In today's society, obesity and overweight have become increasingly common problems. Simultaneously, the quest for the perfect body is more and more complicated due to longer working hours and the promotion of a sedentary lifestyle. But could an ingredient reverse this trend?
Originally from Southern India, Garcinia cambogia is an exotic plant that has gone unnoticed for decades. However, recent discoveries have led experts to believe that the fruit of this plant had incredible anti-obesity properties. Some have even labelled it the "Holy Grail of weight loss". Keep reading our article if you want to find out everything there is to know about Garcinia cambogia.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our selection: The best Garcinia cambogia supplements
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about Garcinia cambogia
- 4.1 What is Garcinia cambogia?
- 4.2 What are the active ingredients of Garcinia cambogia?
- 4.3 How do Garcinia cambogia supplements work?
- 4.4 Who can benefit from Garcinia cambogia supplements?
- 4.5 How should I take my Garcinia cambogia supplements?
- 4.6 How long will it take for my Garcinia cambogia supplement to take effect?
- 4.7 Are Garcinia cambogia supplements really effective?
- 4.8 What precautions should I observe while supplementing?
- 4.9 What symptoms indicate that I should stop taking Garcinia cambogia?
- 4.10 Are Garcinia cambogia or L-carnitine supplements more effective?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Garcinia cambogia is the scientific name for the Malabar tamarind, a tree that produces a fruit whose peel has weight loss properties.
- Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is the most important active ingredient found in the Garcinia cambogia fruit.
- The HCA has a satiating power and prevents the formation of fat from unused carbohydrates after large meals.
Our selection: The best Garcinia cambogia supplements
The market actually offers a wide range of Garcinia cambogia supplements. Unfortunately, the majority of these products do not contain an adequate concentration of active ingredients. We've designed the following section to introduce you to the very best Garcinia cambogia supplements on the market:
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about Garcinia cambogia
The fruit of the exotic Garcinia cambogia plant has been a part of Indian cuisine for centuries. The fruit's extract can decrease the appetite and combat the accumulation of body fat, which is why Garcinia cambogia is now considered a new ally for weight loss.
What is Garcinia cambogia?
The peel and pulp of the Garcinia cambogia fruit contain hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and anthocyanins, compounds with slimming, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiparasitic properties.
What are the active ingredients of Garcinia cambogia?
The former is a compound with a structure similar to other acids – citric and ascorbic – found in fruits such as orange or lemon. In the human body, this substance acts as an antagonist (or switch) of the enzyme in charge of creating fats from carbohydrates consumed in the diet.
On another note, anthocyanins are a series of vegetable pigments or flavonoids found in the peel of bright-coloured fruits (red, blue or purple). Besides the particular shade they are responsible for, anthocyanins also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
This powerful combination of active ingredients makes Garcinia cambogia an incredibly useful supplement for athletes, healthy eaters and anyone looking to stimulate their weight loss diet. We've compared the properties of both of these ingredients in the table below:
|Appetite suppressant||Retinal antioxidant (protection of normal vision)|
|Hypolipidemic agent (decreasing blood fat levels)||Hypolipidemic agent (decreasing blood fat levels)|
|Anti-diabetic||Cutaneous antioxidant (anti-ageing)|
|Anti-cancer (under investigation)||Anti-cancer (under investigation)|
|Anti-ulcerous||Hemostatic (bleeding control)|
|Diuretic||Hypotensive (blood pressure control)|
How do Garcinia cambogia supplements work?
- Serotonin increase: Trials performed on rats have proven that administering Garcinia cambogia extract could produce an increase in serotonin – a neurotransmitter in charge of regulating hundreds of vital processes, such as mood or appetite. This leads to a decrease in food intake, and a subsequent weight loss.
- Leptin-like activity: Adipocytes – or fat cells – synthesise the hormone called leptin, a substance that inhibits appetite and increases metabolic activity. Certain studies have reported that HCA acted in a similar way to leptin, providing a feeling of satiety at the nervous system level.
- Anti-obesity activity: On top of decreasing appetite, HCA can block the enzyme called ATP-citrate lyase, a body system that contributes to the formation of new adipose tissue. As a result, the growth of fatty tissue is prevented while favouring the elimination of previously stored fat.
- Improvement of lipid profile: It has been proved that administering high doses of Garcinia cambogia extract to obese women could decrease triglyceride and cholesterol levels – fats that store unused calories – after sixty days of treatment.
- Decrease in insulin levels: Insulin allows cells to use nutrients, transforming them into energy – or fat when the intake is excessive. Excessively high insulin levels will cause hypertension and accelerated atherosclerosis. HCA contributes to regulating the levels of this hormone.
- Hepatoprotective activity: Lab studies have demonstrated that Garcinia cambogia prevents fat deposit in the liver, which should in theory contribute to protecting this organ from pathologies such as fatty liver disease.
- Anti-ulcer activity: Experts have noted that using Garcinia cambogia extract on rats could decrease the production of hydrochloric acid – the main component of gastric juices, leading to a reduction in the formation of stomach ulcers of up to 80%.
- Neuromuscular and cerebral protection: Researchers have observed that HCA could oppose the destruction of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, essential for our memory and coordination. This may help preserve healthy cognitive and neuromuscular functions.
- Antimicrobial activity: It has been proven that Garcinia cambogia extract could destroy or inhibit the growth of various pathogens, such as Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium responsible for the vast majority of skin infections.
- Diuretic effect: It has been observed that HCA had a diuretic effect, contributing to the elimination of liquids and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium via urine.
The combination of the effects mentioned above may contribute to a healthy weight loss with no rebound effect after treatment. Astonished by the unparalleled potential of Garcinia cambogia, certain experts have come to call this plant the "Holy Grail of weight loss".
Who can benefit from Garcinia cambogia supplements?
- Healthy individuals suffering from overweight: Weight loss diets generate a certain amount of stress in the body. This is you are advised to consult with a health professional prior to starting your regime, so as to rule out any pathology that may need to be monitored during your diet.
- Individuals looking to control their appetite: Garcinia cambogia has a more potent satiating effect than other supplements such as L-carnitine. It is a great option for people who have trouble controlling their appetite or who have a tendency of binge eating – uncontrollable urges that lead to overeating.
- Individuals starting a new diet: Many people struggling with a few extra kilos face the challenging task of creating their own healthier diet from scratch. A poorly planned one could unfortunately make the weight loss process more difficult. Using HCA will prevent extra calories from being stored in the form of body fat.
- Individuals looking to lead a more active life: Since HCA prevents the transformation of unused carbohydrates into fat, the body will use these extra carbs to create glycogen. This compound is an essential energy source for our muscle, providing it with the necessary resistance to handle new fitness routines.
- Premenopausal or menopausal women looking to lose weight: During the climacteric or menopause, the body produces a hormonal readjustment that may contribute to weight gain in some women. Supplementing with Garcinia cambogia could be beneficial for these women, as it will prevent an increase in body fat mass.
Garcinia cambogia is particularly useful for those who have faced an increase in abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat. This fat covers the internal organs – the heart, liver and kidneys, to name a few – and is the main responsible for increased cardiovascular risk, in particular amongst older individuals.
How should I take my Garcinia cambogia supplements?
- Dosage and concentration: The latest studies have demonstrated a slimming effect when using doses of 500 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) of HCA spread over three daily intakes. This is why you must pay attention to the HCA concentration found in your Garcinia cambogia supplement. We'll give you some examples in the table below.
- Mode of use: You are advised to take the supplement two to three times a day (regardless of the dosage form), between ten and thirty minutes before your main meals. This is how the anti-obesity properties of HCA can prevent unused carbohydrates from being turned into body fat after you eat.
- Healthy diet: It has been proven that Garcinia cambogia supplements produced a decrease in body weight when used in conjunction with healthy eating habits (low-fat, low-sugar diets). Otherwise, you will experience an improvement in your lipid profile and blood sugar levels without any weight loss.
|Example||Amount of Garcinia per daily dose (mg)||% of HCA||Total amount of HCA per day (mg)||Does it offer an adequate concentration?|
|Supplement D||1,500||80||1,200||Possibly excessive|
How long will it take for my Garcinia cambogia supplement to take effect?
However, the real slimming effects of HCA can be noticed after twelve weeks of supplementation, with a reduction in abdominal fat and in the levels of cholesterol and sugar in the blood. Certain studies have reported a decrease in body fat mass of up to 12% after twenty-four weeks (six months) of treatment.
Studies have observed no rebound effect when users discontinued supplementation after six months of use. This recovery of the original weight, or even of extra kilos from what was lost during treatment is very common with other medications such as Orlistat. This gives Garcinia cambogia supplements a great advantage over these products.
Are Garcinia cambogia supplements really effective?
Nevertheless, Garcinia cambogia has strict limitations, contraindications and precautions that need to be followed when used, just like any other nutritional product. You will not reap the benefits of its interesting properties if you take it inadequately, and this may even expose you to a series of unpleasant side effects.
This is why you should absolutely keep in mind that Garcinia cambogia supplements are only effective as long as you stick to the right dose and a healthy diet. If your daily intake is lower than the recommended amount, or if you repeatedly forget to take your supplement before meals, you will not benefit from the slimming effects of Garcinia cambogia.
What precautions should I observe while supplementing?
- Individuals on antidepressant drugs: Many antidepressant medications act by increasing serotonin levels. Since Garcinia cambogia can also raise the levels of this neurotransmitter, you may experience side effects from excessive serotonin increase. These can include anxiety, chills and muscle stiffness.
- Individuals taking medicines metabolised in the liver: There have been reports of very rare cases of fulminant liver failure secondary to taking HCA supplements. These individuals were taking several treatments that could potentially affect the liver, such as antibiotics, contraceptives or treatment with thyroid hormone.
- Individuals who abuse alcohol or other toxic substances: Alcohol, as well as a wide array of abusive drugs can weaken the health of the liver, exposing this organ to a number of complications derived from the consumption of Garcinia cambogia.
- Children and teenagers under the age of 18: This supplement has never been tested on children, and no dose is considered safe for paediatric use. It is strongly recommended to avoid giving this supplement to children under eighteen years of age.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: There isn't sufficient scientific proof to corroborate that this supplement is safe during pregnancy or lactation. These women should therefore refrain from using these supplements.
- Couples trying to conceive: Certain trials on animals have demonstrated that Garcinia cambogia treatments lead to a temporary decrease in sperm count. This could naturally have a negative impact on the fertility of couples seeking pregnancy.
- Individuals taking diabetes treatment (insulin or oral anti-diabetics): HCA has an anti-diabetic effect, increasing our sensitivity to insulin. Its use in combination with insulin or medications such as metformin should be carefully monitored to avoid a dangerous reduction in blood sugar levels.
- Individuals taking other slimming or cholesterol-controlling medications: The effects induced by the association of drugs such as Orlistat or statins with Garcinia cambogia are not yet known. The combined effects of these substances may be harmful to health, which is why this practice is not recommended.
- Individuals suffering from migraines: People who are prone to migraines may experience severe headaches triggered by the use of HCA supplements. If this is your case, you should be particularly careful with their use, and may want to lower the recommended dose during the first weeks of treatment.
What symptoms indicate that I should stop taking Garcinia cambogia?
- Yellowing of the skin or mucous membranes
- Sudden weight gain (more than ten kilos in two or three days)
- Leg swelling or increased abdominal volume
- Appearance of haematomae or bleeding after small traumas
- Choking feeling
- General reddening of the skin
- Pruritus (itching) all over the body
- Swelling of the lips, eyelids or tongue
Any of the symptoms mentioned above indicate the occurrence of liver failure or a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you experience them, stop taking the supplements and seek medical attention immediately. Try to take the Garcinia cambogia product with you to show to the doctors or nurses.
Be that as it may, we want to remind you that these symptoms have been described in very isolated cases in certain studies. The vast majority of individuals who have taken the recommended dose of Garcinia cambogia were very satisfied with it and experienced no side effect from the treatment.
Are Garcinia cambogia or L-carnitine supplements more effective?
In reality, the specific characteristics of each individual will strongly influence the effectiveness of both L-carnitine and Garcinia cambogia. We've exposed the main differences of the two supplements in the table below. You will learn about their mechanism of action, weight loss after three months of use and potential side effects:
|Supplement and active ingredient||Mechanism of action||Slimming effect after 12 weeks||Side effects|
|Garcinia cambogia (Hydroxycitric acid, HCA)||Inhibition of new fat synthesis. Reduced appetite.||Reduction of up to 16% of body weight.||Intestinal discomfort, nausea and headache. May exceptionally provoke fulminant hepatic failure (possible interaction with other medication).|
|L-carnitine (levocarnitine)||Transport of lipids to the mitochondria.||Reduction of up to 5 kilos of weight (if accompanied by physical exercise).||Nausea and stomach pain.|
HCA has an appetite suppressant effect and inhibits the synthesis of new fats. The increase in glycogen synthesis it provokes also leads to a small energy boost. This is particularly useful for the weight management of individuals who need to control their appetite and looking to avoid the feeling of hunger during their diet.
L-carnitine, on the other hand, will only act when a stimulus (physical exercise) allows the mobilisation of fats to produce energy. Individuals starting a new fitness routine will reap greater benefits from the use of this supplement. The destruction of at at the muscular level will also give them an energy boost.
Garcinia cambogia supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years. With more products available on the market, finding a high quality product that meets your demands can now be a real challenge. We've designed the following section to help you get it right by knowing more about the following key aspects:
- Allergens and intolerances
- Vegan and vegetarian nutrition
- HCA concentration
- Dosage form
- Other ingredients
- Value for money
Allergens and intolerances
There have been reports of allergic reactions to HCA, the most abundant active ingredient found in Garcinia cambogia supplements. These allergies may cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort. As we mentioned above, you should stop treatment and consult a doctor immediately if you experience any intolerance reaction.
Note that these supplements may also contain other allergens in the form of excipients (such as magnesium stearate) or be manufactured in laboratories using gluten, nuts, or soybeans. Individuals suffering from any type of food intolerance should stick to brands that guarantee that their products are free of allergens.
Vegan and vegetarian nutrition
Garcinia cambogia is an ingredient of plant origin. That being said, capsules or excipients associated with the supplement are sometimes sourced from animals. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, we strongly encourage you to make sure that the product you purchase is suitable. Certain brands use a vegan seal of quality for this.
The highest quality Garcinia cambogia supplements will offer a hydroxycitric acid (HCA) concentration of at least 50%. In that regard, we advise you to always check the HCA percentage found in the product you are looking to buy. The table found earlier on in our article can help you pick an appropriate supplement.
Garcinia cambogia supplements are available in various dosage forms. These formats can suit the specific needs of each individual with the very same degree of effectiveness. We've detailed the main dosage forms currently on the market in the list below:
- Tablets: These Garcinia cambogia supplements can easily be taken three times daily, simplifying the intake. Note that certain people may have difficulties swallowing the capsules.
- Powder: You can also buy Garcinia cambogia supplements in the form of a suspended powder, which you will need to dissolve in liquid (preferably water) and drink. For instance, certain manufacturers use individual sachets with a predetermined dose that simplifies the mixing process.
- Liquid: Some users have an aversion to taking tablets and do not want to mix powder supplements. These individuals can purchase Garcinia cambogia extract in liquid form. Please remember that this form ore frequently leads to overdosage, and you will need to consume it with great care.
It is very common to see Garcinia cambogia combined with other substances that promote weight loss in supplements. In the table below, we've summed up the actions and side effects of the products most often associated with Garcinia cambogia. This will help you pick the most appropriate combination for your needs:
|Active ingredient||Beneficial effects||Side effects|
|Caffeine||Antioxidant, diuretic, ergogenic (performance enhancement), stimulant, satiating and thermogenic effect (increased destruction of fat to generate heat).||Nervousness, hypertension, headache, gastric discomfort, irritability and increased voiding frequency (constant need to go to the bathroom).|
|Green tea (theine)||Antioxidant, diuretic, ergogenic, stimulant, satiating and thermogenic effect.||Nervousness, headache, stomach discomfort and increased voiding frequency.|
|Glucomannan (fibre)||Appetite suppressant, improved glycemic control and improved intestinal transit.||Reduced assimilation of nutrients and intestinal obstruction (rare).|
|L-carnitine||Increased sports performance, thermogenic and ergogenic effect.||Nausea, abdominal swelling and intestinal discomfort.|
|Flavonoids or anthocyanins (plant extracts of Garcinia or other plants)||Antioxidant, blood pressure control, anti-ageing effect.||Nausea (rare) and intestinal discomfort (rare).|
Value for money
We encourage you to opt for products that contain a minimum of ninety capsules (or the equivalent amount in powder or liquid form). You will need to take this supplement three times a day during approximately eight weeks to start feeling its effects. This is why products that offer low amounts of Garcinia cambogia will cost you more in the long run.
The Garcinia cambogia plant offers us a revolutionary solution for weight management. Its active ingredients – in particular hydroxycitric acid – have antioxidant, satiating and slimming properties. These work together for you to lose fat healthily without exposing yourself to the infamous rebound effect.
While HCA is not a miracle worker, it can help you control your sweet cravings. You'll therefore avoid binge eating that may jeopardise your healthy lifestyle goals. Be consistent and patient with your Garcinia cambogia supplements, and you'll be walking around with a flat belly sooner than you think!
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(Source of featured image: Izzet Noyan Yilmaz: 92678037/ 123rf.com)