Glucomannan, pronounced gloo-ko-man-an, is a water-soluble dietary fiber obtained from Elephant Yam. The plant is known by other names such as konjak, konjaku, and konnyaku potato and is available in Asian countries such as India, Japan, China and Korea.
Because of its ability to absorb water and swell many times the normal size of its dried state, Glucomannan is popularly used in the food industry to emulsify and thicken processed foods such as tofu, pastas and flours, as well as shirataki noodles (which are translucent, gelatinous noodles often hailed as “zero-calorie miracle noodles”).
People in East Asia have used Konjac fiber for thousands of years as both food and traditional medicine. The indigenous people of China have used Konjac to treat asthma, breast pain, coughs, hernias, burns and various skin disorders. Fast-forward to present day and scientific studies have revealed that supplementing with Konjac Glucomannan can significantly help to lower body weight, lower plasma cholesterol, improve carbohydrate metabolism, encourage bowel movements and promote a healthy colon.
Glucomannan is composed of glucose and mannose combined by beta-1, 4 Glucosidic linkages in a molar ratio of 6.1:1. Compared with most dietary fibers, it has a very high molecular weight and viscosity, ranging from 200,000 to 2,000,000 Da. Glucomannan also possesses hygroscopic properties. Its dry formulation swells to a viscous gel when in water, absorbing up to fifty times its weight.
How Glucomannan works to reduce weight loss
Data suggest that glucomannan may contribute to weight loss by inducing satiety through the following mechanisms: induction of cephalic and gastric phase signals; delay of gastric emptying and acceleration of the intestinal transit by increase of the viscosity of the gastrointestinal content; and reduction of food absorption rate in the small intestine, leading to a reduction of postprandial plasma glucose and insulin peak.
Glucomannan induces satiety by absorbing water and expanding in the gastro intestinal tract, which gives you the sensation of feeling full. You’ll eat less when this happens, and this will direct your body to tap into body fat stores for energy.
It slows down gastric emptying which inhibits appetite.
By delaying the emptying of the stomach, Glucomannan leads to more gradual absorption of sugar. And lower blood sugar levels following meals. Avoiding rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar can help reduce cravings between meals.
It is an excellent prebiotic
Prebiotics are foods that our bodies cannot digest by themselves, but are digestible by the beneficial bacteria (Probiotics) in our guts and serve as a food source to stimulate their growth. Probiotics strengthen our immune systems and improve many aspects of our health. Studies have also found that Probiotics are lower in obese people, so Glucomannan can also aid in weight loss through a microbial mechanism.
Is Glucomannan effective?
Although drugs containing Glucomannan haven’t been approved by institutions such as the FDA, clinical studies have proven that Glucomannan actually works, and just maybe, it can become part of a healthy diet plan.
A 2014 study performed by the University of Exeter determined that Glucomannan generates significantly significant weight loss, while another 2013 meta-study showed that Glucomannan can reduce appetite, leading to weight loss.
Another study titled “Glucomannan and obesity: critical review” concluded…“At doses of four grams per day, Glucomannan resulted in significant weight-loss in obese and overweight individuals. There is proof that it exerts this by promoting satiety..”
Glucomannan is usually tolerated well in doses of 2 – 4 grams daily (1 gram before a meal), and can result in significant weight-loss for people who are overweight and obese when used in combination with restricted calorie diets. In one small trial, 20 subjects took Glucomannan with water an hour before eating, and dropped an average of 5.5 pounds over 8 weeks.
It is available in various forms:
· Glucomannan powder: Practically tasteless, Glucomannan powder is great for mixing into smoothies and other foods.
· In food products: Japanese shirataki noodles are the most famous Glucomannan food product.
· Powder tablets: Probably the most convenient, if not the tastiest option. However, solid tablets are more likely to cause blockages of the throat and intestines.
Because GM expands so readily in water, people have choked on the powder or GM candies by trying to swallow them dry. It can absorb as much as 50 times more water than its weight. Thus, take GM either in food format or as a powder added to food or dissolved into a Super Shake.
You can also take it as capsules with at least one to two glasses of water to avoid the possibility of blocked esophagus or throat if Glucomannan expands before reaching the stomach. Be sure to have them an hour before meals. This gives the capsules time to dissolve, absorb the water and bind with the liquid to form a filling gel.
Still on Glucomannan safety, there have been rare cases of the occurrence of esophageal blockage because of its ability to absorb great quantities of water quickly. However, availability of Glucomannan in capsules rather than powder form (capsules are broken down only when they reach the stomach) has meant that this risk of aesophageal obstruction has now been reduced to almost non-existent.
Potential side effects
As with all supplements, it is likely that a small percentage of users will experience some side effects when using Glucomannan based products. Without enough water to absorb, side effects can include intestinal blockages, constipation, stomachaches, and general discomfort. These are all easily avoided by following instructions properly.
Special precautions & warnings
Diabetes: Glucomannan may interfere with blood sugar control. Monitor blood sugar closely if you have diabetes and use Glucomannan.
Surgery: Glucomannan might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using Glucomannan at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
· Glucomannan has no taste or smell. Therefore, it can be added to any food or beverage, either by emptying the capsules or stirring in some powder. It will thicken the contents without adding flavor.
· A proven, effective weight loss supplement.
· Helps to keep you feeling full whilst on a low calorie diet.
· It is relatively cheap; three 1g servings per day should not cost you much more than £1.50 per week.
· Widely available from reputable supplement brands and retailers.
· The capacity of Glucomannan to slow the digestive process may, unfortunately block absorption of other nutrients. A study on vitamins reported that Glucomannan reduces the intestinal absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D, E, and K, but not that of fat-insoluble vitamins, like vitamin B12. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid taking Glucomannan and these vitamins at the same exact time.
· Can interfere with the absorption of some medications.
· Mild side effects can occur as mentioned above.
The Bottom line
If you have surfed through Glucomannan reviews online, you should have seen that almost every one of them is very positive on the good weight loss results from this fibrous diet supplement. The many studies that have already conducted on this diet pill also have shown proven results with it. Besides the weight loss results, this pill also has several other health benefits such treating asthma, skin disorders, allergies, constipation, high cholesterol, diabetes and chronic coughs.
Glucomannan is moderately effective, but same as with pretty much any weight-loss strategy, it doesn’t work in isolation. The only known way to lose weight in the longterm is to make a permanent change to your lifestyle.