White Kidney Bean Extract – How it Helps to Cut Carbs photo Rasbank / wikimedia

White Bean Extract is a natural substance extracted from kidney beans and sold as a weight loss supplement. It is widely available for purchase, either online, or in natural food stores (and stores specializing in dietary supplements as well). The extract is made from common beans you can find in every market, although the process of extraction is claimed to separate their beneficial ingredients from those leading to gastrointestinal distress. The extracted supplement inhibits the action of alpha-amylase enzyme (a natural substance produced by the organism) and in effect blocks the transformation of carbohydrates into glucose (sugar).

However, it does not mean that no glucose is digested at all, since another enzyme – glucoamylase – transforms carbohydrates while being unaffected by the extract. Similarly, the beans will not block fat, protein or simple carbohydrates like sugar. It is the absorption of complex carbohydrates that is blocked by the supplement. Therefore it is suggested to use the extract before meals containing complex carbohydrates such as starch: pasta, rice, potatoes, cornmeal, wheat and other grains, quinoa.

The list of the White Beans Extract benefits is quite long. As mentioned above, it’s main objective is to cause weight loss by blocking complex carbohydrates metabolism. It is also claimed to reduce the level of triglycerides as well as to be helpful in cases of degenerative arthritis. The producer of the extract mentions many additional benefits of their product. Thanks to containing the antioxidants, the supplement prevents free radicals from spreading around the body, which protects you from cancer. As it contains vitamins and folic acid, the supplement has some heart boosting properties. Other ingredients, namely fiber and molybdenum, are claimed to help the body in getting rid of toxins and sulfites from prepared food. Finally, the vitamin B1 is the supplement’s ingredient that enhances your memory.

There is some convincing empirical data that confirm White Bean Extract’s weight loss effectiveness. Experiments performed in Italy and China has shown that this supplement not only helps to lose weight and lowers the glycemic index (GI) of foods, but also reduces the level of ghrelin, also known as ‘the hunger hormone’. So, apart from diminishing the glucose absorption, the extract prolongs the period of satiety after the meal.

As with every diet supplement, the White Bean Extract weight loss comes with a price of side effects. The main problem is that undigested carbohydrates are broken down  by bacteria that naturally live in the intestinal system. This leads to production of carbon dioxide and methane, which in turn causes gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, stomach pains, constipation, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and other. Another difficulty is that artificially stimulated low-carb diet might lead to ketosis, a metabolic disorder caused by an accumulation of ketones. These chemicals are a byproduct of the fat burning process. Abnormally high level of ketones in the organism leads to a massive excretion of sodium and water, which in turn makes people feel languid and tired.

White Bean Exctract might be inappropriate for people with kidney problems, as the protein excess it causes creates an extra burden on kidneys by making them work harder to reabsorb protein metabolites. Since the supplement might significantly diminish the sugar income to the organism, patients with diabetes should check  their blood levels while using the product. It should not be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women as the possible side effects in such cases remain unknown.

Given the fact that lists of its potential benefits as well as side effects are both very long, the White Bean Extract engenders a lot of controversy among the dieticians. The biggest proponent of the supplement is the popular cardiothoracic surgeon and television personality Dr. Oz. He claims that the extract is an effective ‘metabolism booster’ and recommends taking 500 milligrams of it every day before big meal.

Other dieticians are not as enthusiastic, however. They claim that blocking the digestion of starches and speeding up the metabolism rate are two completely different things. First of all, they point out that the process of complex carbohydrates digestion starts already in your mouth, because the alpha-amylase is present in our salivary glands. The second objection is that even if some percentage of starch gets prevented from digesting, it does more harm than help, because the metabolism of important nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals gets blocked simultaneously. The ‘sceptical’ dieticians particularly protest the popular assumption that the extract creates a way to cheat on your diet, since it allows to decrease the sugar income from bigger meals (remember that the weight loss beans do not block the digestion of neither fats nor simple carbohydrates). They also warn consumers from buying cheap versions of the supplement, as these are unhelpful because of containing too small amounts of the active ingredient, namely phaseolamin.

So what’s the final verdict, is the extract really worth using? The interesting paradox of the White Bean Extract becomes apparent when we read producer’s indications concerning the proper use of the product. Since too much of undigested carbohydrates might cause gastrointestinal problems, it is suggested to adopt a low-carbohydrate diet when taking the supplement. So the proper use of a calorie burner requires consuming less calories. As long as it indeed may seem paradoxical, you can reframe it in the following way: the beans not only reduce the amount of calories your body absorbs, but also motivate you to eat less. And you will have to eat less anyway, since this supplement is not a long-term solution for weight loss (the weight can be easily regained after stopping the treatment). After all, this is why it is called a diet supplement, not a cure for obesity. Apart from the use supplements, a proper diet and regular exercise are a necessity.

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