Garcinia cambogia is the latest weight loss supplement that has taken the internet by storm, initially promoted by Dr. Oz, a United States television personality. It seems like almost every website you visit has an ad for the latest garcinia supplement claiming miraculous results with little effort. But, what is this “miracle” fruit and will it actually work for weight loss?
Garcinia gummi-gutta, the scientific name for garcinia cambogia, is a tropical, yellow coloured fruit from Indonesia. It is about the size of a small pumpkin. It is traditionally used for cooking and to make curry in many Southeast Asian countries. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is believed to be healing to the digestive system. Initially, there were many animal studies that suggest that HCA may cause weight loss, but generally only with very high doses. Therefore, researchers decided to look deeper into the potential of this fruit to help promote weight loss in humans.
Garcinia and Weight Loss
In 2011, a small meta-analysis about the effects of Garcinia combogia as a weight loss supplement was conducted. The slimming ingredient in Garcina is called hydroxitric acid (HCA). HCA is found in many plants native to Southeast Asia. It is believed to inhibit appetite and reduce carbohydrate metabolism. This particular meta-analysis of the effects of HCA did find that those who took HCA lost more weight than a placebo. But, the study found that those who took HCA reported more digestive problems while taking the supplement, although few other adverse effects were reported. Also, all the studies included in the meta-analysis had methodological weaknesses and were not considered to be “strong” research studies, which are needed to make conclusive results for the efficacy of any supplement. The overall weight loss experienced by the participants was small and therefore the researchers suggest that more information is needed on the effects and optimal dosage of HCA. Within their analysis, the largest study they looked at found no significant difference in weight loss between those who used HCA and those who didn’t.
Another 2011 meta-analysis found similar conflicting results. Some studies that do show garcina cambogia’s active ingredient HCA may result in moderate weight loss, but none of the studies show consistent outcomes. Many studies have small sample sizes and are short-term, usually less than 12 weeks long. There is also no long-term follow-up with the participants to see if they were able to keep the weight off long-term.
Should You Take Garcinia Combogia?
As with any supplement, you should proceed with caution. The current research is not strong enough to conclude that garcinia or HCA will definitively help you lose weight, fast. There is nothing in the research to support that it could be a quick fix. Although it has also not shown any significant or dangerous side effect from taking the supplement, caution should still be used. If you want to try a garcinia supplement, ask your doctor first as they are most familiar with your medical history and can discuss any concerns they might have with you. Also, be wary of where you purchase the supplement as many online dealers can be selling a placebo which contains no HCA at all. Overall, it is best to wait for more research to determine if HCA is effective at all for weight loss since long-term side effects are virtually unknown.
And always remember, if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. See one of our dietitians for assistance with achieving your goals in a sensible and sustainable way. You deserve a new life through good nutrition!