Garciana Cambogia - Weight loss Wonder or Blunder?
Weight loss Wonder or Blunder?
We take a closer look at this hyped up weight loss ingredient that has had some major media coverage including great raps on the Dr Oz television show. Is it what it’s cracked up to be?
Iam pretty sure we would all agree that dieting sucks. It leaves you with constant cravings… crazy hunger pains. This usually causes people to give up on their diet and eventually gain all the weight back plus more! For this reason, most conventional weight loss methods have a terrible success rate. Very few people succeed in the long run unless they have a well structured plan tailored by a professional that truly understands the fundamentals of long term weight loss success. Is there a magic bullet? Not really but that doesn’t stop people from continually jumping on the latest Buzz weight loss ingredient. One of the latest being Garcinia Cambogia. According to many health experts, it can reduce appetite and help you lose weight, pretty much without effort. Mmmm, weight loss without effort… I see red flags already. Even Dr. Oz has been touting the benefits of it. He is an American TV doctor and one of the most famous health “guru” in the world, if you relate being on TV to being famous! Last year, Dr. Oz featured Garcinia Cambogia on his show. He seemed very excited about it… he even used the word magic and said that it might be “the most exciting breakthrough in natural weight loss to date.” Now… I’m a big fan of supplements and I am also fairly open minded and willing to experiment. I’ve personally experimented with thousands of different supplements throughout my life, although I am not sure why there is all the hype about Garcinia Cambogia. From my recollection it is not a new ingredient it has just been re- kindled by Dr Oz. Given the raving reviews about Garcinia Cambogia, I got excited and decided to take a closer look at this supposedly miracle supplement and the science behind it. Let’s start with the basics.
What is Garcinia Cambogia?
Garcinia cambogia is a plant, also known as Garcinia gummi- gutta. The fruit of the plant looks like a small, green pumpkin and is used in many traditional Asian dishes for its sour flavor. In the skin of the fruit, there is a large amount of a natural substance called Hydroxycitric Acid ( HCA). This is the active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia extract… that is, the substance that apparently produces the weight loss effects.
Does Garcinia Cambogia Actually Work?
I managed to find several research studies on Garcinia Cambogia, in both animals and humans. According to some studies in rats, it can inhibit a fat producing enzyme called Citrate Lyase, making it more difficult for the body to produce fat out of carbohydrates. Other rat studies show increased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This could theoretically lead to reduced
appetite and cravings. There are actually a whole bunch of studies in rats showing that Garcinia Cambogia consistently leads to significant weight loss ( 1). You can check some of these “Rat Studies” on Pubmed or Google. However, we are not rats ( well not all of us) and what works in rats doesn’t always work in humans. If we are basing our science purely on the rat studies, well …. the active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia can inhibit a fat producing enzyme called Citrate Lyase and increase serotonin levels, leading to significant weight loss. I repeat – In rats!
Let's take a Look at Some Human Studies
For those of us that are not furry mammals I found several human studies on Garcinia Cambogia. All of these studies are so- called randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard of scientific experiments in humans. The biggest of the studies included 135 overweight individuals, which were split into two groups ( 2): Treatment group: 3 grams of Garcinia Cambogia Extract ( a total of 1500mg Hydroxycitric acid) in three separate doses, 30 minutes before meals. Placebo group: The other group took dummy pills ( placebo). Both groups also went on a high- fiber, low calorie diet. These were the results of the 12 week study, which was published in The Journal of The American Medical Association ( a highly respected scientific
journal): Heymsfield, et al. 1998 The results showeds that both groups lost weight. But the group taking Garcinia Cambogia extract actually LOSLOST LESS WEIGHT ( 3.2 kg – 7 pounds) than the placebo group ( 4.1 kg – 9 pounds). Not a great outcome! The researchers also looked at body fat percentage. The placebo group lost 2.16%, while the group taking Garcinia Cambogia lost only 1.6%. Once again not the result you would expect from a wonder weight loss supplement. However, the difference was not statistically significant, meaning that the results could have been due to chance. Yeah, a little like putting your money on black or red at the casino.
Let's look at a few more Studies
In another study( human) with 89 overweight females, Garcinia Cambogia did lead to 1.3 kg ( 2.8 pounds) more weight loss compared to placebo, over a period of 12 weeks. They found no difference in appetite between groups ( 3). Ok, this is looking more promising. Another study also found that Garcinia Cambogia reduced belly fat and reduced blood triglycerides. However, it did not cause actual weight loss ( 4). Overall, I looked at 4 more studies. Two of them showed weight loss of a few pounds over a period of 8 weeks ( 5, 6), but the other two showed no effect ( 7, 8). Ok, we are getting back to the red or black casino odds again. So… unfortunately, the weight loss effects appear to be both weak and inconsistent.
Let's keep digging
A review published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011 that looked at 12 clinical trials found that Garcinia Cambogia can increase weight loss by about 0.88 kg, or 2 pounds, on average, over a period of several weeks ( 9). Their conclusion sums it up quite nicely: “… Garcinia extracts/ HCA can cause short- term weight loss. The magnitude of the effect is small, and the clinical relevance is uncertain.” The magnitude is small…. . It may cause a mild effect in some people, but overall the effects are small and unlikely to make a major difference. Once again the science is not holding up very well for this magical fat buster. The facts: There have been many studies conducted on Garcinia Cambogia in overweight individuals. Some of them show a small amount of weight loss, while other studies show no effect.
Is Garcinia Cambogia Safe?
It is important to keep in mind that these studies usually only report averages. It is possible that some individuals can in fact lose weight with this supplement, although it doesn’t seem to work very well for the average person. One bonus, Garcinia Cambogia appears to be safe. There are no serious side effects, only some reports of mild digestive issues ( 10).
Still not convinced?
If you want to try it out despite the poor results in the studies, then it is best to get a brand with at least 50% Hydroxycitric acid. The most common dose is 500 mg, 3 times per day, half an hour before meals. Buyer beware as the vultures come out after a supplement has hit National Television…. They will try and sell you anything online. And in many instances the product you buy may not be of a high standard.
If Garcinia Cambogia Doesn't Work, Then What Does?
I’ve been actively involved in the fitness industry and researching supplements for years, and have seen so many hyped products hit the markets. So many gurus and over- night know- it-alls try and pitch some dodgy product they have knocked up. The truth is good nutrition combined with a well structured exercise program that includes weight training as a base and some cardio is the best place to start.
If you are going to add a few supplements. I would suggest, Green Tea extract, Forskolin, 7- Keto Dhea, Guarana and Yerba Mate. They are easy on the system but when combined seem to have a synergistic effect. Just remember they are ONLY useful once you have your diet and exercise in good order.
If I had to put an order of importance on a specific aid to weight loss. Nutrition is number 1, followed by exercise. I say this because I have seen many folk work their butt off in the gym only to eat it all back on again once they get home.
Take Home Message
Stop looking for miracles that will replace discipline and a little hard yakka in the gym. Remember your mouth will always out run your legs!
1. Chronic (-)- hydroxycitrate administration spares carbohydrate utilization and promotes lipid oxidation during exercise in mice. Ishihara K, Oyaizu S, Onuki K, Lim K, Fushiki T.
2. Garcinia cambogia ( Hydroxycitric Acid) as a Potential ntiobesity Agent. A Randomized Controlled Trial Steven B. Heymsfield, MD; David B. Allison, PhD; Joseph R. Vasselli, PhD; Angelo Pietrobelli, MD; Debra Greenfield, MS, RD; Christopher Nunez, MEd
3. Effects of (−)- hydroxycitric acid on appetitive variables. Richard D Mattes-Corresponding author contact information, Email the corresponding author, Leslie Bormann
4. Effects of Long- term Administration of Garcinia cambogia extract on Visceral Fat Accumulation in Humans: A Placebocontrolled Double Blind Trial.
5. Effects of a natural extract of (–)- hydroxycitric acid ( HCA-SX) and a combination of HCA-SX plus niacin- bound chromium and Gymnema sylvestre extract on weight loss. H. G. Preuss1,*, D. Bagchi2, M. Bagchi2, C. V. S. Rao3, D. K. Dey4, S. Satyanarayana5
6. Reduction of adipose tissue and body weight: effect of water soluble calcium hydroxycitrate in Garcinia atroviridis on the short term treatment of obese women in Thailand. Roongpisuthipong C, Kantawan R, Roongpisuthipong W.
7. Efficacy of 12 weeks supplementation of a botanical extract-based weight loss formula on body weight, body composition and blood chemistry in healthy, overweight subjects--a randomised double- blind placebo- controlled clinical trial. Opala T, Rzymski P, Pischel I, Wilczak M, Wozniak J.
8. The effects of 2-week ingestion of (--)- hydroxycitrate and (--)- hydroxycitrate combined with medium- chain triglycerides on satiety, fat oxidation, energy expenditure and body weight. Kovacs EM, Westerterp- Plantenga MS, Saris WH.
9. The Use of Garcinia Extract ( Hydroxycitric Acid) as a Weight loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials Igho Onakpoya, Shao Kang Hung, Rachel Perry, Barbara Wider, and Edzard Ernst Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Devon EX2 4NT, UK
10. n Vitro and In Vivo Toxicity of Garcinia or Hydroxycitric Acid: A Review Li Oon Chuah, 1 Swee Keong Yeap, 2 Wan Yong Ho, 3 Boon Kee Beh, 4 and Noorjahan Banu Alitheen. School of Industrial Technology, University Science Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia
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