We all know that “miracle drugs” for weight loss don’t exist. But should we consider adding Garcinia Cambogia to our diets?
What is Garcinia Cambogia?
Garcinia gummi-gutta, or Garcinia Cambogia as it’s more commonly known, is a bright green fruit that looks like a small pumpkin. However, once you open the Garcinia Cambogia, the flesh inside has properties closer to citrus fruits like lemons and oranges.
As a native fruit in Southeast Asia, Garcinia Cambogia has been traditionally used to flavor curry fish dishes. But over the years, consumers started to realize that the fruit was also a great natural remedy for things like upset stomachs, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
When news of this hit the mainstream, researchers uncovered that one of the main ingredients found in Garcinia Cambogia is hydroxycitric acid or HCA.
By combining extracts of the fruit with the hydroxycitric acid found in the fruit’s rind, people were able to eat less and still feel full.
Studies also speculate that Garcinia Cambogia could increase fat oxidation as well.
If you think this sounds too good to be true, you’re not alone. Gimmick pills like this rarely work, if ever.
Scientific Research Behind Garcinia Cambogia
The first study testing the weight loss claims of Garcinia Cambogia was done on five-month old rats.
The rats were split up into four groups; rats in two groups were fed a standard diet, while rats from the other two groups were fed a 30% high fat diet. One group of rats from each of the two sets was given the extract of Garcinia Cambogia over a span of ten weeks.
After this timeframe, results were measured to compare the rats’ body weight, glucose levels, and inflammation.
The results were pretty interesting.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, the rats fed a high fat diet showed expected increases in things like weight and glucose levels. But the rats fed a high fat diet along with the Garcinia Cambogia actually decreased their body weight and glucose levels.
But what happens when the studies involve people?
“The meta-analysis from this systematic review suggests that HCA is not as effective as conventional weight loss pills,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
The research measured by Muscle for Life notes that the decreases in fat mass were statistically significant, but small when compared to the placebo group. This means that other factors may have just as significant a role to play in weight loss as the Garcinia Cambogia. With factors like diet and exercise, it doesn’t seem worthwhile to add Garcinia Cambogia for somewhat negligible results.
On top of that, researchers also found flaws in the methodology used in these studies and recognized the fact that some of the sample sizes were a bit too small. Scientists also believe that the periods of time studied were too short to have definitive, conclusive results.
Is Garcinia Cambogia Safe?
Another thing to keep in mind is that since the clinical trials were all short term, “It is unclear how safe this dietary substance is on the intermediate and long term,” the US National Library of Health points out.
Although we don’t know enough about what happens to our bodies after a twelve-week period of using Garcinia Cambogia, we do know that the US National Library of Health claims that “no differences have been reported in terms of side effects or adverse events in humans.”
Furthermore, they suggest that “HCA is safe for human consumption.”
Are There Side Effects?
Efficacy hasn’t been the only thing in question when it comes to Garcinia Cambogia. There have also been reports of possible toxicity when using the extract.
Out of the twelve clinical trials, seven reported the possibility of side effects such as headaches, nausea, upset stomachs, and upper respiratory issues. However, it’s also worth mentioning that most of the trials contained “no significant differences in adverse events between HCA and [the] placebo.”
The Bottom Line On Garcinia Cambogia
If you want to look and feel great all the time, I’d suggest eating a healthy diet and exercising at least 3-4 times per week instead of relying on supplements with little scientific backing.