Garcinia cambogia for weight loss does it work
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Can Garcinia Cambogia Help with Weight Loss?
Is there such a thing as a weight loss miracle drug?
Today’s market is full of “miracle drugs” and supplements that claim to help you drop pounds fast. It’s no wonder they fly off the shelves and into medicine cabinets across the country. TV personality Dr. Oz and others like him have showered praise on one of these products in particular: the controversial garcinia cambogia fruit.
Garcinia cambogia is a citrus fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. An extract from the fruit’s rind, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), has historically been used for cooking, but it has also been used for weight loss. You can buy garcinia cambogia online or at most health and supplement stores. It comes in pill form or as a powder. Let’s look at what, if anything, garcinia cambogia can do for your weight.
Advocates say that HCA, an organic acid, works by making you feel full, reducing your appetite, and affecting your metabolism. It’s this effect that has led many to herald it as a natural weight loss cure. Some say it may also help improve high cholesterol or enhance athletic performance.
The list of garcinia cambogia’s rumored benefits is a long one. It can be hard to determine the truth to the claims about its “miracle” properties. So, how do these health claims match up to scientific research?
1. Claim: Makes you feel full
Verdict: No evidence. An extensive review of the existing research on garcinia cambogia determined that there simply wasn’t conclusive evidence to suggest that the supplement or HCA had any effects on appetite and satiety. Although some rodent studies had positive results, no human studies could replicate them.
2. Claim: Lowers body weight
Verdict: No evidence. Existing evidence doesn’t prove that garcinia cambogia alone can facilitate weight loss. A 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in JAMA found that the supplement didn’t help with significant weight loss or decrease in fat mass. Both the control and garcinia group were placed on high-fiber, low-calorie diets.
3. Claim: Speeds metabolism
Verdict: Some evidence. There is some evidence that supplementing with garcinia cambogia can influence fat metabolism. Several studies have found that both mice and humans experience an increase in fat metabolism after supplementing with HCA.
4. Claim: Enhances athletic performance
Verdict: Some evidence. Garcinia cambogia may increase the amount of time it takes to reach exhaustion during exercise, according to one study. Another study that used mice had similar results, showing that HCA enhanced endurance during running.
In addition to knowing how well it works, you’ll also want to know about a supplement’s potential side effects. Reported side effects for garcinia cambogia are mild. They include:
There are still other factors you should consider when deciding whether to use a supplement such as garcinia cambogia.
As with all dietary supplements, HCA could interact with medications you take. Before starting HCA, be sure to talk to your doctor. Make sure they know about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as other supplements.
Part of the allure of garcinia cambogia is the fact that it comes from a fruit, so it’s considered “natural.” However, this alone doesn’t make it a worthwhile supplement or even safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using caution with products that claim to be quick fixes, promise fast weight loss, and use the term “natural.” Natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe. There are many poisonous plants that are natural, but can cause you serious harm. Many plants interfere with medication or are actually medications themselves.
More importantly, dietary supplements such as garcinia cambogia aren’t studied or approved by the FDA before they go on the market. Furthermore, supplement makers can claim that their products support normal body functions as long as they have a disclaimer stating that the FDA hasn’t evaluated those statements. In other words, supplements containing garcinia cambogia have not been rigorously tested for effectiveness, quality, purity, or safety.
Possible liver problems
In 2009, the FDA recalled a product that contained garcinia cambogia because it was found to cause liver problems.
Oz Show "Garcinia Cambogia: The Newest, Fastest Fat-Buster Dr.
Research since then has been conflicted, with some citing a link between garcinia cambogia and liver damage and other research finding no link. You should discuss this risk with your doctor.
A review of studies on HCA found that no studies have effectively looked at garcinia cambogia use for longer than 12 weeks. That means there isn’t enough evidence to ensure that it’s safe and effective for long-term use.
The danger of scams
It’s free, so what’s the harm, right? Actually, those free trials for products that claim to help you lose weight fast can present more harm than you might think. From surprise shipping fees to extra charges for products you didn’t realize you ordered, these trials can end up costing you money. For information on how to avoid these scams, check out this page from the Federal Trade Commission.
“Miracle” weight loss solutions rarely live up to the hype. Even when there is scientific evidence of positive results, the results are often so mild and minimal that users are disappointed to learn they still have to exercise and control their eating in order to reap lasting and significant weight loss.
Dr. Oz has come under fire for promoting “miracle” weight loss products on his show. His claims got him into trouble with the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. There’s a reason that claims such as his about products with no clear evidence of effectiveness are taken seriously. Many consumers trust his opinion and could be misled into buying something that is, at best, a waste of time and money, and at worst, laden with potential side effects.
According to the FDA, any product, whether natural or man-made, that’s strong enough to work like a drug is capable of producing side effects. Before you add a dietary supplement to your weight loss plan, discuss it with your doctor. They can tell you if the product may be harmful or may be worth a try.
The best approach for weight loss is eating less fat and calories. Choose to eat whole, non-processed foods and burn calories with activity.
What is Garcinia cambogia?
Garcinia cambogia is an extract obtained from the dried fruit of the Garcinia cambogia (GC) tree, a native plant species of South India and South Asia. 1,2 The fruit looks like a small green pumpkin, and is used extensively in Asian-style cooking for its sour flavor.
What is the active ingredient and how does it work?
The skin, or rind of Garcinia cambogia fruit contains large amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA is a derivative of citric acid, and is marketed as a weight loss supplement, either alone or in combination with other supplements. 1,2
How HCA works to promote weight loss is not precisely known, but several theories exist. Some experts believe it works by inhibiting an enzyme called citrate lyase, interfering with the conversion of unused carbohydrates into fat. Although HCA does have this effect on carbohydrates in a laboratory petri dish, it is unproven whether it does this once inside the body. 1,2
Other experts suggest HCA affects other enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, such as pancreatic alpha amylase and intestinal alpha glucosidase. A few postulate that it increases the release or availability of serotonin in the brain, promoting appetite suppression. 1,2 Nobody knows for sure just how HCA works… or if it really does work.
Is there any evidence to support Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss supplement?
Several trials have investigated use of Garcinia cambogia for weight loss in humans. Some of these trials are of better quality than others, and reviews that group trials together to look for an overall effect give us a better “bigger picture” than just looking at the results of a single trial.
An analysis in 2011 by Onakpoya et al 1 found 12 trials that investigated the effect of Garcinia cambogia for weight loss that matched their strict quality criteria. Although they found evidence that Garcinia cambogia did promote weight loss in the short term, the effect was small and barely significant.
Keeping stress low, getting enough sleep, and even covering your bases with natural testosterone-supporting supplements can also be of benefit.
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The same conclusion was reached in another review by Fassina et al 2 in 2015 of 17 trials, both in humans and animals. Interestingly, in one of the largest individual trials of 135 people, both the active group (the group taking GC) and the control group (the group taking a placebo – or an inactive supplement) lost a significant amount of weight over a 12-week treatment period. 3 As many other previous trials have suggested, it is often the support and encouragement people receive to lose weight that makes more of a difference than any diet or supplement.
In summary, evidence so far does not suggest Garcinia cambogia is effective as a weight loss supplement; although larger scale trails conducted over a longer period of time may shed more light on the subject.
For now, increasing physical activity levels, avoiding alcohol, and eating a healthier diet with more vegetables, whole grains, and less red meat is more likely to make you shed weight long-term than Garcinia cambogia supplements.
Is there any harm in taking Garcinia cambogia supplements?
It is important to remember that ANY product labeled as “natural” or “herbal” is not unquestionably safe. Herbal remedies classified as dietary supplements in the United States are regulated as food products. This means they have not been subjected to the same requirements for safety or efficacy as medicines.
Garcinia cambogia has been implicated in causing liver damage, both when used in combination with other ingredients (for example, in the original formulation of the product Hydroxycut) and when used by itself. Two severe cases are documented. The first was a 52-year-old female who developed severe liver failure requiring a liver transplant after taking 1000 mg of Garcinia cambogia for 15 days, and the other was a 42-year-old female who developed abnormally high liver function tests and coagulopathy (an impaired ability of the blood to clot) after one week of taking GC. 4 The second lady recovered without incident several days after Garcinia cambogia was discontinued. Interestingly, the manufacturer of Hydroxycut temporarily withdrew the product, but it has since returned a reformulated version that lacks Garcinia cambogia to the market. 5
Other reported adverse effects are generally mild when Garcinia cambogia is taken at the recommended dosage and include stomach upset, dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, and diarrhea. 2,6 Herbal remedies should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and anybody with heart disease or other medical conditions should consult their doctor before use. Some studies have suggested that Garcinia cambogia can lower blood sugar or interfere with diabetes control, so it is particularly important if you have diabetes that you talk with your doctor.
On the positive side, unlike stimulants such as phentermine, Garcinia cambogia does not act on the central nervous system, so does not cause sleeplessness, anxiety, affect the heart or blood pressure, and its efficiency does not decrease with time. 5,6,7
Does Garcinia cambogia have any effect on blood sugars?
There have been several contradictory claims about the effects Garcinia cambogia has on blood glucose control with some celebrity endorsements even suggesting it may be beneficial for people with diabetes. While studies in rats have shown a reduction in the amount of glucose absorbed and less of a spike in blood glucose levels following a meal, rats are not humans so studies were needed to determine if this also applied to humans.
Thazhath et al 8 took 12 healthy participants and 8 people with diabetes and compared the effects of hydroxycitric acid (the active ingredient of Garcinia cambogia) plus glucose to water plus glucose in a cross-over type trial. Although some reduction in blood sugar levels were seen in healthy people, there was no reduction in the blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Other markers, such as insulin response, were not affected.
Other human studies have also failed to support use of Garcinia cambogia for blood sugar control. Yonei et al 9 tested the effects of daily supplementation with Garcinia cambogia extract (500 mg/day as hydroxycitric acid) and L-carnitine (600 mg/day) on 35 healthy individuals aged 40-60 with a BMI of 24 or higher.
29 HCA promoted lipid oxidation and reduced carbohydrate use in mice at rest and during running.
After 8 weeks’ supplementation, the group receiving Garcinia cambogia had an increase of 4.5% in their total cholesterol, 4.1% in their fasting blood sugar levels, and 3.4% in their HbA1c (provides a reflection of long-term glucose control).
Conversely, a 2008 10 study reported a significant reduction in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol when Garcinia cambogia extract was combined with Amorphophallus konjac (also known for its weight loss properties). However, no effect was seen on triglyceride or glucose levels.
Generally speaking, most trials 11 have not shown Garcinia cambogia to have an effect on blood sugars or insulin control; one trial reported a lowering in healthy non-diabetic subjects while another reported an increase in fasting blood sugar levels in overweight individuals. Even though laboratory studies on human cells and animal studies suggested Garcinia cambogia reduced cell synthesis of lipids and increased degradation of cholesterol, human trials have been contradictory. No effects on triglycerides have been reported. Based on the evidence available, Garcinia cambogia is unlikely to have an effect on blood glucose or cholesterol levels, and does not appear beneficial for people with diabetes.
Does Garcinia cambogia interact with any medications?
Garcinia cambogia may interact with the following:
- Diabetes medications, including insulin – variable effects reported, always consult a doctor before use if you have diabetes. 12,13,14,15
Other possible, but unsubstantiated, interactions include:
- Iron supplements – several informative sites state Garcinia cambogia contains iron 12 ; however, most supplements use an extract of Garcinia cambogia, which is unlikely to contain high amounts of iron. Several other fruits (such as prunes, persimmons, and passion fruit) also contain iron but are not reported as interacting with iron supplements
- Serotonin-stimulating antidepressants (such as Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft) or pain medications (such as tramadol) – one mouse study 16 suggested Garcinia cambogia had a serotonin-enhancing effect; however, this has not been verified in humans
- Asthma medications (including montelukast) – one documented case study 17 of a woman who developed fatal liver failure after taking two dietary supplements (one of which was Garcinia cambogia) for two weeks on top of her usual asthma medications, including montelukast
- Statins – this is based on the fact that statins can cause rhabdomyolysis (a destruction of muscle cells). One case study 18 reported rhabdomyolosis in a women taking a combination weight loss supplement (of which one of the ingredients was garcinia cambogia); so some experts are concerned about a theorectical additive effect with statins (she was not taking a statin at the time)
- Warfarin – A man taking warfarin together with a combination herbal product that included Garcinia cambogia, reported a change in his INR (a measure of the clotting ability of the blood) that returned to normal after discontinuation of the supplement. 19
In addition, supplements of Garcinia cambogia may contain other nutrients such as calcium and potassium which may cause additive effects in people already supplementing their diet with these nutrients. Always read the label to see what ingredients are actually contained in your supplement, and always seek your doctor’s advice before taking any dietary supplements particularly if you take other medications.
Fat-Loss Hope Or Hype: The Truth About Garcinia Cambogia
Some say it's hyped, but others say it's just misunderstood. Hear from the researcher behind the most important studies and make your own decision!
Garcinia cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a small, sweet tropical tree fruit shaped like a pumpkin. In the late 1960s, scientists discovered an acid in the fruit somewhat similar to the citric acid found in fruits like oranges and lemons.
That acidвЂ”called hydroxycitric acid, or HCAвЂ”has ridden a rollercoaster ride of popularity over the last 20 years.
Level of Effort: Medium Apart from eliminating simple sugars, white flour, and certain kinds of fat, the Ultimate Diet gives you flexibility in terms of choosing what to eat from all the food groups.
It is alternately touted as a miracle weight loss supplement and derided as effective only in rats.
So where is the ride at now? Since late 2012, HCA has taken a steady ascent, and people around the world chat about "garcinia" like that's the name of their new personal trainer. (For the record, garcinia cambogia, hydroxycitic acid, and HCA all refer to the same thing. I'll stick primarily to HCA here to keep it simple). It can feel like anyone with even a passing interest in supplements has gotten asked by a small army of friends, loved ones, and cab drivers: "Is garcinia legit?"
So . is it? Knowing what I know now, this question sounds a little like asking, "Is a hammer legit?" It depends on the hammer and the person swinging it, right? So here's the deal: HCA isn't a miracle; it's a tool. Anyone who has ever suffered the indignity of smashing their finger with a hammer can attest that tools only work when you know what to do with them and then follow through on that knowledge.
Luckily, in recent years we've learned a lot about not only what HCA supplements do in the body, but also how you can make the most of them. Here's what you need to know about this blockbuster fat-loss supplement.
HCA's Early Promise
HCA got its first taste of widespread popularity back in the '90s, after a number of studies concluded that it causedВ weight lossВ in animals. One thing we know is that HCA blocks a portion of an enzyme called citrate lyase, which helps turn sugars and starches into fat.
Block that enzyme, and carbohydrates get diverted into energy production rather than accumulating as body fat. Then, when you burn fat through effective training, there's less to replace it, and your overall fat level goes down.
HCA also seems to have an ability to helpВ suppress the appetite, but not in the same way as a stimulant-basedВ diet pill. Rather, it increases the level of satietyвЂ”satisfaction you receive from foodвЂ”making it easier to eat less. The mechanism by which it achieves this isn't entirely clear yet. The late great nutritionist Shari Lieberman suggested that a metabolic change brought on by HCA may send an appetite-suppressing signal to the brain via the amino acidВ 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is a direct precursor to the so-called "happy hormone," serotonin. Given that subsequent studies have shown elevated serotonin levels in subjects who took HCA supplements, she was likely on to something.
With these two impressive bullet points in its favor, HCA seemed on the verge of the big time, but the buzz faded quickly after a large study published in 1998 in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that it had "no effect" on human subjects.
End of the line, right? Not quite. Subsequent research has produced some very different conclusions and helped convince me, among many other previously skeptical people, that HCA has real potential as a weight-loss supplement.
It's All About How You Take It
A few years after the lackluster results in the JAMA study, I had the opportunity to talk about HCA with Harry Preuss, a researcher and pathologist at Georgetown University, who saw enough to like about HCA to keep researching it after its popularity had waned. Preuss, a past president of the American College of Nutrition, told me he thought the previous studies were discouraging but not conclusive.
He decided to take a closer look. "You have to take the right dose of the right product, and you have to take it properly," he told me. "In the JAMA study, they used whatever the dose was at the time, and they never even mentioned the type of citrate they used. You have to give enough so that it reaches the sites in the body that it needs to reach." In recent years, Dr. Preuss has continued to hammer on the idea that maximizing bioavailability with HCA is crucial for its success. Fail to prioritize it, and you set yourselfвЂ”or your study, in the JAMA's caseвЂ”to fail.
It's an old story. Vitamin studies are often done by people who use the wrong dose or the wrong form, and then seem almost gleeful when they're able to proclaim that the supplements "don't work." Prejudice confirmed; case closed.
How can you lose weight safely and effectively then?
Preuss, who went on to lead the most promising human studies into HCA, points out that there are three different forms of hydroxycitrates: those which are blended with calcium, potassium, or magnesium salts. The reason to add these salts is to decrease the degradation of free HCA into HCA lactone, an inactive form of the compound. These salts, which are added at a 1-to-1 or higher ratio in most commercial HCA supplements, also help your body more easily absorb the hydroxycitrate.
"If you have almost a pure calcium hydroxycitrate, it's just not going to work," he told me. He said he prefers hydroxycitrate that is bound to both calcium and potassium; he says the bond dramatically increases the absorption and effectiveness of HCA.
Dr. Preuss and his colleagues put this premise to the test in a study where they followed 30 healthy but overweight people ages 21-50 over an 8-week period. All of the subjects consumed a diet of 2,000 calories per day and walked for half an hour five days per week. One group was given Super CitriMax, a patented form of HCA bound with both calcium and potassium. The other group was given a placebo. At the end of the study, the placebo group had lost an average of three pounds, but the HCA group had lost an average of 12 poundsвЂ”a whopping 400 percent more weight. Their average BMI fell by 6.3 percent; in the placebo group, it fell only 1.7 percent.
To top it off, the HCA group experienced an almost double boost in serotonin levels compared to the placebo group. Higher serotonin levels are associated with fewer cravings, as well as a greater sense of calm. In a second similar study, Preuss and his colleagues tested 60 people, and this time, the HCA group lost an average of 10.5 pounds compared to the placebo group, which lost an average of 3.5 pounds.
"Perhaps the most remarkable result was in appetite control," Preuss says of the second study. "The placebo group had no change, but the HCA group had a 16 percent reduction in the amount of food they ate per meal!"
The Right Way To Supplement With HCA
It's far too easy to view supplements purely from the perspective of either "I take it" or "I don't take it." With some supplements, that's precise enough to see an effect. But the lesson here is thatВ how you take HCA matters. As such, Preuss has taken the new wave of HCA popularity as an opportunity to remind us all about how to get the most out of this supplement, most recently in a paper he co-authored for the Alliance for Natural Health in 2013 titled "Garcinia Cambogia: How to Optimize its Effects."
Here are Preuss' recommendations:
- Choose a preparation that is at a minimum 50 percent HCA and is not composed wholly of calcium salts: Make sure potassium (K) and/or magnesium (Mg) is present. If the product has a low lactone content, that is even better.
- Be sure to take an adequate dose. For a Ca/K preparation used successfully and reported in a peer-reviewed publication, the dose of extract was near 1.5 g, three times per day before meals. In this 60 percent HCA preparation, that approximates 0.9 g of HCA prior to each meal.
- Take the preparation on an empty stomach, i.e., 30-60 minutes before each meal.
- Remember, "If you don't comply, don't complain." Take the right dose at the right time.
Note that he says "near" 1.5 g three times daily. Why not exactly 1.5? Given that HCA supplements come in a range of potencies and mixtures, it can be hard to be exact. Aim for the 1.5 g benchmark, but don't be obsessive.
Why on an empty stomach? It takes advantage of the appetite-curbing effect of the supplement, but even more important, HCA needs some space to work its magic.
"In the presence of food, the hydroxycitrate salt can bind to some of the components in the meal and be inactivated," Preuss writes. "This is called the 'food effect' and can seriously reduce the bioavailability of a number of supplements, not just HCA."
Follow these guidelines, andВ HCAВ can be an addition to your arsenal. Side effects are rare at the kind of reasonable doses that Preuss recommends, and since it's not a stimulant, you don't need to worry about it affecting your sleep or mood.