Are you looking for a supplement to help with weight loss? You may have heard the term “fat trapper” bandied around and wondered if they can really help you lose weight like the ads so loudly proclaim. Fat trappers and fat absorbers refer to supplements that contain an ingredient known as chitosan. Chitosan is an ingredient derived from the exoskeleton of marine animals such as shrimp or crab that’s being marketed by companies as a way to lose weight without dieting or cutting back on food intake. While the general public seems to be buying into these claims, some believe it sounds too good to be true. Is chitosan for weight loss effective?
How Does Chitosan for Weight Loss Work?
It’s claimed that chitosan can bind to fats in the intestines so that they’re not readily absorbed by the body. This means fewer calories and fat absorbed which should, theoretically, lead to weight loss. It’s also claimed that chitosan can reduce cholesterol levels by the same mechanism.
Is There Any Evidence That Chitosan for Weight Loss Is Effective?
Although several small studies showed that chitosan reduced body fat and lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels in overweight subjects, the studies were not well controlled. A larger, better controlled human trial showed no benefit at all in terms of fat loss, weight loss, or cholesterol levels. Some animal studies have shown that chitosan reduces fat absorption and promotes weight loss, although this has yet to be proven in humans.
Is Using Chitosan for Weight Loss Dangerous?
There’s some concern that if chitosan works, it may bind to vitamins and minerals causing decreased absorption which could lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It’s been shown that Orlistat, a legitimate fat blocking medication, decreases the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. If chitosan truly has fat binding properties, it could also block absorption of these vitamins. Few other serious side effects have been seen. Some chitosan users have experienced problems with mild diarrhea or constipation; and there have been reports of heart palpitations from people taking it, although it’s not clear whether these were directly related to the chitosan. Since chitosan comes from the exoskeleton of crabs and shrimp, there’s the potential for allergic reactions in those who have shellfish allergies.
Chitosan for Weight Loss: The Bottom Line
Currently, there have been no well controlled, large trials showing that chitosan is beneficial for weight loss in humans. Unfortunately, there’s no free ride when it comes to weight loss. The best plan is still eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.