Losing weight is definitely a struggle.
Calling it a “struggle” would be an understatement.
Losing weight requires dedication, persistence, motivation at every step and a huge dose of enthusiasm. Yes,
I know about the struggles associated with weight loss. I have been there too.
Sometimes, one even requires to discipline themselves in order to stay on track.
Sounds really tough, right? This is the reason people start choosing fat burners and appetite suppressants available in the market.
Since the struggle has been prevalent since forever, there must be researchers too who were actually struggling with their weight (haha!) or probably with people who were onto this mission. So they discovered a fruit that could help- help A LOT! Yes! A fruit.
This fruit is commonly known as Garcinia gummi-gutta,however, it has a scientific name too- Garcinia cambogia.
If you are not familiar with these names, it is also called kudampuli (pot tamarind), Malabar tamarind and also, brindleberry.
It is sour in taste.
The colour of this fruit varies from light green to yellow. It has an appearance similar to a pumpkin. It was native to Indonesia, however, it is also grown in India.
It is cultivated in Kerala and Karnataka as well, for its fruit. It grows best in moist forests.
Coming to the point, I know, I know, you’ve been waiting for it! How does this fruit help in weight loss?
Garcinia cambogia is widely used as a flavoring agent in seafood curries as it has a sharp taste. However, that is not the only reason.
Garcinia cambogia is a blessing for the human body.
Not only does it help in weight loss, it also eliminates intestinal parasites and contributes to better bowel movements.
It fights cholesterol and lipids (fats) in our body because of a substance called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is found in its rind.
7 Benefits Of Garcinia Cambogia In Weight Loss
There is a review paper which included 21 studies which included Garcinia cambogia and the help that it provided in weight loss.
It was concluded that Garcinia cambogia reduces body fat percentage, appetite, weight, glucose levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and the very process of the synthesis of fat.
1. It help banishing body fat
Garcinia cambogia can help getting rid of body fat.
There have been studies conducted, on humans that prove the fact.
With the increase in the number of patients suffering from obesity, there is a higher risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Garcinia cambogia can help prevent obesity and also the diseases that are related to it.
Due to presence of a compound called hydroxycitric acid, fat synthesis, food intake as well as body weight decreases. Glucose and glycogen formation is enhanced and so is the oxidation of fat.
Hydroxycitric acid satiates the energy needs of the body and also plays a role in the regulation of the signaling system of the body. This provides a signal to the brain indicative of a full stomach.
There have also been drugs designed to control obesity. An example of such a drug is “orlistat”.
When orlistat was given in combination with Garcinia cambogia for a period of 3 months, it reduced visceral fat, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels as well as normalized the blood pressure.
The combination worked far better that orlistat alone.
In an animal study, Garcinia cambogia reduced the formation of the fat cells (adipogenesis), fat accumulation in the liver, blood and around organs, especially visceral organs.
This was achieved by an alteration in genes associated with the formation of fat cells.
It also has a hypolipemic effect. Nowadays, lipid-lowering drugs are also available in the market.
These treat high levels of fat, for example, cholesterol in the blood. They lower the levels of lipids in the body.
What does this mean? Garcinia cambogia cuts down on fat surrounding the organs, especially those in the abdomen, can be used in combination with orlistat and also reduces triglyceride levels.
2. It mey reduce stubborn belly fat
Obesity is the risk factor for so many other diseases such as hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease.
If you have ever struggled to lose weight, you must be knowing what BMI stands for. BMI is body mass index and it is basically the measurement of fat in the body.
Hydroxycitric acid, the most important compound present in Garcinia cambogia was found to help with the visceral fat ratio in a trial.
Individuals were asked to consume a diet that contained Garcinia cambogia for a period of 12 weeks. They were also asked to maintain a particular diet, a diet in which men could consume 2250kcal per day and women could consume only 1800kcal per day.
CT scans were conducted after the study in order to compute the results.
Blood samples were also collected to check for various values such as red blood cell count, white blood cell count, some enzymes and cholesterol.
The response was overwhelming as the subjects had a difference in not only the visceral fat, but also in the subcutaneous fat levels. Subcutaneous fat is the fat found under the skin.
There was a significant change observed in the BMI.
The cholesterol (triglycerides) did decrease, however other values associated with red blood cells, enzymes and white blood cells did not change.
Hydroxycitric acid works by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called adenosine triphosphate citrate lyase that participates in the production of fatty acids.
What does this mean? Garcinia cambogia lowers the fat content in the body, visceral as well as subcutaneous which in turn lowers the BMI.
3. It serves as an ergogenic aid and supports muscle growth
Garcinia cambogia is capable of breaking down lipids (fats) as well.
This is a process that is required by people unable to get rid of body fat, and even by athletes in order to withstand the wear and tear while they perform.
Garcinia cambogia can be given to athletes in order to enhance their performance. It is an ergogenic aid (helps in performing better) and also helps in the oxidation of fat, ultimately providing energy to the athletes.
If you have been pushing yourself to exercise more and burn those calories, you must be familiar with the story of glucose and glycogen!
For those who do not, glucose provides for energy that we burn in the beginning of our workout. However, glycogen comes into play after we have been running on that treadmill for a while.
Glycogen becomes the source of energy for us and keeps us going. Hydroxycitric acid, taken orally, has been found to have an impact on the glycogen synthesis in exercised muscles (skeletal muscles) in human beings.
Healthy males completed a cycling exercise (of a 60-minute duration) and after that, for a 3-hour recovery period, consumed hydroxycitric acid.
After a 3-hour period, biopsies were taken from their skeletal muscles. An increase in the synthesis of glycogen was noted. It also led to the reliance of the muscles on fat oxidation in order to obtain energy.
The muscles were also found to become sensitive to insulin, thereby utilizing glucose and leaving less or no glucose in the bloodstream, which is one of the leading causes of increased cholesterol levels.
There are also times when people lose very important minerals due to wear and tear of muscles. Also, the diet can sometimes be deficient in providing essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and iron.
However, an animal study demonstrated that Garcinia cambogia can help restore minerals such as phosphorus and copper which become more soluble as a result of high levels of fat.
What does this mean? Garcinia cambogia helps in the oxidation of fat and boosts the synthesis of glycogen in the skeletal muscles in order to provide for energy during physical exercise. It also restores essential minerals in the body.
4. Hydroxycitric acid helps burn fat
After reading a bit about this compound, you must be inquisitive to know what else is this compound capable of.
After the discovery of what this compound could help with, subjects were to consume a low calorie diet along with Garcinia cambogia for a period of 12 weeks.
Weight loss was observed and the dose of hydroxycitric acid was well tolerated.
Hydroxycitric acid acts better when utilized on an empty stomach.
There were toxicity and safety tests done to determine if this compound was safe for use. Whether it was for animal models, or for humans.
Subjects included hydroxycitric acid in the form of salt for a period of 8 weeks. There was a significant decrease in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and serum triglyerides and BMI. No adverse effects were observed.
How does that happen? Hydroxycitric acid appears to alter those genes that are associated with the production fat cells as well as those associated with the breakdown of fats.
It also regulates the serotonin levels in the blood and in turn regulates digestion as well as bowel movements.
It also regulates the leptin levels in the abdominal area .
Leptin is a hormone associated with hunger and satiety- it inhibits hunger.
It also regulates the metabolism of glucose by regulating insulin and leptin levels. It also inhibits the function of an enzyme that coverts carbohydrate to glucose.
It increases the storage of glycogen in the liver and hence provides the feeling of a “full stomach”.
What does this mean? Hydroxycitric acid is safe for use, it helps in the reduction of fat and also deals with the complications rendered by diabetes.
5. Garcinia cambogia improves metabolic health
As the level of body fat goes up in the body, it leads to inflammation. This results in a surge of free oxygen radicals in our body-which leads to a phenomenon called “oxidative stress”.
Hence those fighting obesity are often found to be on anti-inflammatory drugs or anti-oxidants, as oxidative stress can cause a lot of damage, especially to cellular membranes-eventually breaking them.
Oxidative stress can also lead to the formation of plaque (deposits of fat) in the arteries. Garcinia cambogia derived hydroxycitric acid has the potential to reduce food intake, oxidative stress and trigger weight loss. And for this reason, numerous researches are underway.
In an animal study, supplementation with Garcinia cambogia led to a decrease in food intake, lower levels of total cholesterol, increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL- the good cholesterol), blood antioxidants (such as glutathione), thereby enhancing the total level of antioxidants in the blood.
Hydroxycitric acid is also found in the form of a calcium/potassium salt (Super CitriMax), when derived from the ring of the fruit of Garcinia cambogia. Research shows that these salts benefit in type-2 diabetes, high levels of insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress.
The proteins involved in inflammation (such as C-Reactive protein) were reduced, so were the glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels.
Food intake and weight also reduced. These changes altogether lead to a lowering of oxidative stress.
Metabolic syndrome or diabetes (especially type-2 diabetes) can also lead to obesity.
One of the very common conditions observed associated with diabetes is the “endoplasmic reticulum stress”.
The endoplasmic reticulum is an organelle present in all eukaryotic cells and is responsible or the synthesis of proteins.
Endoplasmic reticulum stress often leads to cell death. It has hence become a target for therapy as it also contributes to increased oxidative stress.
The endoplasmic reticulum stress also damages the fat cells but hydroxycitric acid has a protective effect on them.
Hydroxycitric acid was introduced to the fat cells. It led to a change in the antioxidants in them, and also the proteins associated with inflammation. The cells were also protected from the endoplasmic reticulum stress due to better functioning of the mitochondria.
What does this mean? Garcinia cambogia reduces oxidative stress which is a very common cause of heart diseases, especially in obese individuals. It also reduces inflammation and benefits in metabolic conditions like diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
6. It acts as an appetite suppressant
Most people who are overweight are asked to keep a good check on what they consume, and how much they consume.
Most dieticians aim to regulate the portions that a person consumes during each meal.
This leads to hunger and leaves many people frustrated and kills their motivation.
So they begin taking the help of appetite suppressants. Garcinia cambogia also acts as an appetite suppressant.
“Leptin” is a hormone present in our body that leads to the feeling of “satiety”.
It inhibits hunger. In an animal study, mice were introduced to dietary Garcinia cambogia for a period of 4 weeks.
Insulin levels, as well as leptin levels, were lowered.
This proved that Garcinia cambogia had “leptin-like” activity and it also improved glucose metabolism.
There is a review paper that included 14 studies that included the plant extracts which act as appetite suppressants. These studies also had subjects that were obese, and their food intake and appetite were measured.
While most studies were inconclusive, it was only that of Garcinia cambogia which was found to be safe and valid and could be used for treating obesity, suppress appetite and yield weight loss.
What does this mean? Garcinia cambogia acts as a hormone that provides satiety and can be used to suppress appetite and help with weight loss.
7. It is commonly included in weight loss supplements
The easiest and the most convenient way to consume any supplement is in the form of tablets!
Tablets were developed, which were inclusive of Garcinia cambogia, Camellia sinensis, Coffeaarabica and Lagerstroemia speciose.
Their efficacy and safety were tested.
The tests lasted over a period of 14 weeks. Waist circumference, body mass, and hip circumference were found to be reduced. The tolerability was good and no adverse effects were reported.
Tablets containing a blend of Black tea, Green tea, Asparagus, Mate and Kidney beans, and Guara were taken before meals and those with Garcinia cambogia, Kidney bean pods and Chromium yeast were taken after meals.
These had to be taken with 2 main meals, that is, twice a day for 12 weeks. There was a decrease in body fat and a significant change in body composition observed.
What does this mean? Garcinia cambogia can be taken in the form of tablets and it would help inlosing fat as well as weight, and is safe to consume.
However, some researchers do not find Garcinia cambogia helpful in weight loss
When patients were introduced to dietary Garcinia cambogia for a period of 12 weeks, there was a loss in weight, however, it was similar to another group which was not being given any dietary Garcinia cambogia, but taking the same amount of calories in their diet. There was also negligible fat loss.
There was a 2-week supplementation of hydroxycitric acid combined with medium chain triglycerides in the diets of overweight males.
There was weight loss observed in these subjects, however, it was not different from those subjects which were on the same number of calories but not on hydroxycitric acid.
There was no significant change in fat oxidation, satiety, and energy expenditure as well.
A study published in “The Nutrition Jounrnal”, 2011 reported that when subjects consumed tablets consisting of Glycine max leaves extract and Garcinia cambogia extract for a period of 10 weeks, there was no weight loss and the percentage of body fat and total cholesterol was also unchanged.
When Garcinia cambogia was given in a combination with a plat called Amorphophalluskonjac to obese subjects to include in their diet for a 12-week period.
There was a lowering in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However there was no change in triglyceride and glucose levels.
According to a review consisting of 12 trials inclusive of the use of Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss supplement, one of the studies showed adverse gastrointestinal effects.
It has also been observed that Garcinia cambogia only leads to temporary weight loss. Other adverse effects included skin rashes, headaches, and the common cold.
Dosage Of Garcinia Cambogia for Weight Loss
Garcinia cambogia can be taken in the form of tablets or capsules which are easily available in the market. 500mg 2-3 times a day is recommended as per studies.
However, one should not exceed the dosage of 1500mg per day.
It is advised to consult a health practitioner before taking garcinia cambogia supplements.
If you have access to the fruit itself, you can use the rind, as it has hydroxycitric acid, in the curries that you make. It has a sharp and sour taste and can also yield benefits such as weight loss.
Before taking Garcinia cambogia for weight loss, one must test for allergies. A single dose can be taken and any reactions such as dizziness, nausea, skin rashes or itching must not be ignored.
Garcinia cambogia has been found to protect the liver against toxicity and the brain, kidney, and intestines from inflammation.
While a study suggests that Garcinia cambogia does reduce body fat but induces liver fibrosis there have also been trials in humans that suggest that it is safe to use.
A maximum of 4000 mg of Garcinia cambogia was included in the diet and no adverse changes were observed in relation to the liver.
Even animal studies have not reported increased toxicity or mortality. Hydroxycitric acid is said to be safe for use by humans as well as animals.
It is advised to consult a health practitioner before taking any supplements.
Research Study - Garcinia & Weight Loss
It is shown to suppress appetite and block production of fat. Most of the studies conducted in relation to Garcinia cambogia and weight loss are on rat models.
However seeing the hype and raging fame of this supplement in the world of obesity, a clinical trial was conducted to evaluate its effectiveness.
What happened in the study?
In the trial, subjects were randomly assigned to groups where one group received 1500mg of hydroxycitric acid and the other group received placebo.
Duration of the study was 12 weeks. All subjects were given a diet low on energy and high on fibre. Body weight and fat mass were evaluated on a weekly basis.
Read the full paper here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9820262
What was the outcome?
Subjects in both the groups lost a significant amount of weight, a however difference among outcomes of both groups was not significant. Also the treatment group did not show much significant loss of body fat.
How did this occur?
Hydroxycitric acid brings about weight loss through the following mechanisms:
- By regulating a chemical named serotonin that is involved in stimulating appetite
- Increasing fat oxidation
- Preventing the formation of fat
- Reducing the activity of obesity-related genes
However the effect of HCA was not strong enough to produce better results than placebo.
What does this mean?
Since both, the groups had to follow dietary restrictions and not much difference in weight was observed, the resultant weight loss could not be attributed to Garcinia cambogia.
So Garcinia cambogia does aid in weight loss but the outcome is not significant enough when compared with the action of energy restricted diet alone.
A mixed review is available for this supplement; however scientific evidence regarding the same is poor. Garcinia cambogia appears to be safe.
One is free to try it; however, we would say that there are more effective options available.
Garcinia cambogia helps in the reduction of body fat, retards the synthesis of fatty acids, can be used as an appetite suppressant and also prevents many complications due to diabetes.
However, some studies show that it does not lead to significant clinically relevant weight loss. Also, it has a number of side effects.
So there is no definitive evidence to confirm garcinia’s effectiveness in weight loss but the underlying mechanisms are interesting and may have the potential of anti-obesity effect.