Carbohydrates 101 - What Exactly are Carb Blockers and How do they Work?

Carb Blockers

Understanding the Role Carbohydrates Play in our Diets is Key

fitFLEX Articles - Learn, Share and Discover



Everyone seems to be on a high-protein diet these days. The poor carbohydrate is villainized as the bane of our weight-loss efforts, but so many of the foods we love to eat are filled with carbohydrates. What if you could eat carbs, but then prevent their absorption from your intestines?

One new type of product on the market can make average carbohydrates indigestible. These carbohydrate blockers are enzymes that form a complex with salivary and pancreatic alpha amylase. Alpha amylase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down starches (carbohydrates) into smaller units, which can then be absorbed by your body.


Salivary alpha amylase (in the mouth) begins the breakdown of long-chain starches found in foods. To demonstrate this process, put a saltine cracker in your mouth and leave it there for a bit - you'll notice a slight sweetness developing. This chemical change is caused by alpha amylase.

Red and white kidney beans contain an alpha-amylase inhibitor. An extract of white kidney beans was found to prevent human salivary and pancreatic alpha amylase from breaking down starch in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The optimal environment for the bean alpha-amylase inhibitor is in the relatively high pH of the upper intestine.

A certain protein-digesting enzyme can inactivate the alpha amylase inhibitor, but it still generally appears to be able to do its job of preventing carbohydrate absorption.

A substance that can block the uptake of carbohydrates has many applications, including use by diabetics and those attempting to eat a low-carbohydrate diet. One word of caution: Start slowly with a product of this nature. See how you feel after you consume the recommended dose, and proceed cautiously ¡f you experience GI upset. Obviously, you should not use a carb blocker as an excuse to consume as much carbohydrate as you want, but for those times when you desire to indulge a bit, it might be a handy dietary supplement to have in your fanny pack.





Related Articles