Natural carb blockers (also called starch blockers) are a category of weight loss supplements that purport to stop the effect of taking on too many carbohydrates (too much carb rich food). This article will describe what carbohydrates are (simple and complex), what they do and how stop the effect of too much consumption
In theory weight loss is a simple thing—if the diet supplies less calories than the body requires it has to obtain its calories from elsewhere and fat burning will commence. In practice things are not so easy.
Many dieters find it hard to cut down their calorie intakes, or increase their calorie expenditure sufficiently via exercise and other activities, and seek out supplements to help them achieve their weight loss goals.
Most weight loss supplements are designed to provide one or more of the following benefits:
- Appetite suppression
- Fat burning
- Fat/carb blocking
Appetite suppressants help reduce the calorie intake by quelling the desire to eat. Fat burners encourage the body to burn an increased amount of fat. Carb blockers prevent the body from absorbing specific food elements. As the name suggests, carb blockers block carbohydrate.
What is Carbohydrate?
Carbohydrate is the body’s primary energy provider and there are two types: simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates are usually just referred to as sugars (refined and non-refined). Non-refined sugars are responsible for giving fruit its sweet taste. Refined sugar is the white stuff some people spoon over their strawberries when they have an especially sweet-tooth.
Complex carbohydrates are starchier in nature and can be found in bread, rice, potatoes, wholegrain cereals and many other foods.
The main difference between the two is the way they release their calories. Simple carbs are normally digested very quickly and provide almost instant energy. Complex carbs take longer to digest, release their calories more slowly, and are a great sustained energy provider.
Simple and Complex Carbohydrates Explained
Carbohydrates are generally split into two groups—simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are naturally occurring in fruits and milk.
Refined sugar is also a simple carbohydrate and can be found hiding in any number of foods such as soft drinks, cakes and biscuits, some breakfast cereals, many canned products, and, of course, in candy.
Simple carbohydrates are absorbed very fast. This is why diabetics often reach for the nearest Mars bar when their blood sugar drops too low. Although simple carbs can be useful, foods that are rich in sugar and/or white flour are generally considered to be “bad carbs”.
Complex carbohydrates, such as oats, potatoes, brown rice, and pasta take longer to digest so their energy is released more slowly. This makes them useful for providing an ongoing supply of energy that will (hopefully) last until the next meal.
Why Block Carbohydrate?
Carbohydrate is not a bad thing, but it is a calorie provider and dieters who find it hard to limit their calories often use any means at their disposal to lower their calorie intakes and try to get their bodies back in shape.
How do Carb Blockers Work?
Natural carb blockers are usually taken up to half an hour before eating a main meal. The active ingredient in most modern-day carb blockers are white kidney bean (phaseolus vulgaris), Grape Seed Extract, and Panax Ginseng which are believed to have the power to negate the effects of the digestive enzymes alpha glucosidases and amylase. The body cannot break down and digest carbohydrate without the intervention of these two important enzymes so when their function is interfered with any carbohydrates that are consumed pass through the stomach and into the gut without releasing any calories.
It’s easy to see why blocking carbohydrate absorption in this way could be deemed favourable, but potential carb blocker users should be aware that the presence of so much undigested carbohydrate in the intestines can sometimes result is stomach discomfort. Flatulence is also a quite common carb blocker side effect, as is diarrhea.
Are Carb Blockers Suitable for Everyone?
Any product that successfully blocks the digestion of carbohydrates has the potential to provide weight loss benefits because everyone’s diet contains some amount of carbohydrate, but carb blockers may be especially useful for people who eat high carb diets. As with most things in life it is a case of choosing the right tool for the right job. If weight gain has occurred there has obviously been an excess of calories from somewhere, but if the excess calories can be traced to a love of fatty foods a fat blocker would be a more fitting solution.
Are Natural Carb Blockers Important
Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, so many experts are unsure of the wisdom of blocking such an important dietary element, but other than a little stomach discomfort and gas, few side effects are associated with carb blockers. The same cannot be said for many other forms of weight loss supplement, which often contain stimulants that may cause more problems than they resolve. People have been eating kidney beans for years. They are a wholesome food and infinitely preferable to any scientific concoction of chemicals knocked together in a laboratory.
As stated at the beginning of this article, the use of carb blockers is just one of several ways dieters can try and ensure their calorie intake falls below their calorie expenditure in the hopes of encouraging the fat burning process. Carb blockers are unlikely to be the best option in all cases, but they are certainly an option. They are not a magic pill though. Just like other weight loss aid, carb blockers will provide their best results when used as part of an overall weight management program that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Carbohydrates are important. The body needs them for energy, but not all carbohydrates are created equal. Some break down more quickly than others and may flood the body with more energy than it needs, resulting in weight gain.
Such a slow release of energy also reduces the likelihood of weight gain because the body is being provided with energy as it needs it.
The best type of carbohydrate (“good carbs”) also provides dietary fiber and/or essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Some Natural “Good” Carbohydrates
All vegetables provide complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, but green, leafy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, and spinach often provide a more generous dose of vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients.
Oats are a high fiber complex carbohydrate food that can help control cholesterol levels. They are also a good protein provider (13% protein) and contain numerous vitamins and minerals, including manganese—important for collagen production (helps ensure healthy skin).
Semolina is made from durum wheat. It digests slowly in the stomach and its filling nature gives it an appetite suppressing quality that can reduce the likelihood of overeating. Semolina is also a good source of potassium—which can improve kidney function—and other vital minerals beneficial for the bones and nervous system.
An often overlooked complex carbohydrate, quinoa contains twice as much protein as barley or rice and is 64% carbohydrate. Although many people may not be familiar with Quinoa, the United Nations considers it such a nutritious food it named 2013 “International Quinoa Year”. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and is therefore an excellent protein source for vegetarians.
(5) Sunflower seeds
Great for healthy snacking, sunflower seeds are often credited with appetite suppressing abilities. They provide a number of important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, which is particularly good for neutralizing health-damaging free radicals. Vitamin E is known to help protect against heart disease as well.
Lentils are super high in protein and fiber and can reduce cholesterol. Although they are crammed full of nutrients lentils are practically fat-free and quite low in calories. They are also a particularly filling food that can act as a bulking agent and reduce the desire to snack between meals.
They have kind of a silly-sounding name, but yams are so nutritious they deserve to be taken seriously. Each 100g of yam typically provides 118 calories; so they are a good energy provider and can be particularly useful as a pre-workout food. Yams are high in fiber and excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin C, Iron and red blood cell-boosting copper and iron.
(8) Broad Beans
Broad beans are a highly nutritious and somewhat underrated food. Tossing just a handful into a salad or stew can boost the protein and dietary fiber quotient. Broad beans are known to be a very good provider of B vitamins, potassium, zinc, and iron. They are also a source of folate which can help produce the healthy red blood cells that can benefit the body in so many ways, including assisting in muscle growth and repair.
Like olive oil, almonds are high in monounsaturated fats and appear to lower the likelihood of heart disease and help reduce cholesterol levels. High in fiber, they are also packed with vitamins and minerals including biotin, magnesium, copper, and vitamin E.
Rhubarb is high in fiber and low in calories. Typically, 100g of rhubarb provides just 21 calories, but it is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and is high in B-complex vitamins which can help ensure a healthy metabolism and may contribute to weight loss.
Rhubarb is also a good vitamin K provider. Vitamin K helps strengthen the bones, can limit neuronal damage in the brain, and is often used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.