What is it?
Garcinia cambogia might sound like an exotic Italian dish but actually it’s a tropical fruit, native to Indonesia. It is also known by other common names like Garcinia gummi-gutta, brindleberry and kudam puli. This fruit looks like a tiny pumpkin ranging from green to pale yellow in colour. This fruit is also grown in South India and known as Malabar tamarind there. It’s used in food in regions like Assam, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma and other South East Asian countries. Garcinia cambogia contains a compound called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which proponents claim decreases appetite and prevents your body from storing food as fat.
Weight loss and other benefits
Garcinia cambogia is believed to suppress appetite thereby controlling emotional eating, reduce belly fat, and changes body composition by increasing lean muscle mass. It is believed not only to induce weight loss but also improve overall health. Also, it is said to reduce cholesterol levels, LDL, and triglycerides by about 10 to 30 per cent and raise levels of HDL, the good cholesterol.
Does it work?
“We do prescribe it to our clients with a purpose of reducing their appetite and for fat loss. We suggest they take one to two pills of garcinia cambogia extract or a combination of garcinia cambogia and other components (like green tea extract/piperine) with their meal. Yes, few of them have got the desired results,” says Suman Agarwal, nutritionist, fitness consultant and founder of Selfcare.
Dietician and sports nutritionist Niti Desai says, “Garcinia cambogia pills are used in some selected cases, where weight has reached a plateau after considerable weight loss or in patients who need an additional push or motivation that they are being helped. This helps improve their compliance. However, it’s important to emphasise that it is not a magic pill. This will only be an adjunct to lifestyle modification strategies. We do not prescribe these pills to patients who are on antidepressants psychiatric medication.” She has prescribed these pills to many of her clients, especially obese ladies. It is an all round effort of a combination diet, exercise and garcinia cambogia.
Researchers suggest that garcinia cambogia extract helps in appetite suppression and also prevents storage of fat in the body (but still further research is required as some of the claims are contradictory). As per some studies, it is safe to consume these pills for about 12 weeks. It’s long term intake and side effects are unknown, but other side effects could be nausea, headache and gastric issues, opines Agarwal.
Nutritionist Pooja Makhija disagrees with the use of garcinia cambogia pills. “I don’t recommend any kind of weight loss pills because it never works in the true sense. Weight loss has to be a result of lifestyle modification. If losing weight was as easy as popping pills, then who in this world would be fat? Even if the garcinia cambogia pills do improve one’s BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), it will, only till the time one is taking these pills. What happen afterwards? There are so many weight loss pills in the market. Today one type is popular, tomorrow it will be something else,” she reasons out.
Leena Mogre, director of Leena Mogre’s Fitness too, disapproves of the use of these pills saying, “Garcinia cambogia pills act as an appetite suppressant and doesn’t involve lifestyle changes in order to lose weight. Ultimately, how much weight one loses depends on one’s diet and exercise. If you don’t workout, obviously it won’t help. Even if these pills do help weight loss, once you stop taking them, you will come back to your old weight and might even gain more weight.”
Since garcinia cambogia pills can be easily bought online, don’t play doctor by succumbing to the temptation of buying and trying it on your own. “We would not recommend taking these pills over-the-counter or buying online without consulting a family physician or a dietician as they are not regulated by the FDA. The dosage used in different researches is between 500 mg to 1500mg (ideal dose will depend on these factors: person’s age, health issues, exercise pattern and diet),” warns Agarwal.
What is it?