What Really Works For Weight Loss?

Bioidentical progesterone can help with weight loss, but you can maximise your chances with some other natural help as nutrition expert Patrick Holford explains.


This has been a veritable ‘holy grail’ with various slimming elixirs, from starch blockers to stimulants, fat blockers such as the failed Alli drug, with horrendous side-effects, and hyped up raspberry ketones.

Yet, there has been one consistent and healthy pill or powder that reliably delivers results and that is glucomannan fibre.

Glucomannan is used for constipation, weight loss in adults and children, type 2 diabetes, blood sugar control, and lowering cholesterol.

What is Glucomannan?

Derived from the konjac plant, this Japanese food is the best known super-soluble fibre, absorbing 100 times its own weight of water, making you feel full and slowing down the release of sugars from food, effectively lowering the GL. All this is achieved by having 1 to 3 grams, in other words one to three capsules or a flat teaspoon of this tasteless powder with a decent glass of water before a meal.

The effect is instantaneous. It makes you feel fuller, makes you more regular, but does it lead to weight loss? The weight of the evidence to date says yes. So much so, that the notoriously thorough and hard to please European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) have given glucomannan an allowed weight loss claim.

To test its effects researchers headed by Dr Gilbert Kaatz from San Antonia Texas, gave 73 overweight men and women either 1 gram of glucomannan, taken three times a day before meals, or an identical placebo pill for 60 days. This was an ‘open’ study, meaning they were left to get on with it. Of course, not all complied, but the comparison of those that did comply to either taking the placebo or the glucomannan, showed a clear effect for glucomannan.

Those on placebo gained an average of 2.2lbs. Those on glucomannan lost an average of 2.8lbs. So those on glucomannan lost 5lbs more over 60 days. Further analysis found that most of this weight loss, almost 4lbs (3.9lbs) was actually fat loss.

Their body fat also dropped by an equivalent of 1.4%. Cholesterol, and specifically the more harmful LDL cholesterol, reduced by 3mg/dl in those taking glucomannan. This study was recently published online in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

It confirms two other studies, one in Japan and one in the US, which reported an extra 1lb weight loss per week when people took 3 grams a day.

How does it work?

Glucomannan might work in the stomach and intestines by absorbing water to form a bulky fiber which treats constipation. It may also slow the absorption of sugar and cholesterol from the gut, helping to control sugar levels in diabetes, and reducing cholesterol levels.

Glucomannan is a natural, water-soluble dietary fiber extracted from the roots of the elephant yam, also known as konjac. It is available as a supplement, in drink mixes and is also added to food products, such as pasta and flour. It is also the main ingredient in shirataki noodles.

I first reported that glucomannan improved weight loss back in the 1980s when I ran a similar, but smaller study, involving ten people given 3 grams a day for 90 days. One dropped out. Of the remaining nine the average weight loss was 6.5lbs.

So that’s four studies, each showing that glucomannan really does assist weight loss and works in a way that is totally healthy, with no side-effects other than lowering cholesterol. To my mind it’s a no brainer for people with weight to lose as part of a sensible low GL, reduced calorie diet.

Helpful information:

Weight loss can often be a struggle at menopause, so once hormone balance is sorted so that you are getting progesterone to help then an addition to a healthy diet could well be Glucomannan.

It is available in the UK as Carboslow from www.holfordirect.com and for healthy weight loss would be best combined with his low Gi diet or one aimed at reducing oestrogen dominance.