You have heard of it and it has aroused your curiosity. Konjac, also called “the devil’s tongue”, has positive effects on weight loss. Here is what you need to know about this vegetable native to Asia: benefits, uses, contraindications, konjac calories …
Konjac is one of the best natural food supplement for weight loss
What is konjac?
Konjac is a plant native to Asia, and more specifically to the tropical and subtropical forests of the continent. Its origins can be found in Japan, China, Vietnam, Korea and Indonesia. The plant from which the vegetable comes belongs to the Araceae family. It is a perennial plant, and it has a tuberous rhizome in the shape of a sphere, which has the distinction of being very large. Food products are obtained from the rhizome of the plant, including a relatively pasty black or white jelly.
The rhizome is known for its powerful satiating power, and its very low calorie content. It can be found in the form of konjac noodles, in particular. But it is also available as capsules and therefore as a food supplement. Konjac can be used in rice, paste and gum. It is in Japan that it shines with a wide variety of traditional dishes. In the West, it is konjac pasta that is consumed the most.
The composition of konjac
In herbal medicine and cooking, it is mainly the roots of konjac that are used. They contain glucomannan. It is a substance with the capacity to absorb up to a hundred times its volume in water or liquid. It is the source of the satiating power of this food (but not only). There are also fibers in its composition. And that’s about it. Indeed, konjac is a unique food of its kind. And this is where it gets its exceptional slimming properties.
The weight loss benefits of konjac
Across the world, Konjac is known for its beneficial weight loss properties. But what does the science say? Are these benefits real and approved? Konjac and medical advice.
Fiber and calories
This rhizome is the richest natural source of fiber you can find. Oat bran, which is renowned for its exceptional fiber content (14%), is largely dethroned by konjac (64%). The latter regulates transit and is positioned as an interesting prebiotic, capable of nourishing the microorganisms found in our intestines.
Calorie and konjac are not synonymous. Indeed, the root of the Asian plant is particularly low in calories. Thus, in addition to strengthening the feeling of fullness after meals, the rhizome provides the body with very few calories. It is ideal for people who are looking to reduce their calorie intake in order to lose weight. To give you an idea, konjac contains only three calories per 100 grams!
An appetite suppressant
It is to its glucomannan content that we owe this powerful satiating power. The dietary fibers found in Konjac are able to absorb significant amounts of water due to their gelling properties. Thus, a single gram of fiber can absorb nearly 200 milliliters of water (Glucomannan: properties and therapeutic applications, A. González Canga, AM Sahagún, N. Fernández Martínez, AP Calle Pardo, JJ García Vieitez, MJ Díez Liébana, LJ Castro Robles and M. Sierra Vega, 2004.).
In addition, the rhizome generates a considerable increase in viscosity in the stomach, and helps slow gastric emptying. The feeling of satiety felt by the konjac consumer is then much longer and more substantial. At the same time, the absorption of fats and sugars is reduced by food. According to one study, they are found in larger amounts in the stool (1). Konjac is therefore considered in all its forms as a powerful and lasting natural appetite suppressant. It is for this reason that it is widely consumed to aid in weight loss. Better control of hunger makes it possible to limit snacking and reduce the size of one’s plate.
In addition, a preliminary test tends to show that glucomannan, main component of konjac, has an appetite suppressant effect influencing the hormone which regulates the appetite: ghrelin (2).
Glucomannan against cholesterol
Many people trying to lose weight experience cholesterol problems. Indeed, the fats accumulated in the body promote the increase of cholesterol levels, and put the health of individuals at risk. Too high a cholesterol level can lead to increased heart and cardiovascular risks, including the development of disease. As we explained, konjac contains glucomannans in high amounts. This substance helps lower the level of LDL cholesterol in the body. This is called “bad cholesterol” (3). But that’s not all. The plant also influences triglyceride levels and therefore our health and shape!
Regulate bowel function
To ensure the regularity, as well as the firmness of the stools, it is common to use soluble fiber in the diet (and more specifically psyllium). This helps fight both constipation and diarrhea. This effect is directly related to the fact that fibers absorb large amounts of liquid, which causes their volume to increase. As a result, the viscosity of food improves its elimination. However, it turns out that the viscosity and absorption power of glucomannan are significantly higher than those of psyllium! (4) (5). A good transit is essential for weight control, and slimming goals!
When consuming konjac, it is essential to drink plenty of water. This helps limit the risk of obstruction of the digestive tract. Thus, it is often advisable to consume konjac in the form of appetite suppressant capsules to lose weight. It is also preferable to respect the recommended dosages and to limit oneself to cures of short duration.
Consumption of konjac (and more specifically glucomannan) may, in rare cases, cause mild diarrhea, gas or a feeling of heaviness in the stomach. In case of overdose, the effects may be more severe (eg bowel obstruction). Most often these effects wear off after a few days or after reducing the dosage. It is advisable to gradually increase the doses of konjac to avoid these side effects, but also not to over-consume this food.
Uses of Konjac
The uses of konjac are quite diverse, especially in the culinary world. The Japanese are crazy about it and have incorporated it into many traditional dishes. In the West, we can also consume konjac in cooking, or in the form of food supplements.
Konjac appetite suppressant
To slim down, we can count on the extraordinary properties of konjac. For this, konjac-based appetite suppressant capsules are commercially available. As we mentioned previously, it is better to limit yourself to short-term cures. Prefer a gradual consumption of konjac capsules and always respect the doses prescribed on the bottle. As a general rule, it is recommended by the manufacturers to take one to three Konjac capsules approximately thirty minutes before a meal. However, these indications may vary from product to product.
What you eat largely determines your health. So don’t buy your products at random, and look to trusted sellers. Konjac must come from its region of origin (Southeast Asia) and be from sustainable and organic agriculture. The rhizome transformation process must also be natural in order to preserve the properties of the plant!
Konjac in the kitchen
Whatever its form, konjac is cooked in boiling water. Konjac noodles and other products should be rinsed well before use to get rid of the odor. In fact, when the package is opened, Konjac products often have an odor reminiscent of fish.
Konjac’s natural appetite suppressant can be cooked in several ways. For example, konjac dough (also called Konnyaku) is made with konjac flour and lime water. You can find different types on the market, including white paste and brown paste. There is no difference between these two products. Konjac paste is eaten as is, with chopsticks! It is important to keep Konnyaku cool.
Konjac vermicelli (or konjac noodles) are very small konjac pasta. They bear the name of Shiratakis in Japan, and are made from the dough previously presented. They are cooked like classic pasta, in soups or sauces. You should know that these small konjac pasta are very easy to use and they adapt to many slimming recipes, while being much lower in calories than traditional pasta. It is estimated that 100 grams of konjac noodles contain only three calories. To cook them, they should be immersed in boiling water for two to three minutes.
A true culinary revolution, round konjac rice is a great slimming ally! You can do absolutely anything with it, and it can be eaten with any sauce: tabbouleh, rice pudding, rice salad, couscous … And all with very few calories on the plate. Try it in your usual recipes or in Asian recipes.
Konjac gum is used as a thickener in cooking. It improves the creaminess and fondness of dessert creams or sauces, without adding calories or fat. Thus, the gum replaces the fats that we use in our preparations and recipes: ganaches, stuffings, cream desserts, sauces, raw vegetables, etc. The gum comes in the form of a powder that mixes very easily with the other ingredients. Between one and two grams of gum are then used per 500 milliliters of preparation, depending on the desired consistency.
What you must remember
If you are looking to lose weight, konjac will definitely be one of your best allies! Like all other foods, be sure to consume it in reasonable proportions with plenty of water. And as always, favor a healthy and balanced diet, accompanied by regular physical activity!