At first glance, Mirafit seems too good to be true. It’s a dietary supplement that promises to help you lose weight without changing your diet and has almost no side effects. It’s naturally derived and doesn’t contain stimulants. Where’s the catch?
DietsInReview interviewed the two doctors who developed Mirafit, Dr. Joseph Artiss and Dr. Catherine Jen, to learn more about this supplement. The active ingredient in Mirafit is alpha-cyclodextrin, which is a dietary fiber derived from cornstarch. The molecule is shaped in such a way that it binds to fat molecules, making them unavailable to be digested at any point in the digestive tract. Each pill binds about nine grams of fat, so the total dose of six pills per day will keep your body from absorbing 500 of the calories you eat.
Unlike some supplements that claim to aid weight loss, Mirafit and alpha-cyclodextrin have been studied in a number of clinical settings. In a study conducted at the Grunberger Diabetes Institute in Bloomfield Hills, MI, the supplement was shown to prevent and in some cases reverse weight gain in obese type 2 diabetics. “When we do our clinical studies, nobody is on a diet and this is unique,” said Dr. Artiss. “We asked the participants not to change their diets, to just continue what you’re doing.”
In a crossover study conducted at the University of California Davis, overweight patients were found to lose weight without changing their dietary habits. Few side-effects were reported from either of these studies. Dr. Jen said that those who do not get enough fiber in their diets may experience constipation when they first start taking this pill. She recommends cutting the dosage and drinking plenty of water, and the problem should go away once the body becomes accustomed to the fiber in Mirafit.
Unlike other weight loss pills that affect the absorption of fat, like Alli, Mirafit does not cause oily stool or similar unpleasant side effects. “The key to Mirafit is that it remains complexed as it passes through the large bowel, so your intestinal microbes can’t ferment it,” said Dr. Artiss. “You might be aware of prescription or over-the-counter medications that allow free fat to pass into the large bowel, and you get these explosive bowel movements…you don’t have that with Mirafit.”
Although research continues, there are no known interactions with any prescription drugs. “We’ve had no reports of any,” explained Dr. Artiss, “because of its mechanism of binding the fat, we would not anticipate any, because it never gets into the blood stream. It’s not like a pharmaceutical that get absorbed and floats around in the blood doing things.”
However, side effects and potential drug interactions still remain something of a concern. “Many diabetic medications can cause weight gain,” says Dr. Sarah G. Khan, our resident pharmaceuticals expert. She worried that Mirafit could be counterproductive when combined with these medicines, and that “the patient would have to deal with the gastrointestinal side effects.”
A study from the University of South Australia examined the effects of taking alpha-cyclodextrin with a meal that was high in carbohydrates but very low in fat. The supplement was found to increase feelings of satiety, but in the absence of fat “caused minor gastrointestinal discomfort.” What was the nature of this discomfort? “I have my concerns about how intense the side effects may be,” says Dr. Khan.
Mirafit’s weight loss benefits have not been evaluated by the FDA, but “Mirafit is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS status), which means there is not any adverse effect,” said Dr. Jen.
The research indicated a number of other health benefits in addition to weight loss, such as lowering LDL cholesterol levels, lowering triglycerides, and even increasing sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that triggers the feeling of being full. “Even though we’re taking 500 calories out of their diet, they’re not missing it, because of the increased leptin sensitivity,” said Dr. Artess.
When talking about weight loss, we hear again and again that there’s no “magic pill” that lets you eat whatever you want without gaining weight. While Mirafit seems superior to many weight loss drugs and supplements, it is no pass to eat whatever you like. “Overall, I feel this would give people the illusion that they can continue to have unhealthy habits and lose weight,” remarked Dr. Khan.
Mirafit’s makers agree. “If your weight is currently constant, and we take 500 calories a day out of your diet, you’re going to lose weight,” said Dr. Artiss. “But if you reward yourself by going out and buying one of those frozen cappuccino things, and put 750 calories back, you’re going to gain weight.” It’s also to important to remember that Mirafit only blocks the absorption of fats, but does not affect calories that come from carbs or sugars. “We do not like people to use this as an excuse to overeat,” said Dr. Jen. “That is very important.”