There has been a lot of discussion recently about the advantages of using an appetite suppressant to lose weight. One product used in a number of appetite suppressants is glucomannan. Some times called konjac, konjac fiber or konjac glucomannan it is now appearing in the market usually in a capsule, tablet or powder form.
And three questions immediately come to mind
- What is glucomannan
- How does it work
- Is it safe to use
The answer to these questions depends to a great extent on the appetite suppressant being considered, the quality of the product and the integrity of the supplier or manufacturer. All of these play a role in determining the final outcome in these situations.
However there is another form that has been described as the Japanese women’s secret weapon, namely Shirataki Noodles. These noodles are predominantly glucomannan and these have been around for centuries longer than today’s appetite suppressants.
Glucomannan – What Is It
It is a water-soluble fiber found in the roots of the konjac plant. About 40 percent by weight of the dry corm is glucomannan. It is a combination of glucose, the basic sugar molecule, and mannose, another type of sugar. And it is said to have the greatest molecular weight and highest viscosity of any known dietary fiber.
This product also has a very high water absorption capacity so when it is exposed to water it can absorb many times its own weight of water. In the process it becomes a highly viscous and voluminous solution which can be passed through the intestinal track.
Glucomannan – How Does It Work
Because of its water absorption and expansion characteristics when taken in tablet or capsule form around one hour prior to eating it gives a more full sensation. This reduces the desire to eat as much.
As well as the fullness feeling it slows down the emptying of the stomach making you feel fuller and less hungry for longer thereby reducing the total quantity eaten during the day.
Double Blind Testing was Positive
In one double blind test carried out over eight weeks some years ago there was a mean weight loss of 5.5 pounds for those participants using glucomannan capsules one hour prior to each meal. Their dosage was 2×500 milligram capsules with 8 ounces of water (a full glass) one hour before eating, 3 times a day. And there were no adverse reactions reported.(International Journal of Obesity 1984;8(4):289-93.)
Other Benefits Too
As well as the potential for appetite suppression there are also beneficial effects further down the intestinal track because glucomannan can reduce the time of transit for your waste and thereby assist with constipation. For some chronically constipated patients there were definite benefits with minimal side effects.
Another two benefits noted are a reduction in the total cholesterol levels for obese patients and a possible improvement of lipid levels for type 2 diabetics.
Glucomannan – Is It Safe
Many products that are readily available are not entirely risk free. And I guess that this is possibly the case for some of these products. While there appears to be little to suggest that it produces any side effects there is a risk because of its high water absorption and expansion characteristics.
Drink Plenty Of Water
The first and most important caveat is to make sure that sufficient water is taken with the each tablet or capsule. This means drinking at least a whole glass (8 oz or 250 ml) of fluid, preferably water, whenever a tablet, capsule or powder form is taken.
And there is also advice from Canadian authorities not to take any glucomannan based product immediately prior to going to bed because of the risk of blockage or choking.
US authorities have been even more rigorous in their approach by taking action against a number of companies and their products because they made exaggerated health claims about these appetite suppressant products.
Shirataki Noodles Are Risk Free
Despite these cautions Shirataki Noodles are not seen as being of any risk. The small noodle size is the main reason.
So Where Does It Stand
So is it really safe. And the answer to that is that used appropriately and with care there is minimal risk. However, as with any weight loss product, err on the side of caution and always follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.
And will I lose weight – well as noted above there does appear to be some evidence that it will assist with weight loss when used appropriately.