Fiber is an essential element that our bodies need in order to function properly. It’s best known for helping with digestion and intestinal issues, though it can also lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. One of the additional benefits of fiber—both soluble and insoluble—is the feeling of fullness it provides; foods with a high fiber content tend to keep us feeling satisfied for longer and aide with fat loss. Fiber-rich foods include beans, avocados, pears, peas, and oatmeal—foods that most of us don’t get enough of in our everyday diet, despite its importance to our overall health.
Glucomannan – A Traditional Plant-based Fiber Food
One natural way to add more fiber into your diet is with the konjac plant, also known as devil’s tongue due to its spiked flower. The konjac’s corm—a swollen underground stem similar to a plant bulb—is nearly half comprised of glucomannan, an exceptionally fibrous substance frequently ground into a powder. Konjac plants are native to Japan and China, and can grow as far south as Indonesia.
Both Japanese and Chinese cultures use glucomannan and parts of the konjac plant in their traditional cuisine. It has a very mild taste, but is valued for its texture. Shirataki noodles in Japan, for example, are mainly made from glucomannan. The substance is also sometimes used as a thickener or gel.
With the current low-carb diets trending hard these days, no-carb, no-calorie glucomannan based noodles and food products are starting to be demanded in North America. Glucomannan supplements are also becoming available, in powder, tablet or capsule form, for more concentrated consumption.
Glucomannan and Fat Loss
Because it contains so much fiber, glucomannan is often recommended to ease constipation and reduce cholesterol. Due to its satiating properties, many also consider it useful for weight loss. While it has traditionally been used in these capacities throughout Eastern history, Western science is now catching up to the cultural lore, beginning to prove some of the many benefits of glucomannan that many have sworn by for so long.
In one four-month-long study, 200 patients ranging from overweight to obese took a glucomannan mixture either twice per day, three times per day, or took a placebo instead. By the end of the study, those taking glucomannan had lost over four times as much weight as those taking the placebo. Notably, it did not seem to matter whether glucomannan was taken two or three times a day; its mere presence, in any quantity, was enough to produce fat loss, and both glucomannan groups reported feeling full more quickly and more often.
A second study tracked glucomannan’s impact on the amount test subjects ate at each meal. An hour before eating, some of the patients took a glucomannan supplement, but none of those participating in the study made any changes to their diet or exercise patterns. After eight weeks, the glucomannan group had lost over five pounds, and their cholesterol levels had plummeted.
Other studies have investigated glucomannan’s effect on children, or the effect of various forms of the konjac plant on weight loss. The general conclusion of all research on glucomannan, to date, is that the group supplementing their diet is significantly more likely to lose weight than the control group.
Our Lean on Glucomannan
Glucomannan is a fantastic source of gelatinous fiber, with a rich history of helping humans thrive and stay healthy. Having long been used as a traditional cuisine and a digestive aide in Asian cultures, recent research is beginning to confirm glucomannan’s effectiveness for weight loss and general health.
To be clear, the konjac plant is not a miracle drug that will cause you to magically shed pounds overnight. But glucomannan can help contribute to a healthy lifestyle that is conducive to fat loss. Providing a gentle, detoxifying cleanse for your digestive tract, it helps to keep your digestion running smoothly. And by creating a feeling of fullness, it’s a useful tool for controlling your eating, encouraging less fat storage and making you healthier and slimmer overall.
As a side note, remember that when you increase any kind of fiber in your diet, it’s also important to increase your water intake. Fiber soaks up many times its weight in water, so you can easily feel less energetic, worn, or dehydrated if you continue to drink the same amount of water. Additionally, the initial boost of fiber in your diet may take a couple of days for your deprived body to adjust to – so you may experience increased trips to the restroom for the first day or two as well.