Does Glucomannan Work For Weight Loss?

There are a lot of weight-loss supplements available these days, but it is hard to know which ones really work and which ones are worthless.

Glucomannan is a natural dietary fibre that’s been marketed as an effective weight-loss supplement.

What is it and how does it relate to weight loss? Is it simply a gimmick or a cheap miracle pill?

I decided to do my own research on glucomannan for weight loss since it has received some press as an effective weight loss supplement.

What is Glucomannan?

Glucomannan, a substance derived from Asian konjac (Amorphophallus konjac), is obtained from its roots. Glucomannan contains soluble fibre, which attracts water and softens stools.

The dietary supplement glucomannan has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, and it is now available as a weight loss supplement. 

Glucomannan absorbs water and expands in your stomach to create a sensation of fullness, despite having only a few calories.

In the digestive tract, glucomannan “sponges” up water, reducing carb absorption and cholesterol absorption and helping the body to lose weight. You will also feel full without feeling gassy or bloated when taking this supplement

By natural means, the “bulky fibre” is then expelled from your body. It has been reported that this cleansing effect can help reduce cholesterol, control blood sugar in type 2 diabetics, and calm constipation.

How Does Glucomannan Work For Weight Loss?

Dietary fibres such as glucomannan are water-soluble.

It is believed to promote weight loss in several ways, as with other soluble fibres:

  • It contains very few calories.
  • You will feel satiated (full), which reduces the amount of food you will eat at the next meal.
  • By delaying stomach emptying, it increases satiety.
  • It reduces protein and fat absorption, like other soluble fibres.

Additionally, it feeds the friendly bacteria in your intestine, which convert it into short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. In animal studies, butyrate has been shown to prevent fat gain.

You may also benefit from feeding your gut bacteria. Research indicates that altered gut bacteria may be associated with weight loss.

Glucomannan is a particularly effective weight loss supplement because it’s exceptionally vicious, unlike most soluble fibres.

Therefore, glucomannan supplements may assist in weight loss.

Does Glucomannan Really Help You Lose Weight?

Studies suggest that glucomannan increases satiety and blocks some calories from being absorbed in the body at doses of 1-4 grams per day. 

According to research, the more viscous or gel-like a fibre is, the better it seems to work on the three mechanisms that contribute to appetite: mechanical (taking up space in the gut); hormonal (controlling appetite hormones); and transitional (slowing down the absorption of food).

In a study that tested appetite ratings of healthy girls and boys who were not overweight or obese, participants were asked to consume a high-fibre beverage 90 minutes before eating an all-you-can-eat pizza. 

They then tried the remaining fibre beverages on separate days. Glucomannan, xanthan, and sodium alginate blended together produced lower appetite scores but reduced pizza consumption more effectively for all three mechanisms of appetite than straight glucomannan.

Study participants were given a placebo, glucomannan, guar gum, and alginate (a seaweed derivative), or a combination of glucomannan, guar gum, and alginate (derived from seaweed) for 5 weeks. 

In addition, all subjects consumed 1200 calories a day. Fibre tablets were taken at 3 p.m. and 15 minutes before meals. Compared to the placebo group, fibre products were all more effective at promoting weight loss, but no single fibre was more effective. Adherence to the diet was not assessed in this study.

In a non-controlled or randomized study, glucomannan was given to 29 overweight and obese females and men to test its effects on appetite. Diet and exercise instructions were given to all participants but no calorie level was assigned. The fibre in water was consumed about 5-10 minutes before meals, 2-3 times daily for 14 weeks. 

In addition to a significant reduction in weight, waist measurement, and body fat, a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol and fasting insulin were also observed.

A healthy diet and exercise program seem to be more effective when combined with glucomannan. 

Glucomannan was taken before two meals per day without calorie control by 42 sedentary and overweight men and women (compared to other studies). Three times a week, half of the group engaged in total body exercise, while the other half remained sedentary. 

After 8 weeks both groups lost weight and fat, reduced their calorie intake, and improved their blood lipid levels. However, men in the exercise group lost up to 63% more fat and women lost up to 50% more fat than those in the non-exercise group.

However, no further weight loss was observed, which may be explained by the increase in lean body mass. Exercise significantly decreased leptin levels, a protein peptide secreted by fat cells that helps control appetite

In other studies, reductions in blood lipids, triglycerides, and other health markers linked to metabolic syndrome have also been observed.

I have also reviewed a lot of other weight loss supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.

Other Health Benefits of Glucomannan

Glucomannan promotes weight loss, as well as improves some risk factors for heart disease.

An analysis of 14 studies found that glucomannan lowers the following:

  • Total cholesterol by 19 mg/dL (0.5 mmol/L).
  • “Bad” LDL cholesterol by 16 mg/dL (0.4 mmol/L).
  • Triglycerides by 11 mg/dL (0.12 mmol/L).
  • Fasting blood sugar by 7.4 mg/dL (0.4 mmol/L).

Essentially, it reduces blood cholesterol by preventing your gut from absorbing cholesterol.

This study suggests that glucomannan could potentially lower your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Constipation can also be effectively treated with glucomannan since it is a water-soluble fibre.

How To Use Glucomannan?

A dosage of 1 gram, 3 times per day is considered adequate for weight loss.

Glucomannan expands and absorbs up to 50 times its weight when mixed with water. Hence, glucomannan should be taken at a lower dosage than other fibre supplements.

Glucomannan does not contribute to weight loss unless taken before meals. The recommended timing is 15 to 1 hour prior to eating.

It is possible, however, for glucomannan to block the tube transporting food from your mouth to your stomach if it expands before reaching the stomach.

You should follow it up with 1–2 glasses of water or another liquid to prevent this.

Additionally, glucomannan reduces the absorption of oral medications such as sulfonylurea, which treats diabetes. The risk can be reduced by taking the medication at least one hour before or four hours after ingestion of glucomannan.

Glucomannan Side Effects 

If taken as prescribed, glucomannan supplements are generally safe, but should only be used for a short period of time. It is unknown whether they are safe over time. The most common side effects are flatulence, diarrhoea, belching, bloating, and stomach upset.

It is important to take glucomannan with no less than 8 ounces of water since it can absorb 50 times its weight in water. It is possible to choke or block the oesophagus or intestines if you swallow the supplement “dry.”.

While it is unlikely that glucomannan will interfere with your cholesterol-lowering or diabetes-management medications, you should discuss your plans with your doctor if you are on either of these medications.

It is best to consult your paediatrician or OB/GYN before using glucomannan in children or during pregnancy, even if it is presumed safe.

How To Choose Glucomannan Supplement?

There is little regulation of dietary supplements in the United States and they can vary considerably from one brand to another. For quality and safety, choose supplements certified by independent organizations such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International.

Make sure to look for brands that are certified organic according to the US Department of Agriculture regulations. These products are safer and purer.

Remember not to be swayed by inaccurate or untrue health claims. Glucomannan supplements have been falsely marketed by companies like Vitacost, PediaLean, Herbal Worldwide Holdings, BioTrim, and Obesity Research Institute in the past.

Glucomannan Supplement Alternatives: Food Sources

Glucomannan is found in high concentration in shirataki noodles, a gelatinous noodle that has almost no calories or carbohydrates. Shirataki are often substituted for pasta on low-carb diets, and they are deliciously stir-fried and in soups.

You can find konjac root in larger Asian grocery stores if you want to go straight to the source. The flavour is similar to taro, and it gives a slippery mouth sensation when eaten. Traditional Japanese dishes like oden (a type of fish cake) and nikujaga (a slow-cooked beef stew) often use konjac root.

It is not the same as Japanese yam (Dioscorea japonica), also called elephant yam.

Final Words: Should You Take Glucomannan Supplement?

From supporting a healthy weight to supporting a healthy gut microbiome, glucomannan is a natural ingredient with many potential health benefits

Generally speaking, adults can use glucomannan supplements safely, with only mild side effects reported, but listen to your body, as we will all react to it differently.

The only way to lose weight over the long term is to permanently change your lifestyle.

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