Garcinia cambogia has turned out to be a matter of great interest for fitness enthusiasts across the globe. It is gaining popularity due to its property of helping in weight loss. This exotic fruit comes from Garcinia gummi-gutta tree, which is popularly called Kudampuli, Malabar tamarind or brindle berry.
Garcinia cambogia is an unusual looking fruit. It is about the size of a large tomato and resembles a green or yellow colored pumpkin with multiple lobes. It tastes very sour when consumed raw. It is often added to fish curries for enhancing the flavor (1).
The Garcinia cambogia weight loss supplements are prepared exclusively from the peel of the garcinia fruit as it contains high concentrations of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) (2). As a concentration of 50% to 60% is recommended to produce the desired weight loss effect, the health industry produces supplements with HCA in a range of 20% to 60% (3).
The 6 Ways Garcinia Cambogia Promotes Weight Loss
The actual component that is responsible for weight loss is present in the rind of the fruit and is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Let’s take a closer look at how exactly Garcinia cambogia helps in losing weight and reducing belly fat. Garcinia cambogia can help in weight loss in these four ways.
Garcinia Cambogia Increases Satiety
Satiety is the term used to describe the feeling of fullness after eating a meal. Hunger and food cravings are the two main reasons why we tend to eat more than needed. The feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal reduces food cravings and hunger remains suppressed for a while, so the urge for food intake reduces drastically. Thus satiety plays an extremely important role in weight management.
A study conducted on Albino rats found that those that were fed garcinia cambogia supplements ate less. For fifteen days, these rats were put on a high-fat diet along with HCA (hydroxycitric acid) and without it (4).
The food intake was measured on a daily basis whereas body weight changes were recorded on a weekly basis. The tests revealed that the addition of HCA, the active ingredient of garcinia cambogia, in the diet caused a decrease in the amount of food consumption, body weight, triglyceride levels, and epididymal fat.
Other studies conducted on humans confirmed that garcinia cambogia provides a feeling of satiety thereby, helping in weight management (5). However, there are studies in which some individuals taking such supplements have not shown any sign of a decrease in their appetite (6). This means that the effects of garcinia cambogia on satiety can have individual variations as well.
Summary: HCA, the active ingredient of garcinia cambogia, helps in feeling full and reducing food carvings thereby, helping in body weight reduction.
Garcinia Cambogia Inhibits Fats Production
Garcinia cambogia has shown to have a direct impact on the formation of fatty acids as well as the level of fats in the blood. Studies conducted on rats that were on a high-fat diet clearly indicated the antihyperlipidemic property of garcinia cambogia extract showed it’s property of lowering oxidative stress (7).
The flavonoids, in garcinia cambogia, are primarily responsible for its lipid-lowering effect. Rats with normal cholesterol levels were selected for a study and the flavonoids from garcinia cambogia were given in a dose of 1 mg/100gm of body weight every day to them (8). Irrespective of the diet fed, normal or high-cholesterol diet, there was a significant dip in the lipid levels of the rats.
As there was a hike in the levels of fecal and hepatic bile acids and neutral sterols of feces, it was evident that the rate of cholesterol degradation was high. Hence, it was concluded that flavonoids lowered the lipid levels by lowering the lipogenesis rate (the formation of fats) and increasing the cholesterol degradation rate.
In another study conducted on moderately obese individuals to understand the efficacy of HCA, it was noted that there was a dip in the levels of different risk factors when 2,800mg of garcinia cambogia was consumed every day for a period of eight weeks (9).
The changes noted were phenomenal such as:
- Levels of Good cholesterol (HDL)- increased by 10.7%
- Levels of Bad cholesterol (LDL)- decreased by 12.3%
- Level of total cholesterol- lowered by 6.3%
- Level of triglycerides- dipped by 8.6%
- The fat metabolites flushed out through urine – hiked by 125% to 258%
One of the prime reasons for the above-mentioned changes in the inhibition of citrate lyase activity. The enzyme, citrate lyase, is essential in converting carbohydrates to fats. When garcinia cambogia impedes the activity of citrate lyase, the fat production slows down or is blocked and the blood fat levels decrease, thereby, aiding in weight management (10).
Summary: As the activity of citrate lyase enzyme is inhibited by garcinia cambogia, the fat formation process slows down contributing to body-weight reduction.
Garcinia Cambogia Prevents Fat Accumulation
Accumulation of visceral fat may be prevented by garcinia cambogia. Visceral fat is the fat that accumulates inside our abdominal cavity and wraps around important organs like pancreas, liver, and intestines.
Subcutaneous fat is the one that is beneath the skin. A growing waistline can be due to the accumulation of both subcutaneous and visceral fat. As excess visceral fat can impede normal hormonal functions, they can put you in the risk of developing diseases like diabetes type2. This is why the loss of visceral fat should be one of your goals of weight loss regime.
A study to understand the effects of garcinia cambogia on visceral fat was conducted on individuals of the age group of 20 to 65 years and those who had a visceral fat area of more than 90 square cm. For one group of subjects, 1000mg of HCA (hydroxycitric acid), the active ingredient of garcinia cambogia, was administered each day and another group was given a placebo (11).
After 12 weeks, both groups were given a placebo for the next 4 weeks to find out any rebound effect. At the end of 16 weeks, it was noted that those on garcinia cambogia extract showed a significant lowering in subcutaneous, visceral and total fats.
There were no side effects or rebound effects as well. Hence, it was concluded that garcinia cambogia can aid in decreasing belly fat deposits and can be used for weight management in overweight to obese individuals.
Summary: HCA of garcinia cambogia extract blocks the formation of visceral fat thereby, reducing weight and minimizing the potential risk of developing diseases like Type 2 diabetes.
Garcinia Cambogia Increases Serotonin Production
Several experiments on rats revealed that HCA can cause a significant hike in serotonin levels in the brain (12). Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, can alter moods, and appetite.
When serotonin levels dip, a person experiences depression and anxiety and resorts to activities like satisfying one’s food cravings in order to overcome the anxiety (13).
A clinical study on 90 obese individuals, split into 3 groups, was carried out to assess the weight-loss efficacy of HCA. The first group was given calcium-potassium salt of HCA (HCA-SX), 667mg, the second group was given 4mg of niacin-bound chromium (NBC) and 400mg of Gymnema Sylvestre extract (GSE) the third group was given a placebo (14).
The subjects were put on a diet of 2000kcal per day and had to participate in a half-an-hour walking program for 5 days weekly. At the end of 8 weeks, the first group showed a decrease in body weight, BMI, LDL, and triglycerides whereas the levels of serotonin spiked up by 44.5% with an increase in fat oxidation.
It was concluded that both HCA-SX alone and when administered in combination with NBC and GSE could bring about improvement in lipid profiles and an increase in serotonin levels thereby reducing the appetite and aiding in weight loss.
Summary: Garcinia cambogia works by increasing serotonin, reducing appetite, and curbing fat production.
Does Garcinia Cambogia Enhance Exercise Performance?
To attain weight loss in a healthy way one should bring about both dietary and lifestyle modifications. This means adequate physical activities in the form of a good workout or exercise routine should be mandatorily paired up with mindful eating.
It has been observed that individuals on garcinia cambogia supplements have experienced an increase in their stamina during physical exercise or workout regime. Increased stamina provides you with the benefit of working out for longer hours, thereby, speeding up the weight loss process.
A 5-day study was conducted on 6 athletes in Korea to investigate the effect of HCA on their exercise performance. It was noted that the short term administration of 250mg of HCA brought about a significant hike in fat oxidation and a compelling dip in the oxidation of carbohydrates (15).
The study clearly brought out the fact that HCA, an ingredient of garcinia cambogia supplement, enables the body to utilize the stored fat instead of carbohydrates and heightens the endurance level.
A similar study was conducted on 6 women in the year 2003 and the conclusion was the same as a significant increase in “endurance exercise performance” was observed in the women (16).
Summary: When diet and exercise are combined with garcinia cambogia supplements, weight loss turns out to be faster as HCA improves stamina for workout and increases the oxidation of fats.
Can Garcinia Cambogia Improve Insulin Sensitivity?
One of the positive effects of Garcinia cambogia is that it enhances insulin sensitivity which in turn is good news, especially for Type 2 diabetics. Insulin is a hormone that converts the extra glucose into forms that can be stored in different body parts.
As soon as we are done with a meal, the carbohydrates turn into glucose which is used for various body functions. Insulin is responsible for converting the remaining glucose into glycogen and storing them in skeletal muscles. When glycogen storage has reached its maximum limit, then insulin converts glucose to fat stores.
Insulin sensitivity is the measure of how well our body cells respond to insulin. Therefore, those with high insulin sensitivity will convert carbs with the help of very little insulin whereas, those with low sensitivity, like type 2 diabetics, need greater amounts of insulin for carbohydrate metabolism.
High levels of insulin deter fat burning as the release of fatty acids is blocked resulting in weight gain. So, enhanced insulin sensitivity is one of the key goals for those who wish to reduce body weight.
The National Taichung University of Education, Taichung, Taiwan, conducted a study in 2012 to examine the effects of oral HCA supplements on glycogen synthesis after meals in human skeletal muscle after exercise. 8 healthy males were enrolled in the study (17).
They were put on a high carbohydrate diet, had to carry out an hour of cycling exercise before the muscle biopsy sample was obtained and consumed 500mg of HCA daily. It was recorded that there was at least one fold increase in glycogen synthesis in those who were on HCA supplementation and a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity after meals.
Summary: The higher the insulin sensitivity, the better is the fat-burning process. Garcinia cambogia supplements increase insulin sensitivity leading to a reduction in body weight.
The Recommended Dosage of Garcinia Cambogia
Garcinia cambogia supplements are available in pharmacies or health food stores globally and you can always purchase them online as well. The most important thing that you need to note while purchasing the product is the percentage of HCA present in it. It should fall in the range of 50% to 60% for maximum effectiveness and desired results.
Generally, all the directions regarding the dosage would be mentioned on the label as it varies brand to brand. Mostly, the recommended dose is 500mg that needs to be taken thrice a day and should be consumed half an hour to one hour before meals.
These supplements can be taken for a period of 12 weeks. A break of three months is advisable before starting off with the next session.
Summary: Check if HCA is around 50% to 60% while buying Garcinia cambogia supplements and adhere to the directions on the label for appropriate dosage.
The Side Effects of Garcinia Cambogia
Though it seems safe for most people, there have been some reported cases of side effects such as headaches, nausea, rashes on the skin and bowel issues. There have been some instances when individuals have experienced serious side effects.
For instance, a 35-year-old woman, who was on antidepressants, ended up having serotonin syndrome due to garcinia cambogia supplements. This could have been due to the interaction of garcinia cambogia supplements with antidepressants (18).
A word of caution for those who have liver ailments as garcinia cambogia can aggravate the existing problems. It is not recommended for individuals with bipolar disorders to use garcinia cambogia supplements as it can further complicate the existing condition (19).
The safety of use during pregnancy and lactation has not been scientifically established yet. Hence, women should restrict using these supplements if they are in any of those stages.
Summary: Garcinia cambogia supplements may worsen existing medical conditions like bipolar disorders and can cause drug interactions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Garcinia Cambogia Good For The Digestive System?
Garcinia cambogia can be an effective remedy for slow bowel movements. It boosts the digestive system and aids in the elimination of intestinal worms and parasites (20).
Besides, the antiulcerogenic property of garcinia cambogia extract reduces acidity, protects the inner lining of the stomach and prevents it from any damage by enhancing the defense system of the gastric mucosa.
Various studies indicate that garcinia cambogia works as an excellent diuretic thereby, removing excess sodium and water from the body (21).
Summary: Garcinia cambogia supplements improve bowel movements, removes worms and excess water and protects the digestive tract from ulcers.
Does Garcinia Cambogia And Apple Cider Vinegar Combination Promote Weight Loss?
We already know the ways through which garcinia cambogia helps in burning away the excess fats of your body. Apple cider vinegar is another popular ingredient that has found its way in almost every weight-loss meal plan.
Acetic acid is the active ingredient that increases the utilization of deposited fat. Studies have shown that acetic acid reduces appetite, helps fight obesity, lowers blood sugar and insulin levels. It boosts up your metabolism and impedes fat deposition (22)(23).
Combining apple cider vinegar with garcinia cambogia can make the weight loss process quicker and more effective undoubtedly.
Summary: HCA of garcinia cambogia and acetic acid of apple cider vinegar are the active ingredients which when combined can hasten up the fat burning process.
Garcinia Cambogia Recipes for Weight Loss
Here are two refreshing recipes of juices that you can surely give a try.
Traditional Kudampuli Juice (Garcinia Cambogia Juice)
Popularly called as kudampuli juice in Kerala, Southern India, this simple recipe can help you beat the summer heat. It is served as a traditional drink in many places in India.
The ingredients you need are:
- Dry garcinia cambogia fruit – 5
- Water – 1 cup
- Crushed ginger – 1 tsp
- Jaggery syrup – ¾ cup
- Ice cubes – as required
First, wash the dry fruits of garcinia cambogia and then soak them overnight in half a cup of water. If you wish you can prepare jaggery syrup at home which is the concentrated solution of jaggery in water. Take water in a saucepan and add the soaked fruits, jaggery syrup, and ginger to it.
Boil the mixture properly and then lower the flame for the next fifteen minutes. This is done to soften the fruit. Now just turn off the flame and allow the mixture to cool down. Prepare a fine paste of the mixture in a blender and sieve it.
Now your garcinia cambogia extract is ready and you can use it for several months without the need for refrigeration. Use two tablespoons of the extract with about half a cup of water to make the juice and add ice cubes if you like it chilled.
Garcinia Cambogia And Apple Cider Vinegar Juice
This is another simple yet delicious recipe of garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar juice. As the two ingredients are known as fat burners, this juice will truly be a healthy and tasty way of detoxing yourself.
The ingredients you need are:
- Water – 8 ounces
- Apple cider vinegar – 1 tbsp
- Garcinia cambogia – 300 to 500mg
- Apple juice – 1 tbsp
- Honey or sugar – ½ or 1 tsp
- Cinnamon – optional (as a taste enhancer)
- Fresh lemon juice drops – as per flavor
- Ice cubes – as required
Pour all the above-mentioned ingredients except lemon juice and ice cubes into a blender. Now add lemon juice drops depending upon your taste and drop a few ice cubes to enjoy it chilled.
As 1500 mg is the maximum dose of garcinia cambogia you can have in a day, kindly ensure not to have this drink for more than three times a day. If you use garcinia cambogia supplements in the form of capsules or tablets, you can prepare the drink without the extract and swallow the capsules along with the juice.
If you find any discomfort due to the acidity of apple cider vinegar, lower the quantity so that it suits you well.
The Final Note
The inclusion of Garcinia Cambogia in different weight loss formulations has been found to be effective in reducing the total body weight and causing a decline in the body fat deposits.
At the same time, we should not forget that there are no shortcuts to reach a healthy goal weight. When used in conjunction with a balanced diet and proper exercise routine, these supplements have shown promising results.
Though different clinical studies support the benefits of garcinia cambogia with regards to weight loss, there is limited research supporting its adverse effects.
Hence, a prior assessment of your present health status and underlying medical condition is extremely important before you start off with these oral supplements. Therefore, it is advisable to mandatorily consult your physician to know whether these supplements would help you achieve the desired outcome.