Chitosan is typically used for weight loss because it is believed to act as a fat blocker. Blocking the absorption of dietary fat and therefore calories would help the user lose weight without changing their dietary habits. Anecdotal evidance hasn’t shown chitosan to be very effective for weight loss, and the research seems to agree.
A review of 14 different studies done on the effect of chitosan on weight loss reveals just how effective chitosan is as a weight loss aid. The 14 studies involved a total of 1071 participants, a large total sample size. After examining all of the evidence, the researchers concluded that chitosan does seem to cause a very small reduction in weight, but the difference is so small that it probably doesn’t have much real-world significance.
So are the claims that chitosan blocks fat and calorie absorption true? Possibly, but not enough to make it worthwhile to supplement with. It would be much easier and much more effective for someone considering using chitosan to simply reduce dietary fat and calorie intake. A supplement that makes fat calories disappear may seem too good to be true, and it this case it is.
Mhurchu CN, Dunshea-Mooij C, Bennett D, & Rodgers A. (2005). Effect of chitosan on weight loss in overweight and obese individuals: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews : an Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. 6(1), 35-42.
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