Carbohydrate blockers review, do they really
help with weight loss?
With the increasing popularity of ‘low carb’ diets such as Atkins, carbohydrate blockers (or starch blockers) have recently appeared in health food stores.
They are designed to help you lose weight without the need to make any changes to regular diet. But what are these pills, and how do they work?
How do Carbohydrate blockers work?
If you normally struggle to keep your carb intake under control, and find bread, pasta and chips difficult to cut down on, then this type of supplement is going to have a good impact on your weight loss efforts.
Typically the active ingredient used is carb blockers is Phaseolus Vulgaris (Phase 2), which is extracted from white kidney beans. Other ingredients such as chromium and vanadium are often added to give a slight metabolism boost.
Carbohydrate blockers work by inhibiting the enzyme which usually breaks down carbohydrates – alpha amylase. Normally, alpha amylase is responsible for converting the starch into glucose sugars, but by interfering with this enzyme, carb blockers reduce its effectiveness at breaking down carbohydrates into sugar.
Instead, a large majority of the carbohydrates just pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed.
Why you should watch how many carbs you eat
Eating too many carbs can quickly contribute to weight gain, in particular the refined carbohydrates that are found in white flour, white bread, etc.
When we consume these type of foods, the starch they contain is quickly converted into sugars (glucose) which is used for energy. If there is more sugar than needed, it is stored as body fat instead.
Popular supplements available to buy
Carbohydrate blockers can also be prescribed for medical reasons; Acarbose for example, is prescribed to diabetes patients with the aim of reducing their blood sugar glucose levels.
It works in much the same way as the dieting versions, by inhibiting specific enzymes in the small intestines (glycoside hydrolases) and in the pancreas (alpha-amylase).
In theory, by blocking or inhibiting these enzymes, less glucose is absorbed as fewer carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, therefore reducing the patient’s blood sugar levels.
Is there any scientific evidence that they work?
There are some clinical trials that show carbohydrate blockers are effective at helping people lose weight.
A double-blind, placebo controlled trial was done on 50 obese people at UCLA School of Medicine in 2004.
Results found that those who took the pills containing Phaseolus Vulgaris (phase 2) lost on average, more weight in total than those who were taking placebo pills.
However, it was decided that more trials were necessary on a larger sample to conclusively show the effectiveness of phase 2 pills on weight loss.
Another study in 2007 found that “Phaseolus Vulgaris extract produces significant decrements in body weight “as subjects taking phase 2 rather than the placebo pills showed greater reduction of body weight. See – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17299581
Carbohydrate blockers side effects
Since Phaseolus Vulgaris is found naturally in white kidney beans, there are little known side effects of supplements typically containing this as the main ingredient.
However, there are some minor side effects of carb blockers, such as flatulence.
Increased gas build up is caused by the inability to properly digest and absorb the carbohydrates found in most foods. Diarrhoea is another side effect if the body’s carbohydrate intake is not limited.
An important point to note is that carbohydrate blockers only work for as long as you are taking them, as soon as you stop, you are likely to regain any weight you lost.