The “Miracle” Weight Loss Supplement – Garcinia Cambogia

I believe in miracles, but this isn’t one of them.

raspberry ketonesDr. Oz has promoted a series of weight loss supplements on his show. Raspberry ketones were reported as a fat-busting miracle. Green coffee bean extract was said to be “magic,” “staggering,” and “unprecedented.” And now both of “those miracles” have apparently been superseded by an even greater miracle: Garcinia Cambogia extract.

Dr. Oz calls it “The newest, fastest fat buster.” A way to lose weight without “spending every waking moment exercising and dieting.” “Triples your weight loss.” “The most exciting breakthrough in natural weight loss to date.” “The Holy Grail.” Oz claims that “Revolutionary new research says it could be the magic ingredient that lets you lose weight without diet or exercise.” That sounds too good to be true, and it is. Garcinia probably does work to some extent to improve weight loss, but the evidence doesn’t begin to justify such grandiose claims.

I like Dr. Oz, I really do, but I’m less than impressed with some of his recommendations. Fortunately they are safe, but do these natural weight loss remedies really work?

(GCE) comes from a tropical fruit grown in India and Southeast Asia. The active ingredient has been identified: hydroxycitric acid (HCA). It is said to block fat and suppress the appetite. It inhibits a key enzyme, citrate lyase, that the body needs to make fat from carbohydrates. It suppresses appetite by increasing serotonin levels; low serotonin levels are associated with depression and emotional or reactive eating.

It remains unclear whether HCA offers any weight-loss benefits.

1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: After a 12-week randomized, double-blind study of overweight men and women, researchers concluded that garcinia cambogia did not produce significant weight or fat loss above the placebo.

Lose Weight, Feel Great!2013 review in the journal Complementary Theories in Medicine: Researchers evaluated clinical trials that used plant extracts as potential treatment for obesity, and found that the evidence was not convincing in most cases. One exception was a combination of garcinia cambogia taken with another herb called gymnema sylvestre, which showed a slight increase in weight loss results. It’s a glimmer of hope, but surely, more research needs to be done on the subject.

In an 8-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 60 overweight individuals, use of HCA at a dose of 440 mg 3 times daily produced significant weight loss as compared to placebo. (1)

In contrast, a 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 135 overweight individuals, who were given either placebo or 500 mg of HCA (as Garcinia cambogia extract standardized to contain 50% HCA) 3 times daily, found no effect on body weight or fat mass. (2)

However, this study has been criticized for using a high-fiber diet, which is thought to impair HCA absorption. (3)

A 12-week double-blind trial of 89 individuals found that HCA had no effect on appetite. 18 Another study tested HCA to see if it could cause weight loss by altering metabolism, but no effects on metabolism were found. (4)

A review published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011 that looked at 12 clinical trials found that Garcinia Cambogia can increase weight loss by about 0.88 kg, or 2 pounds, on average, over a period of several weeks. (%)

Their conclusion sums it up quite nicely:

“…Garcinia extracts/HCA can cause short-term weight loss. The magnitude of the effect is small, and the clinical relevance is uncertain.”

I’m all for using natural approaches, including supplements to promote better health. However, there is often more hype than substance to most weight loss supplements. Garcinia appears to be another fly by night fad supplement taking advantage of the publicity given it by Dr. Oz.

What Does Work

Reducing caloric intake, eliminating high glycemic simple carbohydrates, and increased exercise works. The problem for most is that this approach is slow and may take several months to yield the results wanted. However it costs nothing except willpower and discipline.

For the last three years I’ve helped hundreds of my patients successfully lose weight, 20, 30, 40, even 100 pounds and more and KEEP IT OFF. Patients working with me, using my Jump Start Weight Loss Diet, usually lose a half a pound a day eating a healthy anti-inflammatory list of foods. They report less pain, more energy, and better sleep.

You can learn more about my weight loss program, HERE.

1. Thom E. Hydroxycitrate (HCA) in the treatment of obesity [abstract]. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996;20(suppl 4):75.

2. Heymsfield SB, Allison DB, Vasselli JR, et al. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1998;280:1596-1600.

3. Badmaev V, Majeed M, Conte AA, et al. Garcinia cambogia for weight loss [letter]. JAMA. 1999;282:233-234.

4. Mattes RD, Bormann L. Effects of (-)-hydroxycitric acid on appetitive variables. Physiol Behav . 2000;71:87-94.

5. Journal of Obesity

Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 509038, 9 pages

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