What really works for weight loss?
This has been a veritable ‘holy grail’ with various slimming elixirs, from starch blockers to stimulants, fat blockers such as the failed Alli drug, with horrendous side-effects, and hyped up raspberry ketones. Yet, there has been one consistent and healthy pill or powder that reliably delivers results and that is glucomannan fibre.
Derived from the konjac plant, this Japanese food is the best known super-soluble fibre, absorbing 100 times its own weight of water, making you feel full and slowing down the release of sugars from food, effectively lowering the GL. All this is achieved by having 1 to 3 grams, in other words one to three capsules or a flat teaspoon of this tasteless powder with a decent glass of water before a meal.
The effect is instantaneous. It makes you feel fuller, makes you more regular, but does it lead to weight loss? The weight of the evidence to date says yes. So much so, that the notoriously thorough and hard to please European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) have given glucomannan an allowed weight loss claim.
To test its effects researchers headed by Dr Gilbert Kaatz from San Antonia Texas, gave 73 overweight men and women either 1 gram of glucomannan, taken three times a day before meals, or an identical placebo pill for 60 days. This was an ‘open’ study, meaning they were left to get on with it. Of course, not all complied, but the comparison of those that did comply to either taking the placebo or the glucomannan, showed a clear effect for glucomannan.
Those on placebo gained an average of 2.2lbs. Those on glucomannan lost an average of 2.8lbs. So those on glucomannan lost 5lbs more over 60 days. Further analysis found that most of this weight loss, almost 4lbs (3.9lbs) was actually fat loss.
Their body fat also dropped by an equivalent of 1.4%. Cholesterol, and specifically the more harmful LDL cholesterol, reduced by 3mg/dl in those taking glucomannan. This study was recently published online in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
It confirms two other studies, one in Japan and one in the US, which reported an extra 1lb weight loss per week when people took 3 grams a day.
I first reported that glucomannan improved weight loss back in the 1980s when I ran a similar, but smaller study, involving ten people given 3 grams a day for 90 days. One dropped out. Of the remaining nine the average weight loss was 6.5lbs.
So that’s four studies, each showing that glucomannan really does assist weight loss and works in a way that is totally healthy, with no side-effects other than lowering cholesterol. To my mind it’s a no brainer for people with weight to lose as part of a sensible low GL, reduced calorie diet.
Glucomannan is available in the UK as Carboslow from HOLFORDirect.com.