There are two fundamental reasons why a lot of people consider Garcinia cambogia as one of man’s best and most effective weight loss supplement ever. However, increasing the body’s metabolic rate and enhancing the sensation of fullness are not really novel mechanisms of action as these are also inherent in any other fat burning supplement. This begs us to question whether it really is right for us to consider it as a true miracle fat burner pill. For the record, we have yet to see a real miracle diet or weight loss or fat burning pill simply because there exist no such thing as a miracle pill. The only miracle you’ll get is if you can discipline yourself to minimize your calorie intake as well as increase your metabolic rate by exercising. These two are the only proven methods to lose weight.
Why do you think they call it a supplement if it can be used in lieu of diet and exercise? The mere fact that it is marketed as a supplement simply means that, on its own, it is no more than a mere placebo meant to create an illusion that you are losing weight. That said, it’s all in the mind. If you take these supplements and yet not make any significant changes in your diet, lifestyle, and exercise, then you will simply not gain anything.
Now if you are here believing that Garcinia cambogia is the answer to all of your weight problems and that it is all you will ever need to help you shed pounds without having to exercise and change a bit of your eating habits, you’d be surprised if we are going to tell you to bring your expectations somewhere else. Garcinia cambogia is not a pill that you can poop in your mouth and expect instant results in a matter of hours. G cambogia is not a pill that allow you to lose weight without exercising. G cambogia is not a supplement that will make you lose weight without decreasing your caloric intake. If these are what you expect Garcinia cambogia will do for you, then you might as well take phentermine or fenfluramine and risk the many side effects that they provide.
We are here to present to you the facts about Garcinia cambogia, what it does, and what science has proven so far, in an effort to provide you with all the right information so you can make a wise decision.
A Closer Look at G Cambogia
A native of Asia, Australia, Polynesia, and the tropical as well as southern regions of Africa, Garcinia cambogia belongs to a family of trees that comprise of mangosteens, kola nuts, and saptrees. They have thick foliage that grows all year round giving it the moniker of the evergreen shrub or tree. For many ancient civilizations, it is the purple mangosteen that has been usually taken for its supposed medicinal properties. The main ingredient of Garcinia cambogia, hydroxycitric acid, which we shall refer to as HCA from now on, comes from the dried pulp of the purple mangosteen. It is the HCA that provides G cambogia is supposed weight loss benefits.
There have been quite a number of issues related to the effects of HCA on various physiologic processes of the body. These included:
- Increased risk of developing testicular atrophy or the shrinking in size of the testes which can lead to reproductive and virile issues
- Increased incidence of diarrhea, indigestion, malabsorption, and stomach cramps as well as other physiologic complaints of the digestive system
- Increased incidence of inflammatory flare-ups in individuals with active inflammatory bowel diseases or even colitis
It should be noted that the scientific community is not unanimous in these findings. Some suggest that the research design was flawed right from the start leading to false positives. There are also those that say, while it is true that HCA can exacerbate gastrointestinal complaints, the rate of incidence is far lower than placebo-taking individuals. Because of the wide disparity of these results, it is advisable to simply not take it if you have any medical problem. This is especially true if you have a cardiac condition.
Garcinia cambogia, through the action of HCA, is well-taken to be beneficial in losing weight because of its effects of fatty acid metabolism. We shall explore later on how this is accomplished. Suffice it to say, HCA affects the way in which certain enzyme systems exert their effects on fat metabolism leading to a reduction in the synthesis of fat through the gluconeogenetic pathway. In simple words, HCA stops the production of fat from excess glucose in the blood. Additionally, it stimulates the conversion of excess glucose into glycogen. In instances of increased metabolism, HCA favors the sequestration of fatty acids from fat depots in the skin as well as the abdominal cavity. These sequestered fat molecules are then converted into energy to fuel a variety of cellular processes. So, if the body is not allowed to store fat while also increasing the usage of stored fat, the net effect should be weight loss, right?
Not necessarily so. As we shall see and as what we have already explained above, no weight loss supplement will ever work without changes in both exercise and diet. To really obtain the full benefits of Garcinia cambogia, you will have to complement this with a low calorie diet as well as increased physical activity. Otherwise, you are simply kidding yourself.
Cambogia Mechanism of Action
We already gave you a preview of how Garcinia cambogia may exert its weight loss effects. But, allow us to go into this in more detail so you will really have an idea as to how we can lose weight using HCA and Garcinia cambogia.
Our body has cells that have a variety of functions. Each individual cell will need energy to function at an optimum level. Depending on the activities of the cell, the energy requirements also fluctuate. For instance, if we are sleeping many of the cells of the muscles are also resting simply because they are not contracting. Let us say that a group of muscle cells at rest will still require about 10 energy molecules just to keep them well-toned. Now, imagine if these same group of muscle cells will begin to contract to lift a heavy object. Because they will now be working, they will need more fuel. Let us say they will now need 50 energy molecules. So, from a resting state to an active state, we just saw an increase in the energy needs of cells from 10 to 50 for a difference of 40.
So, where does our body get this energy? From food, of course. Depending on the type of food we consume, it can have varying quantities of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Our body will use carbohydrates first as its energy source by breaking down food particles to extract the glucose contained in them. Glucose is what cells need to perform their many activities. Glucose is converted into chemical energy.
Let us say we consumed about 100 energy molecules and our group of muscle cells only need 10 at rest and 50 while at work, we are in excess of 50 energy molecules. What happens now is that this excess molecules will have to be processed by the body. Sadly, the body cannot store these molecules as is. These have to be converted and packaged into more compact storable forms. Excess energy molecules (glucose) will have to be repackaged into glycogen and fatty acids. The glycogen molecules are then moved to the liver and the voluntary muscles of the body for storage. The fatty acid molecules, on the other hand, are moved into the abdominal cavity and just under the skin in a layer called the subcutaneous tissue.
Now, understand that the fatty acid molecules converted from glucose is different from the fat molecules present from the food that we eat. The converted fats come from glucose while the fat that we eat come directly from, well, the food that we just devoured. So, let us again say that we were able to store 30 fat molecules that were converted from glucose and there are 50 fat molecules from the food that we ate, we are essentially storing 80 molecules of fat.
It really is very simple. If you eat more calories, you will have more energy molecules. If you have more energy molecules than what your cells actually needs, you’ll have more conversions into storable energy forms. The more storable energy forms – glycogen and fatty acids – you have, the greater the fat depots grow. This leads to weight gain which, if left unchecked, can lead to obesity.
It should be clear that there are only two ways you can lose weight:
- Decrease the amount of energy molecules or calories you eat
- Increase the usage of stored energy molecules by the cells.
In other words:
- Eat less, or
- Exercise more
Like we said, any weight loss supplement will only work if you will also make a few changes in both your activity levels and eating habits. To maximize these effects, Garcinia cambogia can help by:
- Decreasing the amount of converted storable fat
- Increasing the amount of fat removed from their storage sites
- Assisting in reducing the intake of calories
- Increasing the rate of metabolism
First, how does it decrease the amount of converted storable fat? Remember what we said about HCA stopping the action of a particular enzyme from converting glucose into fatty acid molecules? The enzyme ATP citrate lyase is necessary to convert excess circulating glucose molecules into fat molecules. By preventing the action of this enzyme, HCA is able to halt the succeeding biochemical process or the repackaging of the glucose molecules into fatty storable energy molecules. Instead, it will favor the synthesis of glycogen for storage in the liver and muscles. Fewer fat conversions can lead to weight loss but only if you don’t increase your caloric intake.
Now, because Garcinia cambogia also increases the rate of metabolism in the body through the action of norepinephrine, the body will have to use readily available energy molecules. If it waits for food, it will starve to death. What the body does is that it now has to get those stored body fat molecules and burn them for fuel. The more fat that has been stored, the more energy the body’s cells will be able to use. But the point is that you must be able to sustain this increased metabolic rate so that the body will have to keep on burning those stored fat. This is the essence of performing physical exercises. They tend to increase the metabolic rate for sustained periods so that even while you are already resting, your body will still be burning fuel. Again, the crucial thing is to allow the body to use the stored fat. The only way it can do this is by withholding the introduction of food that can supply the energy.
One of the suggested effects of G cambogia’s HCA is that it also stimulates the release of serotonin which affects our satiety giving us a sensation of fullness. A more plausible explanation is the chemical structure of HCA which mimics the action of leptin. This substance is what informs the central nervous system that there is sufficient supply of stored energy in the form of fatty acids. The message is then conveyed to the satiety center in the brain giving us a sense of fullness. So, do you think you will eat more if you feel you’re still full? Certainly not, right? This is what gives Garcinia cambogia its hunger-quelling properties. So if you don’t eat or you eat less, you are essentially reducing your consumption of energy molecules. As such, your body will have to get its energy requirements from the stored fat.
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
Garcinia Cambogia’s Health Benefits
Based on what we have presented so far, we can safely say that Garcinia cambogia has the following health benefits especially in terms of weight loss.
The leptin-like properties of HCA as well as its effect on serotonin levels can help us feel fuller. This reduces our food intake which should help accomplish the diet part of losing weight. However, we have to be very careful the next time we eat to make sure not to consume more calories than what our body really needs. If we can discipline ourselves in eating fewer calories, then we can really maximize the weight loss benefits of Garcinia cambogia.
Boosts the body’s metabolism
The action of Garcinia cambogia on the autonomic nervous system particularly the hormone and neurotransmitter norepinephrine increases the rate of metabolism. This increases energy requirements by the cells. When coupled with a low calorie intake, this can lead to weight loss because the body will be forced to find new ways to supply the demand for energy. And since fat is a very dense energy molecule, the increased metabolism in the absence of high calorie intake will facilitate the removal of stored fatty acid molecules for use as energy. The higher the metabolic rate, the greater the demand for energy, and the greater the amount of fat cleaved or removed from their storage depots.
Reduces body weight
The combined effects of increased satiety and enhanced stored fat mobilization can lead to a reduction in body weight. However, we really have to emphasize that this will only occur if you don’t add to the stored fuel of the body, meaning, don’t overeat or don’t eat high calorie foods so that your body will have to depend on stored fat.
Garcinia cambogia favors the enhanced oxidation or utilization of fatty acids. This leads to significantly lower levels of fatty acid building blocks that can be used for producing cholesterol. As such, it can help lower the risk of developing fatty plaques inside the walls of blood vessels and obstruct the flow of blood to vital organs like the brain and the heart.
Scientific Evidence Supporting G Cambogia’s Effects
Now let us look at what the scientific community has to say about these supposed benefits.
Effects on improving satiety
A 2003 Japanese study showed that G cambogia’s effects on insulin greatly improves carbohydrate metabolism leading to fewer glucose that can be converted into fats and glycogen. This curbs hunger pangs. Together with the satiating effect of the leptin-like property of HCA, Garcinia cambogia has been shown to improve the sensation of fullness leading to decreased caloric intake. If this can be sustained for a long period of time, then it is possible to achieve weight loss.
Effects on weight issues
In another Japanese study in 2003 which directly refuted the claims of the Heymsfield study of 1998, Garcinia cambogia was shown to be effective in reducing total body fat mass especially those found in the abdominal cavity of already-obese men. The Heymsfield study, on the other hand, showed that G cambogia does not have significant capabilities to induce a reduction in body weight. While the Hayamizu study did say that G cambogia can reduce the mass of body fat in the abdominal cavity, it is not known if it can exert the same effects on individuals who are not obese.
A study from the Creighton University Medical Center supported the Hayamizu study showing that G cambogia supplementation can lead to weight loss in 90 days. The Creighton study also supported the leptin-like properties of HCA as well as its ability to enhance fatty acid oxidation. A 2005 Tokyo study also gave credence to the Hayamizu findings. However, it went on to explain that the weight loss effects of G cambogia is dose-dependent. It has a therapeutic ceiling. Going beyond this level can lead to potentially dangerous side effects.
Effects on blood lipids
A 2007 study showed that G cambogia may lead to reductions in VLDL, triacylglycerols, and chylomicrons. This supported the 2001 Chennai study showing that G cambogia can reduce VLDL and LDL. A 2001 Kerala study also supported the cholesterol-lowering effects of HCA. These studies were then supported by a 2008 research conducted by Vasques and his team. This makes Garcinia cambogia an effective adjunct to cholesterol-lowering agents such as statins and fibrates.
Safety Profile of Garcinia Cambogia
While G cambogia is relatively safe, unusually large doses have been shown to be directly related to testicular atrophy or the shrinking of the testes. Unfortunately, scientists are unable to pinpoint at which level of G cambogia can be considered safe because the studies that provide evidence for the testicular atrophy effects of this supplement were conducted on laboratory mice. It is then highly possible that such medical concerns will not occur in humans. However, because of the uncertainty of available data, it has been suggested not to go beyond 778 mg/kgBW/day. To be completely safe, it is best to consume no more than 389 mg/kgBW/day.
Like any other supplement it is highly advisable that you seek advice from your medical doctor especially if you have any underlying conditions or are currently taking some medications. Pregnant and lactating women are also not advised to take such supplements as there are no verifiable studies that will point to its effects on the unborn child or the breastfeeding infant, respectively. Normally, weight loss is not advised during these physiologic events because adequate nutrition is needed by the growing child. Individuals with active inflammatory bowel conditions are also not advised to take Garcinia cambogia because of its laxative effects. And since G cambogia enhances the metabolism of carbohydrates, it should not be taken by people who have low blood sugar levels as this can lower glucose to dangerously lower levels.
G Cambogia Side Effects
While G cambogia is safe to use, it is not uncommon that some side effects may develop over the course of supplementation, especially if you are hypersensitive to some of the ingredients of G cambogia. The most common side effects include
- Frequent loose and watery stools
- Dry mouth
- Stomach upset
The Bottom Line
Garcinia cambogia can be an effective weight loss supplement. However, it is imperative that modest changes in one’s diet and activity levels are also initiated to help maximize the full benefits of this natural weight loss remedy.