Garcinia cambogia is a popular natural supplement for weight loss.
It is derived from a fruit of the same name, also called Garcinia gummi-gutta or Malabar tamarind.
The peel of the fruit contains high amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), the active ingredient believed to be responsible for most of the weight loss benefits.
This article reveals if garcinia cambogia can help you lose weight and belly fat.
What is Garcinia Cambogia?
Garcinia cambogia is a small, pumpkin-shaped fruit that is yellow or greenish.
The fruit is so sour that it is usually not eaten fresh but rather used in cooking.
Garcinia cambogia supplements are made from fruit peel extracts.
The peel of the fruit contains large amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), an active substance that has been shown to have slimming properties.
Supplements generally contain 20 to 60% HCA. Nonetheless, studies show that those with 50-60% HCA can provide the most benefit.
Garcinia cambogia supplements are made from the skin extracts of Garcinia gummi-gutta. They contain high amounts of HCA, which is linked to the weight loss benefits.
It can cause modest weight loss
Many high-quality human studies have tested the weight loss effects of garcinia cambogia.
In addition, most of them indicate that the supplement can cause a small loss of weight.
On average, garcinia cambogia has been shown to cause about 2 pounds (0.88 kg) more weight loss than placebo over a 2 to 12 week period.
That said, several other studies have found no weight loss benefit.
For example, the largest study, in 135 people, found no difference in weight loss between people taking garcinia cambogia and the placebo group.
As you can see, the evidence is mixed. Garcinia cambogia supplements may produce modest weight loss in some people, but their effectiveness cannot be guaranteed.
Some studies have found garcinia cambogia to cause modest weight loss, while other studies report no noticeable effects.
How does it help to lose weight?
There are two main ways that are advocated on how garcinia cambogia helps in weight loss.
1. Can reduce your appetite
Studies in rats show that those given garcinia cambogia supplements tend to eat less.
Likewise, some human studies have shown that garcinia cambogia suppresses your appetite and makes you feel full.
Its mechanism is not fully understood, but studies in rats suggest that the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia may increase serotonin in the brain.
Since serotonin is a known appetite suppressant, high blood levels of serotonin may reduce your appetite.
However, these results should be taken with a grain of salt. Other studies have found no difference in appetite between those taking this supplement and those taking a placebo.
These effects may depend on each individual.
2. Can block fat production and reduce belly fat
Most importantly, garcinia cambogia has an impact on blood fat and the production of new fatty acids.
Studies in humans and animals show that it can reduce high levels of fat in the blood and reduce oxidative stress in the body.
A study also suggests that it may be particularly effective in reducing the accumulation of abdominal fat in overweight people.
In one study, moderately obese people took 2800 mg of garcinia cambogia per day for eight weeks and significantly improved several risk factors for the disease:
- Total cholesterol level: 6.3% lower
- “Bad” LDL cholesterol level: 12.3% lower
- “Good” HDL cholesterol level: 10.7% higher
- Blood triglycerides: Decreased 8.6
- Fatty metabolites: 125-258% more excreted in urine
The main reason for these effects may be that garcinia cambogia inhibits an enzyme called citrate lyase, which plays an important role in the production of fat.
By inhibiting citrate lyase, garcinia cambogia is believed to slow or block the production of fat in your body. It can lower blood lipids and lower your risk of gaining weight, two major risk factors for disease.
Garcinia cambogia can reduce appetite. It also blocks the production of new fat in your body and has been shown to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels in overweight people.
Other health benefits
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that garcinia cambogia may also have anti-diabetic effects, including:
- Decreased insulin levels
- Decreased leptin levels
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve blood sugar control
- Increased insulin sensitivity
Additionally, garcinia cambogia could stimulate your digestive system. Animal studies suggest it helps protect against stomach ulcers and reduce damage to the inner lining of your digestive tract.
However, these effects need to be further investigated before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Garcinia cambogia may have anti-diabetic effects. It can also help protect against stomach ulcers and damage to the digestive tract.
Precautions and side effects
Most studies conclude that garcinia cambogia is safe for healthy people at the recommended doses, up to 2,800 mg of HCA per day.
That said, the supplements are not regulated by the FDA. This means that there is no guarantee that the actual HCA content of your supplements will match the HCA content stated on the label.
Therefore, be sure to buy from a reputable manufacturer.
People have also reported some side effects from using garcinia cambogia. The most common are:
- Digestive symptoms
- Dry mouth
However, some studies have indicated more serious side effects.
Studies in animals show that very high intake of garcinia cambogia can cause testicular atrophy or testicular shrinkage. Studies in rats show that it can also affect sperm production.
There has been a reported case of a woman who developed serotonin toxicity as a result of taking garcinia cambogia with her antidepressants.
Additionally, several case studies suggest that garcinia cambogia supplements may cause liver damage or even liver failure in some people.
Garcinia cambogia may interact poorly with:
- Asthma and allergy medications such as Accolate and Singulair
- Medicines for diabetes, including pills and insulin
- Iron, for anemia
- Pain medication
- Prescriptions for psychiatric disorders
- Statins, drugs that lower cholesterol
- Warfarin, a blood thinner
Also, you definitely don’t want to use it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney or liver problems. It is possible that manic symptoms may appear as a side effect.
So if you have any medical problem or are taking any medication, consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
Some people experience digestive symptoms, headaches, and rashes when taking garcinia cambogia. Animal studies suggest that very high intake can lead to toxicity.
Many health food stores and drugstores carry several varieties of garcinia cambogia. You can also buy garcinia cambogia supplements online.
Choose one from a reputable manufacturer that contains 50-60% HCA.
The recommended doses may vary from brand to brand. Generally, it is recommended that you take 500 mg, three times a day, 30 to 60 minutes before meals.
It is always best to follow the dosage instructions on the label.
Studies have only tested these supplements for up to 12 weeks at a time. Therefore, it may be a good idea to take a few weeks off every three months or so.
Look for a supplement that contains 50-60% HCA and is made by a reputable manufacturer. Follow the dosing instructions on the label.
Garcinia cambogia is a fruit-derived supplement taken to stimulate weight loss, although studies disagree on its effectiveness.
Some research shows that it can cause slightly more weight loss than not taking a supplement. This effect is not confirmed, but it is promising.
The positive effects of garcinia cambogia on blood lipids could be its best benefit.
Having said that, if you really want to lose weight, you might have better luck changing your diet and lifestyle.