A number of weight loss supplements and ingredients are currently available in the market, and some of those have been presented and promoted as fat-burning miracles. Garcinia Cambogia is also among those ingredients that are supposed to help you lose weight, without making you sweat a lot in the gym. Does it really help you lose weight? Should you really call it a fat-busting miracle? Let’s find out now!
What Is Garcinia Cambogia?
Also called Malabar tamarind, Garcinia cambogia is basically a tropic fruit rich in several important nutrients. It is supposed to help you lose weight because of its ‘power’ to keep your body from making fat. It also helps suppress your appetite, and you will obviously be losing weight more effectively when you do not always need to deal with hunger pangs. In fact, many supplement manufacturers say that Garcinia cambogia can help burn belly fat, control emotional eating, suppress appetite, change body composition, and even decrease cholesterol and triglycerides. The question is, does it live up to all the hype? Is there enough scientific evidence to support all these claims? The answer may be disappointing for people hoping to lose weight simply by including an exotic fruit in their diet.
Garcinia Cambogia for Fat Loss
There is much hype associated with the use of Garcinia Cambogia because of its high hydroxycitric acid (HCA) content. HCA gained serious popularity back in the 90s. There were even some animal studies conducted on the effects of HCA and they backed the weight loss claims associated with it. It is supposed to help by blocking an enzyme called citrate lyase. This enzyme plays a role in converting starches and sugars into fat. It means that by inhibiting this enzyme, it is possible to limit your body’s ability to produce more fat. Those unused carbs would then be used for energy production, which will make it easier for you to perform your workouts. Unfortunately, that is not the whole process works, and it was later confirmed by newer studies.
Animal studies did show some positive effects on weight loss, but most of them were flawed and even highlighted other issues associated with Garcinia supplementation. For instance, a study found that Garcinia helped guinea pigs experience decreased lipid composition levels and fat deposition, even when they were on a high cholesterol diet. However, the study also found that rats developed congenital defects when supplementing with HCA. Similarly, another study conducted on rats showed that HCA might decrease visceral fat accumulation and weight gain, but it was also found that HCA proved toxic to the testes.
In a systematic review, experts found the following:
- The analysis of studies found a small, statistically significant difference in weight loss (1.75 kg vs 0.88 kg, less than 2 pounds). They commented that the studies all had methodological weaknesses, so these results could be due to GIGO (garbage in/garbage out). The two studies with the best methodology found no statistically significant difference from placebo. Adverse events were twice as common with Garcinia (headache, nausea, upper respiratory, and gastrointestinal symptoms).
It implies that Garcinia generates weight loss on the short term only, and the magnitude of this effect is not that significant either. Some other studies have failed to notice any weight loss effect. Here are some examples:
- 2g of Garcinia Cambogia failed to beneficially influence any measured parameter. Source
- No significant effect of 3g Garcinia Camboga for 12 weeks in obese but healthy subjects. Source
An important consideration is that even when you lose weight, the result is not that significant. Findings published in the Journal of Obesity have already confirmed that supplementing with Garcinia cambogia may only help increase weight loss by 1-2 pounds on average, and that is also when you pay attention to your diet at the same time. This inconsistency in results is the reason why you may not want to include Garcinia in your diet to support weight loss.
Garcinia Cambogia as an Appetite Suppressant
It is also thought that HCA can help reduce weight by suppressing the appetite. You are less likely to feel hungry all the time, which means you can cut your caloric intake and experience some weight loss over time. While many supplement manufacturers talk a lot about this effect of supplementing with HCA or Garcinia cambogia, they offer no information exactly what mechanism takes place to achieve this result. You cannot even find any scientific evidence to confirm if HCA is indeed an appetite suppressant.
There is one explanation offered by some experts though – HCA triggers the production of 5-hydroxytryptophan that in turn releases a hormone called serotonin, which increases the level of satiety. Again, there is no scientific evidence to confirm this mechanism. In fact, some studies that noticed insignificant weight loss through Garcinia cambogia supplementation have confirmed that it was not due to a reduction in appetite.
- In conjunction with a reduced calorie diet, 12 weeks of 2.4g Garcinia daily in overweight women was able to slightly increase the amount of weight lost (1.3kg more than placebo), without significantly affecting appetite. Source
Even if you suppose that Garcinia cambogia works, you may still have trouble finding a supplement that provides you with high quality Garcinia extract. An independent analysis of Garcinia cambogia supplements showed that at least 50% of them did not have enough of this main ingredient. Experts believe that if you really want to supplement with Garcinia Cambogia, it is important to select a supplement that contains 50% GCE with potassium and no binders, fillers, or artificial ingredients in it.
Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects
You usually do not need to worry about anything when you eat the fruit, but you may have to consider a few things when you opt for a supplement containing HCA. The FDA issued a safety warning in 2009 – they issued it after receiving reports of severe reactions, such as liver damage caused by a supplement that contained Garcinia Cambogia. Some studies have also shown that supplementing with Garcinia Cambogia extract is not always safe for people with Alzheimer’s or other types of brain disorders. There are other studies indicating that supplementing with HCA may affect sperm production in males. Here are some other possible side effects of supplementing with HCA or Garcinia Cambogia:
- It can affect cholesterol levels. You may want to avoid it if you already have low cholesterol levels.
- It contains xanthones and some studies have shown that xanthones may be responsible for causing damage to lungs. It may also lead to leukemia, breast cancer, and other complications.
- It may cause gastrointestinal problems and lead to issues like stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, constipation and diarrhea.
Certain people should also avoid using any supplement that contains Garcinia Cambogia or HCA. Avoid it if:
- You are pregnant. Taking it when pregnant can affect your energy levels and hamper the growth of your baby. If it somehow depletes your fat reserves, it will also affect your pregnancy.
- You are diabetic. Some preliminary research has shown that it can lower blood glucose levels, so you need to avoid it in case you have diabetes or have trouble managing your blood sugar levels.
- You have liver problems. You should talk to your healthcare provider when you want to take Garcinia Cambogia and you have any type of liver problem.
It is also important to avoid Garcinia Cambogia when you are taking certain medications. It can interact with drugs and lead to a serious reaction. For instance, it can interact with drugs you take to control asthma or allergy. Do not combine Garcinia Cambogia with diabetes medicines, including insulin and pills. Avoid it if you are taking iron to deal with anemia. It can also affect the way your body handles pain medicines. Moreover, you should not take Garcinia Cambogia when you are taking Statins to treat low cholesterol, or blood thinners like Warfarin.
Can I Still Experiment with Garcinia Cambogia?
While there are concerns related to Garcinia Cambogia, many people still believe that HCA can offer some assistance in terms of weight loss. If you really want to use it to get ‘some’ results, you need to keep a few important things in mind. When supplementing with HCA, it is important to remember that hydroxycitrates can be of three different types. Also, bear in mind that HCA supplements may also include potassium, calcium, or magnesium salts. It is better to opt for HCA with magnesium salts, because they make it easier for your body to absorb hydroxycitrate and produce some results.
Again, it is better to avoid Garcinia Cambogia because it is not going to produce significant results, but if you still want to experiment with it, be sure to keep the following pointers in mind:
- Opt for a preparation that is 50% HCA, and does not rely completely on calcium salts. It should also include magnesium or potassium. It is even better to for a supplement that comes with a low lactone content.
- Take an adequate dose to see results. In most cases, the recommended dose is 1.5g of Garcinia Cambogia extract taken thrice a day. You need to take it before meals to see its benefits.
- Consider taking your supplement on an empty stomach. It means you should be taking it at least an hour before each meal. Taking the right dose at right time may make Garcinia Cambogia a bit more effective.
The fact of the matter is that Garcinia Cambogia is supposed to help boost weight loss, by inhibiting an enzyme that converts carbs into fat. It is also supposed to work by suppressing appetite. Unfortunately, not enough human studies are there to confirm these claims. In fact, supplementing with Garcinia Cambogia can be counterproductive, especially if you do not know how to take it. Therefore, it is better to avoid it and pay more attention to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Remember, you will lose weight when you eat less and exercise more.
You really do not need to rely on any ‘magic fruit’ like Garcinia Cambogia. Eating less is never going to be easy, as it actually means changing your dietary habits, but you can find a way to take control of things, especially when you realize that how much you eat is part of a complex mix of psychology, biology, sociology, economics, and family dynamics. And remember, if you struggle with weight loss because of a disorder, you need to see a doctor.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.