It’s no surprise that millions are looking for an easy answer to weight loss. The truth is, the average American’s risk for obesity is growing.
Today’s market is full of “miracle drugs” and supplements that claim to help you drop pounds fast. Dr. Oz and others like him have showered praise on extracts of the controversial garcinia cambogia fruit.
The extract sounds promising, but does it even work, and is it safe for you?
What Is It?
What do you need to know about garcinia cambogia?
Let’s start with the basics: garcinia cambogia is a citrus fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. An extract from the fruit rind, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), has historically been used for cooking, but it’s also been used for weight loss and to lower cholesterol.
Garcinia cambogia is available online or at most health and supplement stores, in pill or powder form. Sometimes, it’s also included as an ingredient in snack bars. Typical doses are between 250 and 1,000 mg each day.
Advocates say that HCA, an organic acid, works by making you feel full, reducing your appetite, and affecting metabolism. Even better, they claim it may also help to improve high cholesterol.
As it turns out, though, scientific research on garcinia cambogia effectiveness is unclear at best.
Let’s take a look at the research:
One older study found that garcinia cambogia was not much more effective for weight loss than a placebo (fake pill). More recent reviews, meanwhile, have found that there isn’t enough evidence to show that HCA is safe and effective for long-term use.
Simply put, there is little evidence to support garcinia cambogia as an effective method for reducing weight.
Now, you may be asking yourself, is there any downside to using this product? Well, as it turns out, there are side effects you should be aware of.
There are two things that every consumer has to remember about dietary supplements when considering safety:
- They aren’t studied or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they go on the market.
- They can claim to support normal body functions as long as there is a disclaimer that the FDA hasn’t evaluated the statements.
It’s true! This is why doing research on new supplements and medications you’re putting in your body is so important.
Luckily, reported side effects for garcinia cambogia are mild. They could include:
- Dry mouth,
- Upset stomach
However, the supplement may react with other medications. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if it’s safe to use HCA with your medication.
The hard truth is this: there is no “magic bullet” for weight loss. Dr. Oz has come under fire for promoting “miracle” weight loss products on his show.
What’s more, his claims have gotten him into trouble with the U.S. Senate Committee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security. This should be a red flag for any consumer!
Before you add a dietary supplement to your weight-loss plan, discuss it with your doctor. They can tell you if the product may be harmful or may be worth a try.
The FDA recommends using caution with products that claim to be quick fixes, promise fast weight loss, and use the term natural.
Don’t forget, “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean safe. There are many poisonous plants that are natural, but that can cause you serious harm. And according to the FDA, any product — natural or man-made — that’s strong enough to work like a drug is capable of producing side effects.
When it comes down to it, behavior change, diet, and exercise are the only tried-and-true methods for losing weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who limit weight loss to just one or two pounds per week are more likely to keep it off.
The key to weight loss is simple: in order to lose weight you must take in fewer calories than you burn. Of course, this is easier said than done. The CDC recommends that you reduce your calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 per day and get 60 to 90 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.