Every now and again the Internet is abuzz with another “magic” natural weight loss product, and Garcinia Cambogia seems to be one of the latest fads. Suppliers of Garcinia extract pills all swear that it is the ultimate way to lose weight quick and even TV celebrities have sung its praises.
But what is this miracle slimming product and, most importantly, does it actually work?
What Exactly is Garcinia Cambogia?Also known as a brindall berry, tamarind or Garcinia gummi-gutta, this fruit is a healthy, delicious specimen native to Indonesia. Shaped like a small, green pumpkin, the fruit has an interesting sour flavor. It is used to complement many traditional Asian dishes.
Garcinia Cambogia is rich in healthy nutrients including niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA) however seems to be the secret ingredient, or so proponents claim. This substance is found in large quantities in the skin of the fruit.
There are many theories as to how exactly the fruit influences weight loss. Some advocates claim that Garcinia helps you to lose weight quick by acting as a natural appetite suppressant. Others say that the acid inhibits a fat producing enzyme, Citrate Lyase, which makes it hard for your body to use carbohydrates to produce fat.
Let’s have a look at what the studies say to get some facts and figures:
Is Garcinia a Natural Appetite Suppressant?
A number of studies have been conducted to research the effectiveness of Garcinia Cambogia in weight management. These studies involved both animal and human subjects, but the results varied widely:
- Results from several rat studies support the theory that HCA inhibits Citrate Lyase production, making it hard for your body to use carbs.
- Other rodent studies suggest that Garcinia intake increases the serotonin levels in the body, which could reduce cravings and appetite, allowing the extract to act as a natural appetite suppressant.
- At least four different rat studies consistently showed significant weight loss:
- In one of the larger studies, from a group of 135 obese people who were all put on a low calorie, high-fiber diet, those taking the extract actually lost less weight on average than those in the placebo group. The difference in weight loss wasn’t overly significant, which makes this study inconclusive.
- In a 12 week study with 89 obese female participants, the Garcinia Cambogia group lost on average 1.3 kg more weight than the placebo group. There was no difference in appetite.
- Other studies either showed a slight benefit to those taking the supplement or no effect at all:
Looking at the studies, the weight loss benefits of this supplement seems to be insignificant. In humans, there is not much proof to indicate that it is, in fact, a natural appetite suppressant or a way to lose weight quickly.
Health and Safety ConcernsAs Garcinia Cambogia extract is not a considered a drug but a dietary supplement, it is not regulated by the FDA. Unless multiple people are hospitalized, the FDA won’t review its safety or effectiveness. This means manufacturers get to decide how concentrated the pills should be, and which other ingredients to add to their product.
A 2005 Food and Chemical Toxicology study suggests that Garcinia can cause toxicity and testicular atrophy in rats. A study that was conducted in 2013 claims that the pills are hepatotoxic and can cause liver damage. Another group of researchers, however, refutes this claim. In the small doses that are usually administered, no adverse effects have been found between those who took the pill and the control group.
As much as we want a “wonder” pill that magically takes our excess body weight away, it simply doesn’t exist. The sad fact is that none of the short-term miracle diets ever work. To stay in shape permanently, lifestyle changes are required. This includes a healthy, balanced diet where the calorie intake is limited and that contains ample exercise.
Garcinia Cambogia may help rodents to lose weight quickly, but in humans, so far the studies have only shown that the supplement’s weight loss effects are negligible, and can even be harmful in high doses.
But that being said, taken in the correct doses, it can have a beneficial effect, so may be worth a try to help speed up your weight loss.