Garcinia Cambogia is one of the most popular supplements on the market. It is marketed as a fat burner and an appetite suppressant.
So how effective is Garcinia as a fat burner?
Garcinia is believed to reduce the production of new fat by interfering with the process by which fat is created from non-fat sources (de novo lipogenesis).
So technically speaking, Garcinia isn’t a “fat burner” as it doesn’t increase fat oxidation, it simply reduces the creation of new fatty acids from non-fat dietary sources (such as carbohydrate and protein).
But the real question is – does Garcinia actually work?
In 2001 and 2004, Leonhardt et al. conducted two studies which showed that subjects supplementing with Garcinia decreased fat production (via de novo lipogenesis), improved glucose tolerance and lost more weight as compared to the non-supplement group.
However, there was one key limitation in these studies – the subjects were rats.
For us, these studies hold little value as de novo lipogenesis occurs in rats to a much larger degree as compared to humans.
What about studies done on humans?
In 2000, Mattes et al. showed that there was no appetite suppressing effects of 2.4 g of Garcinia per day.
In 1998, Heymsfield et al. tested the effectiveness of Garcinia by performing a 12 week RCT (randomized controlled trial) on 135 overweight men and women. They concluded – “Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.”
Interestingly, the placebo group in this study actually lost more weight (4.1 kg) than the Garcinia group (3.2 kg) but the results were not statistically significant.
Similarly, in 2011, Kim et al. performed a study on 86 overweight adults which reported the following, “Ten weeks of Garcinia Cambogia supplementation did not promote weight-loss or lower total cholesterol in overweight individuals”
Also in 2011, Onakpoya et al. authored the following paper: “The Use of Garcinia Extract (Hydroxycitric Acid) as a Weight loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials”
They concluded – “The evidence from RCTs suggests that Garcinia extracts/HCA generate weight loss on the short term. However, the magnitude of this effect is small, is no longer statistically significant when only rigorous RCTs are considered, and its clinical relevance seems questionable.”
The evidence thus far doesn’t support Garcinia’s many promises. At best, Garcinia may give you a slight edge but its effect on your wallet will be far more profound.