All of the recent hype about the Alli fat blocker has me thinking once again about carb blockers. Back in January, I made a post about carb blockers, also called starch neutralizers. Typically, these are amylase inhibiting compounds extracted from "phaseolus vulgaris", a kind of kidney bean. They are supposed to prevent a portion of incoming starch from being broken down by the natural enzymes of the digestive system and turned into sugar. This blocks only starch carbs, not sugar. Theoretically, while on the blocker, we could eat pasta but not dessert. Even so, because they only block a portion of your starches, it would be impossible to know how many carbohydrates were actually metabolized.
I have not tried carb blockers myself. Before buying some, I want to know if any of my readers have had any experience with them? Are there any side effects? Do they actually work?
If my readers respond with no significant negative side effects and some reports of success, I think it may be worth buying some to experiment with. I think my first experiment may be to enter ketosis, take the inhibitor, eat a bowl of pasta and see if ketosis stops. Another good test would be to use a diabetic kit to see if blood sugar increases when eating starchy foods while on an inhibitor. Do any of you have other ideas of how to test the effectiveness of carb blockers?
I have not found very much quality information about these products. The following text is from a research paper titled, "A Dietary Supplement Containing Standardized Phaseolus Vulgaris Extract Influences Body Composition of Overweight Men and Women". The entire text can be found at http://www.medsci.org/v04p0045.htm.
How do the amylase inhibitors work? Before crossing the intestinal wall, all complex carbohydrates (i.e., starches) must be hydrolyzed to their monosaccharide units, in most cases glucose . There are several enzymes involved in this process: a-amylase present in saliva and pancreatic juice, which converts complex carbohydrates into oligosaccharides, and various other enzymes (maltase, lactase, etc.) present in the brush border of the small intestine that convert these oligosaccharides to monosaccharides that can then be absorbed. Glucose and other monosaccharides generated through this process are transported via the hepatic portal vein to the liver. Monosaccharides that are not immediately utilized for energy are stored for future energy needs as glycogen in the liver or as fat (triglycerides) in adipose tissue, liver, and plasma .
We believe the mechanism behind the weight loss relies on the reported a-amylase-inhibiting activity of the Phaseolus vulgaris extract [15-19]. Phaseolus vulgaris
extract has been shown in vitro to inhibit the activity of a-amylase and may help promote weight loss by interfering with the digestion of complex carbohydrates to simple, absorbable sugars, potentially reducing carbohydrate-derived calories [30,31]. Also, slowing of the rapid absorption of carbohydrates would favorably influence the insulin system that could, in turn, lead to lesser fat accumulation . We have previously shown in a rat model the ability of so-called “carbohydrate blockers” to prevent early absorption of rice starch and sucrose and prevent insulin resistance .
Even after reading this, I am not clear on how the carb blockers affect the pancreas and whether or not this is a health risk. Before trying carb blockers, I want to better understand how they work and the level of risk.