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N Engl J Med. 1982 Dec 2;307(23):1413-6.

Starch blockers--their effect on calorie absorption from a high-starch meal.


It has been known for more than 25 years that certain plant foods, such as kidney beans and wheat, contain a substance that inhibits the activity of salivary and pancreatic amylase. More recently, this antiamylase has been purified and marketed for use in weight control under the generic name "starch blockers." Although this approach to weight control is highly popular, it has never been shown whether starch-blocker tablets actually reduce the absorption of calories from starch. Using a one-day calorie-balance technique and a high-starch (100 g) meal (spaghetti, tomato sauce, and bread), we measured the excretion of fecal calories after normal subjects had taken either placebo or starch-blocker tablets. If the starch-blocker tablets had prevented the digestion of starch, fecal calorie excretion should have increased by 400 kcal. However, fecal calorie excretion was the same on the two test days (mean +/- S.E.M., 80 +/- 4 as compared with 78 +/- 2). We conclude that starch-blocker tablets do not inhibit the digestion and absorption of starch calories in human beings.

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