Fat blockers, like carb blockers and carbohydrates, bind with the fat in your diet and prevent them from being absorbed by the body. The main fat blocking ingredient is chitosan, which is similar to dietary fiber. Like fiber, they pass through the digestive tract without being digested, but it also reportedly absorbs between 6 and 10 times its weight in fat.
Chitosan is a very simple substance which has been around for quite a while – I remember when it first came out back in the 90's. The drug “ Xenical” was out about the same time and it did pretty much the same thing. In fact, chitosan was promoted as the natural alternative. Now, we have a product like “Alli” which is really the same concept but with a lot more information available along with the product itself. So, chitosan is taken from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans. It's processed by removing the shells from shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, and crabs. The shells are then ground into a powder, which is then stripped of specific chemical groups which allows the compound to absorb fats This concept goes back to the days when fats were thought to be the main “culprit” regarding weight gain. At that time, no thought was being given to carbohydrates, in fact high amounts of carbs were being routinely recommended. This was the era when, despite a lot of aerobic exercise and low fat dieting, people were still overweight. This is because they were eating way to many carbohydrates and as we now know, more carbs then the body can use for energy will be stored as fat. Of course, to much of any type of calorie can lead to body fat storage and both fat and carbs need to be monitored to help control fat gain: it's not only total calories it's the type and timing of those calories that matter.
- Help reduce body fat levels by absorbing fat calories in your diet.
- May help lower cholesterol.
As a type of fiber, you will get some of the benefits of regular fiber products such as help with high cholesterol but the function of a fat blocker is primarily as a weight loss aid. However, a quick look at the main benefits of typical fiber products can give insight into what a fat blocker based on chitosan may be helpful with:
- Normalizes bowel movements – Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may also help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool. For some, fiber may provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome.
- Helps maintain bowel health – A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon,researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
- Lowers blood cholesterol levels – Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flax seed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that increased fiber in the diet can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which is also protective to heart health.
- Helps control blood sugar levels – Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Uncertain effect on colorectal cancer – Evidence that dietary fiber reduces colorectal cancer is mixed — some studies show benefit, some show nothing and some suggest increased risk. If you're concerned about preventing colorectal cancer, adopt or stick with a colon cancer screening regimen. Regular testing for and removal of colon polyps can prevent colon cancer.
Would you use a fat blocker for all of these reasons? Probably not, but you may find yourself getting some of these benefits regardless.
As with many of the products discussed in this guide, most fat blocker products are formula products, although you can buy chitosan by itself. They are typically available as a tablet or capsule, I haven't seen any powder versions. Some of them are combined with carb blockers for that extra effect. I recommend combining products for best results: I would add a thermogenic and thyroid support product to the combination of a fat and carb blocker. As always, read the label to understand what you are buying and make sure you buy to your goal. Fat blockers are taken before meals, be sure to follow label instructions as to dosage.