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Do Carb & Fat Blockers Work?

by
author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Do Carb & Fat Blockers Work?
The right blocker can aid weight loss. Photo Credit Buba1955/iStock/Getty Images

With so many weight-loss supplement manufacturers making unsupported claims, it's normal to question the effectiveness of the supplements you come across. Blocker-type, weight loss supplements prevent your body from absorbing carbohydrates or fat, to promote weight loss through reduced calories. Although you may find various substances and formulas marketed as fat and carb blockers, only one specific fat blocker and one specific carb-blocking substance appear to work. Never take fat blockers without speaking with your doctor first -- they can have harmful side effects, including serious effects if you have an underlying health condition.

Orlistat Is an Effective Fat Blocker

If you're looking to implement a fat blocker into your weight loss program, your best bet is Orlistat. Marketed under the names Alli and Xenical, Orlistat is the only FDA-approved, over-the-counter fat blocker. It blocks some of the fat you eat, so that instead of absorbing it, your body excretes it as waste. Orlistat inhibits intestinal enzymes called lipases, whose job it is to break down fat. When first approved in February of 2007, a Fox News article reported that Orlistat blocks 25 percent of the fat you consume. Today, the Alli website states that Alli can help you drop one additional pound for every two pounds you lose.

White Kidney Bean Extract Is an Effective Carb Blocker

Supplement manufacturers market a number of substances and formulas as carbohydrate blockers, but the only one with some scientific support is white kidney bean extract. White kidney bean extract contains a substance that reduces the absorption of starch, which according to a clinical review published in the 2007 issue of the "Nutrition Journal," has been tested in numerous studies. Researchers write that a specific white kidney bean product called Phase 2 Carb Controller is shown to effectively cause weight loss at the manufacturer recommended dosages. In addition, Phase 2 Carb Controllers helps prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Blocker Side Effects and Precautions

By nature, any supplement that alters how your body works can cause side effects, and fat and carb blockers are no exception. Carb blockers may cause mild gastrointestinal side effects and may lower blood sugar -- something to watch for if you have diabetes. Fat blockers may cause gastrointestinal issues such as gas, increased bowel movements, oily stools, oily discharge and oily spotting of your undergarments. This is because some of the fat you eat passes through your body undigested. If these side effects become excessive, this may mean that you need to reduce your fat intake. If you take fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, take them between main meals, as fat blockers reduce the body's ability to digest fat-soluble vitamins.

Long-Term Weight Maintenance

Maintaining a healthy weight over the long run comes down to eating a nutritionally balanced diet. When you're making food choices, think about nutrition first. Ask yourself whether the food in question is nutrient dense -- and if it's not -- consider a healthier option. A good way to start is to practice a "this instead of that" mindset to help evaluate your food choices. If you're craving french fries, have crispy, oven-baked, sweet potato wedges instead. When your sweet tooth needs a fix, instead of reaching for ice cream, have a frozen banana blended smooth with your favorite fruit. If you normally reach for pizza as comfort food, stuff some portobello mushrooms with your favorite toppings such as reduced-fat mozzarella, tomato sauce, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Make snack time healthier by having low-fat yogurt with a handful of almonds -- instead of, for example, reaching for a pastry.

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