What is Garcinia cambogia extract?
Garcinia cambogia is the name of an extract which is considered by some to be an aid to weight loss. It comes from a fruit which may also be referred to as Garcinia gummi-gutta (its Latin name), Malabar tamarind, and brindleberry. It is commonly found in tropical areas, such as Southeast Asia; India; and central Africa. It’s traditionally used as an ingredient in meals to enhance their flavour. However, it’s also sought-after by many people who are looking to find a natural supplement to aid weight loss.
Garcinia cambogia extract for PCOS
You’ll probably be hard-pressed to find the fresh fruit in your local supermarket. It is more commonly found in the form of a dietary supplement; Garcinia cambogia extract is sold as a weight loss remedy. It’s considered to be particularly appealing to people wanting to shift the extra pounds because it is a natural supplement, obtained from the rind of the fruit. This means there aren’t going to be any additives you might not be sure of. You should, however, be aware that ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘good’. It should be noted that the evidence for the effectiveness of Garcinia cambogia is mixed; clinical trials have reported varying results as to whether the extract is useful for weight loss. Nevertheless, many people have found it to be useful for losing weight, combined with a calorie-controlled diet and taking regular exercise. Furthermore, research exists which suggests that Garcinia cambogia is effective in reducing fat accumulation.
So, what does this have to do with PCOS? Being overweight is a common symptom of PCOS, due to hormone imbalances. People with PCOS may also find it harder to lose weight. Consequently, many people with PCOS have considered taking Garcinia cambogia as an aid to weight loss, encouraged by its natural properties.
7 reasons to take Garcinia cambogia extract
So how exactly does Garcinia cambogia help with losing weight? This mainly has to do with one of its compounds, explained further below. But the impacts of Garcinia cambogia go beyond weight loss – it also has a range of other potential benefits.
1. It uses up glucose
Garcinia cambogia may help reduce glucose levels in the body. A 2003 study attempted to research the effects of Garcinia cambogia extract on mice. The results showed that the mice who had taken the extract had lower levels of insulin than the mice that did not. These findings suggest that the extract can boost glucose metabolism, because when glucose is used up, insulin levels in the blood are lowered . Consequently, people with diabetes may also find uses for Garcinia cambogia, as it may be able to control their blood glucose levels. Additionally, people with PCOS tend to have a higher level of insulin in their blood. As well as potentially aiding weight loss for those with PCOS, Garcinia cambogia can help stabilise insulin levels.
However, taking Garcinia cambogia may also dangerously reduce these levels if the patient is already taking medicine to control their blood sugar . Consult with a physician before taking the extract.
2. It controls cholesterol levels
Having high cholesterol is widely considered to be a warning sign when it comes to your health. However, there are different types of cholesterol; some more useful than others. Low-density lipoprotein is the bad cholesterol, which can contribute to heart disease; whereas high-density lipoprotein is considered beneficial as it removes the bad cholesterol from your blood. Garcinia cambogia may actually lower the bad cholesterol in your body; and increase the good cholesterol. A study in 2008 on the effects of Garcinia cambogia on cholesterol showed that after 12 weeks of treatment, patients who were given doses of Garcinia cambogia had a significantly lower cholesterol level than the placebo group .
If you’re already receiving other treatments to lower your cholesterol – such as statins – make sure you talk to a medical professional before taking Garcinia cambogia, as it can react badly with certain medications.
3. Increases how long you feel full for
We all know that one of the reasons for weight gain is consuming too much food. You may not feel particularly full; or you may continue eating regardless. Research suggests that taking Garcinia cambogia can help control your cravings. Garcinia cambogia reviews are mixed, but many people who have taken it report that it has stopped them from overeating.
Garcinia cambogia may increase your satiety; and reduce your appetite. This may be linked to the extract’s ability to enhance the flavour of meals. Furthermore, the HCA in the fruit (explained in more detail later on in the article) can increase the level of serotonin your body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which controls your appetite, whereby higher levels of serotonin can suppress your appetite (although very low levels of serotonin can be associated with a loss of appetite too). By suppressing your appetite, you may be less likely to overeat. As weight loss is based on creating a calorie deficit – which means you’re expending more calories than you’re consuming – then controlling your cravings may help prevent you from overeating, and consequently, you will end up losing weight.
4. It may reduce fat in the body
Garcinia cambogia contains an acid called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). This is found in the rind of the fruit. Garcinia cambogia extracts are obtained from this rind, as it’s rich in HCA – which is key to weight reduction .
HCA prevents an enzyme, called citrate lysase, from converting sugar into fat – which means less fat will be produced in the body. Instead, the glucose is converted into energy, rather than being stored as fat. This is why Garcinia cambogia is commonly used as a weight loss supplement. With less fat being accumulated, it may aid with weight loss; or prevent further weight gain.
5. It boosts your metabolism
The rate at which your body burns energy may have an effect on your weight loss. If more energy is being burned than is being stored, you’ll lose weight – which is why taking regular exercise is helpful in losing weight. Your metabolic rate is also a factor in weight loss. There is some evidence to suggest that HCA may increase your metabolic rate. For example, a 2003 study where women were injected with 250mg of HCA found that overall, HCA decreased the respiratory exchange ratio during exercise; and that exercise time to exhaustion was boosted. As a result, more fat was used up – possibly associated with a reduction in glycogen being used up . HCA’s ability to increase one’s metabolism is thought to be because it inhibits ATPcitrate-lysase.
6. It boosts your exercise performance
Garcinia cambogia may also have properties which can boost your exercise performance. One study involving women with lower levels of fitness were given HCA. The study concluded that they were able to exercise for a longer period of time compared to another group of women who did not take Garcinia cambogia . The reason for this is believed to be associated with HCA using up fatty acids as a source of energy, resulting in a boost to your exercise workout.
While you can obviously increase your fitness in other ways – such as building up the intensity of your exercise regime over a period of time – taking Garcinia cambogia may help boost your exercise performance, increase your fitness, and eventually lose weight. This is, of course, under the assumption that the supplement is being taken alongside an exercise regime which results in a calorie deficit.
7. It may help you shed belly fat
As much as you may want to shift fat from your abdominal region, it’s impossible to ‘spot reduce’ – which means losing weight from one particular part of your body, while maintaining fat everywhere else. So don’t think doing 100 sit-ups a day alone will help sculpt your abs! However, the results of a study involving both men and women who took Garcinia cambogia showed that at the end of the 16-week period, those who took the extract had a significant reduction in visceral fat, compared to the placebo group (5). The results suggest that taking Garcinia cambogia may also help to prevent the accumulation of abdominal fat. This is important because this type of fat is considered particularly dangerous, and is associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues.
While you can’t expect to take Garcinia cambogia alone and wake up to a flat stomach, taking the extract along with regular exercise and a healthy diet may boost your chances of losing fat from this area over a period of time.
6 tips for choosing Garcinia cambogia
The level of HCA
Studies which suggest that Garcinia cambogia extract may indeed help weight loss highlight how the key facilitator of this is HCA – that’s what makes Garcinia cambogia a potential weight loss supplement. However, not all Garcinia cambogia supplements have the same level of HCA. The percentage of HCA in the supplement may be different from what’s actually labelled on the bottle; and percentages vary greatly between different brands. Make sure you check how high the percentage of HCA is in the supplement you’re thinking of taking.
The form of Garcinia cambogia
Garcinia cambogia is found in different forms – and not just in the levels of HCA present. As well as obviously being found in fruit form, you’re more likely to find it as a supplement. It is also sometimes combined with other ingredients – such as those obtained from plant roots. Examples of ingredients which Garcinia cambogia is often combined with include guarana and coffee. Nevertheless, these supplements are also designed to be used for weight management. Make sure you understand what the other ingredients are, as well as the level of HCA in them. Don’t forget to be aware of any side effects of the associated ingredients, too.
Consider the side-effects
Garcinia cambogia is considered by many to be a safe weight loss supplement – supported by evidence from peer-reviewed studies (6). However, with most supplements – including natural supplements, or vitamins and minerals – you may experience side-effects if you take Garcinia cambogia. Consider whether the potential benefits of Garcinia cambogia are worth the potential side-effects of taking it.
The potential side-effects include dizziness; diarrhea; and a dry mouth. There are also more serious side-effects if Garcinia cambogia is consumed in high doses. Thus, consult with a physician and ensure you’re taking the correct dosage.
Diet and exercise
If you take Garcinia cambogia without making any other changes to your lifestyle and diet, and then expect the pounds to drop, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Taking the extract alone is not going to be effective in losing weight. By creating a calorie deficit (where more calories are being expended than are being consumed), your body mass will go down. Thus, if you want to maximise your chances of Garcinia cambogia working effectively, you need to also eat a healthy, balanced diet; and take regular exercise.
If you’re pregnant and breastfeeding
Like many other aspects of HCA and Garcinia cambogia, there isn’t a wealth of evidence which demonstrates the safety of taking Garcinia cambogia if you’re expecting a baby; or if you’re breastfeeding. To be on the safe side, it’s recommended you avoid taking the extract if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you’re taking medicine to lower your cholesterol or control your blood sugar levels (such as if you have diabetes), or if you’re taking any other medication, taking Garcinia cambogia on top of that may affect how well the medical treatments work. There may also be other side-effects from this. Therefore, consult a physician before taking Garcinia cambogia.
As shown in this article, Garcinia cambogia has a range of potential effects for your health. This includes, but is not limited to, aiding weight loss. However, studies are mixed about the extract’s use in weight loss management; and one person’s experience of using Garcinia cambogia cannot be replicated. At the same time, there are studies which conclude that Garcinia cambogia is safe, with no significant side-effects.
If you’re combining the extract with a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise, you’ll increase your chances of losing weight successfully. Remember that there is no quick solution to losing weight – be patient and you’ll see the results soon!
Whatever remedy you choose for weight loss, make sure you’re fully aware of the its associated risks and benefits. It’s always best to talk to a medical professional before you take any supplement for losing weight.
- Hayamizu, K., Hirakawa, H., Oikawa, D., Nakanishi, T., Takagi, T., Tachibana, T., & Furuse, M. (2003). Effect of Garcinia cambogia extract on serum leptin and insulin in mice. Fitoterapia, 74(3), 267-273.
- WebMD. Garcinia Cambogia: Safe for Weight Loss? Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/garcinia-cambogia-weight-loss
- Vasques, C. A., Rossetto, S., Halmenschlager, G., Linden, R., Heckler, E., Fernandez, M. S. P., & Alonso, J. L. L. (2008). Evaluation of the pharmacotherapeutic efficacy of Garcinia cambogia plus Amorphophallus konjac for the treatment of obesity. Phytotherapy Research, 22(9), 1135-1140.
- Lim, K., Ryu, S., Nho, H. S., Choi, S. K., Kwow, T., Suh, H., … & Shigematsu, N. (2003). (-)-Hydroxycitric acid ingestion increases fat utilization during exercise in untrained women. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 49(3), 163-167.
- Hayamizu, K., Ishii, Y., Kaneko, I., Shen, M., Okuhara, Y., Shigematsu, N., … & Shimasaki, H. (2003). Effects of Garcinia cambogia (Hydroxycitric Acid) on visceral fat accumulation: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Current Therapeutic Research, 64(8), 551-567.
- Preuss, H. G., Rao, C. V., Garis, R., Bramble, J. D., Ohia, S. E., Bagchi, M., & Bagchi, D. (2003). An overview of the safety and efficacy of a novel, natural (-)-hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX) for weight management. Journal of medicine, 35(1-6), 33-48.