Losing weight can be difficult, and long-term success is not something that everybody is able to achieve.
For that reason, people trying to lose weight are always looking for the easiest and most effective way to reach their goal.
Some people try every type of diet they find on the internet, while others go for intense fat-burning workouts.
There are even some people who try hypnosis as their strategy to lose those extra pounds they have accumulated.
But one of the most common methods that people consider when trying to lose weight is taking supplements.
There are many supplement options on the market, with many different presentations, recipes, and ingredients—and most of them haven’t been scientifically proven.
In fact, you should be careful about taking any kind of supplement because their manufacturing processes have not been tested and certified to be safe.
This is especially true when you consider the fact that this industry is not being actively regulated by the FDA.
Just so you know, supplement manufacturers are not required to present any clinical documentation to the FDA in order to be able to market their products.
They are only required to do two things:
1) label their products in a way that is easy for consumers to understand and
2) inform consumers that their products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
But today, we will focus our attention on a supplement that has been proven to help you lose weight, according to several scientific trials in both humans and animals. This supplement is glucomannan.
In this article, we will talk about the effects of glucomannan on your body and the mechanisms involved that make you lose weight when taking it as a dietary supplement.
But before we go any further, let’s talk about the basics!
What Is Glucomannan?
Glucomannan is a natural dietary fiber that is 100% water soluble and is extracted from the roots of the elephant foot yam, also known as konjac.
This fiber is not only taken as a dietary supplement, but it is also added to foods like pasta and flour. It is commonly used in the food industry as an emulsifier and thickener.
As we said in our article about soluble fiber and how it helps you to reduce your bad cholesterol levels, soluble fiber is able to absorb water in your body.
It forms a viscous mass when consumed, which in simple terms makes you feel full and eat smaller portions as a consequence.
However, glucomannan takes this phenomenon to the next level, as it’s known for being the most viscous dietary fiber. It can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water.
To give you some perspective, if you were to empty a capsule of this fiber into a small glass of water, the entire thing would turn to gel after just a few minutes.
What Are the Mechanisms Behind Glucomannan?
As we said at the beginning of this article, glucomannan is a soluble fiber; this means that it shares the common mechanisms and features of similar soluble fibers:
• It has a very low calorie content.
• It promotes feelings of fullness, making you eat less.
• It increases satiety, since it delays the emptying of the stomach.
• It reduces the absorption of protein and fat.
However, glucomannan has one more important mechanism that contributes to your weight loss goals: it feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut.
Why is that important? Well, as we discussed in the Going on a Diet? Take Care of Your Gut Bacteria and Lose up to 50% More Weight article, it has been demonstrated that the type and diversity of your gut bacteria is highly related to your absorption of nutrients as well as fat storage.
In that article, we clearly explain how having the wrong type of gut bacteria in a high proportion makes you more likely to gain weight—which is where glucomannan helps you.
Because it feeds the good bacteria, glucomannan makes it easier for you to lose and maintain your weight.
Even though other types of soluble fiber also feed your good bacteria, the main advantage of glucomannan is its viscous nature, which makes it particularly effective.
Now, Does Glucomannan Really Work?
The mechanisms behind food and nutrition are really interesting, and knowing how things work can help us understand the potential benefits…
but if you are like me, what you want to know most is whether or not this supplement works. Does it go beyond theory and into real life?
Researchers from the Laboratory of Gastroenterology at the University of Tromsø, Norway, conducted a trial in which fiber supplements (including glucomannan) were given to 176 overweight subjects to determine the effects of soluble fiber on their body weight.
Surprisingly, individuals who took glucomannan alone lost more weight than those taking placebo supplements.
Moreover, it was also demonstrated that the addition of other fibers like guar gum and alginate to glucomannan did not cause any additional weight loss.
This effect on body weight has been confirmed by other studies as well, concluding that glucomannan is able to cause modest weight loss in obese people when consumed regularly before meals.
Now, it is important to note that according to researchers, the weight loss benefits of glucomannan become even more potent when combined with a weight-reducing diet.
Fortunately, that is something you already know and practice! All proven weight loss methods work better in combination, so please do not expect to consume glucomannan as a magic pill to lose weight without making any changes to your lifestyle. You will be disappointed.
In summary, the impressive viscosity of glucomannan, when consumed before meals, leads to modest weight loss effects by increasing feelings of fullness and reducing energy intake as a consequence.
But the benefits of glucomannan don’t end there, either.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut conducted a systematic review of 14 studies and concluded that glucomannan is also able to improve the risk factor for heart disease.
Just take a look at the following facts reported by these scientists:
• Glucomannan is able to lower total cholesterol by 19 mg/dL (0.5 mmol/L).
• Glucomannan is able to lower LDL cholesterol by 16 mg/dL (0.4 mmol/L).
• Glucomannan is able to lower triglycerides by 11 mg/dL (0.12 mmol/L).
• Glucomannan is able to lower fasting blood sugar by 7.4 mg/dL (0.4 mmol/L).
They noted that these benefits of glucomannan are caused by its ability to reduce cholesterol absorption in your gut, reducing the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Let’s dive now into one of the most common questions that comes to mind when planning to take supplements:
How Much Glucomannan Should I Take?
When talking about dietary supplements, it’s hard to say, since there is not enough research aiming to determine the recommended dose for the best results.
However, it is widely accepted that a 1-gram dose of glucomannan 3 times per day is considered sufficient to experience the benefits.
Now, in case you are wondering why the recommended dose of glucomannan is lower than that of similar fiber products, just remember that glucomannan is able to absorb up to 50 times its weight in water.
That means that you need less glucomannan than other fibers to get the benefits.
Please keep in mind that this soluble fiber works by making you feeling full, so it must be consumed 15 minutes to 1 hour before meals.
Glucomannan is generally well tolerated and considered safe. However, it is necessary that you take it with at least 1 – 2 glasses of water to avoid throat and esophagus blockage due to expansion of the fiber before it reaches the stomach.
Finally, we are still missing the answer to a very important question:
Does Glucomannan Have Any Side Effects?
As we said, glucomannan is generally considered safe for human consumption. In some cases, however, some side effects have been reported, such as bloating, flatulence, soft stool, and diarrhea.
Are these side effects common? No, but you must be prepared in case they do show up.
Our best recommendation is to always ask your doctor before you start taking this or any other supplement.
By asking your doctor, you will be sure that this supplement will not interact with any medication you may be taking and will not have any other side effects on your body due to your clinical history or current health conditions.
To finish up this post, I want to remind you that there is no diet, supplement, or weight loss strategy that works in isolation.
If you want to enjoy real results and lifelong benefits, it is still necessary to modify your lifestyle, follow a balanced diet, and exercise regularly.
Well, that’s it for this post! I hope this information will help you to make an informed decision in case you are considering adding glucomannan to your weight loss strategy.
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