What are Carb Blockers?

Carb blockers are a nutrition supplement that help to prevent a portion of the carbohydrates that are consumed from being digested.  Carbohydrate blockers inhibit the enzymes required for carbohydrate digestion.  This leads to less carbs, sugars and starches being digested which can help to keep the body in ketosis. 

Clinical studies have shown that 50–65 percent of carb-digesting enzymes blocked (5).  However its important to note that inhibiting carbohydrate-digesting enzymes do not necessarily result in stopping carbohydrates themselves from being broken down and digested.  By reducing the amount of carb-digesting enzymes it slows down and  blocks some absorption of carbohyrdates (6). 
 
One study discovered that even while a potent carb blocker could inhibit 97 percent of the enzymes, it only prevented 7 percent of the carbs from being absorbed  (6).  This is possible because carb blockers do not directly prevent carb absorption.  They may merely lengthen the time it takes the enzymes to digest them resulting in a fraction of the carbs from being digested. 
 

This is possible because carb blockers do not directly prevent carb absorption.  They may merely lengthen the time it takes the enzymes to digest them.  Another explanation for the inhibitor's ineffectiveness could be that the binding process of the inhibitor to the amylase enzyme is significantly modified by pH, temperature, and co-ingestion with specific ions (i.e., nitrate, chloride, bromide, iodide, thiocyanate, and calcium ions).

It is also worth noting that the pancreas has the ability to boost amylase secretion.  This is especially likely to happen if you take a carb blocker, which slows down the digestion process.

Having said that, according to multiple clinical studies and research;  arb blockers can still be useful for assisting in weight loss and boosting general health.

2 Types of Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates and complex carbs are the two basic types of digestible carbs.  Simple carbohydrates are naturally found in foods such as fruits, milk products, sugar drinks, sweets, and flavored yogurt.  Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, can be found in foods such as pasta, bread, rice, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.  Complex carbohydrates are composed of multiple simple carbohydrates joined together to create chains that must be broken down by enzymes before they can be absorbed.

How Do Carbohydrate Blockers Work?

Carb blockers, also known as starch blockers, can help block the enzymes needed to digest certain carbs.  Some types are sold as weight loss supplements. They’re made from a group of compounds called alpha-amylase inhibitors, which occur naturally in certain foods.

These compounds are usually extracted from beans and are referred to as Phaseolus vulgaris extract or white kidney bean extract (1, 2, 3).

Others come in the form of prescription medications called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs), which are used to treat high blood sugar in type 2 diabetics (4).

Carb Blockers Are Divided Into Two Types

The 2 most common Carb Blockers are either, White kidney bean extract (also known as Phaseolus vulgaris extract) or Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors.  Both function by blocking certain enzymes required for carbohydrate digestion.

White kidney bean extract acts by blocking amylase, an enzyme found in saliva and secreted into the small intestine by the pancreas that breaks particular bonds that hold starch (long chains of glucose molecules) together.  This is the most well-known and investigated carb blocker.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs) are a type of prescription drug used to treat high blood sugar in type 2 diabetics.  These carb blockers function by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, which aids in the breakdown of long chains of sugar molecules in the small intestine.

Although you can't buy this carb blocker as a supplement, you can get its effects from a natural supplement that contains a Salacia plant extract.
Salacia plants are a naturally occurring source of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors.

Several investigations on these plants have yielded encouraging results for glucose management and appetite suppression.

In short, both supplements work to prevent carb digestion by preventing the function of various carb-specific enzymes.  This means that certain carbs will pass through the digestive tract as fiber, aiding in blood sugar regulation and weight loss in persons who get the majority of their calories from starchy foods and other complex carbs (not processed foods with simple sugars).

(Please keep in mind that carb blockers do not limit the absorption of simple carbohydrates like table sugar, fruit juice, sweetened beverages, and corn syrup.)

Carb Blockers FAQ

What is a Carb blocker?

Carbohydrate blockers contain ingredients that limit carbohydrate absorption in the digestive tract.  Typically derived from White Kidney beans.  Excess carbohydrate consumption has been linked to obesity and weight gain (1) and Carb blockers aim to assist in weight loss by stopping a portion of carbohydrates from being digested. 

How do carb blockers work?

A carb blocker is a medication that prevents carbs from being absorbed into the bloodstream by “stopping" their breakdown in the body.  Carbohydrate blockers prevent some enzymes from breaking down and digesting carbs, causing them to pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed.

This means that the body does not absorb any of the calories, nutrients, or glucose from the carbohydrate molecule.

What percentage of carbs do carb blockers block?

Approximately 7% of carbs are blocked by carb blockers, according to one study discovered that even while a potent carb blocker could inhibit
97% of the enzymes, it only prevented 7% of the carbs
from being absorbed  (6).

How much weight can you lose with Carb blockers?

Several studies have indicated that carb blockers can help you lose between 4.4 and 6.6 pounds.
By inhibiting the production of enzymes responsible for carbohydrate, sugar, and starch digestion  (5).

In one research of carb blockers, participants dropped between 2 and 5.5 pounds (0.95–2.5 kg). However, in another study, people lost up to 8.8 pounds (4 kg) more than the control group (7, 8, 9, 10).

Those who use Carb Blocker pills lose an average of 4.4–6.6 pounds (2–3 kg) (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Are carb blockers dangerous?

Carb blockers are generally considered safe, but make sure to buy them from a reputable source.  However, when carbs are digested by bacteria in the large intestine, the gasses released can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, and cramping are some of the symptoms (1, 5).

Work Cited :

Work Cited

Mojica, L.  “Optimization of enzymatic production of anti-diabetic peptides from black bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) proteins, their characterization and biological potential "  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26824775/

Brugge, W.  “Impairment of starch absorption by a potent amylase inhibitor" https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2440298/

Barrett, M. “A proprietary alpha-amylase inhibitor from white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): a review of clinical studies on weight loss and glycemic control"  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21414227/

Carai, M.  “Potential efficacy of preparations derived from Phaseolus vulgaris in the control of appetite, energy intake, and carbohydrate metabolism “ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21437128/

Mosca, M.  “Determination of alpha-amylase inhibitor activity of phaseolamin from kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) in dietary supplements by HPAEC-PAD “ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18486657/

DiNicolantonio, J.  “Acarbose: safe and effective for lowering postprandial hyperglycaemia and improving cardiovascular outcomes "  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26512331/