Chitosan: how it really works as diet pills? : 「キトサン」って本当にやせる効果があるの?

This post is for those of you who have tried out several diet pills that are highly popular in Japan. Many foreigners visit chain drug stores and buy loads of different diet pills back home. I would say I had my own experience as well until recently I started to get curious of how these pills are different from each other and do they really work?? One day I visited a Matsumoto Kiyoshi store in Harajuku and was examining this particular diet product called “After Diet” (アフターダイエット)that claims to work when you take it AFTER meal. (Normal pills require you to take BEFORE meal). (Picture below) And the counter guy told me that “actually there is a more effective product if you’re looking for this particular ingredient.” He referred to Chitosan. What he suggested me instead is another popular product in Japan from a brand called Livita; it’s called Chitosan Aojiru (キトサン青汁), looking like green powder that you use to mix in water. (second picture below)

What I learned from talking to this guy is that the “Livita” product could guarantee more results. From the picture, you can see the circle logo with a stick-man inside. That is called “Tokuho” logo, which is given to products that are guaranteed to be effective and safe for general consumption. Anyway, that all brought my attention to what Chitosan really is and why is it used so much in different diet pills.

 So what is Chitosan?

From WedMD: Chitosan is a sugar that is obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster, and shrimp. It is used to treat obesity, high cholesterol, Crohn’s disease, “tired blood” (anemia), loss of strength and appetite, and trouble sleeping (insomnia).

From Wikipedia: Chitosan is widely marketed as diet pills as a “fat binder” which is supposed to limit fat absorption in the body. In an experimental model of the digestive tract, chitosan was shown to interact with oil, which inhibited absorption and enhanced lipid excretion, but the interaction between chitosan and fat is still not well understood. It is also under research for several potential dietary applications. One of them being as a soluble dietary fiber, causing the movement in your digestive tract to slow down, hence slowing down your sense of hunger. It is relatively INSOLUBLE in water, but can be dissolved in acids, which would make it a highly-sticky dietary fiber to say in plain word. Such fibers might inhibit the uptake of fat by increasing the thickness of inner layer of the intestines (observed in animals).

Well, this is the origin of why chitosan is being advertised as capable to “slow down the absorption of fat” (脂肪の吸収を抑える). You can actually see this claim everywhere now. Go to combini and you will see so many brands of tea with the “Tokuho” logo, claiming that the tea could slow down the fat absorption and should be drunk together or after an oily meal. Another type would be the “body metabolism enhancer” (脂肪を燃やす) type, which I’m not gonna talk about today.

Basically, chitosan acts as a very cool type of fiber that interferes with the fat absorbing process after you eat. That is pretty much all there is to the claim in terms of weight loss and diet pills. Of course, it has many other useful applications in other fields.

Some considerations to think about when taking chitosan:

1. Fiber is good for you and can help with your constipation problem. But taking too much fiber can also be the CAUSE of it. Too much is never good.
2. If you have allergy to seafood like crab or shrimp, then you shouldn’t really risk.

Notes:

– You can’t really obtain chitosan even though you eat seafood. That is because chitosan is extracted from the shells and not the flesh that you eat.
– The claim that chitosan would attach itself to a fat particle, wrap itself around it, and together would be excreted from the body has not been sufficiently supported by evidence. It could do that in WATER, but not in acidic environment, which is basically that of your intestinal tract.

As is the case with other ingredients, diet pills make chitosan sound amazing and give us high expectation that it would really work. However, I think the best way is to incorporate it with a healthy lifestyle; not relying solely on the effect of pills that is going to vary depending on each person’s condition. Train yourself to choose good food is always better than indulging in oily food then taking 3-4 pills hoping that that would be all it takes to stop the fat from entering your body.

Source:
http://allabout.co.jp/gm/gc/252955/2/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitosan
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-625-CHITOSAN.aspx?activeIngredientId=625&activeIngredientName=CHITOSAN

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7 Best bedtime snacking: a smaller version of breakfast! 寝る前の間食 ベスト7!

7 Best bedtime snacking: a smaller version of breakfast! 

I guess this happens to all of us: the stomach protests you just right after you lie down on your bed, you can’t sleep, the only thing running around in your head is food. Your brain then starts to haunt you with “I need fooodddd. I’m hungryyyy. Feed meeee.” And sometimes you give up and just wanna grab something to make that voice go away.

Well, in that situation it is very risky to make a wrong choice that could effect how well you sleep. You might grab chocolates, biscuits, cakes, pastry, bread, anything that is easy to munch, etc. But listen here…you can prepare your late night snacking staple ahead of time and avoid any emergency food that would make you regret after eating.

I have listed the best 7 foods that could help you survive the war with your stomach, leaving your weight intact and your sleep undisturbed.

1. 80-kcal almond milk from Glico. There are 2 flavors, plain and coffee. I personally am addicted to the coffee version. Apart from the bounty amount of vitamin E and no cholesterol, almond milk also includes more fiber content, helping you to feel full longer. By the time you might get hungry again, you probably are asleep. My best recommendation here! Check out the website: http://net.glico.jp/almond_kouka/index.html

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You can also check out another brand called Almond Breeze, although it might a bit harder to find as it is not as widely distributed as the Glico ones. Check the post about it here: https://tokyofinder.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/almond-breeze-is-here-in-japan-too-%E3%82%A2%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A2%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89%E3%83%BB%E3%83%96%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%82%BA-%E3%82%B9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC%E3%83%BB%E3%83%95%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89/

2. low-sugar plain yogurt or greek yogurt. This is the food I ate the MOST OFTEN to calm my stomach down during midnight. It never failed me. My recommendation is those PLAIN yogurt WITHOUT sugar from Danone or greek yogurt from Morinaga that I recommended before in my previous posts https://tokyofinder.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/the-only-greek-yogurt-in-japan-%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E3%81%A7%E3%81%AE%E4%B8%80%E3%81%A4%E3%81%A0%E3%81%91%E3%81%AE%E3%82%AE%E3%83%AA%E3%82%B7%E3%83%A3%E3%83%A8%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B0%E3%83%AB%E3%83%88/

Try to stick with those with lowest amount of sugar possible because that it won’t mean anything that you’re trying choose a “healthy” choice like yogurt. You’ll be consuming more than 10 grams of sugar which is nothing different from eating a candy bar! Be sure to choose those with less than 50 kcal, and less than 8 grams of sugar for plain yogurt and put your own topping such as a bit of honey, almond slices, or a sprinkle of fiber cereal. Check out the 2 alternatives below. Greek yogurt is actually the perfect snack if you’re kinda “hungry” because it contains about 8 g. of protein, about 4 g. of carbs. Please note, however, that you should SKIP the syrup or honey accompanying this particular greek yogurt recommended above. That would push the calories up from 79 to about 100. I just don’t want you to add sugar during the night without needing too.

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3. cocoa with soy milk. This is easy! Just put 1-2 tablespoon of pure unsweetened cocoa (such as that of Van Houten, the most popular one in Japan) with a tablespoon of sugar (I usually use the 0-kcal sugar) and soy milk in your fridge. You can use low-fat milk, but I recommend soy milk because it has more protein and nutritious goodies in it that would leave your stomach calm and full. Plus, it tastes better! You can also opt for just soy milk.

4. a few pieces of fruits or a banana. Opt for something high in fiber. I often snack on half an apple (one apple here is huge) and a small glass of soy milk. Better yet, choose BANANA!! Why? Many studies have shown that banana is the magic sleeping pill as it has both magnesium and potassium which are natural muscle relaxants and Melatonin which is the hormone naturally released by your body when it’s your time to sleep. Thus, banana helps relax your body and makes you feel sleepy 🙂 Just watch how much you eat because you don’t want to eat too much fruits either! If you eat those with high water content, that might cause you to run to toilet in the midst of your sleep. And one large banana is about 132 kcal so watch it! I would say if you’re not too hungry have half of it, or opt for middle-sized banana. Well, not serious about that.

5. a few pieces of nuts. ALMONDS! No need to say much. Nuts fill you up while making you feel satisfied with the crunch. Have 10-12 pieces of almonds, keeping in mind it is about 8-9 kcal per almond, so you’ll be eating about 80-90 kcal. If you don’t mind waking up and spending a bit of time crunching your nuts instead of drinking them, then almonds are the best choice. On the other hand, don’t choose peanuts or peanut-butter.

6. a bowl of hot oatmeal or non-sugary cereal. Okay, so if you’re REALLY hungry? Go for a smaller version of breakfast here already. Grab a bowl, fill in with a few tablespoons of oatmeal, a few dried fruits, or you can just choose muesli (NO GRANOLA HERE PLEASE) and fill it with hot soy milk/skim milk. If you have no oatmeal, you can try sugarless or non-sweetened cereal. I like to incorporate a sprinkle of fiber cereal (which I would introduce in the future post).

7. hard boiled egg. If you’re on a diet that restricts your carb intake, I suggest you boil many eggs and keep them in your fridge ahead of time. Have one whole egg for 70 kcal without risking any sugar level fluctuation and still get all the goodies and protein. Very good snack if you can resist the sleepiness and have a will to crack the egg and all that. hahaha

Hope you now would be able to make some good choices!

Note about sugar: The reason why I emphasized about low sugar or non-sugary stuff is because the level of sugar in your blood affects your quality of sleep. If you eat high-sugary food, your body is stimulated to use up the sugar in the blood, leaving your blood sugar level low afterwards. When the sugar level is low, the body responds by releasing hormones called adrenaline and cortisol in order to raise the blood sugar to the normal level. HOWEVER, when these two “stress” hormones are released together, they have a side effect that makes your heart beat faster and your body to become alert and active. That is totally not what you want during the late night!

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-79360/Eat-way-better-sleep.html#ixzz31MJYuf3z

Perfect cafe for vegans in Tokyo! “Eat More Greens” : 「イートモアグリーンズ」ビーガンの皆さんのパーフェクトなカフェ!

I’ve been visiting a few cafes lately and the one I kept going back to when I seriously want to boost up my veggies intake is this small famous cafe in Azabu-juban called “Eat More Greens”. Stepping in and you’ll be surprised of how many foreigners are there. Menu as well as the product label are written in English as well as Japanese. I particularly love the lunch time menu which includes a choice among 4-5 different dishes plus drink and small dessert as a set. Check it out for yourself here: http://www.eatmoregreens.jp/# as the menu changes a little bit depending on the week.

What I had this weekend is the usual favorite: soup and salad plate. The soup (changed every time I went) this time is miso-based  soup with white beans and cabbage (and lots of stuffs I couldn’t remember lol). The salad is actually the unique point for me that attracts me to come at the first place. Its size is A LOT BIGGER than normal cafe; it’s like a mountain of countless ingredients dressed all over with this amazingly tasty and flavorful dressing. ALL VEGAN so no milky/dairy stuff! The salad I had this time included silk tofu, chickpeas, walnuts, various greens with Asian spicy sesame dressing. On the side, 3 varieties of bread are freshly toasted to the perfect point of crispiness. I don’t eat much bread but I fell for the bread here.

ImageI choose iced corn tea for drink and the dessert is something like annin tofu with blueberries and small pieces of orange. I still don’t know what it’s made of. All for 1,280 yen. A big and satisfying healthy lunch that left me and my stomach happy. 🙂

check out more here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eat-more-greens%E3%82%A4%E3%83%BC%E3%83%88%E3%83%A2%E3%82%A2%E3%82%B0%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%83%B3%E3%82%BA/289782454477987

 

Lawson’s new “Uchi Cafe” product: Granola Acai Cheese Bar! : ローソンの新発売「グラノーラ アサイーチーズバー」

On the news just this morning is this new cheese bar by Lawson launched on April 22. Targeting mainly ladies who want to grab quick delicious breakfast with a bit of health concern in the morning, this granola acai cheese bar seems to be the easy choice (the package suggests it as suitable for morning treat). It consists of 2 layers: first is the cheese layer which incorporates acai juice (including cream cheese, acai, casis, and yogurt); the second layer is the granola topping (including wheat flakes, oatmeal, quinoa puff, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries). With the two layers in one bite, I don’t think the flavor could go wrong! One bar is 157 kcal, sold at 180 yen.

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I think Lawson is trying to raise up as many “health keywords” as possible in order to market this product. The keywords to be aware here are “acai”, “granola”, “quinoa”, “oatmeal”, and other fruits… This cheese bar also claims to have fiber and vitamin, making it a clear choice of sweets for girls who want to enjoy without so much guilt.

Personally speaking, sweet is still sweet. It is NOT equal to a bowl of oatmeal topped with yogurt and berries. It is not a bad or fake product, but is clearly riding on the health trend. Before making it a routine morning grab-and-go, make sure you read the label and check out the SUGAR content and fat content in it. Well, cream cheese plus sugar is cheese cake in a disintegrated form, isn’t it? And acai and casis are in the form of “juice”, which is another term for “sugar”, so girls…just be careful not to pair it with some high sugary drink!

Tropi-coco: Japan’s own coconut water from Morinaga! : 森永のトロピココ…新たな健康流行 日本に登場!

In fact, coconut water is a health trend that started quite a long time ago in the West, but it seems that this trend is just about to boom in Japan. There are imported products that I saw before in Seijo-ishii supermarket, but now Morinaga has taken the market opportunity in its own hands and has launched its very own coconut water line called “Tropic Coco”! 

Now sold in almost every combini since its launch on April 22nd, it is a new choice for female early adapters who now have more choices than just veggies drinks or collagen drinks. With 95 kcal per box (330 ml), it boasts health benefits such as Calcium, Magnesium, and lots of other nutrients; accentuated with honey and juice; helps hydrate your body in many scenarios and lifestyles; provided with a cap ready to drink and an easy-to-grip box shape. Could be kept up to 70 days before opened. (from http://www.tropicoco.jp/product)

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Let’s see how long this trend will continue, and whether it would be the next health halo in Japan! 

Keep an eye on it Japanese girls!

 

“Ko-so cafe Biorise” at Ebisu, a new healthy-eat spot!! : 恵比寿の新健康スポット「コーソカフェ」!

After I watched a morning program called “Osama no Brunch” (王様のブランチ)and was introduced to this new hot spot for healthy eating called “Ko-so cafe”, I went and tried it myself the day after! Definitely an interesting restaurant with food that i have never tried before. Many interesting combination of salad, and many choices of healthy homemade dressings. I’m pretty impressed! 

It focuses on how to activate the enzymes in our body and make them work for the best of our health.

Find out more here: http://ko-so-cafe.jp/

Lunch set for 1000-1200 yen, not too bad for a fully healthy lunch! 🙂

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The interior gives you a natural feeling with wood and green tone.

 

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My lunch (1000 yen): colorful sprouts salad with soooo many more veggies underneath, spelt-flour (and many more healthy flour combination) pancakes and three kinds of salad dressings (not pictured – sorry!)

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My friend’s lunch: pasta with all-kinds-of-NUTS, oil-based with herbs! It smells amazing too! (1200 yen)

Why not try it out! It’s only a few minutes walking from Ebisu! >__<

 

Zero-sugar konnyaku and okara noodle substitute : こんにゃくとおからで作った糖質0麺です!

I’ve been wanting to write about this newly found noodle for a while. I found this product in a supermarket called Suntoku in a konnyaku array. If you’re looking for a lower-calorie substitute for normal noodle, this is definitely your answer!! I’m so excited to be sharing this with you! 

Apart from the fact that it has ZERO sugar (omg!), it is only 30 kcal, incorporates 3% of okara powder (which is made from soy beans), and has 10.6 grams of FIBER! (and well 2.2 g, of protein as a bonus) 

It doesn’t have any sauce with it so you’ll have to make your own sauce from Tsuyu or just simply dress it up with some sesame salad dressing! I have tried it and LOVE IT! The texture is very smooth, easy to go through your throat. Also easy to eat with chopsticks although I’m so bad at using them haha

Here’s how it looks like! Look for it in your nearest supermarket!

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