Glucomannan Supplement for Weight Loss – Benefits & Side Effects
Should you take glucomannan supplement products to help you with weight loss? The latest research has revealed that this natural dietary fiber works very effectively for those who need to lose weight. In the US, that’s good news for the many millions of people who need to shed some excess pounds.
Today, being overweight and obesity is rightly regarded as an alarming epidemic. Among adults in the US, 68.8% are at least overweight and 35.7% are overweight enough to be considered obese. That’s nearly 171.9 million overweight adults in the US alone and 89.2 million obese people who really need help losing weight.
The key principle to weight loss remains the same. You have to exercise so you can burn off more calories. You need to diet so that your calorie intake is less than the number of calories you use up for energy. To compensate for the lack of calories, your body then burns the fat cells in your body for energy instead and this results in weight loss.
However, for many people, a simple workout and diet combination isn’t enough. They need help— and that help can come from glucomannan.
What Is Glucomannan?
In the lands of the tropical East Asia (China, Japan, and Indonesia), there’s a plant called the konjac though it’s also sometimes called elephant yam, voodoo lily, and even snake palm. It’s normally used to make konnyaku, which is a yam cake that’s mostly eaten in Japan. However, it also has a rather extensive history as an ingredient in folk medicines.
In recent years, researchers have extended their scientific inquiry by examining various herbal ingredients that have been in use in folk medicine for centuries. Scientists have extracted fiber from the root of the konjac and this extract is called glucomannan. It’s a dietary fiber that’s water soluble.
They’ve discovered that it can work as a food additive thickener. Today it is added to food products like flour and pasta, and it’s the main ingredient in shirataki noodles. You can find it in drink mixes too.
Soon afterwards, the buzz about it in the weight loss community was that it can also be used as a supplement for those who were dieting to lose weight. Scientists took special note of how glucomannan can absorb water exceptionally well. It’s so water-absorbent that it’s regarded as among the most viscous dietary fibers in the world today.
If you empty the glucomannan powder from a capsule into a cup of water, it won’t really dissolve. Instead, the content of the cup turns into a gel. It is this reaction that tipped off the scientists that glucomannan may have weight loss benefits.
Why Use Glucomannan Supplement for Weight Loss?
The short answer to this question is that it works. This has already been indicated in a study that involved 176 overweight patients divided into 2 groups. One group took glucomannan as a supplement, either alone or with other fiber supplements. The other group took a placebo. Everyone in the study then kept to a low-calorie diet.
After 5 weeks, every patient in the study lost weight, but there were marked differences between the 2 groups. The patients who took the placebo lost about 4 to 6 pounds at the end.
However, the glucomannan weight loss results were more impressive. The people who took the glucomannan supplements lost 8 to 10 pounds. It was also telling that the people who took only glucomannan had the largest weight loss compared to the others who combined the glucomannan with other fiber supplements.
So how does it work? Here are some of the glucomannan benefits you should know about:
1. It Provides You With a Low-calorie Fiber Source
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, you need 14 grams of fiber in your diet for every 1,000 calories you consume. If you’re a man on a weight loss diet of 2,000 calories a day, that means you need 28 grams of fiber each day. The glucomannan supplement can make sure you get your daily needs met, and it has the added benefit of being a low-calorie source.
2. It Suppresses Your Appetite
Glucomannan is so water-absorbent that it absorbs up to 50 times its weight in water. So when it enters your digestive system, it soaks up much of the surrounding fluids and it turns into a gel. This gel goes through very slowly through your body, so you feel full for a longer period of time.
This means you don’t get the urge to eat extra snacks, which can only help your weight loss efforts. During your next meal, you may also not eat as much as well.
3. It Absorbs Extra Calories
The glucomannan prevents these calories from fully digesting and it reduces the absorption of protein and fat. What this means is that your body runs out of food calories to burn more quickly. So it compensates by getting the energy it needs by burning the fat cells in your body.
4. It Also Lowers Your Cholesterol levels
Even when you take just 4 grams a day of glucomannan supplements, that’s enough of an amount to improve your cholesterol levels. It works by also absorbing cholesterol molecules from the intestine and stomach. This reduces your body’s absorption of cholesterol because it doesn’t even get into your bloodstream.
This has been confirmed by a 12-week study involving people who added glucomannan into their diet. They lowered their total cholesterol level by 10% with reductions in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 7.2% and in triglycerides (fat in the blood) by 23%. These results show that it’s a highly effective supplement against heart disease.
5. It Improves The Health of Your Colon and Digestive System
Glucomannan does this in 3 ways. It helps the growth of lactic acid bacteria, which helps with digestion. It also helps how your intestines break down foods that tend to be resistant to digestion.
This enables the digestive system to work more efficiently without too much difficulty, so it’s less stress for the colon. It also helps with chronic constipation. Having a healthier digestive system is a good thing all in itself, but it also linked to a lower risk of obesity.
6. It Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
When you take in a meal, your blood glucose spikes up right afterwards. This forces your body to work extra hard to bring back the blood sugar levels at a more optimal range. It isn’t quick and easy to bring back that balance between insulin and glucose, and sometimes it can take hours.
But numerous studies have revealed that glucomannan works especially well in lowering the blood sugar spikes after eating. This is the result of how the fiber basically slows down the whole digestive system. The blood sugar spikes are reduced because the nutrients from the food enter your blood stream at a slower pace.
So your body doesn’t have to work overtime to restore the insulin to glucose balance. This particular benefit even helps with weight loss because your body can now use more of the nutrients for cellular purposes, and not for storing excess blood sugar as fat.
Glucomannan Side Effects
To make glucomannan work as a weight loss supplement, you have to take it properly. That means you need to take eat before a meal, from 1 hour to 15 minutes prior to eating. One of its main functions is to make you feel full so that you don’t really need to stuff yourself when you take in a meal.
You must be aware, however, that glucomannan may cause some side effects. These side effects aren’t really very common at all, and they’re also not so serious. However, you should know what risks are involved.
You have to understand that glucomannan can really expand and absorb lots of fluids, so that means you must make sure that you get it to reach your stomach. There it will have all the space it needs to expand.
However, you can get problems if it doesn’t reach the stomach when it expands. It can cause you to choke, and block the throat. It can also block the esophagus, which is the tube-like part that transfers the food in your mouth into your stomach.
This is why you’re strongly advised to drink water when you take your glucomannan capsule. This can make sure that it clears your throat and esophagus. To be on the safe side, you should wash the supplement down with a glass or two of water.
The side effects of glucomannan can include various GI issues, such as soft stools, flatulence, and bloating. These are quite uncommon nonetheless, even though you’d probably expect some issues because it expands in your stomach. Also, even when you do have these side effects they’re generally mild.
Another potential problem is if you’re also taking oral diabetes drugs such as sulfonylurea. To avoid any complications, you should take your diabetes drug at least 1 hour before you take glucomannan, or at least 4 hours afterwards. However, if you do have diabetes you need to monitor your blood sugar very closely, and it’s a good idea to discuss the matter with your doctor.
The glucomannan effect on blood sugar may also cause surgical complications. So if you’re scheduled for a surgery, you should avoid taking glucomannan for at least 2 weeks prior to the operation.
Diabetics and surgical patients aren’t the only people who should take care about glucomannan. If you’re pregnant, it’s also a safe idea to just avoid it altogether. There’s simply no enough data to conclusively prove that it’s absolutely safe for you and for the baby if you take it. So if you’re pregnant or even breastfeeding, your best safe option is to steer clear of it.
Dispelling The Myth of Folk Medicine Ineffectiveness
Some people dislike taking natural extracts as a matter of course. They believe that the use of such medicines is simply a type of superstition. The historical record, however, shows a different story. Science has proven that numerous popular folk medicines actually have a scientific reason why they work.
Perhaps the most famous example of turning traditional medicine into mainstream medication is the anti-inflammatory drug aspirin. Aspirin was actually synthesized from salicin, which is natural product isolated from the bark of the willow tree. This explains the centuries-old practice of drinking willow bark tea when people didn’t feel well.
There’s documentation that the Ancient Greeks and the Sumerians used poppy extracts as medicine, though the Arabs of that time warned of its addictive qualities. The scientific examination of the opium poppy resulted in the discovery of morphine. Later, this would be turned into heroin and also into the painkiller codeine.
Even in recent years, the scientific investigation into folk medicine has resulted in modern mainstream medicines. In 2004, the US FDA approved quinine as a drug to fight malaria. This drug was actually derived from the bark of the cinchona plant, and this bark has also been used for hundreds of years to treat malaria in South America. The British also recognized its antimalarial properties, which resulted in the British worldwide cultivation of the cinchona back in the 1800s.
Should You Take Glucomannan Supplement?
If you’re trying to lose weight, then you should. The impressive value of this supplement far outweighs the minor risks. As long as you’re not diabetic, pregnant, or scheduled for surgery, you should be safe.
The only real issue is that you need to take it properly. This means you should take it with lots of water, and you’re encouraged to start slowly. Perhaps you can begin with just 2 grams of glucomannan so you can see how your body reacts. Your body can then get used to it so you can work up to 3 or 4 grams a day.
You can take your glucomannan supplement powder in various ways, including mixing it with smoothies and shakes. However, your best bet is to just follow the directions that come with your glucomannan purchase. This helps ensure that it will work properly. Nowadays when so many people are overweight and many find it difficult to stick to a low-calorie diet, we need all the help we can get!