Carbs. They may be the kryptonite to your weight loss goals, but do you really need to go to the extreme of taking a carb blocker? In a word, yes. There is no doubt that excess carbs contribute to diabetes and heart disease. It is also widely known how difficult it is to stick to normal serving sizes of carbohydrates. I mean, have you seen what a serving size of cereal really looks like?
While low-carb diets will yield fantastic weight-loss results, they are definitely not for everyone. First of all, proteins are much more expensive than carbs. Second of all, carbs are delicious! It also doesn’t make sense to avoid an entire food group, and actually, carb blockers are a better, and more practical, solution.
What Is A Carb Blocker?
You may have heard the term carb blocker or starch blocker, they both refer to the same type of nutritional supplement. They work by blocking the carbs that you eat from your body’s ability to use them for energy. Instead of gaining calories from them, carbs sail right through your digestive system basically untouched. Sound too good to be true? To fully understand how this works, first let’s scientifically define the meaning of carbohydrates.
What Are Carbs?
Carbs exist in our bodies in different forms:
- Simple carbohydrates
- Complex carbohydrates
All carbs have the same basic building blocks, i.e. simple sugars. Simple carbohydrates refer to these simple sugars. Examples are glucose, galactose and fructose. These are found naturally in food items such as milk and fruit, which also contain beneficial fiber. They are also found in processed foods like candy and soda which contain no additional nutritional value.
Simple carbohydrates are easily digestible. When you consume simple carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises quickly. This is an instant energy source for your body and is very helpful when you need a boost, such as when you are going on a long run or when it’s mid-afternoon and you are falling asleep at your desk.
However, when you consume an excess of simple carbohydrates and your body is unable to use them for energy right away, you will store it in your body, either as glycogen or fat.
Complex carbohydrates are long chains which are made up of simple sugars or simple carbohydrates. Examples are starches which are found in whole grain foods, legumes and cakes.
When you eat complex carbohydrates, your body has to first break them down into simple carbohydrates in order to use them for energy.
As with all chemical reactions in your body, this requires the use of enzymes.
What Are Enzymes?
Enzymes are types of proteins that are found in your body in order to facilitate chemical reactions. Without them, normal biological functions would not be able to occur. All proteins must be a specific shape in order to work properly and enzymes are no exception. The common analogy for enzymes is that of a lock and key. For example, the enzymes to break down complex carbohydrates will be in the exact shape of the carbohydrate so that they can click together in order for the enzyme to do its job properly. This is where carb blockers come in to play.
Types of Carb Blockers
A carb blocker supplement will inhibit the enzyme alpha-amylase from working to break down carbohydrates. There are two types of carb blockers:
- White kidney bean extract
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs)
Most carb blockers are usually made from white kidney bean extract, also known as Phaseolus vulgaris.
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are a prescription medication which block the enzyme alpha-glucosidase whose job it is to break the long chains of complex carbohydrates in the small intestine.
In order to get energy from the food we eat, our bodies have to first break them down to their smallest components so that they can cross into the cells in the small intestines. Nutrients can then travel to all the cells in the body.
If alpha-amylase is prevented from doing its job, then complex carbohydrates will remain as molecules which are too large to get absorbed by the small intestine. Instead, it will be eliminated by the large intestine. Therefore, the glucose does not get distributed around the body. This results in less energy for your body to burn. Instead of burning food that you ate for energy, your body will burn stored energy, and thus lead to weight loss.
Fiber And Resistant Starch
Not all starch is created equal. In essence, what carb blockers do is to increase the amount of resistant starch within the food you eat. Resistant starch is similar to fiber in that it is a complex carbohydrate which your body is unable to digest.
As we mentioned above, starch is a type of complex carbohydrate which is made of simple carbohydrates. As the name implies, resistant starch is impervious to being broken down into its smaller components.
There are some types of resistant starch such as legumes, which are able to resist being broken down because of how much fiber they contain. The fiber within the cell wall is bound together with the starch which helps it evade digestion.
Additionally, when some starchy foods are cooked and then cooled, they can also become resistant to digestion.
As with fiber, resistant starch aids digestion as well as increases insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar level and reduces appetite. It works by passing through your digestive tract intact. It’s not until it reaches the colon or the large intestine where gut-friendly bacteria are able to break it down and use its nutrients. It is then broken down into short fatty acid chains which feed the bacteria as well as increase ketone levels in the blood.
Do Carb Blockers Work?
Many studies have been done analyzing the work of carb blockers. In fact, it’s been shown that the more carbs you eat, the more effective a carb blocker supplement will be.
In one study, lasting 12 weeks, 40 obese adults were observed for body weight, body composition and blood pressure. They were divided into two groups – one received white kidney bean extract and the other, a placebo. Neither group made any changes to their diets or lifestyles. The carb blocker group lost more weight than the placebo group and the majority of weight lost came from fat. Best of all, none of the participants experienced any side effects.
In another study which was randomized and double-blind, 50 obese adults were given either white bean extract or a placebo with meals, twice daily. They were observed for eight weeks.
The carb blocker group lost an average of 3.79 lbs compared with the placebo group, which lost an average of 1.65 lbs. Triglyceride levels were reduced in the carb blocker group by more than three times greater a reduction than observed in the placebo group.
Carb Blocker Side Effects
Because carb blockers aim to turn carbs into resistant starch, the carb blocker side effects will be similar to if you ate a lot of fiber. This may include bloating and flatulence. Not everyone will experience these side effects and just as bodies will adapt to a high fiber diet, they will also adapt to carb blockers.
Most importantly are the implications for people who take insulin. Calculating how much insulin to take while taking a carb blocker is something each individual should speak about with their doctor.
Will A Carb Blocker Supplement Be Effective?
The science and the research are all very encouraging, but does this translate into carb blocker pills that actually work? As with all supplements, efficacy is dependent on the manufacturers. First, you must make sure your carb blocker supplement contains the right ingredients in a potent dosage. Second, it is imperative to trust the company who is manufacturing the supplement.
What Should You Look For In A Carb Blocker Supplement?
Make sure to find a supplement based on the latest clinical studies. It should contain:
- 100% pure white kidney bean extract
- 1000mg daily serving
- Added chromium and chitosan for added benefits
- Absolutely no fillers, binders, preservatives or additives
How Do You Know Which Manufacturer To Trust?
There are guidelines and checklists of what to look for when selecting a supplement brand.
- Money Back Guarantee – If a manufacturer does not stand behind their product, it is a major red flag and should be avoided at all costs.
- Customer Service Phone Number – In this day and age of ecommerce websites, people will avoid speaking to anyone over the phone. That is, until there is a problem. Then they find themselves desperate for a live human to speak with.
- No Auto-Shipping – If you see a website offering to send you supplements regularly every month, run fast! It is extremely difficult to cancel an auto-shipping program once you start it and that’s what these companies are counting on.
- Read Labels – Companies are relying on the fact that many people are swayed by packaging and don’t bother to read labels. Take the time to read the listed ingredients before you purchase any product.
If you’re looking to enjoy your carbs without padding your belly, try carb blockers based on 100% white kidney bean extract. Improve your digestion and your waistline without going to the gym!