Weight loss: Glucomannan benefits
If you are making your list of healthy New Year Resolutions, to lose weight or to start a fat burning diet probably are one of your self-promises. Just right after the excesses of food and drink during the Christmas period, weight loss and a healthy lifestyle seem to be fair goals.
Hunger is the biggest enemy of those diets to lose weight. How can we revert this situation? One of the answers is supported by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and is called glucomannan.
What is glucomannan?
Glucomannan is a dietary vegetable fibre extracted from the Amorphophallus konjac plan which comes from Southeast Asia. Although its use has been diversified in the Western world for a couple of decades only, Eastern cultures have been using Glucomannan for over a thousand years.
Broadly speaking, glucomannan is traditionally used to help in weight loss. The reduction of cholesterol (EFSA, 2010) and triglycerides, the control of blood sugar and help against constipation are other characteristics of this natural fibre.
In Japan, the root of this plant is dried and pulverized to experience a longer feeling of satiety and thus lose fat. They usually mix this powder with half a litre of water and drink it around 30 minutes before eating. A viscous mass forms in the stomach, so that they can eat less amount of food and lose weight, always in combination with a low-calorie diet. If you want to buy glucomannan, it can be found in capsules or pills, among other formats.
How does glucomannan work?
Glucomannan stands out for its amazing ability to absorb water. Just 1g can increase fifty times its own volume. As with fibres, the body does not have the capacity to assimilate them completely, which is why they are eliminated after barely providing any calories. This soluble fibre swells in the stomach, forming a viscous mass that delays the gastric emptying and the sense of hunger, providing a feeling of fullness. Glucomannan, together with a low-calorie diet, help lose up to 25% more weight (EFSA Journal, 2010).
The properties of glucomannan include low-calorie intake, the feeling of fullness, delayed gastric emptying and reduced fat absorption. This said, it seems a good option to help us lose weight, doesn’t it?
As EFSA states, when you eat a healthy and balanced diet, taking 3g of glucomannan daily divided into 3 doses of 1g along with 1-2 glasses of water, helps to lose weight. In addition to this, it is important to emphasise that this fibre does not limit the absorption of minerals such as zinc, calcium, iron or copper (González Canga, 2004).
Benefits of Glucomannan
Glucomannan and appetite control
Glucomannan helps lose weight, when combined with a low-calorie diet, by enhancing the feeling of fullness or satiety in the stomach. More and more diseases are caused by poor diet and bad eating habits. Obesity and sedentary lifestyle have taken their toll on today’s society. In order to lose weight and body fat, it is essential to combine healthy food with regular exercise. Beyond the miracle or easy weight loss diets, what we must consider is a change in our habits. Review our dietary patterns to ensure that we follow a healthy and balanced diet and maintain the habit of doing exercise regularly, at least three or four times a week.
Lower Cholesterol levels
Apart from helping us lose weight, glucomannan has got other properties such as reducing cholesterol and triglycerides. The gel into which glucomannan is transformed can trap the bile acids that carry cholesterol towards the absorptive mucous membranes. When in fibre, cholesterol, and triglycerides are excreted with the faeces helping us reduce their levels.
Blood sugar control
Two of glucomannan’s main effects favour controlling your blood sugar levels: glucomannan slows down the gastric emptying and absorbs substances in the intestine.
The glucomannan-based gel formed in the stomach would capture the post-prandial glucose (which is detected only after eating) before it reaches the intestine where it would be absorbed.
Although glucomannan has been shown to be helpful in losing weight, don’t forget a healthy diet and regular exercise. Before taking glucomannan, especially if you are under a diabetes treatment, consult your doctor.
The intake of glucomannan can contribute to normalizing bowel movements, helping in chronic or occasional constipation. The body is unable to absorb fiber and discards it. Thanks to glucomannan and the increase of bacterial mass in the colon, feces are softer and easier to slide.