Many people looking for help with weight loss consider taking supplements. As a naturopathic doctor, I’m all for dietary supplements that are safe, natural, and effective. And there are some excellent supplements that can, indeed, help you lose weight.
What I’m not for, however, are overpriced supplements of dubious quality accompanied by slick packaging and exaggerated marketing claims. Unfortunately, many popular weight loss supplements fit that description. Lipozene is one of them.
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What is Lipozene, really?
Lipozene is a dietary supplement marketed for weight loss. Don’t be fooled by the slick packaging that tries to make Lipozene look like a drug. Nor should you fall for the exaggerated marketing claims about Lipozene’s “exclusive formula” which, according to the website, is “clinically proven” to help people lose weight by still eating “whatever they want.” Not only that, but “78% of weight lost is pure body fat,” the website dubiously claims.*
In reality, Lipozene is a fiber supplement. Each capsule of Lipozene contains 750 mg of glucomannan powder. That’s it. There are no fancy, unique Lipozene ingredients. The only other Lipozene ingredients are the inactive fillers and capsule ingredients, including artificial dyes.
What is glucomannan?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with glucomannan. It is a great fiber source. Glucomannan is a soluble dietary fiber extracted from the tuber or root of the elephant yam, also known as konjac (Amorphophallus konjac). It can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, making it one of the most viscous dietary fibers known. It is considerably more viscous, for example, than these oat beta-glucan, guar, and psyllium.
The higher the viscosity of a soluble fiber, the more it absorbs water and expands in the gastrointestinal tract. The viscous, gel-like mass that forms in the stomach is able to increase satiety by delaying stomach emptying and slowing down gastrointestinal transit time. Satiety is defined as the sensation of fullness as a consequence of eating that inhibits the resumption of eating. This is the primary mechanism by which glucomannan is theorized to aid weight loss.
Research on glucomannan for weight loss
The overall results of studies examining the effects of glucomannan supplementation on weight loss have been inconsistent. Although there have been a number of randomized controlled trials, they have generally been small and of short duration.
Various groups of researchers who have attempted to systematically review the studies reached different conclusions as to glucomannan’s effectiveness.[2,7-9]
The latest systematic review, just published this year in the journal Nutrition, concluded that “…there is limited evidence that glucomannan supplementation may help to reduce body weight, but not body mass index (BMI).” In other words, although some of the studies reviewed showed statistically significant reductions in body weight compared to placebo, none found differences in BMI, presumably because the amount of weight lost during the study wasn’t enough to lead to big enough changes in BMI to make a statistical difference.
What’s the bottom line on lipozene and glucomannan for weight loss?
Even though the data at this point are too conflicting to reach any definite conclusions, there are enough studies showing positive results that it certainly makes sense for many people trying to lose weight to give glucomannan a try.[2,6-9] In addition to eating a high fiber diet, I certainly recommend fiber supplements, including those containing glucomannan, to my patients needing to lose weight, with good results.
As a glucomannan supplement, though, Lipozene, is not worth the cost and, as you’ll see below, the quality is questionable. If you’re going to try glucomannan, I suggest sticking with capsules or powder from a more reputable company.
Why you shouldn’t choose Lipozene as your glucomannan weight loss supplement
Many supplement companies sell glucomannan and there’s nothing special about Lipozene. You can get good quality glucomannan in capsule form or as a loose powder, alone or combined with other ingredients, from much higher-quality supplement companies, at a much lower cost.
The recommended serving of Lipozene is two capsules, which would be 1500 mg of glucomannan, before meals.
Each bottle of Lipozene contains 30 capsules (15 doses). Amazon sells two bottles for $29.95. That’s a dollar a dose. Compare that to the following:
- NOW supplements sells bottles of 180 capsules for $11.36. Each capsule contains 575 mg and the serving size is three capsules (1725 mg) before meals. That’s 60 doses per bottle and $0.19 a dose. That’s a fifth the cost of Lipozene for a slightly higher dose per serving, from a higher quality company that is more trustworthy and transparent. This company also sells glucomannan as a loose powder that you can mix in liquid and drink, saving you even more money and allowing you to customize the dose.
- Nature’s Way, another company that is higher quality, trustworthy, and transparent, sells glucomannan capsules as well. Each bottle of Nature’s Way Glucomannan contains 180 capsules of 665 mg of glucomannan. The recommended serving size is three capsules (1995 mg) before meals. That’s the highest dose per serving we’ve seen yet and is basically the dose used in most clinical studies. Amazon’s cost is $14.74 per bottle. That’s about $0.25 per dose, with each dose being about twice as potent as the Lipozene.
As you can see, the cost of Lipozene is outrageously high compared to other supplements with the exact same ingredient.
So now that we’ve established that you don’t need to buy Lipozene to get glucomannan, you may be wondering if it’s safe.
Glucomannan/lipozene side effects and safety
Since no published studies have been conducted specifically on Lipozene safety or efficacy, we have to turn to the general research on glucomannan to assess potential Lipozene side effects and overall safety.
Glucomannan is generally considered a safe and well-tolerated supplement, provided adequate water is consumed along with it to prevent it from getting stuck in the esophagus or stomach and expanding enough to cause an obstruction. Eight ounces of water is generally thought to be adequate for a typical dose. Because of this risk, it is not recommended in patients with structural abnormalities of the esophagus or gut.
Minor adverse effects are normally GI related and include diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating. A recent study, however, didn’t find that these symptoms were any different between the placebo group and the glucomannan group. In this study, glucomannan was well tolerated at a dose of 1.33 grams taken with 8 ounces of water one hour before breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 8 weeks. The study also assessed safety, checking labs for liver and kidney function. No safety concerns were raised. (In this study, glucomannan supplements did not promote weight loss or significantly alter body composition or hunger/fullness.)
Because of glucomannan’s potential ability to lower blood glucose, it should be used with caution by people taking oral hypoglycemic drugs, like metformin, or insulin.
Other Lipozene safety concerns: quality
Using the published literature on the safety of glucomannan is a fine way to assess the safety of Lipozene as long as the product truly contains what its label says it contains (just glucomannan plus the extra capsule ingredients and inactive fillers). However, given the rampant adulteration problem in weight loss supplements, it’s always possible that Lipozene is adulterated with other nutrients or botanicals or synthetic drugs.
As far as I know, there are no independent laboratory analyses of Lipozene’s ingredients that have been published or are publicly available. While the FDA has not issued any enforcement actions or consumer advisories for tainted Lipozene products, the FDA’s testing only covers a small fraction of the tainted products on the market.
The supplement’s maker, Obesity Research Institute, LLC, is not actually a research institute at all. The company has no website other than the Lipozene website. The company provides no information about quality assurance programs to ensure purity, efficacy, and consistency. Worse, Obesity Research Institute has been sued by the FTC, reprimanded by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and caught by investigators in major scams involving false and deceptive advertising.[11-13]
This is by no means a company or a product that I, as a naturopathic physician, would ever recommend. Most naturopathic physicians and other licensed healthcare providers that regularly prescribe supplements do everything they can to make sure the companies they recommend exceed the FDA’s cGMP Guidelines for nutritional supplements and follow detailed written Standard Operating Procedures to ensure consistency and safety in every aspect of our manufacturing process. It is companies like Obesity Research Institute and products like Lipozene that give dietary supplements a bad reputation.
A better option: take glucomannan
If you want to try glucomannan, buy a bottle from a reputable seller, such as NOW or Nature’s Way.
Based on the research, I recommend a dose of at least 1,500 mg with at least 12 ounces of water 30 minutes before meals. You may want to slowly build up to even higher doses, such as 3,000 mg before meals. If you have a sensitive stomach or gut issues, you may want to start with doses smaller than 1500 mg and slowly work up to at least that amount, if tolerable.
Furthermore, you may want to consider PolyGlycopleX (PGX) in place of pure glucomannan.
PGX vs regular glucomannan
PGX is a branded, modified form of glucomannan combined with some other fibers. It is even more viscous than glucomannan and thus absorbs more water and expands more in the stomach. As with glucomannan, the research on the effectiveness of PGX for enhancing weight loss is inconclusive.[14-18] Nevertheless, a number of studies show that a pre-meal dose of 5 grams of PGX does aid in weight reduction, fat loss, and BMI. Additionally, PGX has been shown to significantly increase satiety[19,20], lower total and LDL cholesterol[14-17], and improve blood sugar control.
The recommended PGX dose, 5 grams three times daily before meals, is higher than the typically recommended glucomannan dose. It’s possible that a higher pre-meal dose of regular glucomannan would have the same clinical effects on weight loss as PGX. More studies are needed comparing both plain glucomannan and PGX against placebo.
Until then, either glucomannan or PGX, at the doses recommended above, may make it easier for you to lose weight safely and effectively. Just don’t fall for the Lipozene trap.
For more information on natural weight loss, read these blogs:
- Green Tea for Weight Loss
- High Protein Diet for Weight Loss
- Thylakoids Are a Natural Appetite Suppressant
*In poring over the published glucomannan research, I can find no evidence to back up Lipozene’s dubious claim that 78 percent of each pound lost is pure body fat. Lipozene’s website making the claim does not provide any references at all to clinical studies that might support this claim.
 Lipozene website. Product label image. Accessed October 16, 2015.
Originally published in 2015.