Glucomannan – What is it and its benefits

Glucomannan – What is it and its benefits

Glucomannan is the main reserve polysaccharide obtained from a tuber native to India and China, Amorphophallus Konjac

Supplement for weight loss diets

Recently, I have noticed that our supplementation and dietary products are starting to include this ingredient. In fact, the interest in Konjac is gaining more and more attention as time passes by.

Above all, it is specially useful for weight loss diets, which tend to avoid ingredients such as pasta and rice. This new ingredient will even decrease our hunger.

In principle, it does not have any harmful effects and its satiating effect mainly comes from its hydrophilic properties.

Different studies have proven its efficiency in therapies against obesity and overweight. Moreover, it has been used to regulate the lipid metabolism, as well as for its laxative, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic properties.

What is Glucomannan?

Konjac (KGM) is a polysaccharide that is soluble in water. In other words, it is a dietary fiber.

It is obtained from Amorphophallus Konjac K. Konch, a perennial plant that belongs to the Araceae family.

Konjac plant

For centuries, this plant has been cultivated in Asian countries both for its culinary and medicinal properties.

According to the WHO, Konjac is one of the “10 superior foods for our health”

Properties

Glucomannan barely has any calories and it is quite soluble (1 gram can absorb up to 200ml of water).

That is why glucomannan is so satiating. Moreover, it delays the gastric emptying due to its ability to increase the viscosity of the gastrointestinal content.

Together with plenty of water, it increases the stomach volume, sending hormone signals to the appetite center located in the brain

That way, we can lower the food and calorie intake and use the fatty tissue to obtain energy instead.

Importance of fiber

Let’s not forget that the term dietary fiber is not a single concept

In fact, there are different compounds included in the fiber category: cellulose, hemicellulose, gums, pectin, phytic acid, rutin, lignin and resistant starch.

A fiber deficiency can deeply alter the metabolism and trigger negative consequences in terms of a body fat increase. Soluble fibers are the most important in this aspect.

Like other soluble fibers (oats, millet, guar gum or pectin), Konjac is not digested and instead retains water in the intestinal lumen.

Konjac noodles

 

Benefits of Glucomannan

It has been frequently used as a food supplement, some of its benefits for health being:

  • Lowering the cholesterol
  • Regulating the triglycerides
  • Improving the blood sugar levels
  • Stimulating the bowel activity
  • Supporting the immune function

Moreover, it has been use to improve the glycemia in patients with type II diabetes and other risk factors related to coronary diseases.

It is regarded as SAFE, by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA)

Glucomannan to lose weight

The reason why this product is starting to pop in sport supplementation stores is related to its properties to lose body fat.

It is actually quite obvious as we will see…

Many people want to lower their body fat percentage in order to improve their health or physique. Konjac has proven its effectiveness when it comes to reducing the body fat in obese rats, apart from having anti-inflammatory properties.

Konjac flour undergoes structural changes for this purpose. In fact, it is used to decrease the fat percentage, as well as the glucose and triglycerides.

Pasta

 

Konjac fiber to lose fat

Several research groups assessed the safety and efficacy of Konjac on body weight and BMI in healthy obese children and adults.

They concluded that taking Konjac can help to decrease the body weight in the short term

The action mechanism mainly consists on stimulating the SATIETY. That way, it delays the gastric emptying by becoming a viscous gel in the stomach, slowing down the digestion.

Studies on weight loss

Two researchers (Zalewski and Szajewska) assessed the efficiency of giving KGM to obese children between the ages of 6 and 17.

These children were randomly selected to either take konjac or a placebo, which was made from maltodextrin. The study lasted 3 months with a dose of 3g/day, although it did not reach a final conclusion, it opened a big research field.

However, another study (Onakpoya et al.) examined the efficacy of konjac when it comes to losing body weight. The result was a considerable weight loss and it was not the only positive result of KGM.

More benefits from Konjac

Laxative effect

Another important effect of konjac is its laxative effect, which is why it used to treat constipation. Taking 18-27g of this fiber has proven useful for this purpose.

Intestinal disease

An important use of this fiber would be in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It basically involves a series of multi-factorial disorders that affect the digestive system.

The onset of this disease is closely related to the diet and lifestyle

Even though there are other endogenous factors such as our own intestinal microbiota.

Digestion

The immune inflammation and later chronic immune responses of the bowel mucosa cause these intestinal disorders. For example, it also include Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerous colitis (UC)

Thyroid treatment

Another interesting study has related KGM with a treatment for thyroid disorders. The study concluded that it reduced the thyroxine in patients with hyperthyroidism. In fact, those who took a KGM instead of a placebo showed significant drops in T3, T4, FT3 and FT4.

Prebiotic

The prebiotic effect of these compounds is very important when it comes to sports. For example, it can support the immune system of those athletes who train at a high intensity.

If you want to learn some ways to Improve your Intestinal Flora, click here

Glucomannan Flour

This product is used to cook dietary recipes such as shirataki noodles, as well as pasta and rice.

They are quite useful appetite suppressants, since they produce a feeling of satiety by retaining water. That way, it becomes a viscous substance that inhibits the absorption of other nutrients

Inconveniences and contraindications

Flatulence or abdominal discomfort

We can fix this by suppressing its intake and introducing in the diet gradually

According to some authors and researchers, taking this fiber is a risk for esophageal obstruction. However, it does not happen with normal amounts.

Nutrient absorption

It hinders the nutrient absorption since it becomes a barrier that protects them from the effects of enzymes.

That is why you should not take it around the workout because, even if our objective is losing weight, these meals need to be quickly absorbed.

Despite this quality, it does not limit the absorption of minerals like calcium, iron, copper or zinc

Moreover, it can interact with some medicines due to its ability to delay the intestinal absorption. That is why it is not recommended for patients with gastrointestinal problems.

Conclusions

As you can see, KGM is an extremely versatile bio-material that can have many different uses such as treating:

  • Type II diabetes by decreasing the blood glucose levels.
  • Obesity, by regulating the lipid metabolism, dealing with constipation.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Colorectal cancer.

Products that contain this fiber are very interesting due to their taste and properties that we have previously mentioned.

Glucomannan recipes

Moreover, you can add it to other dishes in order to improve their texture apart from including physicochemical properties such as: solubility, viscosity and water retention.

My Opinion

Overall, it is quite positive when it comes to products that are exclusively made from konjac.

I believe they are quite useful for weight loss diets

If we take the right amounts, it will not only suppress our appetite, but it can also help us meet our dietary fiber requirements.

In addition, you can use it to cook different recipes that will increase the adherence to your weight loss diet.

Konjac Recipes

Konjac rice and chicken

Konjac Rice with Chicken

An easy recipe that you can cook at home. Moreover, it is made with low-calorie konjac rice.

Recipe Tips: Konjac Rice with Chicken

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Portion size: 2
  • Number of servings: 1
  • Cooking style: Asian

Ingredients

  • A bag of rice
  • 125g of chicken breast
  • A spoonful of curry powder for the sauce
Nutritional Information per serving
Calories:320kcal
Fat:1g
of which saturates:0.6g
Carbohydrates:20g
of which sugars:0,2g
Fiber:3,6g
Proteins:25g
Salt:0.2g

How to make: Konjac Rice with Chicken

  1. Strain the konjac rice to remove the liquid it comes in and clean it to get rid of the smell.
  2. Cut the chicken breast and cook them at medium heat in a pan.
  3. To make the sauce, use a little bit of cream and cook it in a pot. Then, add the rice (previously seasoned with the curry) and add the chicken breasts.
  4. Remove from the heat and serve.

Here you have other recipes with Glucomannan

Bibliography

  1. Sudhanshu S. Behera, Ramesh C. Ray. Konjac Glucomannan, a Promisión Polysaccharide of Amorphophallus konjac K. Koch in Health Care. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules

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About Paloma Quintana
Paloma Quintana
Paloma Quintana is passionate about a healthy lifestyle and physical exercise above all. She shares information through her social media about topics related to a healthy diet and sport nutrition.
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