Chitosan – Does it Really Aid Weight Loss?

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Chitosan as a Weight Loss Supplement (Fat Burner)

In this post you will find out all the details about chitosan which is a popular fat-loss agent used by many bodybuilders.

What is Chitosan?

Chitosan is produced from a substance called chitin, which is a structural element (a sugar derivative) in the shell of crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp, and lobster. In other words, it’s a polysaccharide commonly made into supplement form and sold as a weight-loss (fat-burning) product.

What is Chitosan?

What is Chitosan?

How Does Chitosan Works (Mechanism of Action)?

It can bind dietary fats and bile acids giving it potential as a weight-loss supplement and for treating high cholesterol.

Performance Benefit/Drawback

This polysaccharide assists with weight loss by binding fat consumed in the diet and limiting its absorption in the small intestine. As a result, calorie intake is reduced, resulting in weight loss. It’s important that athletes realize that dietary fat is essential for many functions of the body and decreasing its absorption might have a negative impact on performance. Fat provides essential fatty acids, aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vita­mins, and is an important component of cell membranes.

Research & Scientific Support (What’s the evidence?)

Research related to this substance is relatively limited. Most studies have used nonathlete overweight or obese populations. These studies have looked strictly at chitosan’s ability to reduce body weight compared with a placebo. Most studies suggest chitosan is mildly effective at reducing body weight and body fat. A 2006 study of overweight adults found that 3 g of chitosan per day for 60 days reduced body weight by 2,8 lb (1,3 kg) compared to a 0.8 lb (0.4 kg) gain in body weight for a placebo group (Kaats, Michalek, & Preus). These results are similar to those of three other studies (Egras, 2011).

Meanwhile, 2005 and 2008 reviews of chitosan concluded that effects were minimal and unlikely to be clinically significant (Mhurchu et al, 2005; Jull et al., 2008). Data are still limited, and conclusive recom­mendations cannot be made at this time. In addition, it is unknown if ath­letic performance or recovery is negatively affected as a result of binding essential fatty acids or limiting absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Common usage (safety dosage)

Chitosan is typically supplemented in 1,500-3,000 mg dosages and should be taken in either two 1,500 mg doses before the two biggest (higher-fat) meals of the day or in three separate 1,000 mg doses before meals. Any less may not be as effective, as studies show that doses below 1 gram taken before meals were less efficient at blocking fat absorption and aiding fat loss.

Health concerns (Are there any side effects?)

This weight-loss supplement should be avoided by anyone with a shellfish allergy. Otherwise, chitosan appears to be sale and well tolerated. However, adverse effects such as constipation, flatulence, increased stool bulkiness, bloating, nausea, and heartburn have been reported. A recent meta­-analysis on chitosan found that 1.2 -6.75 g of chitosan per day reduced totaI cholesterol by 11.5 mg/dL, suggesting its cholesterol lowering effects are modest.

Closing thoughts

We suggest using chitosan only before meals that are higher in saturated fat, such as from fatty meats, dairy and typical vegetable oils such as those used in deep-frying and cooking. Avoid using this substance around meals rich in healthy fats, such as salmon, olive oil, nuts and avocado, as well as when you take fish oil supplements. Taking chitosan around these times will block the absorption of these healthy fats that actually enhance your health and fat loss. Adding it to your routine with a goal of weight loss will be ineffective if you do not have a calorie restricted diet and exercise plan in place.

Overall Score

5.0 OK
  • for reducing body weight and body fat 6
  • for treating high cholesterol 7
  • for athletic performanse 2
  • User Ratings (2 Votes) 7.7
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