What Exactly… Is Garcinia Cambogia And Does It Work?


Women's Health |

By Lindsay du Plessis

They say it’s the best thing in weight loss since the low-carb diet craze.

In October 2012, Dr Mehmet Oz bounced onto the stage of his popular The Dr Oz Show proclaiming that he’d found the “holy grail” of weight-loss pills. On the screen behind him, the magic words: “NO DIET, NO EXERCISE.” Fast-forward to June 2014 and Oz was hauled before a US Senate hearing on consumer protection to defend accusations of being, essentially, a ‘snake oil’ salesman.

But, by then, weight-watching women from California to Cape Town were clamouring for a dose.

What Is It?

A fruit extract. Kind of.

Garcinia cambogia is taken from the rind of the Malabar tamarind or brindleberry – a fruit native to Asia and West Africa. It contains a chemical called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which slows the absorption of fat and suppresses your appetite. It also elevates serotonin (a feel-good chemical in the brain) so you feel fuller for longer and sleep better. But, as for slimming, even Dr Oz, when pushed, admitted that, “there’s no pill that’s going to help you lose weight long term and live your best life without diet and exercise.” Gareth Powell of USN says: “Weight control is a balanced lifestyle which includes good food, exercise, sleep, recovery, stress management and the use of select supplementation, should there be a need.”

READ MORE: 7 Fat-Melting Supplements You Need To Include In Your Diet

What The Science Says

So far, research has been inconclusive, but there have been some observable benefits, according to Paul Nunes of Cipla Nutrition, who says: “Thermogenictype fat-burners will get the majority of folks off to a good start. It will speed up the weight-loss process, enhance energy and complement a healthy lifestyle.” Deon Lewis, MD of Cipla Nutrition, agrees, but also warns of the opposite effect: “Some people think that the supplement is a miracle product that does the work for you, thus easing up on their exercise and diet routine.” Indeed, thermogenic products burn fat by increasing your core temperature – but they’re meant to be a booster, not an excuse to veg on the couch.

READ MORE: 5 Things You Should NEVER Do When Starting A New Diet

Should You Try It?

Neither Nunes nor Powell have had reports of negative effects when the supplement is used as directed by healthy customers. “When used by healthy individuals according to label directions, we haven’t had any negative feedback,” says Nunes. And Powell says of USN’s research: no significant detrimental effects have been reported within healthy populations. However, it is a herbal extract, so there will always be an allergen risk among those who are sensitive.

Our advice: if you want to give it a whirl, it won’t hurt, but make sure you buy it from a reputable source and remember that a pill alone can’t replace good diet and exercise.

Looking for more info on diet supplements? Here’s one weight-loss trend you should avoid. 

READ MORE ON: Diet Advice Health Health Advice Weight Loss Weight Loss Tips