If you are on a diet, it is very likely that you have thought about eating and not gaining weight. Every time we consume larger portions of food, it makes weight control almost impossible. Wouldn't it be great to reduce the amount of calories we absorb at each meal?
Chitosan is a supplement capable of reducing the absorption of fats from our diet. Although it will not allow you to eat as much as you want without gaining weight, its "fat-catching" effect could be useful for losing a few extra pounds. If you are not convinced, be sure to take a look at our latest Supplement Guide below.
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- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Chitosan Supplements
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Chitosan Supplements
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Chitosan is a compound obtained from shellfish. It is capable of binding to dietary fat, preventing its absorption.
- Vegans and allergy sufferers will be able to find vegetable based chitosan. It comes from a fungus and has actions similar to those of the marine chitosan.
- When choosing a chitosan supplement, we must take into account its origin (animal or vegetable), its allergenic potential, its content in additional ingredients, its expiration and its value for money.
Our Selection: The Best Chitosan Supplements
In the following section you will find chitosan supplements that we have chosen for their quality and effectiveness. We have taken into account important aspects as the purity of the product or the presence of allergens. We have also considered previous consumer opinions. If you choose any of the following items, you will not regret it!
Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Chitosan Supplements
What is chitosan and how does it work?
|Biomedicine|| Healing of wounds
Immune system enhancer
|Pharmacy|| Coating (pills and capsules)
Active ingredient stabilizer
|Chemistry|| Substitute for other compounds
|Dietetics|| Weight management
This approach has catapulted the popularity of chitosan, making it one of the most popular "weight loss" supplements. Although some people have been able to improve their figure thanks to this supplement, there are experts who are skeptic.
In the fields of dietetics and nutrition, chitosan supplements are used for weight control. This compound has demonstrated an ability to attract and bind to fat particles in food, preventing its intestinal absorption. In this way, lipid removal would be increased, decreasing body weight (2).
Can a chitosan supplement help me lose weight?
However, the actual effectiveness of chitosan on weight loss is a topic that has given rise to numerous discussions in the medical community. Plenty of studies have been carried out on this compound, finding contradictory results. The Cochrane Guide has combined the available data, creating a meta-analysis. We summarize it in the following table (2):
|Date of meta-analysis||2008|
|Effect on weight (vs. placebo)||Reduction of 3.7 lb|
|Effect on cholesterol (compared to placebo)||Reduction of 0.2 nanomoles/liter|
|Effect on blood pressure (versus placebo)||Diastolic and systolic pressure reduction|
|Fat excretion (vs. placebo)||No change|
|Side effects (vs. placebo)||Not detected|
It can be seen that chitosan could improve (modestly) weight loss in the people studied. Furthermore, this reduction in body mass is accompanied by better control of cholesterol and blood pressure. Control of these two parameters will be crucial in improving your health, reducing the appearance of cardiovascular disease.
However, this Cochrane meta-analysis has as many highlights as it does downsides. Experts admit that this large-scale study has several weaknesses, requiring further analysis of this supplement in the future. The following list summarizes the scientists' main objections to experimenting with chitosan:
- The duration of the studies: The analyzed studies have a duration of between four and six weeks. This time, according to the experts, does not allow to fully appreciate the effects of chitosan.
- Study population: The people used for these studies had different habits, diets, activity levels, and health levels. Despite the fact that these characteristics influence weight loss, they were not considered by most researchers.
- Conflicts of Interest: The studies produced by the manufacturers of chitosan supplements could be slightly modified, giving better results to their products.
- The general conclusions: The most reliable way to lose weight is by adopting healthy habits. Although a chitosan supplement can accelerate the loss of body mass, its effect will only be significant if it is combined with diet and exercise. Experts fear that its indiscriminate use will lead people to forget this scientific evidence.
What is vegetable chitosan?
The "vegetable chitosan" is a compound that is obtained from a fungus (generally Aspergillus niger) (3). Its manufacturers assure that this supplement has a “fat-picking” activity similar to marine chitosan. In addition, it would be less allergenic and would provide a small amount of fiber.
The truth is that we have very little information on supplements based on Aspergillus niger. Although considered a safe compound and an alternative to animal chitosan, people with a weakened immune system should be especially cautious. Choose a product with processed and inactivated fungi to avoid possible infections (4).
Who can benefit from a chitosan supplement?
- You are a young person and in good previous health
- You are moderately overweight, which does not require medical intervention.
- You can't (or don't want to) use fat burning supplements.
- You plan to combine the use of chitosan with diet and an exercise program
- Your diet is normal or low calorie
Unfortunately, weight loss is one of the most complex and difficult processes to control in the health field. For this reason, it must be accompanied by a series of healthy habits (diet, exercise, adequate rest and abstaining from drugs). This will be the only way to achieve your fat loss goals.
How do you use chitosan supplements?
- Dosage: The dose of chitosan usually ranges from 600 to 2500 milligrams a day, generally divided into several doses. The most common regimen is 250 mg, four times a day.
- Time of day: The main manufacturers of chitosan advise taking their product before meals. In the studies analyzed, no special emphasis is made at the time of supplementation. Reference is made to the fat-picking effect of this molecule, which takes place during digestion.
- Diet: In official studies conducted with chitosan supplements, individuals eat healthy, normal, or low-calorie diets.
On many occasions, chitosan supplements are marketed as items that will allow you to eat "anything you want." However, remember that this supplement is capable of capturing 30% of the dietary fat. Although it can minimize the effect of a "binge", it cannot prevent us from gaining weight if your habits are not healthy.
Are chitosan supplements safe?
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
This preparation has been used successfully in people with chronic diseases (such as kidney failure), although we recommend that chronic patients consult their doctor before starting any new treatment. This advice also extends to pregnant women and minors.
The main problem that can appear during the consumption of chitosan supplements in healthy people are the drug and nutritional interactions. This supplement could interfere with the actions of warfarin, an anticoagulant drug. Furthermore, the abuse of chitosan could hinder the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) (6).
When an item is primarily of animal origin, such as chitosan, finding a good quality supplement is essential. The composition of this supplement (and that of its vegetable alternative) must be carefully examined in order to purchase a safe and effective product. In this section, we go over what to look for when choosing a chitosan supplement.
Vegan or Vegetarian Diet
If you are vegan, choose a product based on Aspergillus niger or another fungus suitable for human consumption. Do not be confused by certain supplements that offer "vegetable chitosan" that actually have chitosan of marine origin wrapped in a cellulose capsule. Those items are obviously not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
Most shellfish allergies are due to an intolerance to the meat (and not the shell) of these animals (8). For this reason, some manufacturers of marine chitosan claim that their product can be consumed even by those allergic to shellfish. However, if you are not sure of the extent of your allergy, choose an item based on vegetable chitosan.
Remember that chitosan supplements may also contain coating substances or other ingredients that act as allergens. If you are allergic to soy, lactose, gluten or nuts, among others, demand a product that is properly labeled and that proves to be allergen-free.
It is not uncommon to find supplements that combine chitosan with other fat-burning and "fat-picking" supplements. It is also very common for this item to be combined with vitamins and minerals that contribute to the normal metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. The following combinations are the most popular:
- Chitosan and Garcinia cambogia
- Chitosan and green tea extract
- Chitosan and chromium
- Chitosan and artichoke extract
- Chitosan and glucomannan
- Chitosan and vitamin C
From this guide, we advise against the indiscriminate use of weight loss combinations. Its side effects can be unpredictable and dangerous, as they have not been studied in sufficient depth. The combination between chitosan and Garcinia cambogia has been studied, probably being safe for supplementation in healthy people (9).
Conservation and Expiration
Chitosan seems to be a very resistant compound to weather. Even so, it is recommended to keep it in a cool and dry place, away from aggressive temperatures and odors. This molecule will lose its ability to bind fats progressively after its expiration date (10).
Chitosan supplements are a safe and environmentally friendly tool that can help you achieve better weight control. This molecule, derived from the waste of crustaceans, will absorb a part of the fats in your diet, reducing the calories consumed with each meal.
However, this supplement will not be able to do anything against an unhealthy diet. Use it if you need additional help during your weight loss program, but don't forget that you are the only one who can reshape your body. There are no shortcuts or magic pills, but there are potential allies that will help you in your fight against those pesky extra pounds.
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