Does Garcinia Cambogia Really Work? A Detailed Review

Woman Who is Disappointed on The ScaleDieting sucks.

It tends to lead to cravings… and hunger.

This generally causes people to give up on their diet and gain the weight back.

For this reason, most conventional weight loss methods have a terrible success rate. Very few people succeed in the long run.

This is where a popular weight loss supplement called Garcinia Cambogia extract steps in.

According to many health experts, it can reduce appetite and help you lose weight, pretty much without effort.

Now… I’m a big fan of supplements and self-experimentation.

I’ve personally experimented with a ton of different supplements throughout my life, although only a handful have stuck with me.

Given the raving reviews about Garcinia Cambogia, I got excited and decided to take a closer look at this supplement and the science behind it.

What is Garcinia Cambogia?

Garcinia Cambogia Fruit

Garcinia cambogia is a plant, also known as Garcinia gummi-gutta.

The fruit of the plant looks like a small, green pumpkin and is used in many traditional Asian dishes for its sour flavor.

In the skin of the fruit, there is a large amount of a natural substance called Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA).

This is the active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia extract… that is, the substance that produces the weight loss effects.

Bottom Line: Garcinia Cambogia is a plant often used in Asian recipes. The skin of the fruit contains a substance called Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA), which is the active ingredient.

Does Garcinia Cambogia Actually Work?

Woman Smiling and Holding a Supplement

I managed to find several research studies on Garcinia Cambogia, in both animals and humans.

According to some studies in rats, it can inhibit a fat producing enzyme called Citrate Lyase, making it more difficult for the body to produce fat out of carbohydrates (1).

Other rat studies show increased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This could theoretically lead to reduced appetite and cravings (2).

There are actually a whole bunch of studies in rats showing that Garcinia Cambogia consistently leads to significant weight loss (3, 4, 5, 6).

However, what works in rats doesn’t always work in humans.

Bottom Line: Studies in rats show that the active ingredient in Garcinia Cambogia can inhibit a fat producing enzyme called Citrate Lyase and increase serotonin levels, leading to significant weight loss.

A Look at Some Human Studies

Fortunately, I also found several human studies on Garcinia Cambogia.

All of these studies are so-called randomized controlled trials, which are the gold standard of scientific experiments in humans.

The biggest of the studies included 135 overweight individuals, which were split into two groups (7):

  • Treatment group: 1 gram of Garcinia Cambogia Extract, 3 times per day, taken 30 minutes before meals.
  • Placebo group: The other group took dummy pills (placebo).

Both groups also went on a high-fiber, low calorie diet.

These were the results of the 12 week study, which was published in The Journal of The American Medical Association (a highly respected scientific journal):

Heymsfield,  et al. 1998

As you can see, both groups lost weight.

But the group taking Garcinia Cambogia extract actually lost less weight (3.2 kg – 7 pounds) than the placebo group (4.1 kg – 9 pounds).

The researchers also looked at body fat percentage. The placebo group lost 2.16%, while the group taking Garcinia Cambogia lost only 1.6%.

However, the difference was not statistically significant, meaning that the results could have been due to chance.

More Studies

In another study with 89 overweight females, Garcinia Cambogia did lead to 1.3 kg (2.8 pounds) more weight loss compared to placebo, over a period of 12 weeks. They found no difference in appetite between groups (8).

Overall, I looked at 4 more studies. Two of them showed weight loss of a few pounds over a period of 8 weeks (9, 10), but the other two showed no effect (11, 12).

So… unfortunately, the weight loss effects appear to be both weak and inconsistent.

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 (13).

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 agree. It may cause a mild effect in some people, but overall the effects are small and unlikely to make a major difference

Bottom Line: There have been many studies conducted on Garcinia Cambogia in overweight individuals. Some of them show a small amount of weight loss, while other studies show no effect.

Garcinia Cambogia Appears to be Very Safe

Bottle With Blue Pills

It is important to keep in mind that these studies usually only report averages.

It is possible that some individuals can in fact lose weight with this supplement, although it doesn’t seem to work very well on average.

At least, Garcinia Cambogia appears to be safe. There are no serious side effects, only some reports of mild digestive issues (14).

It is best to get a brand with at least 50% Hydroxycitric acid. The most common dosage is 500 mg, 3 times per day, half an hour before meals.

If you want to buy garcinia cambogia despite the poor results in the studies, then there is a great selection of brands with thousands of customer reviews on Amazon.

If Garcinia Cambogia Doesn’t Work, Then What Does?

I’ve been experimenting with and researching supplements for years, but I have yet to find a weight loss supplement that actually works.

There are a few that appear to be mildly effective. This includes Caffeine, Green Tea and Glucomannan (a fiber that can reduce appetite). However, the results are usually weak and inconsistent and certainly nothing to get excited about.

At the end of the day, the only thing that is really proven to help you lose weight is changing your diet. Exercise can help too, but what you eat is by far the most important.

For a proven way to lose weight without hunger, check out this article.

Take Home Message

One day, science might discover a supplement or a drug that actually works for weight loss… and I hope we do, believe me.

But it is clear from the studies that Garcinia Cambogia isn’t it. Period.