Chitosan, also known as chitin, is a natural extract used in capsule and liquid forms to help treat obesity and high cholesterol. The makers of chitosan containing products claim it can bind to dietary fat in the digestive system and prevent it from being absorbed. The undigested fat then passes through the body naturally with few side effects.
But how much fat can chitosan absorb? I found claims that for each gram of product, approximately 8 grams of fat is absorbed. With optimal dosage being somewhere between 1.2g to 4.5g a day that's a significant amount, eight times that, of dietary fat that could be bound.
To understand how it can possibly achieve such a ratio of fat binding, it is necessary to look into the types of chitosan available before I analyze supplements that contain this as a key ingredient.
Types of Chitosan
Chitosan is a natural fiber that can be obtained from vegan or non-vegan sources. Most studies focus on the traditional form of the substance, the non-vegan variety. But some research has been done to look into vegan sourced chitosan.
Both kinds are comparable in terms of effectiveness but differ in how well they can be tolerated. Vegan chitosan tends to be better tolerated than non-vegan.
- Vegan – The vegan form of chitosan is an Aspergillus niger mycelium mushroom extract, a fungus extract. While that may sound unpleasant by the time the extract has been packaged into capsule form it bears no resemblance to its original form. It tends to be well tolerated by most people without side effects. An example of a vegan chitosan supplement is Proactol XS.
- Non-vegan – Obtained from crabs and shellfish and other crustaceans, this is the more traditional form of chitosan that has been studied. However, it obviously isn't suitable for vegans or vegetarians and can be an allergen for some people. An example of a non-vegan chitosan supplement is Fat Magnets.
Research into Chitosan for Weight Loss
Clinical studies into chitosan for weight loss have had mixed results.
The most promising results have come from animal studies in mice where vegan, mushroom sourced chitosan decreased fat mass as well as other obesity indicators in obese mice.¹
In a second study, where mice were fed a long-term high-fat diet, chitosan was shown to inhibit obesity² and increase fecal fat excretion. Because it did not cause kidney or liver damage, it was concluded that the type of chitosan used was a safe functional food.
“The higher lipid content in the caecum following treatment with chitosan suggested that this dietary fiber reduced lipid absorption”
It is not just mice who are prone to weight loss when chitosan is given, studies in overweight people showed the group receiving treatment lost significantly more weight than the placebo group.³ The treatment group also saw a decrease in blood pressure.
Is chitosan a miracle supplement? No, it still takes a sensible diet and exercise regime to lose weight steadily. But in my opinion and according to the research available, supplementing with chitosan can help boost your own natural weight loss efforts.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Chitosan tends to be well tolerated with very few side effects if any.
However, If you are allergic to shellfish then it would be best to avoid shellfish sourced chitosan.
Similarly pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn't take any chitosan supplement because there is no research into the safety of these products or any other diet aid in these people.
According to WebMD side effects of both kinds of chitosan may include:
- mild stomach upset
Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K can have reduced absorption when you are taking any fat binding supplement, so supplementing with a multivitamin may be recommended.
Drinking more water may help to counteract any constipation you may experience while taking a chitosan supplement.
Proactol XS is my top-rated chitosan supplement and it contains 100% vegan sourced chitosan.
This fat binding supplement is a natural way to accelerate your own weight loss efforts. It works in two ways:
- Fat Binding – By binding to dietary fats in your digestive system and allowing them to pass through your body naturally. It allows a reduction in calorie absorption (as fat is the most calorie-dense nutrient).
- Hunger Reducing – The ingredients form a viscous solution in your digestive system which has the knock-on effect of making you feel comfortably full. Therefore you will be less likely to overeat.
“The product contains a natural source of fibers that bind fat from your food into molecules too big to be absorbed by your body, resulting in better weight control.” – Angela MacRitchie (Nutritionist)
Proactol XS has been formulated to be gentler than prescription-based fat binders like Orlistat. Because of this, the makers claim no known side effects associated with the use of their supplement (although the common side effects of chitosan like gas and mild constipation could still apply).
It is also naturally caffeine-free so you won't have to face the side effects associated with caffeine-based diet pills like racing heart, shaking, and nervousness.
Hi, I'm Aileen, the owner of Diet Pill Judge. I have personally tried loads of diet pills over the years and found that only a few of them really work.
My background is in science, so I set out to find supplements that have scientific evidence behind them and which I can confidently recommend.