I’ve read some convincing ads about starch blockers. Do they work and can I eat all the starch I want?

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I’ve read some pretty convincing ads about starch blockers. Do they really work and can I really eat all the starch I want?

No. I had thought we had heard the last of the starch blocker issue when the FDA banned them. Starch blockers do not prevent you from absorbing starch and do not live up to their advertising claims.

Starch blockers were derived from raw kidney beans. An alpha-amylase inhibitor was the substance derived from the beans. Amylase is the enzyme produced by your body that breaks down starch into glucose (blood sugar). The amylase inhibitor was supposed to prevent starch from being broken down by Amylase then absorbed. The starch then supposedly passed through you undigested and magically, no calories from the starch.

Some short-term studies have shown that starch blockers did not perform as advertised. Studies by Dr. George Bo-Linn at Baylor University Medical Center showed that no more starch was excreted with starch blockers than with placebos (sugar pills). Two explanations were suggested: the pancreas may produce much more amylase than is needed in the first place; the starch blocker may have a protein-carbohydrate (glycoprotein) form that the body can digest before it can begin blocking.

The FDA acted to remove starch blockers from the market because their safety and effectiveness have not been proven. One noticeable negative effects of starch blockers have been excessive gas (from the kidney beans) and stomach distention.

An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine put it well. “There is still no calorie-free lunch.” Today, the best method for permanent weight loss is to focus on permanently changing eating habits.