Some people consider the Garcinia cambogia as a weight loss miracle in a pill. It has created a stir among weight loss fanatics and continue to do so especially with aggressive marketing campaigns by its manufacturers. We all know that supplements are never tested by federal agencies, particularly the FDA. So, if it is not tested, how can we be sure that it is safe? And do you really know that it works because of its natural ingredients or because of something else – a more sinister plot – to bring out the much-desired effects of weight loss even if it means adding a banned substance particularly because it does work?
For the more cautious, this alone is enough to raise a red flag, an air of suspicion, since an aggressively marketed weight loss product can simply mean that its manufacturers must do everything they can to make as much money as they possibly can. We all know that the weight loss products industry is worth billions of dollars. Thanks in part to the growing realization by many about the perils of being obese but more so because of the incessant barrage of advertisements saying that only slim people are beautiful. Just look at magazines and TV commercials as well as movies. Seldom will you see a model or even an actor or actress who hugs the limelight because he or she is fat. We now live in an era where thin is in and fat is out.
The fact of the matter is that many of these Garcinia cambogia manufacturers add banned substances in their formulations. For example, some may add phentermine or even fenfluramine. And since they are not subject to strict testing by the FDA, they can easily claim that theirs is the best Garcinia cambogia preparation in the world.
Let us look at the logic. If the only ingredient in these supplements is Garcinia cambogia, would it not be logical to assume that all brands are equal? So what makes one brand be the best if it practically contains the same active ingredient that the rest of the pack have? Is there a secret ingredient we don’t know about? That’s why it is imperative that we don’t just jump into bandwagons. We must exercise our right to finding out the truth. Personally, we wouldn’t want to pop a pill only to suffer immensely later on. And neither should you.
So, we scoured the database of researches trying to figure out the side effects of Garcinia cambogia, of which, we can safely say, there are quite a handful. But before we learn its side effects, let us first look at what makes Garcinia cambogia work.
Garcinia Cambogia in Action
The weight loss benefits obtained by people from Garcinia cambogia is inherently tied to its main active ingredient – hydroxycitric acid. We shall refer to this active ingredient as HCA from here on. While HCA is the principal ingredient of G cambogia, it is best to understand that it IS NOT the only ingredient. And this is where most of the concern lies. While we know what HCA can do, how about the rest of the ingredients?
For HCA, its action is directly related to its ability to stop the conversion of carbohydrate molecules into fat molecules, primarily fatty acids. This is accomplished by stopping the action of an enzyme that is called ATP citrate lyase. This enzyme is responsible for converting molecules of citrate into acetyl coenzyme-A, also known as Acetyl Co-A. Another molecule formed from this biosynthesis is oxaloacetate. It should be remembered that Acetyl Co-A is a very important molecule needed to produce energy by cleaving some of its carbon atoms and feeding these into the Kreb’s cycle or the tricarboxylic acid cycle. The most recognizable form of energy in the cell is adenosine triphosphate or ATP. Of course, carbon dioxide is also produced as a metabolic byproduct of the chemical reaction.
Okay, so we now know that HCA prevents the conversion of carbs into fats. In the world of weight loss, fewer carbohydrates converted will mean fewer fats deposited into fat depots in our body. Here’s why.
Depending on the food that we eat, we are essentially taking in carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in varying proportions. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, proteins into amino acids, and fats into fatty acids. Why do we eat? To fuel our cells, of course. The principal fuel source of cells is glucose which is moved towards the cell by a hormone called insulin. Every cell in the body has a different energy requirement. Cells that are not really active will require less energy while those that are hyperactive will have immense energy requirements. For example, the energy levels needed by the cells of the hair will be less than the energy requirements by cells of the heart since the heart is continuously pumping blood. The energy requirements of cells also fluctuate with activity. If we are resting, then it does not need a lot of energy. If we are doing something, then the energy expenditure also gets boosted.
Cells only use energy that is commensurate to their requirements. Anything in excess is not used. What happens? Well, the body will have to convert these into storable energy molecules so that, in case cells have a sudden need for energy, it can use these stored energy molecules while waiting for the body to feed. Now, glucose is converted into both glycogen and preferably, fatty acids. Why prefer fat? This is because fat can store more energy than a similar molecule of carbohydrate and protein combined. So, if the body stored fat, it is essentially storing worth the energy of both carbs and proteins.
It should be understood that the fatty acid converted from glucose is added to the fatty acid contained in the food that we ate. For example, if we ate 20 grams of fat and there was an excess of glucose which resulted in its conversion into 5 grams of fat, then we are essentially storing 25 grams of fat. And you know where this is stored? In our abdominal region as well as underneath our skin. Yes, that’s why most of us have big tummies and flabby skin.
Given that HCA prevents the conversion of glucose into storable fatty acid, we only store 20 grams, if we take our example above. We will still be storing fat from the food that we eat but at least, we get to store fewer amounts of fat. If our cells suddenly have a need for energy, the stored fat (20 grams) will then be mobilized and burned as fuel. Let us say, we burned 10 grams so we are left with just 10 grams of fat stored in our body.
There’s one more effect in this action by HCA. If glucose is not being converted into fatty acids, then it must be converted into glycogen and stored in the muscles and liver. For more information on this weight loss supplement, make sure you read our Garcinia Cambogia review here.
Studies also show that HCA has leptin-like properties. We know what leptin does. It tells our brain that there is enough fatty acids stored in the body’s depots so there’s no need to eat. What it tells the brain is that our body’s thermostat settings are at their optimum levels. A drop in leptin signals the brain that the body needs energy and that it needs to eat. Unfortunately, leptin is produced by fat cells. So, removing stored fat will tell the brain that it needs to eat. This is where HCA comes in. Its leptin-like abilities continue telling the brain that it still has plenty of stored fat so there really is no need to eat just yet.
So, how does Garcinia cambogia exert its weight loss effects? In gist, it:
- Prevents glucose from being converted into fatty acids
- Promotes the conversion of glucose into glycogen
- Enhances the burning of fat from fat depots
- Increases metabolic rate to increase fat burning
- Makes you feel like you’re not yet hungry
Ingredients of G Cambogia
Earlier we did mention about the other ingredients of G cambogia aside from HCA. These include the following:
Chromium may not be able to burn fat but it helps in the promotion of glucose conversion into glycogen. When used together with HCA, chromium enhances the storage of glycogen. This works synergistically with HCA since HCA prevents the conversion of excess glucose into fatty acids so the glucose is then converted into glycogen. Chromium also helps in insulin sensitivity so that more glucose is used up by the cells. The more glucose is used up, the fewer the free glucose molecules that can be converted.
There is another benefit to chromium use – the lowering of LDL and total cholesterol levels including triglycerides. While these do not necessarily treat cardiovascular diseases, it may help in reducing the risk associated with abnormally elevated levels of blood lipids. It may help lower the risk of chest pains and heart attacks as well as strokes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. We all know that the liver is a very important organ especially in metabolism. If it has fatty liver disease, then this can lead to substantial metabolic abnormalities, mainly obesity. Taking chromium can help lower the risk of this particular disease and when used with HCA, the benefits can be enhancement of obesity management.
Chromium has also been implicated in leaner body mass. While the exact mechanism as to how it can reduce total body fat mass remains unclear, this effect should have readily verifiable benefits especially to weight loss.
Potassium is an integral part of the communication between cells and their outside environment. It is important in the generation of electrical impulses through the sodium-potassium pump. It is the most important intracellular electrolyte in the body and as such, any changes in its levels can lead to devastating effects. It is particularly important in maintaining normal cardiac rhythm. Too much or too little potassium can lead to arrhythmias either abnormally rapid, erratic heart beats or abnormally slow and dysfunctional heart rate, respectively. Either way, oxygenation can be severely compromised which can lead to tissue death in extreme cases.
In weight loss, potassium has been shown to facilitate the production of glycogen from excess glucose. Like chromium when added to HCA, potassium can favor glycogenesis instead of lipogenesis (the production of glycogen versus the production of fatty acids, respectively). And since we already know that HCA blocks fatty acid conversion from glucose, any excess glucose will have to be transformed into the muscle- and liver- stored energy molecule known as glycogen.
Calcium, on the other hand, can increase the core temperature of the body, aside from its bone health benefits, of course. This thermogenic property of calcium can work exceptionally well with the fat conversion-blocking effect of HCA. Because increasing the body temperature increases the metabolic rate, this increases energy expenditure which must be supplied with the stored energy molecules. This leads to the burning of stored fatty acids. A few studies revealed that individuals who had normal calcium levels had better or more ideal body weights than those with low calcium levels. Studies showed that people who don’t have dairy in their diets increased their body weights by no less than a pound every year. This simply means that people who don’t take dairy products have the tendency to gain weight by as much as 10 pounds in 10 years.
Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects
Garcinia cambogia is a natural product and as such its weight loss effects may be modest compared to synthetically-designed fat burners like phentermine and fenfluramine. This begs the question as to how people can be sure that what they are getting are pure, all-natural G cambogia extracts and not some synthetically-manufactured weight loss pill. Because of reports of tampering with the active ingredients by adding banned substances purportedly to increase its fat burning effects, one cannot help but wonder if the G cambogia brand they are using has such banned substances that can produce really unwelcome side effects.
A true G. cambogia supplement should have at least 50 percent HCA. The greater the proportion of HCA, the closer it is to the natural form of G cambogia, and the safer it should be. Nevertheless, here are some of the documented side effects of Garcinia cambogia.
- Diarrhea or loose bowel movement
- Abdominal cramps
- Risk of testicular atrophy especially in large doses
Diarrhea has been shown to be one of the most common side effects of G. cambogia perhaps because of its effects on fatty acid metabolism. However, studies also show that when compared to those taking placebo, the incidence of G. cambogia-related diarrhea is much lower. This strongly suggests of a relatively safe profile for the supplement.
There have also been reports of G. cambogia not suitable to individuals with Crohn’s disease, active inflammatory bowel diseases, and regional colitis.
Of particular concern especially among men is the report that high doses of HCA can lead to the shrinking of the testicular cells. This can lead to reproductive issues whereby the individual may already lose the ability to father a child. Unfortunately, those studies were conducted on lab rats simply because it will be grossly unethical to conduct an experiment on human subjects. The question everyone wants answers to is related to the levels of HCA that can be considered safe.
Contraindications and Precautions
Garcinia cambogia should always be taken with caution or avoided altogether if you have any of the following:
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- Low levels of serum glucose
- Alzheimer’s disease
People who have hypersensitivity reactions to one or some of the ingredients of G cambogia are also advised against taking it. This includes conditions whereby there is an excess of a particular component in the body. For example, if one already has elevated calcium levels, taking G cambogia may increase the risk of tetany or abnormal muscle contractions. Likewise, if the person already has elevated potassium, there’s a chance of having arrhythmias. The point is that, if you have a medical condition, it is always best to consult with your doctor first regarding the safety of taking G cambogia.
We know that G cambogia increases insulin sensitivity, making it more efficient in removing glucose from the blood and into the cell. This lowers the levels of circulating glucose. Now, if you are already hypoglycemic, then there is a real risk of lowering your blood glucose dangerously low for your own good. Your body might completely shut down.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also never attempt to lose weight for the simple reason that babies, whether they are still in their mothers’ wombs or are already breastfeeding, will require increased amounts of nutrients. If you will be dieting, you may be losing weight but at what cost to your child?
The effects of G cambogia on cognitive deficits are not really understood. As such, it is generally recommended to exercise caution should you have Alzheimer’s disease and want to take Garcinia cambogia. Since its effects are not certain, it is best to avoid it altogether.
The Bottom Line
Garcinia cambogia is an effective and safe natural weight loss supplement. But if you have a medical condition, breastfeeding, or are pregnant, it is always a lot better to avoid it altogether. Alternatively, you can see your doctor and ask for his opinion.