Chitosan is a polysaccharide polymer derived from a homopolymer of modified glucose Chitin derived from the exoskeleton of shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, crabs, fungi, arthropods and other marine invertebrates.
Specifically, Chitosan is an undigested fiber similar to what you find in cellulose of vegetables and outer shell of whole grains. The difference is that Chitosan fiber, unlike other fibers, carries a positive ionic charge. This unique property gives Chitosan ability to attract fats – Since lipids, fats, and bile acids all possess negative charges, there is a chemical bond between the two and thus they attract naturally to one another. So, it has been theorized that consuming Chitosan, or the Chitin fiber during a meal will minimize the amount of calories which can be absorbed by the digestive tract. The fat is attracted to Chitosan and excreted as a byproduct.
It makes sense that the described bond of Chitosan fiber with fat is better than any other fiber However, what’s good in theory is not always good in real life as there is a great chance of mal-absorption. As a result, you may not be able to get the vital vitamins and minerals, particularly the fat-soluble A, D, E, and K.
Effects of Chitosan
Chitosan gained initial interest for its fibrous effect in balancing blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, but the outcomes of most studies were controversial and not well-supported. In one placebo-controlled double-blind study, subjects did show some decrease in LDL-cholesterol, however there was no significant effect on serum total cholesterol or on HDL-cholesterol. Other preliminary studies suggest that Chitosan might be useful in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in lean subjects.
Even though it is promoted for calorie and fat reduction, most weight-loss related investigations included reduced-calorie diet and other fat-burning herbs, such as HCA from Garcinia Cambogia and Chromium. These additional factors may have had a big impact on the overall outcome of the study where Chitosan demonstrated potential benefit in fat loss. Unfortunately, there are no solid reputable studies to back up the claims on promising effects of Chitosan. Two recent studies failed to find any weight-loss effect after giving Chitosan to 51 healthy overweight subjects. Even taking 2,400 milligrams of Chitosan for eight weeks didn’t help them to lose weight. I reckon some exercise and veggies instead of pizza and cheesecake could do a better job.
Safety of Chitosan
Chitosan, as any fiber, seems to be safe. But be cautious if you are allergic to shellfish since it is the main source of Chitosan. And don’t forget to take more supplements to replace the missing nutrients, such as essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.