Clayton's Health Facts: White Kidney Bean.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.

What is it and where does it come from?

The White Kidney Bean plant (Phaseolus vulgaris) is native to Peru, Europe and the Indies. The seeds contain sulfur, and while uses for the whole plant exist, the seeds are most commonly used to treat a variety of common ailments.

The White Kidney Bean plant has been used for thousands of years.

What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?

White Kidney Beans have been used in traditional medicine systems for the treatment of a variety of ailments. The only scientifically verified benefit of white kidney bean seeds is the ability of white kidney beans to act as a "starch blocker" - a blocker of the alpha-amylase enzyme.

Alpha-amylase plays a key role in the digestion of foods. As a digestive enzyme, alpha-amylase is required for the metabolism of starchy carbohydrates.

When you consume starchy carbohydrate (so-called "complex" carbohydrates), they must be broken down into smaller units known as dextrins. Dextrins are then further broken down into glucose. Glucose serves a number of purposes. It is either used for immediate energy requirements, is stored in muscle tissue or the liver as glycogen (in that order), or is shuttled to the liver, converted into lipids, and stored as body fat.

White kidney bean extract can block the action of the digestive enzyme alpha-amalyase, and this prevents the breakdown of starch into dextrin and ultimately glucose. Essentially, white kidney bean extract will result in some ingested starches passing through your system undigested.

The resulting effect may be lower energy intake, lower blood glucose levels, lower insulin levels, and ultimately lower rates of body fat storage.

An important note for those considering this supplement: while it can block starch digestion, white kidney bean extract does not act to block fat or simple sugar digestion, so dietary controls are required to maintain optimum health. Also, while white kidney bean extract inhibits alpha-amylase, glucoamylase (another starch digesting enzyme) may take over and begin starch digestion when alpha-amylase is inhibited.

While white kidney bean extract promotes healthy weight management and healthy weight loss, and is currently the best starch blocking product developed, it is not a "magic pill" for weight loss or weight management (indeed, no magic pill exists). Therefore, continuing to limit your starch intake is recommended when using white kidney bean extract. Some nutritional supplement manufacturers have claimed that white kidney bean extract is more lipogenic (fat loss causing) than Ephedrine HCL. Ephedrine HCL is a very potent CNS stimulant (a beta agonist) that promotes rapid fat and water loss.

Quite simply: White Kidney Bean extract is not an ephedrine alternative and the two supplements can not be compared because each belongs to a different substance class.

While Ephedrine is a CNS stimulant, white kidney bean extract blocks carbohydrate metabolism. Each will exert a different effect. Remember these basic scientific facts when evaluating nutritional claims about how weight management products compare.

Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

There is no requirement for white kidney bean extract, and no symptoms of deficiency exist. However, all people can derive benefit from this supplement, and especially those who are on the go and may not have time to prepare healthy meals.

People living a fast-paced lifestyle frequently eat on the go - and this often involves eating fast food. Fast food is high in starch and low in vital nutrients. Negating some of the negative effects of excessive starch consumption may prove efficacious in the quest for healthy weight management.

How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

Adhere strictly to label directions.

At time of writing no side-effects are known.