I’ve been asked multiple times about white bean extract, due to its appearance on “A Heart Surgeon’s Nonsensical Babblings Extravaganza,” aka the Dr. Oz Show.
As you may have noticed around here lately, Jeff and I have grown tired of any sense of chivalry when it comes to dealing with bad advice and this is no exception. To be fair, Dr. Oz didn’t really say anything, he just agreed with his guest, Lisa Lynn, who was spewing the bullshit and then he animated it. Here’s a link to the videos of the supplement discussed:
The supplement discussed is white bean extract. It works, we think, by blocking the absorption of complex carbohydrates by not allowing them to be broken down into simple carbohydrates. They then get passed to the colon.* Why the hell they would call this a metabolism booster is beyond me. Stopping the absorption of a macronutrient is not a boost to the metabolism of any sort.
In the video above, Lisa Lynn opened by saying “this doesn’t give you the green light to eat whatever you want.” Well Lisa, the only way this supplement has been shown to work is when people were gorging on carbohydrates. Giving this product to a person who’s eating a sensible diet by any stretch of the imagination is just a waste of money. Let’s find out why…
There are 2 studies which show less than stellar results of white bean extract on weight loss. (Udani 2004, Udani 2007)
2004 – 3.79 lbs vs. 1.65 lbs in supplement vs placebo over 8 weeks. (1500 mg of supplement daily) (100-200 gram of CHO/day diet)
2007 – 6 lbs vs 4.7 lbs in supplement vs placebo over 4 weeks. (1000mg of supplement 2x daily) (about 60 grams CHO/day diet)
A different study in 2007 (Celleno 2007) that actually found significant differences between supplement and placebo groups is what I’d like to discuss. The number break down like this:
2.83 vs .35 kg in supplement vs placebo over 30 days. The catch is the diet provided upwards of 280 gram of CHO/day! Holy shit! The authors admit:
Because the purpose of this trial was to measure efficacy of the agent under study, we chose to measure our parameters under optimal circumstances. Future studies could examine effects under more regular conditions to test the overall effectiveness of the product.
Haha, ya think? You have to take a look at this gem of a menu. In order to cause the Phase 2 supplement to do any good they have to feed people a diet comparable in carbohydrates to that fed to cattle being prepared for slaughter at a feedlot. This masterpiece of dietary debauchery could only be put together by a Registered Dietitian who has drunk the whole batch of USDA-supplied Kool-Aid: 2000-2200 calories, 280 grams of total carbohydrate, and a whopping 86 grams of protein.
The authors continue:
“Evidence suggesting strong adherence to the present protocol can be gathered from the statistically significant mass losses noted even in the Placebo group relegated to the same caloric-restricted diet as the Test group.”
The placebo group lost .35 kg, or about .8 lbs. Maybe you’d like to call it 12.8 ounces to make it sound like an accomplishment? What kind of statistical magic did they use to make this statistically significant?
Calorie restricted? At 2,200 calories? The average BMI was 26 and average weight was about 74kg. Since the population was 70% female I used female parameters for BMR + activity to get an estimate on calorie requirements. It came in right around 2,200 and that’s with an activity factor of 1.55, or moderately active. I’m being generous here since I doubt this population was moderately active. Anyway, my point is that this can barely be considered a calorie restricted diet in this population, which means we can’t be surprised the poor suckers in the placebo group lost less weight than you or I could if we just exhaled.
So, what can we learn from all this? Well, first we need to eat an absurd amount of carbohydrates for this product to have any real-world significance when compared to just adhering to a decent eating plan. At about $20/month, is it worth it for an extra pound and a quarter? That $240/year for an extra 15 pounds if you’re eating a low(er) carb diet. To me, this is analogous to dumping extra dirt in your gas tank to prove to yourself how great your engine contaminant cleaning product really is. Just don’t put the dirt in your gas tank, know what I mean?
Do you really plan on taking this supplement for the rest of your life? Because that’s what you’ll have to do to maintain the result you’d experience. That, or actually put in the time necessary to make real healthy changes to your daily routine like we recommend in SPEED. It’s up to you, I guess.
*When the complex carbohydrates get passed to the colon, they’re fermented by bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids, carbon dioxide and methane. Have fun hiding that at parties.
Udani J, Hardy M, Madsen DC. Blocking Carbohydrate Absorptionand Weight Loss: A Clinical Trial Using Phase 2™ Brand ProprietaryFractionated White Bean Extract. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9(1):63-69)
Udani J, Singh BB. Blocking Carbohydrate Absorption and Weight Loss: A Clinical Trial Using a Proprietary Fractionated White Bean Extract. Altern Ther Health Med. 2007;13(4):32-37.
Schoeneberger ML, Thiboutot JR. Nobody Likes Reading References Except Us and You. Int J Awesome. 2011
Celleno L, Tolaini MV, D’Amore A, Perricone NV, Preuss HG. A Dietary Supplement Containing Standardized Phaseolus vulgaris Extract Influences Body Composition of Overweight Men and Women. Int. J. Med. Sci. 2007;4(1):45-52.