Garcinia cambogia is a well-known superfood supplement which increases energy, keeps you full longer and helps improve fat loss. It’s derived from a middle eastern exotic fruit which looks like a green, multi-lobed pumpkin.
Many marketing claims suggest that garcinia cambogia will rapidly recomposition your body to give you a lean physique however these claims are not all backed by science.
Garcinia cambogia benefits come not from itself, but rather a compound it contains called hydroxycitric acid (HCA).
Garcinia cambogia provides stimulant-free energy. Many energy supplements such as caffeine, ephedrine, and psychostimulants (like sibutramine) all provide energy by stimulating the nervous system (1, 2).
Unfortunately combining them on top of each other can be lead to a stroke or heart attack (3).
A 1998 study showed that garcinia cambogia could provide that clean energy without the nervous system stimulation (4).
As a result, you can still enjoy your cup of coffee without worrying about side effects.
Garcinia cambogia increases feelings of satiety. A study done in 2000 showed that garcinia cambogia works to boost your levels of serotonin, the same serotonin that your tummy sends to the brain when it is happy (5).
By increasing satiety, you will eat less food and ultimately lose bodyweight.
However, it needs to be noted that no human trials have been able to replicate the same satiety-inducing effects (6).
Thus, more research is needed to ensure garcinia cambogia’s effects on satiety.
Garcinia cambogia might help combat depression. A 2001 study published in Research Communications in Molecular Pathology and Pharmacology showed that garcinia cambogia supplements boost serotonin brain levels in rats (7).
However, with only animal studies, it’s hard to confirm anything.
To add to that, a more recent 2004 study showed that the relationship between serotonin and depression is not as accurate as we once thought (8).
Garcinia cambogia helps burn fat. The active fat burning ingredient in garcinia cambogia is HCA.
HCA works by inhibiting the enzyme that leads to your body making fat (9).
If you can’t make fat, you can’t store fat, and so you have to use more of the fat and carbohydrates you already have stored in the body.
Garcinia cambogia can block fat production. Studies as far back as 1977 show that garcinia cambogia inhibits an enzyme called citrate lyase, which plays an important role in the production of fat (10, 11, 12).
By inhibiting citrate lyase, garcinia cambogia is thought to slow down or block fat production in the body. This may reduce blood fats and lower the risk of weight gain, two major disease risk factors (13).
Garcinia cambogia supplementation has anti-diabetic properties. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed that garcinia cambogia helps combat diabetes and diabetes onset by increasing leptin and insulin sensitivity (14).
Garcinia cambogia can help with weight loss. A 2001 study published in the Journal of Obesity demonstrated that supplementing with garcinia cambogia led patients to reduce their snacking habits (15).
Snacking subtly helps you gain more fat because it trains you to be never quite full yet never quite hungry.
This can lead to hundreds of empty calories, slowly piling on to your waistline (16). By increasing satiety, snacking goes down, and thus garcinia cambogia aids in effective, long-term weight management.
Garcinia cambogia lowers your bad cholesterol. A 2011 study showed that garcinia cambogia lowers overall cholesterol but specifically more LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) (17).
Garcinia cambogia supplementation improves insulin sensitivity. A 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial study in 1998 showed that supplementing with garcinia cambogia works to improve your insulin sensitivity (18).
The subjects were randomized to receive either active herbal compound (1500 mg of hydroxycitric acid per day) or placebo, and both groups were prescribed a high-fiber, low-energy diet. The treatment period was 12 weeks. Body weight was evaluated every other week, and fat mass was measured at weeks 0 and 12.
While weight loss in both groups were similar, it seemed that the group that supplemented with HCA improved their insulin sensitivity.
Higher insulin sensitivity means you need less insulin to clear the sugar out of your bloodstream (19). This can lead to health problems such as diabetes in the long run.
Garcinia cambogia can increase endurance. A 2013 study showed that garcinia cambogia stops new fatty acids from being made, so your body brings new fatty acids into circulation for energy (20).
With more fatty acids being mobilized, your cells can spare their limited carbohydrate stores (21).
Doing this keeps you fueled and avoids that “hitting the wall” feeling when you workout. However, this effect only increases with your conditioning and endurance (22).
Garcinia cambogia protects the digestive system. A 2009 animal study published in Phytotherapy research showed that garcinia cambogia helps protect against stomach ulcers and reduce damage to the inner lining of the digestive tract (23).
Garcinia cambogia stabilizes blood sugar. Some evidence exists showing that garcinia cambogia can help control blood sugar by improving how cells take up glucose (sugar) to be used for energy.
One way in which it might improve weight loss is through inhibition of pancreatic alpha-amylase enzymes, changes in intestinal alpha-glucosidase and alterations in fatty acid synthesis. This might be able to change how carbohydrates are metabolized (24).
A couple of rat studies (1988) have demonstrated that garcinia cambogia can reduce weight gain during a period of overfeeding (25).
The mechanism by which it accomplished this is the suppression of fatty acid synthesis in the liver (26).
Garcinia Cambogia supplementation has shown to reduce oxidative stress levels in the body. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Complimentary and Integrative Medicine showed that garcinia cambogia is effective in ameliorating high-fat-diet-induced hyperlipidemia and oxidative stress (27).
The effectiveness of garcinia cambogia goes down with time. All supplements have to wait in warehouses, transport trucks, or store shelves before you buy – giving ample time for the precious active ingredient to become less effective.
HCA doesn’t exist for long in its isolated state because it slowly converts to HCA lactone, an inactive form that doesn’t seem to have any weight loss (30). Be sure to find an HCA supplement that comes with the HCA bound to another mineral.
Garcinia Cambogia can induce serotonin overdose. One woman who took GC with her antidepressant medications said to have developed a serotonin toxicity as a result (31).
GC may not work as well as advertised for weight loss. One study found no difference in weight loss between the garcinia cambogia and placebo groups (32).
Another massive study over 12 weeks, involving 135 participants, found no weight loss with GC supplementation compared to the group that took the placebo (33).
Garcinia Cambogia can result in testicle issues. Animal studies have shown that a very high intake of garcinia cambogia can cause testicular atrophy — shrinking of the testicles.
GC can affect sperm production. Studies in rats have shown it may also affect the production of sperm (34).
GC has a long list of drug interactions. Many people should avoid garcinia cambogia due to how it can affect other medications, pregnancy, nutrient levels, blood sugar and more.
Garcinia cambogia can interact poorly with: medications that are taken to control asthma and allergies; medications used to control mental disorders like anxiety and depression; diabetes medications and insulin; pregnancy and breastfeeding; liver and kidney conditions; statin drugs that lower cholesterol; blood thinners; iron supplements (35).
Garcinia Cambogia is not regulated by the FDA. That means that the contents in the label may not be accurately represented in the bottle.
GC may lessen the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment in patients with cancer.
Garcinia Cambogia may not be an effective appetite suppressant. While a few studies have shown promise, other studies have concluded that GC supplementation does not lead to feelings of satiety when compared to taking a placebo (36).
Top garcinia cambogia supplements contain at least 50-60% HCA (37). This ensures the proper absorption and function of HCA in your body to provide you with noticeable benefits.
The maximum recommended dosage is 2.8g/day. After 2800mg, it seems side effects are increased (38).
Studies recommend garcinia cambogia be taken 3x per day at 500mg each dose (39). Because garcinia cambogia is an herbal product, our immune system has a tendency to try and clear HCA from our system (40).
This means that the best way to ensure a proper dose of HCA to see results requires us consuming multiple garcinia cambogia supplements daily. Studies vary on this, but you’re looking at about 500 mg three times a day, about 30-60 minutes before your meals (41).
Garcinia cambogia should be cycled 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.
Make sure your HCA is bound with calcium and potassium. HCA degrades from a fat-burning powder to dust if left alone, so HCA in supplements is typically bonded with a mineral.
Your top choices for minerals are calcium and potassium because they seem to increase absorption the best (42). However, you can also use a combination of calcium and magnesium and still see results (43).
Q: What are the side effects of taking Garcinia?
A: Side effects of garcinia cambogia may include: headache, nausea, dizziness, and dry mouth.
Q: Is Garcinia safe?
A: Clinical trials have shown it’s safe to take Garcinia cambogia extract by mouth — at least for 12 weeks. The fruit is safe to eat in unlimited amounts.
Q: How long does it take for Garcinia to work?
A: The time varies from individual to individual, but on average it takes about 2 weeks to kick in completely. However, you may start feeling some of its satiety and stimulatory effects immediately.
Q: Can Garcinia cambogia cause abdominal pain?
A: Excessive consumption of Garcinia cambogia extract can cause gastrointestinal side effects and thus abdominal pain.
Q: Do you take Garcinia cambogia with food?
A: Take the recommended dosage of garcinia as a tablet or capsule with water 30-60 min before a meal. It’s best on an empty stomach or a few hours after food was last ingested.
Q: What kind of fruit is Garcinia cambogia?
A: Garcinia gummi-gutta is a tropical species of Garcinia native to Indonesia. Common names include Garcinia cambogia (a former scientific name), as well as brindleberry, Malabar tamarind, and kudam puli (pot tamarind). This fruit looks like a small pumpkin and is green to pale yellow in color.
Q: How much Garcinia cambogia should I take to lose weight?
A: Look for “garcinia cambogia” or “GCE” with at least 50 percent HCA. Take 500 to 1000mg before each meal, and make sure to take no more than 3000mg total per day. Obviously, taking an HCA supplement alone won’t help you shed pounds. But in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, the studies seem promising.
Q: Can you take Garcinia while breastfeeding?
A: Babies may experience some of the Garcinia effects like – loss of appetite and high metabolic rate. Moreover, the supplement can adversely affect the blood sugar level of the baby. It is not appropriate for breastfeeding mothers to use this or any other weight loss supplement on retail out there.
Q: What percentage of HCA should be in Garcinia cambogia?
A: The supplement must contain at least 50% hydroxycitric acid (HCA).
Q: Can Garcinia cambogia be bad for your liver?
A: In 2009, the FDA issued a safety warning after receiving more than 20 reports of severe reactions, including liver damage, in people taking the supplement Hydroxycut. However, it’s unclear if the garcinia cambogia extract caused the liver damage.
Q: What does HCA do for weight loss?
A: The peel of the fruit contains high amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is the active ingredient responsible for most of the weight loss benefits. It helps by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for fat conversion in the body.
While GC isn’t a magic button to press and transform your body, it does seem to assist in stubborn fat loss when you’re looking to lean down and lose those last few pounds to look your best and impress.
Otherwise, GC may not be for you. In that case, your time, money, and effort will be much better spent mastering the basics of eating well and moving smarter.