If you are trying to cut down on carbs, but really, really want a piece of pizza, you can simply pop a carb blocker and eat to your hearts content! But do carb blockers really work and if so, how?
Ok, so it is silly to think you can eat all the carbs you want and pop a pill and never gain weight. I personally believe that it is carbs that make us fat, well too many carbs that is. Carbs are good for us. Those carbs that include fruits and vegetables and whole grains. We know simple carbs are not good. Simple carbs such as candy, soda, and junk food break down quickly into glucose and quickly flood our blood with this sugar. Complex carbs break down much slower and don’t have as much sugar. But what if I want carbs and I don’t want to get that glucose dump in my blood causing weight gain?
We have been selling carb blockers (aka starch blockers) in our health food stores for years. They work by blocking the enzyme needed to digest certain carbs. They are made from a group of compounds called alpha-amylase inhibitors, which occur naturally in certain foods such as beans. Many of the starch blockers that you purchase from health food stores are extracted from white kidney beans. Some come in the form of prescription medications called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGI’s), which are used to treat high blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.
When you first smell food, or think of food, your mouth waters. That is actually amylase getting ready to break down the carbs in your mouth as you chew. (Dogs must have a great supply of amylase as we have all seen them drool when faced with food.) Without digestive enzymes, we cannot break down our foods. Think of people who have lactose intolerance. That simply means that they don’t have “lactase” to break down the milk sugars “lactose” and so the milk products can just sit in the gut, causing digestive upset because they cannot be broken down and passed through the system.
Complex carbs are made up of many simple carbs linked together to form chains, which have to be broken down by enzymes before they can be absorbed. Carb blockers contain substances that inhibit 50% – 70% of the enzymes that break down these complex carbs, increasing the amount of time it takes to digest and absorb them. As a result, these carbs then largely pass into the large intestine without being broken down or absorbed. For those of you trying to lose weight, you need to know that the added sugars in processed foods are a big problem. Added sugars are usually simple carbs like sucrose, or fructose. These sugars are not affected by carb blockers ☹ Sad isn’t it?
On a good note, carb blockers have another unintended benefit…they increase the amount of resistant starch (similar to fiber) in the intestines. (They decrease the amount of carbs that are absorbed in the small intestine, thereby increasing the starch that runs through the gut.) When resistant starches pass into the large intestine, gut bacteria ferment them and release gasses (which is why you pass gas when eating a lot of fibrous foods) and beneficial fatty acids. Many studies have shown that resistant starch helps to decrease body fat, increase healthy gut bacteria and improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Bottom line? It can’t hurt to take carb blockers. If you have a hard time giving up carbs, give the carb blockers a try.