Garcinia Cambogia (HCA)
What Is Garcina Cambogia Extract?
Garcinia cambogia is a small, pumpkin-shaped fruit, sometimes called tamarind. Though native to Indonesia, it is also grown in India, Southeast Asia, and West and Central Africa. It has long been used in traditional South Asian dishes, including curries and chutneys. Many also use the fruit for curing fish and preservation.
Adding this ingredient to meals is considered to be effective in making meals more “filling.” In some villages in Malaysia, garcinia is used to make a soup that is eaten before meals for weight loss because of garcinia’s appetite-blocking abilities.
This plant offers one of the least expensive herbal supplements on the market. The ingredient from the rind of the fruit could hasten your weight-loss efforts. The natural extract is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), and researchers claim that HCA can double or triple one’s weight loss.
With proper weight-loss efforts (dieting and exercising), the average person taking HCA lost an average of four pounds a month.
Garcinia may also be great for emotional eaters. Those who participated in the study showed an increase in their serotonin levels; hence, it may also improve mood and sleeping patterns.
How Does Garcina Cambogia Work?
The HCA extract from garcinia cambogia supplement aids in weight loss by doing two things: It helps to block fat, and it suppresses your appetite.
HCA blocks fat by inhibiting a key enzyme that your body needs to make fat from carbohydrates: Citrate lyase. Usually carbohydrates or sugars that are not used immediately or stored in other forms are converted into fats. When HCA inhibits citrate lyase, the fat-making process is halted and the production of LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides decrease.
HCA also suppresses appetite by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good. It’s a target of many antidepressant medications. Having low levels of serotonin may make you feel depressed or anxious; it drives many people into emotional or reactive eating. By increasing serotonin levels, HCA improves mood and suppresses the drive to react to stressful situations with food. As you eat less, your body senses this and it releases stored fat in your fat cells.
Many studies have shown promise. One randomized placebo-controlled study followed 60 obese persons for 8 weeks. With a calorie-restricted diet (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 also noted reduced appetite.
Is It Safe?
The plant and its fruit have been eaten safely for years. The HCA extract is also likely safe in normal amounts.
However, don’t take this supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are taking a diabetic medication (like insulin or glyburide), talk to a doctor before taking this to make sure this is right for you, otherwise this supplement may allow your blood sugar to fall even lower than normal.
Those taking a statin (a cholesterol-lowering drug) should use this supplement with caution because it can increase the risk of harmful side effects, like rhabdomyolysis or muscle degradation. Those with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia shouldn’t take HCA because of the risk of worsening dementia.
How Much Should I Take?
You can buy garcinia cambogia extract in health food stores or online. When looking for a supplement, look for “garcinia cambogia” or “GCE” with at least 50% HCA (active ingredient potassium). Some experts believe that the newly available HCA potassium salts are more effective than the other HCA formulations.
Take 500-1000 mg before each meal, and make sure to take no more than 3000 mg total per day.
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