Healthy Lifestyle

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Has nature produced the best weight-loss supplement?

Interest in weight loss supplements has been strong for decades. The search is continually on for foods and capsules that contain magical ingredients that help men and women lose weight. Although many products don't deliver on their promises, the demand for weight-loss supplements continues to grow.

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical fruit native to Indonesia and other areas of Asia. The fruit looks like a small pumpkin and is greenish-yellow in color. Garcinia cambogia is a type of tamarind and is usually used in the preparation of curries. The fruit and rind are used in many traditional recipes as souring agents.

Aside from its use as a food, garcinia cambogia received worldwide attention when it was touted as an effective and natural weight-loss supplement. According to popular doctor and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz and other researchers, the natural extract from garcinia cambogia, called hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, can double or triple one's weight loss when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.

How it works

Garcinia's efficacy is two-fold. It works by helping to block the formation of fat and also works as an appetite suppressant. In fact, garcinia cambogia was traditionally used in meals to make them more filling.

HCA blocks fat by inhibiting an enzyme in the body called citrate lyase, which is needed to make fat from carbohydrates. Sugars or carbohydrates that are not burned immediately for energy are typically stored as fat. However HCA halts this process.

Furthermore, HCA can increase serotonin levels in the body. Low serotonin contributes to anxiety, depression and emotional eating. An increase in serotonin can improve mood and reduce a person's tendency to overeat.

Results of garcinia cambogia

Clinical trials have been conducted on the supplement to test its efficacy with regard to weight loss. As reported by Dr. Oz, one randomized placebo-controlled study followed 60 obese people for 8 weeks. With a calorie-restricted diet of 1200 kcal/day and an HCA dose of 1320 mg/day, the experimental group lost an average of 14 pounds, compared to 6.1 pounds in the placebo group. The participants who took the dose of HCA also reported having a reduced appetite.

Other studies into garcinia cambogia have produced similar evidence but on a smaller scale. Many studies in humans have been conducted on small samples and mainly in the short term. None of them have shown if weight loss effects persist beyond 12 weeks of supplementation. Therefore, experts advise there is still little evidence to support the potential long-term benefits of garcinia cambogia extracts.

Side effects

HCA extract is likely safe in normal amounts, and studies conducted in experimental animals have not reported increased mortality or significant toxicity. No adverse events in humans studied have been detected at normally administered doses of the supplement. Mild nausea or abdominal pain may occur if taken in high amounts.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid garcinia cambogia because its potential impact on a fetus or developing infant is unknown. Those taking insulin for diabetes or a cholesterol-lowering drug also should exercise caution and speak to a doctor before starting HCA supplementation.

Dosage

Choose a garcinia product that is free of fillers and contains at least 50 percent HCA. Between 500 to 1000 mg before meals can be taken, with no more than 3,000 mg total for the day. When supplementing, it is always adviseable to talk with a family practitioner so that he or she is aware of all medications and supplements being taken.

Although there is no magic fix for weight loss, using garcinia cambogia in conjunction with a regular exercise regimen and healthy eating may promote weight loss.