Glucomannan is a tough sounding word for something that’s been a basic building block of Asian cuisine for centuries. A derivative of the Konjac root, Glucomannan is the soluble fiber from that plant. (The insoluble portion is called Galactamanan, if you’re curious.)
But readers of the Great Green Wall probably recognize Glucomannan as a key ingredient in the majority of some highly effective fat-burners. But could there be more to this fibrous compound? Turns out the answer’s a resounding “Yes!” There’s much more to the science and benefits behind this curious plant, and we’ll explore them now.
Konjac and its Fiber
The Konjac root can be prepared as a flour or cut into noodles straight from the fiber. In Japanese cuisine it is known as konnyaku, and you may have seen them at your local grocer or Asian food store.
The Konjac root has also been used in modern manufacturing to mimic the effects of gelatin (which is made from animal byproduct). We’ll discuss the more later, but for now, it’s enough to know that while Konjac may be novel to Western eaters, it’s not by any means a new food item.
The fiber from Konjac has been identified as a food additive for decades now, and has recently been explored for dietary purposes. You may have seen it in top-rated products like Leanbean, and for good reason. In powder form it’s almost 100% fiber, making it one of the most efficient supplements you can get. Now for what specific benefits that fiber gets you, let’s explore further.
Doctors have been telling us for decades that getting more fiber can be the biggest factor in determining if we’re healthy on the inside. Fiber in and of itself can keep us “regular,” as we’ll see below, but the benefits of getting 100% of our fiber extend well beyond the restroom.
Sometimes the easiest approach is staring us right in the face. Millions of us have tried complicated and popular diets, and failed, partly due to how difficult it is to follow complex regimens–especially when our stomachs are involved. Well one study found that simply increasing our fiber had almost the same effects on weight loss as following the entire American Heart Association’s diet.
Another study found that the thing most successful weight loss journeys had in common was fiber consumption. And it turns out Glucomannan may be the most effective fiber for weight loss. One study pitted Glucomannan against two other supplement fibers, and the Glucomannan group lost the most weight.
One of the first ways fibers like Glucomannan helps us with weight loss is by controlling our appetite. Usually we eat because the stomach sends signals to our brains that it's empty. And these signals can be hard to ignore, as they’re among the strongest in our body, triggering the full gamut of emotional responses.
Glucomannan can delay those signals by swelling inside our stomachs, helping us to feel more full sooner into a meal, and for longer afterward, making it a safe appetite suppressant that works with the foods we’re already eating.
What’s more, it appears that Glucomannan directly interrupts Ghrelin, the “hunger” hormone. This means that apart from helping us feel more full, it literally tells our body to stop eating.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could eat the normal amount of fat we always do, and then something went through our digestive tract and cleaned it all up for us? Well, turns out that’s nearly exactly what Fiber does. According to laboratory analysis of thousands of samples, fiber actually makes fat less digestible, so we actually pass it right on through.
One of the main reasons medical institutions have been advising we eat more fiber is for its ability to lower cholesterol. The link has been around for decades, and as little as 5 grams can lower the “bad” cholesterol known as LDL. And Glucomannan is no different. In a review of dozens of available papers, researchers found 14 studies that showed Glucomannan can lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides.
Given all the health benefits of Glucomannan, you can be tempted to think of it as a supplement, only. But remember, Glucomannan is part of a common food. That means the “benefits” of Glucomannan extend out of the body and into the kitchen.
What that means is that you can get all the positive health outcomes associated with Glucomannan in easy vehicles. The following are ready-to-use applications of Konjac powder that can deliver all the benefits of Glucomannan:
Ready to eat, right out of the package, or you can try making your own from whole Konjac root.
In nearly any recipe that calls for a thickening agent, you can use Konjac powder or Glucomannan. It’s flavorless and colorless, so it won’t get in the way of sweet or savory recipes.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can try using Glucomannan powder to set your own candies. It works very similarly to powdered gelatin.
No one thing is perfect in this world, and that includes Glucomannan. Because of its amazing thickening properties, there have been some cases of choking, especially with candies imported from Asia into countries like America and Canada. In fact, because of deaths occurring from this hazard, those candies have since been banned in the US.
Another issue to be wary of is the risk of constipation. There have been a few case studies (individual patients, not occuring in lab studies) where someone took too much Glucomannan, or ate too many konnyaku noodles, and had to seek medical help with constipation.
Nearly every case of choking and constipation can be averted by proper water intake. Because Glucomannan is water-soluble (dissolves completely into water), drinking more can flush it clean from your system.
While many governmental sources have been slow to encourage the use of Glucomannan, I find the studies supporting it to be airtight. While it’s not a cure-all for weight-loss or appetite, it can work for people who are also committed to an eating and exercising regimen.
As long as you're careful how you use it or eat it, it can make a great addition to any diet, and in supplement form it can add a new dimension to your routine.