A few weeks ago I saw a website advertising garcinia cambogia extract. The website claimed it was a “miracle fat burner.” It also claimed those who used the supplement in a study lost an average of about 20 lb in under a month “without diet or exercise.”
The website seemed to be set up to give you a “free sample” then bill you and start sending you a bottle every month (a favorite tactic of the people that push this kind of product).
I decided to do some quick research. A 2011 study revealed this supplement had a protective effect on the kidneys of rats that were fed a high fat/sugar diet (but the rodents still got fat, so I’m still not sure where fat loss claims are coming from).1
I did find a double-blind, placebo controlled study that was done with human beings. Overweight men and women were divided into two groups. One group was given garcinia cambogia extract supplements, the other a placebo. They ate a low calorie diet for twelve weeks. As expected, all subjects lost weight. But there were no differences between those who took the supplement and the ones who took the placebo. Here’s what I find really interesting: this study was published over 15 years ago (in 1998).2
A study published about nine years ago (2004) compared two groups of subjects who were put on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. Half took garcinia cambogia, the other half a placebo. Both groups lost weight, but the group taking the supplement only lost .2% more weight than the placebo group. Not exactly mind-blowing.3
Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t understand why this supplement is being touted as some miracle fat burner. Heck, I don’t even know why it is being called “new.” This is why you have to be very cautious with any marketing regarding weight loss supplements.
One final reminder: never sign up for a “free trial” that requires your credit card number.
1. Lipids Health Dis. 2011; 10: 6. Published online 2011 January 14. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-10-6 Protective effect of Garcinia against renal oxidative stress and biomarkers induced by high fat and sucrose diet
2. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1596-600. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial.
3. J Med. 2004;35(1-6):33-48. An overview of the safety and efficacy of a novel, natural(-)-hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX) for weight management.