Starch blockers that work

Starch blockers that work – Advanced Nutrition

Brian Rowley

Q: I’ve got a layer of fat covering my abs. Will starch-blocking supplements help get rid of this?

A: The newer starch blockers can indeed block starch digestion–enough to blunt blood sugar and insulin rises after eating. In theory, that could help you reduce bodyfat and eliminate water retention caused by insulin. It’s a matter of getting the right dose of the supplement at the right time.

Studies in the early ’80s found no effect for starch blockers, probably because of the low-potency varieties available at the time. Later research, using 2.9 grams of a more concentrated and active agent, however, proved more successful. In that trial, healthy subjects took a supplement and ate a mixed meal, so it probably applies well to readers of FLEX. The supplement, Phaseolus vulgaris, an amylase inhibitor, blunted glucose rise and impaired carbohydrate absorption. Concentrated extracts may therefore be useful for lifters who tend to chub out if they eat a lot of starchy foods or who have poor sensitivity to insulin.

Preliminary reports on fat loss in humans are encouraging. To get this effect, a bodybuilder needs to take about three grams of concentrated Phaseolus extract 15 minutes or so before eating. Less than that amount may not work, as the pancreas can overwhelm Phaseolus by pumping out more amylase to pick up the slack. Some also may be lost during digestion. Nevertheless, with good timing and a high enough dose, Phaseolus extracts appear promising.

The key is not to expect them to make up for poor eating habits. Starch blockers are more of a preemptive strike against occasional binge meals–not prime-mover supplements for getting shredded. If fat loss is your goal, you’ll still have to watch the rest of your diet, including fat and protein, and burn more calories than you take in. For bulking up, starch blockers may help spread out the carbohydrate load over time. That might improve the quality of gains but not the quantity, as less carbs are absorbed.


“Everything in my nutrition program is based on numbers, I take in at least six meals a day. At each meal, I eat at least 40 grams of protein. In the offseason, I make sure to get plenty of slow-burning carbohydrates for growth–up to 80 grams per meal. When I diet for a contest, I keep it to 40 grams of carbs or fewer. I drink a pint of water at least eight times a day, so that I get at least a gallon.

“When you think in terms of numbers, it makes bodybuilding nutrition much easier. You stop thinking about what to eat, and you start focusing on how much.”

–Dennis James

COPYRIGHT 2004 Weider Publications

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