performance Lab® Prebiotic Here



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