Glucomannan: does it help you lose weight?

Glucomannan, also known as konjac glucomannan (GMK) is a complex carbohydrate that comes from the tuber of the plant Amorphophallus konjac. It is popular in Asian countries as a processed food, whether in pasta, tofu, jams, mixed with meat, among others. It is also used in traditional oriental medicine.

According to Lamkey, GMK is very easy to bind to water, which is why it is used as a thickener or gelling agent. In this way, it becomes a substitute for fat, proteins such as gluten and the bulking agent. In the United States it is classified as a safe ingredient or GRAS and in Europe it is approved as a thickener, emulsifier, stabilizer and gelling agent.

According to an article published in the journal Nutrición Hospitalaria, it is a highly soluble fiber with a higher viscosity than other fibers. This causes a feeling of fullness effective for weight loss, in addition to other health benefits.

How is it used? What must be taken into account when using it? In the next space we will tell you more about its effects and its contraindications. Keep reading!

Glucomannan benefits

Glucomannan is a complex carbohydrate made up of glucose and mannose units, which are linked together by β- 1,4 bonds, which are not recognized by the enzymes of digestion.

As it is not digested, it behaves like a fiber with a high capacity to absorb water; 1 gram of GMK can capture up to 200 milliliters of water. This property confers several benefits, such as those that we will describe below.

Causes satiety

When this type of fiber is ingested, increases the viscosity in the stomach, which delays its emptying. Consequently, a feeling of fullness is achieved that lasts for a long time.

In this way, as the magazine describes it Alternative Therapie, glucomannan decreases appetite and becomes an adjunct to weight loss diets.

One of the main benefits of glucomannan is that it promotes a feeling of fullness. Thus, it favors the control of body weight.

Also read: Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber: how do they differ?

Helps control blood sugar

In the magazine Journal of Ethnopharmacology state that GMK contributes to regulating blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetic patients and healthy people. Due to its viscosity in the stomach and intestine, forms a barrier that prevents the access of enzymes on nutrients, such as carbohydrates.

This leads to a slow release and absorption of sugars in the blood, which allows it to be controlled.

Lowers cholesterol levels

Some research indicates that the bile acids that carry cholesterol during digestion are trapped by glucomannan and are later excreted through the feces. Thus, cholesterol ingested with the diet cannot be absorbed in the intestine.

In addition, to compensate for the excretion of bile acids, the liver must use the cholesterol in the blood to produce them again. Consequently, a favorable cycle is maintained that lowers the cholesterol level.

Improve constipation

GMK improves chronic constipation, according to what is reported in the journal Journal of Pediatrics. It was concluded that the use of 3 to 4 grams of glucomannan daily, for 10 days to 3 months, helps to regulate intestinal transit and favors the production of softer and more voluminous stools.

Can be used as a prebiotic

Connoli and other researchers have shown that, in healthy, constipated adults, the consumption of glucomannan produces antimicrobial substances, increases short chain fatty acids as a nutrient for colon cells and lowers fecal pH. On the other hand, an increase in probiotic bacteria, such as bifidobacteria, which benefits health, was observed in mice.

Anti-inflammatory effect

Chua and other specialists have published that the application of glucomannan powder, in a concentration of 5% for 8 weeks, contributes to reducing pro-inflammatory substances. Thus, it seems to have potential as an adjuvant against diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis.

Drug excipient

In the magazine they refer that some modifications of the GMK serve as a possible excipient of drugs, especially for the treatment of colon diseases. This substance has high biocompatibility, low toxicity and high stability.

How can glucomannan help you lose weight?

Martínez y Casas, specialists in rheological and functional properties of food, have concluded that GMK promotes weight loss when used for 3 weeks to 4 months in normal or hypocaloric diets. Some specialists recommend a daily consumption of 2 to 4 grams of glucomannan per day.

According to these experts, when glucomannan absorbs water and swells, it induces cephalic and gastric phase signals to produce satiety. To this must be added the delay in gastric emptying and the decrease in nutrients in the intestine.

Blood sugar increases gradually and, therefore, there is a release of the hormone cholecystokinin, It suppresses the appetite. In addition to this, incorporating this supplement into diet and exercise programs for overweight adults helps reduce fat mass, cholesterol and lipoproteins.

As if that were not enough, the hormone leptin is activated from adipose tissue, which regulates body mass through energy expenditure and intake.

Glucomannan is not a miracle weight loss product. Its use must be complemented with a healthy diet and exercise.

Read also: Foods loaded with fiber that will help you lose weight

Contraindications and side effects of glucomannan

Despite the beneficial evidence of glucomannan for the treatment of overweight and other diseases, there are some drawbacks in its consumption. Next, we detail the most relevant ones.

  • Abdominal discomfort: the consumption of glucomannan can cause flatulence and fullness, so gradual introduction into the diet is suggested.
  • Risk of esophageal obstruction: Studies reveal that when GMK absorbs water, it expands rapidly and forms highly viscous solutions. At the level of the esophagus it can take its shape and obstruct. As a preventive measure, the ingestion of 200 milliliters of water is recommended to facilitate the transit of the fiber.
  • Drug interference: Like any other fiber, there is the possibility that glucomannan interferes with the bioavailability of certain drugs, especially some hypoglycemic agents. Therefore, it is recommended to distance your consumption of this type of medication.
  • Decreased absorption of fat-soluble vitamins: Increased excretion of bile salts and cholesterol can lead to loss of fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K. Because of this, a supplement of these vitamins may be required when GMK is administered.

Recommendations for use

The indication of glucomannan or GMK as a dietary supplement to aid in weight loss should be conducted by a medical or nutritional professional. The label of each supplement should be read carefully to know the amount of fiber it contains.

Ideally, take 500 milligrams to 2 grams a day, in separate doses. Each dose should be accompanied by 2 glasses of water, 30 to 60 minutes before the meal indicated by the health professional. A maximum dose of 4 grams daily is recommended.

Remember that glucomannan is only a supplement for weight loss. You need other controls such as diet, physical exercise and change in lifestyle for a better result. The health professional will be your main ally.