Calorease is a dietary supplement that aims to work due to a high content of a supposedly-groundbreaking fibre called FBCx. They claim that this form of fibre binds to fat at a high rate, reducing the amount of dietary fats absorbed by the body. Obviously, this will increase the amount of weight loss that occurs, as fats are the most calorie-dense macronutrients. FBCx has been given a “generally safe” categorization from the FDA and fiber has yet to be associated with any serious negative repercussions so we can clearly assume that the product, if it contains what it says, is not a health risk. As ever, however, it will be essential to consult a physician prior to the consumption of a dietary supplement.
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The discussion regarding Calorease, therefore, will have to be around the effectiveness (as borne out in the scientific evidence on the topic), value to the consumer and costs overall. This article will touch on these 3 main areas and come to some consumer-focused conclusions about how worthwhile the supplement is.
Calorease makes lofty claims for the product and the active ingredients involved have been reported to bind to dietary fats at 800% of regular digestive values. What concerns us here is that the studies used do not provide effective support for the central claims that the company makes for the product. The 2 studies that are cited focus on 2 different purported effects: the first discusses the effects of FBCx on blood triglyceride levels following a meal and the second focuses on the weight loss changes without serious dietary changes.
The first study  is methodologically flawed in ways that affect how seriously we can take it. The study involved providing a group of individuals with FBCx prior to a meal containing fats (a sandwich) and measuring blood triglycerides 15-20 minutes afterwards. The reduction in triglyceride levels in those consuming FBCx is supposedly evidence that FBCx has reduced the absorption of dietary fats in the long-term, meaning that it will reduce the absorption of fats overall. The obvious problem with this methodology is that fiber reduces the speed of absorption of any macronutrients – whilst fat absorption may not be represented within 15-20 minutes, this does not mean that it will not be absorbed at all: increased fiber consumption is associated with slower absorption of all nutrients  and 15-20 minutes is not sufficient to measure the full effects of a soluble fiber’s effect on dietary fat.
The second study  has even more profound problems – firstly, there are serious methodological problems with the definition of “compliant” and “non-compliant” participants and the possibility that this mechanism may skew data towards ‘favorable’ conclusions. Our main concern, however, is with the interpretation of data from this study. The suggestion that “significant” weight loss can be made through increased intake of FBCx without dietary changes is true only in the narrowest statistical sense. When we look at the results of the study, those who consumed FBCx (compared with a placebo) lost 0.2-0.4kg more over the course of 2 months. To anyone who has ever attempted a long-term diet, it should be clear that this is an insignificant amount of weight in the broader, more common sense. When we consider that daily bodyweight fluctuations within 2-3kg are normal over the course of a single day – this could easily explain the “significant” changes associated with FBCx consumption.
The first problem we can see with the product, if it does have the effects that are claimed, is that it is a poor attempt to subvert the regular dietary process. Fats have been demonized over the past half century because they are called fats and are falsely associated with body fat. This is clear from the way that “low fat” foods are promoted, primarily those containing huge amounts of sugar and calorie density. When we look at the fats often consumed, they are very calorie dense but they are not necessarily to be avoided. For example, an individual whose diet includes natural yoghurt, seeds and nuts, avocado, salmon and olives will be incredibly high in fat. Whilst these foods may be high in fat, they are high in good fats which are associated with positive health effects. These fats have a very valid place within a well-balanced diet.
A proper diet should include some fats, with a simple baseline of around 10% of calories coming from dietary fats. These should, as mentioned above, come from healthy sources and avoid excessively processed or hydrogenated fats. Fats are essential for proper vitamin absorption, brain health and hormone function . Radically reducing the absorption of fats, as this product claims to do, may not be beneficial – whilst a diet too high in low-quality fats is more common among those who are overweight or obese , the malabsorption of dietary fats does not always have positive effects.
This is not to mention the fact that using soluble fiber to negate poor dietary decisions is not a healthy or reliable method of dealing with bodyweight or health. Attenuating bad habits is not the same as improving the diet: the best long-term solution to weight management, health and fitness is a change in the diet that represents different macronutrients in the right proportions and from health sources. Attempting to “band-aid” the problem will develop dependence on products like Calorease and will not address the health and performance issues associated with poor diet. This should be obvious from the fact that Calorease’s own website recommends dietary changes as preceding the effectiveness of this product: a balanced, calorie-controlled diet is more important to weight loss than this dietary supplement.
It is claimed that this product will compliment a well-balanced diet but the real question is how? A healthy and well-balanced diet is, by definition, characterized by an appropriate balance of macronutrients, nutrient-density and good food sources. How, then, does the reduction of fat absorption assist an individual whose diet has these characteristics? Surely, if our dietary fat intake is within healthy ranges and is constituted primarily by monounsaturated fats, increased FBCx intake will only reduce the absorption of these ‘good fats’ and have a negative effect on the solubility of vitamins. Simply put, this product is intended to help those who have no intentions of changing to an effective diet and to suggest anything to the contrary is unjustified.
The cost of a bottle of Calorease is $55 – this is meant to last for around a month, with 2 tablets to be consumed with meals containing fat. Given the dependent nature of the product, this will add up to $720/year for any continued results (if they are even possible, as discussed above). This cost is a considerable portion of grocery costs. When we look at other sources of insoluble fiber (both dietary and supplementary), they have comparable effects when we consider the results cited above. The FBCx has been patented, hence the ridiculous mark up on both Calorease and other, related products. In reality, this seems to be an unjustifiable cost for a product whose scientific backing is dubious and results are marginal at best.
The cost of this product is excessive when you consider that simply not buying the fatty foods in question is a saving, whereas buying the foods and FBCx will cost a minimum of $55/month. Approaching this as a reasonable cost does not seem possible for most individuals: supplements are expensive to begin with and there are a variety of supplements more deserving of your money than this product. For example, whey protein is likely to cost less than $55/month, as are fish oil supplements, vitamin supplements or any other dietary assistance – as opposed to dietary “short-cuts”. By all means, if you happen to have huge amounts of disposable income it may be a good investment (increased dietary fiber is rarely a bad thing), but we can’t speak to the value of this product.
This product seems to fit a niche that needn’t exist. Soluble fiber can be consumed through a variety of dietary methods and initial research suggesting the “8x” greater effects do not seem to stand up to reasonable scrutiny. Whilst there are likely some positive effects associated with the product, the vast majority of these are not yet borne out in the science and do not support the pricing of this product, nor any superiority over other forms of soluble dietary fiber from products like oats. Naturally, when the product costs $55 we are inclined to favor dietary sources and would recommend that you spend your money consulting dietitians or buying extra veggies (also a great source of fiber!).
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 Jarosz et al (2013): ‘The effect of an alpha-cyclodextrin on postprandial lipid and glycemic responses to a fat-containing meal’. Metabolism, 62(10), pp.1443-1437.
 Comerford et al (2011): ‘The beneficial effects of α-cyclodextrin on blood lipids and weight loss in healthy humans’. Obesity, 19(6), pp.1200-1204.
 Anderson and Chen (1979): ‘Plant fiber. Carbohydrate and lipid metabolism’. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 32(2), pp.342-363
 Yaqoob, P (1998): ‘Monounsaturated fats and immune function’. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research, 31(4), pp.1414-1431
 Mattson and Grundy (1985): ‘Comparison of effects of dietary saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipids and lipoproteins in man’. Journal of lipid research, 26, pp.194-202
Steven has researched over 500 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. He has also worked with nutritionists specializing in weight loss while coaching people on how to transform their physiques and live healthy lives.
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