How Garcinia Cambogia Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat

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Garcinia cambogia is a popular weight loss supplement.

It is derived from a fruit of the same name, also called Garcinia gum gutta or Malabar tamarind.

The skin of the fruit contains high amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is the active ingredient thought to be responsible for most of its weight loss benefits (1).

This article reveals whether garcinia cambogia can help you lose weight and belly fat.

Garcinia cambogia is a small yellow or greenish pumpkin-shaped fruit.

The fruit is so acidic that it is not usually eaten fresh but rather used in cooking (2).

Garcinia cambogia supplements are made from extracts from the skin of the fruit.

The peel of the fruit contains high amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), an active substance that has been shown to have some weight loss properties (3, 4, 5).

Supplements usually contain 20-60% HCA. Nonetheless, studies show that those with 50–60% HCA may provide the most benefit (2).

Summary

Garcinia cambogia supplements are made from extracts from the skin of the Garcinia gum gutta fruit. They contain high amounts of HCA, which is linked to weight loss benefits.

Many high quality human studies have tested the weight loss effects of garcinia cambogia.

Additionally, most of them state that the supplement may cause a small weight loss (3, 6).

On average, garcinia cambogia has been shown to cause approximately 2 pounds (0.88 kg) more weight loss than a placebo, over a period of 2 to 12 weeks (3, 7, 8, 9, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).

That said, several studies have found no benefit from losing weight (9, 11, 16).

For example, the largest study — involving 135 people — found no difference in weight loss between those taking garcinia cambogia and the placebo group (9).

As you can see, the evidence is mixed. Garcinia cambogia supplements may cause modest weight loss in some people, but their effectiveness cannot be guaranteed.

Summary

Some studies have determined that garcinia cambogia causes modest weight loss, while other studies report no noticeable effects.

Garcinia cambogia is thought to help with weight loss in two main ways.

1. May Curb Your Appetite

Studies in rats show that those given garcinia cambogia supplements tend to eat less (17, 18).

Similarly, some human studies have shown that garcinia cambogia suppresses your appetite and makes you feel full (5, 13, 14, 19, 20).

Its mechanism is not fully known, but studies in rats suggest that the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia may increase serotonin in the brain (5, 21).

Since serotonin is a known appetite suppressant, higher blood levels of serotonin may reduce your appetite (22).

However, these results should be taken with a grain of salt. Other studies have found no difference in appetite between those taking this supplement and those taking a placebo (ten, 11, 12, 23).

These effects may depend on each individual.

2. May Block Fat Production and Reduce Belly Fat

More importantly, garcinia cambogia impacts blood fats and the production of new fatty acids.

Human and animal studies show that it can reduce high levels of fat in your blood and reduce oxidative stress in your body (24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

One study also suggests that it may be particularly effective in reducing abdominal fat accumulation in overweight people (8).

In one study, moderately obese people took 2,800 mg of garcinia cambogia daily for eight weeks and significantly improved several disease risk factors (14):

  • Total cholesterol level: 6.3% less
  • “Bad” LDL cholesterol levels: 12.3% less
  • “Good” HDL cholesterol level: 10.7% higher
  • Blood triglycerides: 8.6% less
  • Fat metabolites: 125-258% more excreted in urine

The main reason for these effects may be that garcinia cambogia inhibits an enzyme called citrate lyase, which plays an important role in fat production (2, 29, 30, 31, 32).

By inhibiting citrate lyase, garcinia cambogia is believed to slow or block fat production in your body. It can lower blood fats and lower your risk of weight gain — two major risk factors for disease (33).

Summary

Garcinia cambogia can suppress appetite. It also blocks the production of new fats in your body and has been shown to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides in overweight people.

Animal and test-tube studies suggest that garcinia cambogia may also have antidiabetic effects, including (2, 14, 34):

  • Decreased insulin levels
  • Decreased leptin levels
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve blood sugar control
  • Increased insulin sensitivity

Additionally, garcinia cambogia could boost your digestive system. Animal studies suggest that it helps protect against stomach ulcers and reduces damage to the lining of your digestive tract (35, 36).

However, these effects need to be studied further before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

Summary

Garcinia cambogia may have anti-diabetic effects. It may also help protect against stomach ulcers and digestive tract damage.

Most studies conclude that garcinia cambogia is safe for healthy people at recommended doses of up to 2,800 mg of HCA per day (37, 38, 39, 40).

That said, supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

This means that there is no guarantee that the actual HCA content in your supplements will match the HCA content on the label.

Therefore, be sure to buy from a reputable manufacturer.

People have also reported some side effects from using garcinia cambogia. The most common are (3, 9):

However, some studies have indicated more serious side effects.

Animal studies show that consuming garcinia cambogia well above the maximum recommended dose can cause testicular atrophy or testicular shrinkage. Studies in rats show that it may also affect sperm production (38, 41, 42).

There is a report of a woman who developed serotonin toxicity as a result of taking garcinia cambogia along with her antidepressant medications (43).

Additionally, several case studies suggest that garcinia cambogia supplements may cause liver damage or even liver failure in some individuals (44).

If you have a medical condition or are taking medication, consult your doctor before taking this supplement.

Summary

Some people experience digestive symptoms, headaches, and rashes when taking garcinia cambogia. Animal studies suggest that a very high intake can lead to toxicity.

Many health food stores and pharmacies carry several varieties of garcinia cambogia. You can also buy garcinia cambogia supplements in line.

Choose one from a reputable manufacturer that contains 50-60% HCA.

Recommended dosages may vary from brand to brand. Generally, it is recommended to take 500 mg, three times a day, 30 to 60 minutes before meals.

It is always best to follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Studies have only tested these supplements for 12 weeks at a time. Therefore, it may be a good idea to take a few weeks off every three months or so.

Summary

Look for a supplement that contains 50-60% HCA and is made by a reputable manufacturer. Follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Garcinia cambogia is a fruit-derived supplement taken to boost weight loss, although studies disagree on its effectiveness.

Some research shows that it may result in slightly greater weight loss than no supplement. This effect is not confirmed but promising.

The positive effects of garcinia cambogia on blood fats may be its greatest benefit.

That said, if you really want to lose weight, you may have better luck by changing your diet and lifestyle.