Beta GluCAN’Ts- A Supplement Scam that Won’t Enhance Weight Loss

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Today I want to share with you a blog that is a little different from the ones I have posted in the past. My daughter, Jennifer, is taking her first nutrition course in college and one of her assignments was to write a paper about diet scams. Here it is below. I added some of my own thoughts towards the end.


By Jennifer Giller

There are many supplements on the market that claim to help you lose an absurd amount of weight in an unrealistic amount of time. Often times, these supplements contain ingredients that are not even associated with weight loss.


A specific weight loss supplement I recently saw advertised (name withheld), claims to serve as an alternative to Gastric Bypass surgery. The company claims to have a 90% success rate in substantial weight loss. However, these are baseless claims.


The main ingredient in this product are beta glucans. Beta glucans are a soluble fiber. When ingested, these fibers absorb water and naturally expand. This limits the amount of food that you are able to take in, causing you to feel full throughout the day.


There has been research conducted to study the effects of beta glucans on body weight and health. One such randomized study looked at the addition of beta glucan supplements to a low calorie diet in 66 overweight women over the course of 3 months. The women were placed into 1 of 3 calorie reduced diet groups.  The first group was a control group, the second group received 5-6 grams of beta glucan, and the third group received 8-9 grams of beta glucan supplementations. Height and weight, blood glucose levels, insulin, triglycerides, and leptin measurements were taken at the beginning of the study as well as at the 3 month mark. Other markers of appetite regulation, such as cholecystokinin and ghrelin, were also measured.


At the 3 month mark, all 3 study groups lost weight. All groups also had a lower waist circumference and reductions in some metabolic variables. However, there was no significant difference in weight loss among the groups. Research concluded that the beta glucan supplement did not add to the effectiveness of the low calorie diets in these overweight women.


Other research however, puts a positive spin on this product. Multiple studies have showed that beta glucans may be beneficial towards lowering blood sugars and cholesterol.  The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has already approved a health claim that beta glucans can lower cholesterol and the risks of heart disease as well as lower the risk of getting diabetes along with diabetes associated complications.


Personally, I view beta glucan supplementation marketed as a weight loss solution as a scam. The evidence shows that beta glucans do not have any effect on enhancing weight loss. It is instead putting a ‘band-aid’ on a bigger problem. If you believe that simply supplementing with beta glucans will help you lose weight, you will never learn how to eat or how to maintain your weight without supplements. On the other hand, if you find yourself at risk for heart disease or diabetes, I would suggest you include more food sources of beta glucans in your meals such as oats and legumes.


I hope you found this article as interesting as I did. Thank you Jennifer for your contribution to the blog this week, I am so proud of you.




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