Millions of Americans are using glucomannan for elevated total cholesterol, diabetes, and constipation. As a nutrition enthusiast, you are constantly on the lookout for the latest weight-loss craze. But, will glucomannan do you any favors? Or is it just another gimmick that can’t live up to the hype?
Given the high obesity and overweight rates, a more practical approach is needed to curb the excess fat and improve quality of life and life expectancy. The truth is, there is an array of products all promoting weight loss results that work.
However, shedding the excess weight still remains a challenge for many. And incorporating effective weight loss strategies can take some trial and error. We decided to take a closer look at glucomannan and its potential benefit on the digestive tract as a weight loss supplement.
Glucomannan – Covering the Basics
Everyone wants to use the ultimate “nature’s skinny sponge” to get their appetite under control. But, glucomannan is no magic pill that will make all the extra pounds wash away. To make the most of glucomannan supplements, you need to know exactly the type of product you are using.
Glucomannan is a natural dietary fiber taken from the elephant yam, typically referred to as the konjac root. Glucomannan is made up of 40% of the dry weight of the elephant yam. It has a rich history in herbal mixtures and various traditional foods. Like konjac jelly, noodles, and tofu. (1)
People consume glucomannan in the form of a dietary supplement in varying dosages. As well as in drink mixes or as an addition to food products, mainly flour and pasta. Based on recent reports, roughly 35% of total glucomannan products for sale come in a powdered form. (2)
This is a hemicellulose component present in the cell walls of certain plant species. And can be used as a food additive as a thickener and emulsifier. Products packed with glucomannan are marketed as fiber supplements designed to promote weight loss.
The effects of glucomannan are also said to aid with constipation. But, does it have what it takes to become an effective weight loss supplement? Here is what research on glucomannan for weight reduction has to say.
How Does It Work?
Did you know: Glucomannan can absorb 50 times its own weight in water while it is still in your stomach. This makes you feel fuller for a long time, helping you to reduce the need to overeat.
Like any soluble fiber, its highly absorbent properties make it easier to bind to water and create a gel. Prebiotics, like glucomannan, are a type of non-digestible fiber compound. It passes through the upper section of the gastrointestinal tract and stays undigested since the human system isn’t capable of fully breaking it down.
Garlic, for example, is different. This is a natural prebiotic, and can easily get digested. But, because it is high in fructans, some people have trouble digesting it. Viscous dietary fibers like glucomannan, are a gel-like substance that sits in the gut and absorbs water.
They could enhance satiety, curb the appetite, and may regulate body weight. After using glucomannan supplements for some time, people can control their calorie intake. When people rely on this dietary fiber or glucomannan supplements in general, they can:
- reduce their appetite,
- delay stomach emptying,
- and stabilize their blood sugar after a meal.
The consumed carbs break down relatively slowly, thus allowing the body to curb some of the fat absorptions. One of the key benefits of glucomannan is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in the stomach. (3)
This can protect the system against fat gain. Feeding the gut bacteria has other uses as well. Some reports show a clear link between body weight and altered gut bacteria. Glucomannan is completely different from some of the other soluble fibers on the market. (4)
It’s quite viscous, which, in turn, makes it especially useful to lose weight. Of course, not all dietary fibers have the same impact on satiety. Some are more effective, while others are short-lasting. To know how fast you can lose weight with glucomannan, take a look at the info below. (5)
How Much Weight Can I Lose With Glucomannan?
When combined with a healthy diet, and preferably some physical activity, a glucomannan supplement might help you lose anywhere from 8 to 10 pounds in 5 weeks. That’s about 3.6 kg to 4.5 kg. But, its weight loss properties will vary depending on how much effort you put into it. And are often said to provide modest weight loss.
Let’s say, you are aiming to lose a couple of extra pounds in one month. You’ve decided to implement some exercises. They can be anything from swimming, cycling, jogging, to walking. You now pay close attention to the food you eat and the type of nutrients you consume.
If that’s the case, then the eating regimen and exercises can help you curb about 1 to 2 pounds a week. Or 4 to 8 pounds a month. Fiber supplements can help you stay on track. For overweight and obese patients, this can help with weight loss. (6)
What Experts Have to Say?
Research on glucomannan is conflicted. Few efficient and safe dietary supplements that promote weight loss are available on the market. Experts studied the efficiency and safety of glucomannan as a water-soluble fiber supplement.
One clinical trial studied the impact of fiber supplements added to a caloric diet in overweight subjects. The goal was to analyze the efficiency of multiple commercial fiber supplements. That includes glucomannan, alginate, and guar gum.
The supplements paired with a balanced 1,200 kcal diet offered better weight loss than the one seen in the diet and placebo group alone. But, there was no drastic difference between the various fibers and their effect on weight control, which was about 0.8 kg per week. Overall, glucomannan did offer some slimming results in healthy overweight subjects, reports Altern Ther Health Med. (7)
Another systematic review supports these results. Experts suggest that glucomannan as fermentable, soluble, and very potent dietary fiber derived from the konjac root could help with weight loss.
From 2g to 4g a day, this dose was well-tolerated and offered some remarkable effects in amplifying satiety, weight loss, and fecal energy loss. To top it all off, glucomannan exerted a beneficial impact on glycemic status. It improved the study participants’ lipoprotein and lipid parameters. But, more large-scale data is necessary to evaluate its full impact. (8)
Several randomized controlled trials showed that in otherwise healthy obese or overweight adults, short-term glucomannan use could help curb body weight. But, not their body mass index (BMI). Shedding a few extra pounds and reducing your BMI can drastically lower your chances of developing serious ailments. (9)
While a high BMI increases your heart disease risk factors. Alongside your odds of getting diabetes, increased blood pressure, kidney disease, and more. That’s why having adequate weight loss methods at your disposal can help you mitigate these risk factors. Adding a healthy diet and exercise to your glucomannan weight loss routine can come a long way.
However, not all studies support the use of glucomannan for weight loss. Based on 2013 reports, taking a weight loss supplement with glucomannan for 8 weeks was well tolerated. But, it didn’t help volunteers shed the excess pounds. Nor did it significantly alter body composition, blood sugar, or lipid parameters. It didn’t create that much of an impact on fullness or hunger. (10)
The effects of glucomannan have many uses. When paired with healthy food intake, this fiber supplement can give the body all the support it needs. Other than managing body fat, here is what glucomannan has to offer.
- Gets your digestive system back on track. A soluble fiber of any kind is vital for improving and maintaining healthy digestion. Glucomannan is a viable option for the gastrointestinal tract. Mainly for those suffering from chronic constipation. (11)
- Slows the glucose absorption in the digestive tract. Contrary to what most people think, glucomannan doesn’t have a bad impact on blood sugar. It sounds surprising since it passes through the intestines mostly intact and absorbs plenty of its weight in water. That’s why a lot of people believe it can impede sugar absorption. But, experts say that doesn’t happen. Glucomannan can cause a slight boost in fasting blood sugar. Nevertheless, glucomannan isn’t meant to replace oral medications. If you have metabolic syndrome, talk to a doctor about the glucose concentrations you can take.
- Could maintain stable cholesterol levels. Based on reports from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, glucomannan appears to create a beneficial impact on LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. But, not HDL cholesterol, as stated in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Elevated low-density lipoprotein can make people prone to cardiovascular complications. That’s why curbing the LDL cholesterol levels has been linked with a drastic reduction in mortality rates. (12)
Glucomannan powder is often consumed in foods. Both the capsules and glucomannan powder are considered relatively safe when you consume them with a lot of water, for a total of 4 months. But, when you take other fiber supplements, particularly tablets, without water, it can be unsafe. You could choke and experience some adverse reactions. (13)
Uncommon negative effects include:
- Diarrhea (soft stool)
But, these adverse reactions don’t happen to everyone. Glucomannan might even decrease the absorption of some oral meds. Like sulfonylurea, which is a drug used in diabetes patients. You can avoid such a reaction if you take the med at least 4 hours after or 1 hour prior to taking glucomannan.
The recommended safe dosage is 1g, 3 times a day with plenty of water. People should take the product prior to eating something. Otherwise, it can’t offer the weight reduction benefit you are looking for. For more detailed information on the doses, get professional medical advice. (14)
Can Glucomannan Help With Bloating?
Not really. The adverse events over such a supplement note that some users complain of having bloating and excess gas after taking the product. Even though it can be different for everyone, there are no clinical reports that indicate it can help with bloating.
Is There A Substitute for Glucomannan I Can Use?
Psyllium husk is a well-known plant-based soluble fiber that you can use as an alternative to glucomannan. Especially if your body doesn’t like the glucomannan you are taking. Psyllium husk is packed with soluble fiber and features very few carbs.
So, you don’t have to worry about it hindering your slimming process. It creates a similar feeling of fullness, which is known to help users control the amount of food they munch on. Talk to a specialist if you are not sure which option to take.
Will Psyllium Husk Make Me Gain Weight?
No. The product is meant to better bowel movement and amplify satiety. Meaning that it won’t make you pile a few extra pounds. But, if you don’t watch the diet or physical activity, it is easy to gain the weight you’ve lost. So, food should remain a top priority.
Should You Go For Glucomannan?
To know if anyone has lost weight with glucomannan, then the answer is yes. Judging by the currently available reports, glucomannan can be a practical option to get rid of some of the excess weight. But, just like any other product out there, it won’t work alone. You should still make solid lifestyle changes. That means eating healthy and exercising regularly.
A healthy diet starts by emphasizing whole grains, veggies, fruits, and a variety of protein goodies. That includes lean meats, seafood, poultry, legumes, nuts, soy products, seeds, and more. As long as you stay low in saturated fats, salt, and sugar, you can get the results you are looking for.
Physical activity can give your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) a kick in the right direction, offering the body the health boost it needs. Now, when it comes to slimming down, a lot of people also like to include a calorie-restricted diet.
But, severely restricting your calories without the help of a medical expert can cause your muscle mass to plummet. It can also reduce your metabolism. This makes it harder to keep the weight you’ve lost and reap the efforts of your weight loss journey in the long run.
To find the right dietary regimen for you based on your current health state, talk to a dietitian or nutritionist. They can set you on the right path. If you are willing to go the extra mile with alternative medicine, then acupuncture can help.
This ancient healing method, paired with a supplement, has shown to be more effective than a diet and physical activity group in weight loss and BMI. This makes acupuncture an efficient treatment for obesity. Although to a limited extent. (15)
Overall, glucomannan can work for slimming down. But, don’t expect it to be a “miracle product” for burning calories. The final outcome will greatly depend on how the body reacts to the product, the food you eat, and the physical activity you implement. You can notice some changes in a couple of weeks.
This product can also benefit cholesterol and blood sugar. This is a bulk-forming natural laxative, which offers smooth stool movement through the colon. But, there isn’t enough data on its effects on blood pressure. Don’t forget to talk to a specialist before you decide to use any slimming supplements.