Health Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia
Garcinia Cambogia has exploded onto the slimming scene over recent months, with reviews such as “the holy grail of weight loss” generating lots of buzz in the media. What makes this ingredient even more intriguing is the backing of many scientists and doctors. But just how does this small, tropical fruit help consumers to lose weight? We look at the evidence to find out if this intriguing supplement really deserves the buzz.
What is Garcinia Cambogia?
Garcinia Cambogia is a citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia and is closely related to the mangosteen fruit. Also known as the Malabar tamarind, it has been a culinary aid for centuries. However, only recently has its potential weight loss benefits received international recognition.
Approximately 20% to 30% of the fruit's rind is made up of an organic acid called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is believed to help turn food into a useable source of energy rather than be stored as fat. It may also work as an appetite suppressant, helping to reduce cravings that throw you off track. Garcinia Cambogia is caffeine and stimulant free, and so may be a suitable weight loss supplement for people who are sensitive to caffeine.
Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia
To date, there are around 15 clinical trials that have investigated the potential weight loss benefits of Garcinia Cambogia, involving approximately 900 participants. However, several of these studies have been poor quality so more large-scale studies are required. Here are a few of the best–tested clinical trials that have taken place.
- Weight loss: Several trials have found that Garcinia Cambogia improves weight loss compared to a placebo, particularly when taken in combination with a calorie controlled diet. The fruit appears to help you consume less at meal times and reduces the tendency to eat between meals. A few high-quality trials are detailed below:
- An 8-week placebo-controlled trial involved 40 patients were given 500mg of Garcinia Cambogia or a placebo daily. At the end of the trial, patients in the Garcinia group saw improvements in weight loss, cholesterol and triglycerides, compared to the placebo group.
- A 12-week placebo-controlled trial involved 89 overweight participants, who all followed a 1200 calorie diet and were given either 800mg of Garcinia Cambogia three times per day (before each meal) or a placebo. Findings showed that both groups lost weight, but those taking Garcinia had a significantly greater reduction.
- A 16-week placebo-controlled trial involved 39 patients who were given either 1000mg of Garcinia Cambogia per day or a placebo. Findings showed that those in the Garcinia group had significant reductions in visceral, subcutaneous and total fat accumulation.
- Cholesterol levels: Garcinia Cambogia is rich in flavonoids that help in reducing triglycerides, phospholipids and free fatty acids. It is believed to work by slowing down the creation of new fat. A few high-quality trials are detailed below:
- A 12-week placebo-controlled trial involved 58 overweight participants, who took either a daily placebo or a combination of Garcinia Cambogia and Glucomannan (a rich dietary fibre). At the end of the trial, participants in the Garcinia group had greatly reduced cholesterol levels.
- An 8-week placebo-controlled trial involved 60 participants, all of whom were asked to eat 2000 calories per day and partake in moderate exercise (a 30-minute walk for 5 days of each week). They were also randomly assigned to receive either 750mg of Garcinia Cambogia or a placebo daily. Findings showed a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol (12.9%), triglycerides (6.9%) and leptin levels in the Garcinia group.
- Diabetes: There is emerging evidence that compounds within Garcinia Cambogia may have a leptin-like activity, which will likely reduce cravings and appetite. Leptin is the hormone associated with appetite, high levels of which can increase hunger cravings.
- Athletic performance: Several experts have hypothesised that HCA’s ability to reduce lipid oxidation and convert fatty acids into a useable source of energy may help you to exercise more efficiently and boost workout performance.
Garcinia Cambogia Dosage
Garcinia Cambogia is available in pill or powder form, and dosages often vary between 250mg and 1000mg per day. Try to take the extract on an empty stomach 30 to 60 minutes before a meal to avoid HCA from binding to certain foods and making it inactive. Daily dosages above 3000mg have not been well-tested for safety and so should be avoided. Pregnant or lactating women should also avoid the extract due to a lack of scientific evidence supporting its safety.
Quality is an important factor when shopping for Garcinia Cambogia as several supplements have been found to contain less than the advertised level of HCA on the label. For this reason, you should always buy from a reputable seller and look for at least 50% HCA content.
Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects and Interactions
The fruit is considered safe when taken within the recommended guidelines, with only a few rare side effects reported. Potential Garcinia Cambogia side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, and digestive issues such as constipation.
Garcinia Cambogia has the potential to lower blood glucose levels which may interfere with certain diabetes medications. The fruit is also rich in iron, which may interact with medications for anaemia. For this reason, they should be used with caution and a medical professional should be consulted.