White kidney bean extract is a nutritional supplement that blocks a digestive enzyme in the intestinal tract that assists with the absorption of complex carbohydrates. As a result, it allows some of the starchy foods that are ingested to pass through the digestive system without being metabolized. Body builders and dieters commonly use this supplement as a weight loss aid. This product is also used by people who find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet due to the fast pace of their careers, such as field representatives and transportation professionals.
One of the main digestive enzymes that breaks down starches and other complex carbohydrates is called alpha-amalyase. When complex carbohydrates are broken down into simple carbohydrates, they are either used for energy immediately or stored as fat. White kidney bean extract may inhibit the action of this enzyme, allowing most unneeded starches to pass through the body without being broken down, while allowing sugar, fat and protein to be digested normally. It does not affect the enzyme glucomase, which also breaks down a small percentage of complex carbohydrates.
This nutritional supplement is made from the white kidney bean plant (Phaseolus vulgaris). The tuber of the white kidney bean plant has been an important food staple in South America for thousands of years. Other parts of the plant have historically been used as a curative in tribal medicine. The beans themselves have long been recognized as an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein and iron. The use of the extract for weight loss purposes did not appear until the turn of the 21st century. At that time, a double-blind pilot study published by Pharmachem Laboratories revealed that the extract had eliminated 66% of starch absorption in people who took the extract for a short period of time.
White kidney bean extract should be taken twice a day before meals. Nutritionists recommend that individuals who are currently taking prescription laxatives or diuretics approach this supplement with caution. The undigested starches that remain in the system when a person is on this extract can exacerbate the effects of strong laxatives, and it is also a fairly strong diuretic. Additional possible side effects include mild heartburn and excessive gas.