Carbohydrate Blockers, also known as Carb-Blockers or Starch-Blockers, are diet pills designed to aid weight loss by preventing the body from digesting a percentage of carbohydrates.
It’s been known for years that eating too many carbohydrates – the part of food the body most readily utilises for energy – often leads to weight gain.
Simple carbs, the ones most often found in high-starch foods such as white bread, sugar and processed foods, cause particular problems.
The starchy part of such foods is directly converted into sugar by the body, and any of that sugar that is not swiftly used as energy is stored as fat. Cutting carbohydrates – or switching to complex carbohydrates such as brown bread and brown rice – is a major tactic when it comes to losing weight.
How do these Carb blockers work?
This type of diet pill typically works by preventing the enzyme alpha-amylase from binding with starches. Alpha-amylase is produced in saliva, and breaks down carbs so that the body will absorb them. If this process does not happen, then the carbs pass right through the body without being turned into sugar.
Most carbohydrate blockers are composed from an extract of white kidney beans known as Phaseolamin. This is often supplemented with other ingredients, including the mineral chromium and the spice fenugreek. Generally it is advised to take two 350mg capsules with water before eating a high-carb meal. They are not suitable for under-18s and for those either pregnant or nursing.
Potential side effects of Carbohydrate blockers
The most commonly-experienced (and slightly embarassing) side effect reported by people using this type of supplement is excess wind.
Gas is generated due to the body’s inability to break down the carbohydrates. The result of this is excessive flatulence, which can also be coupled with some bloating and mild abdominal discomfort.
Other less common reported side effects of carbohydrate blockers include heartburn and the reduction in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, such as omega fatty acids, although this does not normally pose a problem if a multivitamin is taken alongside their use.
Are Carbohydrate blockers really effective?
There seems little in the way of independent clinical trials that have been undertaken to show the success of these products. Most trials have been undertaken by the companies manufacturing the carbohydrate blockers themselves.
However, one study, undertaken in 2007 by Leonardo Cellano MD, Alessandra D’Amore MD and Maria Toliani of the Cosmetic Research Centre in Rome, did produce some encouraging results.
In a study of 60 human subjects, half of the participants took Phaseolamin and the other a placebo, the group taking Phaseolamin lost an average of 6.45 lb in 30 days, compared to the placebo group who lost less than one pound on average.
We all know eating too much pasta, bread, chips and other high carbohydrate foods is one way to quickly add those pounds, but as so many foods contain white flour and starch, it can be hard to cut down and lose weight.
Products such as Meratol and Bio-Carb offer a real alternative to the low-carb diet, and have lots of good user feedback on forums and weight loss communities. For many of us, they can be a god send, helping to keep our diet efforts in truly positive territory.