Does Garcinia Cambogia Help with Weight Loss?

What's the evidence to support the claims behind this popular weight loss supplement?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
August 28, 2013
Episode #249

Page 2 of 2

Researchers concluded that, when taken along with a reduced calorie diet, HCA does seem to enhance weight loss compared to a placebo. However, the impact was slight, amounting to about two pounds. There also isn't much evidence to suggest that the benefits are lasting. 

These disappointing findings don't seem to have put much of a dent in garcinia sales. Why not? Well, that's one big difference between the research lab and the consumer marketplace. Scientists are always looking for a reason to disbelieve a hypothesis. Consumers, on the other hand, are always looking for a reason to believe--especially when it comes to weight loss miracles.

Does Garcinia Suppress Appetite?

As I said earlier, my friend Carly has the impression that garcinia takes the edge off her appetite, so I was curious to see whether any of the studies had looked at this claim. Five of the studies reviewed for the meta-analysis did collect data on hunger and appetite. Two reported an appetite-reducing effect. Three other studies, however, found no effect compared with placebo. 

So, is my friend Carly wasting her money on this supplement? That's hard to say. In terms of statistical probability, it doesn't appear to offer much benefit. But statistics don't always predict an individual's experience. After all, at least a few of the subjects in a few of these trials reported positive effects from garcinia. Carly admits that the benefits she perceives might be purely psychological, but that she'd still consider that money well spent. 

More importantly, Carly doesn't expect garcinia to do all the work for her. She exercises almost every day, doesn't keep sweets or snacks in the house, and is very disciplined about her eating habits. 

Are There Safety Concerns with Garcina?

The meta-analysis also looked at the adverse effects reported in all the studies. Most of the time, complaints such as gastro-intestinal symptoms or headaches were reported just as often with placebo as they were with the garcinia and everyone's blood work looked fine. Based on that, it would appear that short-term use is fairly safe. However, there have been some reports of liver toxicity associated with long-term use of HCA. Based on that, I would advise against taking garcinia every day for more than a couple of months. And if you decide to experiment, be sure not to exceed the recommended dosage.

Also, be realistic about your expectations. There's no such thing as will-power-in-a-pill or a supplement that will let you eat all you want and still lose weight. Weight managment takes patience, diligence, and restraint. At best, weight loss supplements might offer a slight edge to those who are already doing the hard part.  

Diet Pill image courtesy of Shutterstock


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