White Bean Extract for Weight Loss?

Health Benefits, Uses, and More

Woman holding white beans
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In recent years, white bean extract has gained popularity as a natural weight loss aid. Often referred to as Phaseolus vulgaris, the supplement is sourced from white kidney beans and is typically marketed as a "starch blocker."

Why Do People Use White Bean Extract?

Proponents claim that white bean extract can fight the effects of alpha-amylase (an enzyme involved in breaking down carbohydrates into sugar).

By slowing alpha-amylase activity, proponents suggest, white bean extract is thought to prevent the body from turning excess glucose into body fat.

White bean extract is widely marketed as a weight loss aid. The product is also purported to prevent obesity and reduce abdominal fat.

Not only touted as a natural weight loss aid, white bean extract is said to keep blood sugar in check, fight insulin resistance, protect against diabetes and heart disease, enhance athletic performance, increase energy, ease symptoms of arthritis, and aid in the prevention of colon cancer.

The Benefits of White Bean Extract

To date, there is limited research on the potential health benefits of white bean extract. However, some studies suggest that white bean extract may help promote weight loss. For instance, the authors of a research review published in Nutrition Journal in 2011 concluded that one proprietary white bean extract product (Phase 2 Carb Controller) may have the "potential to induce weight loss and reduce spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrates."

One of the few clinical trials to test the health effects of white bean extract was published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences in 2007. The study involved 60 slightly overweight volunteers whose weight had been essentially stable for at least six months. For 30 days, study participants took either 445 mg of white bean extract or a placebo daily (prior to consuming a meal rich in carbohydrates).

At the end of the 30-day period, researchers found that participants who had taken the white bean extract experienced a significantly greater reduction in body weight, fat mass, and waistline size (compared to members of the placebo group). What's more, white bean extract appeared to help the participants maintain lean body mass.

Possible Side Effects

Consuming raw, undercooked, or incorrectly prepared beans can lead to side effects such as severe nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. While it can happen with other types of beans, red and white kidney beans contain the highest concentration of the toxin phytohaemagglutinin. 

Due to the lack of long-term clinical trials, little is known about the safety of taking white bean extract regularly or for an extended period. There's some concern that use of white bean extract may trigger certain minor side effects (including nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea). People who are allergic to white beans should avoid white bean extract supplements.

White bean supplements haven't been tested for safety and keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

You can get tips on using supplements here.

Where to Buy It

Widely available for purchase online, white bean extract can also be found in many natural-foods stores (as well as stores specializing in dietary supplements).

The Takeaway

More research needs to be conducted before white bean extract can be recommended for weight loss. If you're looking to manage your weight, the National Institutes of Health suggest following a plan that pairs a balanced diet with regular exercise.

Keeping a food diary, getting eight hours of sleep each night, and keeping your stress in check may also help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Certain alternative therapies (such as yoga, acupuncture, and tai chi) may help.

If you're still considering using white bean extract, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it's appropriate for you.


Barrett ML, Udani JK. A proprietary alpha-amylase inhibitor from white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): a review of clinical studies on weight loss and glycemic control. Nutr J. 2011 Mar 17;10:24.

Celleno L, Tolaini MV, D'Amore A, Perricone NV, Preuss HG. A Dietary supplement containing standardized Phaseolus vulgaris extract influences body composition of overweight men and women. Int J Med Sci. 2007 Jan 24;4(1):45-52.

Obiro WC, Zhang T, Jiang B. The nutraceutical role of the Phaseolus vulgaris alpha-amylase inhibitor. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jul;100(1):1-12.

Ogawa H, Date K. The "white kidney bean incident" in Japan. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1200:39-45. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1292-6_3.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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