1. Crazy Carb Blockers
Carb blockers are one type of common diet pill that claims to help you take in less calories (from carbs specifically), and, in turn, create a calorie deficit. This theoretically put your body in a fat burning zone and might help you shed body fat faster.
One very popular carb blocker on the store shelves today comes from the extract of the white kidney bean.
This product is thought to block the activity of the carbohydrate-digesting enzyme, alpha-amylase, which is an enzyme that works both in the mouth and intestine to break down starches in carbohydrate foods into simple sugars that are easily absorbed by the body.
If starches in foods are not broken down by this enzyme, they cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream because the gut can only take up single carbohydrate units (monosaccharides/simple sugars; aka, glucose). Therefore, these starches pass through the gut undigested and do not contribute calories to your body.
However, is there any credible scientific evidence to indicate this supplement really does what the manufacturers claim it does?
In 2004, a study was published by researchers at UCLA School of Medicine on a patented form of Phaseolus Vulgaris (white kidney bean extract), and found that this product, when taken at a dose of 1500 mg per day for 8 weeks by 14 overweight men and women, was able to slightly enhance weight loss while greatly decreasing blood triglyceride levels compared to a placebo.
These findings were not statistically significant, though, due to the small number of people in the study and the wide variability of the results between the subjects. What this means is that this product may show promise for certain people, but does not work for everyone.
Overall, it appears that white kidney bean extract might help people addicted to carbohydrate foods lose body weight, but then again, the smarter answer to all of this is why not just stop eating the carbs to begin with? It would save you a ton of money on supplements and would give you the same results!
With respect to low-carbohydrate diets, several credible scientific human investigations exist today showing great promise for their ability to help people lose weight and body fat, and sustain lean muscle mass, with no pills required!
Plus, a lower-carb diet means you're eating less starchy carbohydrate foods like breads and pastas, and more nutrient-rich, low-carb foods like spinach, kale, green beans, and asparagus. This is not only better for your waistline, but also for your overall health.
Other carb-blocker supplements commonly sold include a substance known as hydroxycitric acid (HCA, Citrimax, Garcinia cambogia) which claims to interfere with the body's ability to convert carbohydrates into glucose and, in turn, reduces calorie intake.
However, most studies conducted on this substance do not show any beneficial results for weight loss or fat reduction; or, for the few studies that do demonstrate promise, the supplements sold in stores do not contain the amount needed for positive effects.
If you really want to lose weight, and your muffin-top is spilling over from eating too many carby-goodies, then your best bet is to kick the carb habit and lose the fat for good, rather than rely on a pill to block the junky carbs for you.
2. Fat Blockers
Fat blockers are similar to carb blockers in that they also claim to help you take in less calories, but from fat instead of carbs (intuitive, isn't it?). The biggest concern with these fat blockers is that when you halt the absorption of dietary fat, you possibly also impair your ability to absorb necessary fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamin A, D3, and E) while also causing steatorrhea (excess fat in the stools) and other uncomfortable bowel changes. None of these side effects are desirable for anybody…
A popular fat blocker available in most health food stores today is Chitosan, and we'll look at what the science says about it and others.
Chitosan is a form of chitin, which is a long-chain polysaccharide found in the shells of crustaceans such as shrimp, lobster, and crab, similar to cellulose fiber found in the walls of plants.
This special fiber is water soluble and several Petri dish and animal studies have shown that it binds to dietary fats and bile acids. Because of this mechanism of action, it's thought that chitosan may be useful for weight control, as well as for a treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels in the blood).
Based off these cellular and animal studies, manufacturers started producing this miracle diet pill to help all people do what they dream of doing: Eat what they want, and lose all the weight they want – what could be more perfect?
However, not all human studies conducted after chitosan hit the market have shown weight loss benefits, but there have been some.
A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial performed by UK researchers examined the effects of chitosan on weight loss. Thirty-four overweight people (6 men and 28 women) with a BMI of approximately 26kg/m2 were randomized to receive one gram chitosan or placebo twice daily for 28 days while following their normal diet.
At the end of the study, there was no difference in body weight or BMI between the two groups. Adverse effects reported with chitosan were minor. The most common complaint was constipation. Blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and fat-soluble vitamins were not different between the groups, which makes you wonder if the product even worked at all.
Overall, just like carb blockers, fat blockers are made for people who don't want to make any positive lifestyle changes in the quest for a better body.
You can't expect to eat the same crap you were eating before and just take a pill to lose weight, and expect it to last (or even work).
No, it just doesn't work that way.
To lose weight, body fat, and finally have that tight tummy and nice butt you've always wanted, you have to clean out your cupboards and make some healthy changes to your lifestyle.
NEXT: Real World Fat Burning