Are Fat Binders Safe? (And Do They Even Work)

The safety of fat binders depends a lot of which one you choose to take. There are a variety of different brands of fat binding supplements on the market, and they are not all made equally.  The truth is, they aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can have some negative side effects. It is important to be aware of these potential side effects before using a supplement.

Many companies tend to advertise their fat binders as being safe and gentle, so it seems that you would be able to take them without having to worry too much.  The problem is that there is more to it than that.  It is really important to make sure that you understand how fat binders work, the active ingredients, and the risks that come along with them.

The Basics of Fat Binders

You should understand how fat binders work to see how safe they can be. Fat binders work by using ingredients that are known to bind to fats in the digestive system naturally.  They bind to them and collect them without allowing them to be absorbed by your body.  They pass through your digestive tract, undigested.  They are then passed through your stool. This can be unpleasant and messy, but we will touch more on this when we go over the risks of fat binders.

One of the most common is Chitosan which is found in seafood. Once it binds to the fat in your foods, it makes those fats indigestible as well. This means that you may eat more fat, but that some of it will not be absorbed. The unabsorbed fat will just pass through your digestive system, and then be eliminated with the other waste.

Most fat binders are shown to be able to absorb up to 6 times their weight in fat. That means that you can cut the caloric intake down on your meals quite drastically by taking fat binder supplements – based on the claims made by manufacturers. We all know that manufacturers have a tendency to oversell their products with claims that may not be quite so accurate, so how can you know if they are as effective as they say? You really won’t know how well they will work for you until you try it.

It is also important to note that the results that come with taking fat binders do not come without some pretty rough side effects, including upset stomach, inadequate vitamin absorption, and sometimes even leaky stools. Some people tend to steer clear of these fat binder supplements merely because they are worried about the possibility of nasty side effects.

Along with a few side effects, there are some drug interactions to be aware of. Many of the fat binders out there may interact with certain prescription medications. It is essential to discuss this with your doctor to make sure that you can safely take fat binders along with any of the other medications that you are currently taking. They can also impact the absorption of specific prescription medications and should be taken at a different time than any medications to ensure proper absorption.


Ingredients in Fat Binders

We already mentioned that there are a lot of fat binders out there to choose from.  The key is to make sure that you check out all of the ingredients.  Just about every fat binder is going to have some indigestible fiber source that does the actual binding.  Sometimes, these ingredients can have risks associated with allergic reaction.  Keep a close eye on the ingredients in the supplements that you choose.

Probably the most common ingredient you will find in a fat binder is chitosan. This is largely perceived to be the most effective binding compound and certainly is the only one with real scientific evidence to back it up.

Not only do you have to consider the actual ingredients that are used, but also the quality of the ingredients.  The quality of the same ingredient can also vary from one brand name to the next.  Do your research to know more about the ingredients that are used, and where they came from.  Reputable supplement manufacturers will not have an issue disclosing information regarding the quality of their products.

Risks Associated with Fat Binders

Let’s get down to the actual risks that fat binders have associated with them.  The good news is that there are not really any life-threatening risks involved.  Most of the risks just have to do with unpleasant side effects.  For instance, you may experience one or more of these effects:

  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • greasy stools
  • leakage

You should also be aware that because it affects your body’s absorption, it can also interact with certain other medications that you take.  For instance, some fat binders can increase blood thinner effects, which can be very dangerous.  It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new supplement to rule out possible interactions.

It can also decrease your ability to absorb vital vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.  Some of these supplements, however, have added vitamins and minerals to help counteract this issue.   Key vitamins that your body needs in adequate amounts include Vitamins A, D and E.  Increasing your intake of these vitamins while taking fat binders is a good idea to avoid vitamin deficiency.  There are even some fat binders out there that have added vitamins.

If you are currently on any prescription medications, you won’t want to take them at the same time you take the fat binders.  If the medication is fat soluble, such as birth control pills, then it could actually be absorbed into the fat binder rather than absorbed by your body.  This would make these medications useless, as your body wouldn’t even recognize that you had taken it.  Waiting a couple of hours in between should ensure that there are no issues.

Do Fat Binders Work?

Fat binders have been shown to be very effective.  They bind to fats that are in the food you eat and take them through your body without allowing them to be digested. Sure, it is good news to learn that fat binders really do work.

The problem, however, is that fat binders may not work as quickly as you would like them to. Most consumers who have tried various fat binder or fat blocker supplements have found that they did not see the results they expected to see. This could be in part to the fact that most people these days want to see immediate results. As with anything, you won’t see the effects of it overnight. In fact, it may be a gradual change.

To really see a difference, you would need to commit to taking the adequate dosage for a period of at least six to eight weeks. Dosage will vary, depending on the manufacturer, but typically equates to between 4 and 5 g per day.

Should You Take Fat Binders?

Most trial studies that have been conducted regarding fat binders will show that they can be pretty effective at limiting the amount of fat absorbed by your body.  They can be used to help lower cholesterol and aid in weight loss.  Most of the studies that have been conducted have shown that there is no drastic difference made when it comes to weight loss and fat binders.

Ultimately, supplements are designed to do just what their name says – supplement.  Talk to your doctor and see if a fat binder may be a good supplement to add into your daily routine of diet and exercise.  Just keep in mind that although they are safe to take for most people, no fat binder is going to be a miracle supplement that offers overnight results.