Say hello to garcinia cambogia, a plant indigenous to the southeast of Asia and a proven appetite suppressor and energy producer. Garcinia cambogia has been a popular ingredient in yogurts and soups for several decades in countries like Sri Lanka and India, a fact that excited researchers and proves that this fruit is, so far as we know, not harmful to your health.
One of the premier doctors researching this fruit is Georgetown University’s Dr. Harry Preuss. Preuss started as a hypertension researcher but soon became fascinated with blood sugar and nutrition. In the early 2000s, Georgetown University conducted a study of 90 people in India on the effects of garcinia cambogia on their body weight. The results were astonishing, showing weight loss, decreased BMI and an increase in the body’s ability to burn fat.
The fruit, known as a tamarind, looks like a small green pumpkin and has a sour taste, but its extract holds the secret. It contains a hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which blocks the conversion of carbohydrates into fat and instead forces them to convert directly into energy. Hydroxycitric acid can either be active or inactive. The active form is what brings in the results, but it can easily become inactive if mixed with a fluid to form into a lactone.To prevent this, HCA is converted into a salt—usually calcium, but it can be potassium or magnesium.
So why not just take in a calcium salt? Taking only calcium would require extremely high doses to see minimal results. The best intake would be a supplement with at least 50% HCA in the calcium salt form that includes potassium or magnesium. Dr. Preuss also suggests taking a supplement that includes chromium, a mineral that helps to digest food but, when part of an eating regimen, would help lead to fat loss without muscle loss. Supplements can be beneficial, but Preuss wants to remind users that people want to make money and will sometimes put false products on the market. In general, always double check ingredients and dosages, and talking to a doctor before trying anything is always a good idea.
The study in India tested a brand called Super Citrimax through InterHealth Nutraceuticals, which is 60% HCA and contains both potassium and chromium. While this particular brand cannot be found in our local CVS, it can be ordered online and is reasonably priced (between $10 and $20). A dosage would entail 1.5 grams (two capsules three times a day) of the calcium salt taken on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before eating.
Dr. Preuss stresses that these are aids in weight loss. Your metabolic rate will naturally lower when you suppress your appetite and Preuss suggest a green tea or coffee extract to increase metabolism again so that your body doesn’t plateau. “It’s a program,” he says. “Be reasonable about it. It won’t work in two or three days.”
So garcinia cambogia isn’t exactly the miracle fat burner that we might be waiting for, but it is definitely one of the biggest advancements in weight loss in the past several years. Like most things, it works best when balanced with exercise and healthy eating, but in the words of Dr. Preuss, “If you don’t comply, don’t complain.” And be sure to stick to the correct dosages for the best results.