In the United States alone, nearly half of all adults expressed an interest in losing weight within the past 12 months. This knowledge, coupled with the increased interest in alternative weight loss efforts when simple dieting and physical activity do not yield desired results, makes the study of chitosan an area of increasing interest. With few adverse events and plenty of potentially important interventions to human health, chitosan is a supplement that has a proven rate of efficacy in encouraging weight loss, decreasing abdominal circumference and improving anthropometric indicators, and supporting health. 

What is chitosan?

Chitosan is a powerful compound found in the shells of crustaceans and insects, and may also be derived from mushrooms. These compounds are made up of several different components, including fiber. Most systematic review and meta-analysis efforts that have evaluated the effects and efficacy of chitosan utilize the substance derived from crabs, lobsters, and shellfish, as these are often found in abundance, and other aspects of the creatures can be utilized in other applications. Although chitosan has other functions, and has been used for decades in industries as far apart as skincare and natural herbicides, it has demonstrated clinical significance as an effective tool for body weight reduction to improve anthropometric indicators, going so far as to impact blood lipids, fat accumulation, and even impacting the risk of myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular damage.  

Is Chitosan Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, the majority of clinical studies confirm that chitosan consumed as a dietary supplement has a positive effect on weight loss. The effects of chitosan influence far more than fat absorption and burning, and the reasons for the effect of chitosan on body weight are vast. In studies that evaluate chitosan versus placebo pills, chitosan demonstrates a proven ability to impact serum lipids in the body, and even has an effect on density lipoprotein cholesterol, abdominal circumference, and blood lipids. The effects of chitosan on weight loss and other anthropometric indicators have a tried-and-true record through scientific inquiry.

Scientific Studies on Chitosan: What Do They Say?

Highly trusted sources indicate that using chitosan for body weight management is not only effective but also safe. One source is quoted as saying, "Based on the meta-analysis realized with 14 RCT we concluded that the usage of chitosan as a dietary supplement can lead to a slight short-and-medium-term effect on weight loss and to the improvement of serum lipid profile and cardiovascular factors''. Reducing waist circumference is one of the key features of chitosan supplementation, as the active constituents of chitosan impact fat accumulation and burning.  

Another source said, "These data provide evidence for the efficacy of a chitsan compound to facilitate the depletion of excess body fat under free-living conditions with minimal loss of fat-free or lean body mass." Even when people consume a high-fat diet or other anthropometric indicators that support continual weight gain or maintenance of elevated weight, the active constituents of chitosan positively impact weight loss efforts. 

One study's findings concluded that using chitosan for body weight was a useful adjunct pharmacological tool for body weight management, particularly in patients who had an existing waist circumference that was considered higher than is typical or recommended. 

Finally, another study concluded that chitosan was in fact useful in mitigating the symptoms of lifestyle diseases, including cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, and even potentially metabolic disorders. The systematic review and meta-analysis of chitosan shows that the compound aids in fat excretion, ultimately resulting in increased weight loss. 

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Chitosan Benefits & Uses

While we are discussing the ability of chitosan to compel a reduction in body weight and improvements to anthropometric measurements, there are actually numerous ways in which chitosan positively affects health, not all of them directly related to obese subjects or metabolic health. Because chitosan is one of the most abundant materials on the planet, it has been evaluated for a host of applications, including the following:

  • Weight Loss

As we've discussed, chitosan has been effectively used as a weight loss supplement, demonstrating a reduction in body weight even in the absence of dietary changes or excess exercise. One study determined that the same effect was not observed in Asian subjects with existing indicators of obesity. 

  • Antioxidative

Chitosan is an antioxidant that has an enormous capacity for attracting rogue electrons in the body. As a result, chitosan may be able to help improve human health by improving the effects sun exposure, toxin exposure, and even poor dietary habits have on the body. 

  • Reduces Cholesterol

Cholesterol levels are often a source of focus in obese subjects in a weight loss program, and chitosan has the ability to impact both general weight and serum cholesterol levels in positive ways. By reducing cholesterol levels, chitosan is believed to positively impact vascular and cardiac health.  

  • Used to Make Antimicrobial Films for Food Packaging

Chitosan is a fibrous, antimicrobial substance, which means that it has applications in far more than health. Chitosan can be used to lend an antimicrobial component to manufactured materials, reducing the likelihood of bacteria and fungus growing on that material. 

  • Used in Wound Dressing

Due to that same antimicrobial activity, chitosan products often include wound dressing materials. When chitosan is used to dress a wound, it can inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus that may be responsible for delaying growth and healing. 

  • Biomedicine, Water Remediation, and Tissue Engineering

Because trials of chitosan have identified truly enormous antimicrobial and fibrous properties, chitosan has been identified as a potential contributor to the fields of biomedicine, water remediation, antimicrobials, and even tissue engineering, based the molecular weight chitosan occupies in that particular study or application. 

Chitosan Side Effects and Dangers

While chitosan is largely considered a safe intervention, it does have some interactions or side effects that could be considered negative or problematic, including negative interactions with blood thinners and an uncomfortable interaction with some individual's gastrointestinal tracts. To determine if these side effects and dangers are likely to affect you and the molecular weight chitosan boasts, consider the following:

  • Constipation

Perhaps due in part to the fibrous nature of chitosan, some systematic reviews of chitosan have determined that it can cause constipation in some populations. Although this constipation cannot cause real harm or damage, it can be extremely uncomfortable, or it can necessitate the implementation of a complementary intervention such as magnesium. 

  • Nausea

Chitosan has also been tied to incidents of nausea in clinical trials, suggesting that those with sensitive stomachs or GI disorders may be particularly at risk for experiencing negative effects of chitosan supplementation. People who want the positive effects of chitosan--think improvements to weight, decreases in diastolic blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, and decreases in hip circumference--may be able to combat some of the drawbacks of the supplement. 

  • Upset Stomach

Chitosan supplementation also demonstrated a tendency toward stomach upset in human studies, particularly those with existing GI issues. While healthy adults typically do not experience a significant degree of drawbacks to chitosan supplementation, those with GI disorders that impact gut health and the severity of bile acids like IBS or ulcerative colitis may not tolerate chitosan well. The gastric emptying rate of chitosan's active constituents is less than that of other interventions, meaning that it does not linger in the stomach long after consumed, and upset stomach may not linger long-term. In conditions where gastric emptying has been altered or is impaired, upset stomach may be more likely. 

  • Negative Interaction with Warfarin

Warfarin is a prescription drug often prescribed to obese adults and those with heart disease or at risk of a heart attack. Warfarin is a blood thinner that is among the more common prescriptions given to people of an advanced age and with high risk factors. Because chitosan can also act as a blood thinner, it is considered a problematic bedfellow to Warfarin.

  • Decreased Absorption of Minerals

When taken in excess, chitosan can cause the body to experience a decreased ability to absorb and therefore utilize minerals. When taken appropriately, however, these same results have not been observed. 

Chitosan Supplements Dosage

The FDA has not yet officially approved chitosan as a dietary integrator utilized for obese adults, those with heart disease, or those with any other health concerns, so there is not yet an official diagnosis. Instead, European authorities--the European Food Safety Authority's Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies, to be specific--suggest taking no more than 3 grams per day. If chitosan is in a supplement blend taken as part of a hypocaloric diet, or is in another consumable, it may be necessary to check the dosage in that product before adding a chitosan supplement to your daily routine.  

Recommended Chitosan Supplements

Chitosan supplements are growing in popularity. As people continue to seek greater health, and often a reduced waist circumference as a part of that journey, it becomes increasingly compelling to find an aid that does not involve intensive physical activity, a hypocaloric diet, or a highly restrictive series of rules for eating. Chitosan supplements can help here, by increasing fat excretion and general human health without having to implement any substantial changes to daily routines and habits right off of the bat and allowing for a high-fat diet or a diet abundant in rich foods with low to moderate physical activity as a starting point. 

Although there are plenty of supplements containing chitosan out there, we recommend our own Calorie Burn Black, a supplement designed to safely and effectively reduce your waist circumference and increase fat excretion, without the addition of poor quality fillers or the likelihood of incurring adverse events.

The effects of chitosan supplementation in our Calorie Burn Black may include decreased appetite, an increased sensation of fullness, or an increased sensation of health, all of which can culminate in decreases in hip circumference, diastolic blood pressure levels, and the absorption of fat. While our product recommendations are not a substitute for medical advice, our chitosan dietary supplement can help boost weight loss efforts and contribute to positive changes to health.  

Conclusion

The study of chitosan has demonstrated with confidence that obese women and men can benefit from adding a chitosan supplement to their daily routine, eventually accompanied by a healthy diet and physical activity for the greatest likelihood of long-lasting results. Chitosan capsules can help people improve their abdominal circumference regardless of whether they consume a high-fat diet or a low fat one, and reduce the likelihood of maintaining fat accumulation. Although losing excess weight is a powerful change in and of itself, regular use of chitosan has been linked to the reduced likelihood of experiencing cardiac and vascular events like myocardial infarctions and thrombosis in studies with a high methodological quality.

Herbal supplements like chitosan, whether that comes in the form of chitosan gum or chitosan capsules, have the potential to help with fatty acid oxidation in overweight women and men without having to incur a huge rash of physical activity, confirmed by numerous studies found in the National Institutes of Health archives. From postmenopausal women to men trying to lose their "dad bod," chitosan may be the herbal supplement needed to help shed your excess weight. 

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