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Can White Kidney Bean Help You Burn Fat?

With so many different fat burners available it can be difficult to know which ingredients will work, and which ones make claims that simply can’t be backed up with evidence.

In this article we’ll take a look at white kidney bean extract – a Central American legume – and tell you whether it is a good supplement to help you shred fat.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is white kidney bean extract?
  • What does the science say – does it burn fat?
  • Are there any side effects?

What is White Kidney Bean Extract?

Phaseolis vulgaris, or white kidney bean, is a Central American legume. It falls into the common bean family along with haricot, garden, snap and French varieties.

Beans are typically high in fiber and protein, as well as a number of vitamins and minerals. They are high in antioxidants which improve overall health, and bioactive compounds such as molybdenum – an important catalyst of metabolism.

As well as being a healthy food, it is claimed that the extract of this bean can help you lose weight too. Its suggested primary function is that of a carb blocker. 

Usually, when you eat something your saliva surrounds the food and allows an enzyme called amylase to break down complex starch into sugars. That’s why when you chew something like bread for longer than normal it begins to taste sweet.

White kidney bean contains a plant chemical called phaseolamin. This phytonutrient is said to contain alpha-amylase inhibitors that don’t allow this process to occur, therefore block the absorption of carbs. This may result in a lower energy intake, lower glucose entering the body, and ultimately a lower rate of fat storage.

When used with diabetic patients, the blocking of sugars has been found to reduce blood glucose by as much as 34% [1].

When undigested starch enters the colon it stimulates a bacterial process that is said to boost lipid oxidation – fat burning. So does the combination of carb blocking, along with lipid oxidation mean it can help you lose weight? Let’s find out…


Key Point: White kidney bean is said to work as a carb blocker – it inhibits the breakdown of starch into sugars.

The Science – Is There Any Evidence That it Works?

There is definitely a lack of research to draw upon with this extract. The limited number of human studies mean that you should be cautious about using it.

From the studies that are available, the supplement seems to be inconsistent. A study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences [2] for example, reported that when a group of overweight volunteers were given a dietary supplement containing 445 mg of amylase-inhibitor, they significantly reduced their body weight and fat mass.

It is worth noting though that even the researchers from this study admitted that the formula used in the test contained many ingredients not just white kidney bean. This makes it hard to conclude whether it was actually the extract itself, or some other ingredient that made the difference.

Another study [3] reported ‘clinical trends’ of weight loss in their study, which essentially means that their was the very faintest suspicion of weight loss in their report, although not significant.

The study – using 50 obese volunteers – involved supplementing a dietary extract of 1500mg white kidney bean in half of the group, and a placebo in the other half. Even at such a high dose the results were disappointing, with only a minimal amount of weight loss seen.

Overall, white kidney bean extract may help with weight loss, but there just aren’t enough studies around to say so with any confidence. The studies that are available are inconsistent, particularly with the doses used. Current evidence suggests that its potency is questionable, and its effects unreliable.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with adding beans to your normal diet, if you are after a fat burning supplement that works, there are many others on the market that have been more rigorously tested. Additionally, if you are specifically after a carb blocker then you can just reduce the amount of starch in your diet to get similar effects.


Key Point: There may be some tentative evidence that white kidney bean boosts weight loss, but the small number of studies are unreliable and inconsistent.

Is it Safe?

Although relatively short in time frame, chronic intake of 2500mg/kg white kidney bean over a 28-day period has been found to be safe. However it is worth noting that this was a study performed on animal and not humans [4].

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have given this supplement a GRAS status which means that it is generally regarded as safe. The only side effect you may find is that it increases bloating and gas – as many types of beans do.

The fact is that many supplements just don’t contain enough extract completely block carbohydrate absorption. So not only will it be safe, it might not work either.

Summary – White Kidney Bean and Weight Loss

White kidney bean is a legume native to Central America. It is high in fiber and protein and contains a number of bioactive compounds such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

The extract of this bean contains plant chemicals that inhibit the stimulation of amylase – a protein found in saliva that breaks down starch into sugars. As such, the extract blocks the absorption of carbs.

There is only a limited number of studies that have looked at the link between amylase blocking of the supplement and weight loss, and the results are currently not convincing. There may be some slight benefit but currently the research is unreliable and inconsistent.

We suggest that until more robust evidence is made available, you focus your attention on a healthy eating approach and a fat burner with more scientifically tested ingredients.

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  1. Boivin, M et al. Gastrointestinal and Metabolic Effects of Amylase Inhibition in Diabetics. Gastroenterology. 1988; 94: 387-94
  2. Celleno, L et al. A Dietary Supplement Containing Standardized Phaseolus vulgaris Extract Influences Body Composition of Overweight Men and Women. Int J Med Sci 2007; 4(1): 45-52
  3. Udani, J et al. Blocking carbohydrate absorption and weight loss: a clinical trial using Phase 2 brand proprietary fractionated white bean extract. Altern Med Rev. 2004; 9(1): 63-9
  4. Choksi, D. Subchronic oral toxicity of a standardized white kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) extract in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2007; 45(1): 32-40