Garcinia cambogia is a popular “fat burner”, with its extract being found in a wide variety of dietary supplements from weight loss aids to pre-workouts and a variety of other market ‘heavy hitters’. Diet Works provides tablets or capsules that contain this extract in high concentrations, claiming that this product ‘promotes weight loss’, ‘inhibits fat production’ and ‘suppresses carbohydrate cravings’ to assist in the loss of weight and body fat in particular.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the efficacy of using garcinia cambogia as a dietary aid. As this product’s only ingredient is garcinia extract, we will be using this article as something of a position statement on this ingredient and the misconceptions surrounding it in the marketplace – we will provide a full, in-depth discussion of the ingredient and how it is actually a fad. Diet works’ product is also a relatively small concentration of (-)Hydroxycitrate, at around 10% less than we see in “pure” products, especially considering that it is a salt and unlikely to occur in 100% concentrations.
The main component of garcinia cambogia that is meant to be effective is Hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids. The production of new fats is referred to as de novo lipogenesis, which literally means the creation of new fats – it is suggested that the consumption of HCA reduces the production of body fat deposits, as some clinical studies seem to suggest that there exists a mechanism for this, as well as the reduction of cravings and body weight in general .
The reduction of fatty acid synthesis for fat deposits is a problem because body fat deposits are not the result of dietary fats but the conversion of any excessive dietary glucose to lipids in the liver and other tissues. This means that the development of new lipids is performed in such a way that it is intimately tied to storing body fats. The development of ‘white’ adipose tissue, in particular, is associated with decreased health and “stubborn” areas of bodyfat. The reduction of bodyfat damages hormonal health, meaning that it can snowball, with bodyfat increasing the odds of aromatising testosterone and thereby increasing fat retention. Cutting this off would be a large benefit to those who are attempting to improve body composition.
The problem with the original studies on garcinia is that they were all performed on rats and mice, giving the impression that the effects in humans would be considerably greater than they actually are. Rodents are known to have a much greater de novo lipogenesis than humans  – this may explain why the positive effects of garcinia were demonstrated in some rodent studies but not reflected in the studies on humans. A variety of studies have demonstrated that there is either no real effect associated with garcinia or that it is incredibly unreliable and cannot be isolated as the cause of positive effects [3, 4, 5].
This makes us worried about the effects of garcinia since there are only analogue tests in rodents (of which only some demonstrate the effects for which it is marketed), and analogies are only as effective as the similarities between the things they compare. Since humans and rats are physiologically very different in their storage of fat, we can’t use these rat studies to generalize to humans.
The existing research has also shown that the consumption of HCA from garcinia cambogia is incredibly inefficient when consumed orally. Estimates place the bioavailability of HCA at 10-18% when consumed as-is, meaning that a garcinia supplement is 50% content of a chemical that is maximally available at 18%. Even if it possessed the qualities that diet works claims for it, this dosage would be far below the clinical baseline that is considered to be a “supplementary” dose – this means that it is almost certainly the case that Diet Works’ garcinia capsules are ineffective.
Those who claim that Garcinia cambogia has positive effects on body fat also tend to suggest that it has beneficial effects on a variety of health markers. Again, the initial rodent studies suggested some possible effects on hormone health, appetite reduction, blood cholesterols and triglycerides.
Diet Works claims that their garcinia supplement is able to reduce appetite – with specific effect on the cravings associated with carbohydrates. This would be a fairly positive thing for many individuals as carbohydrates tend to contribute the greatest sum of calories to the average individual’s diet, with special concern surrounding refined sugars and their effect on health, metabolism and obesity.
The problem here is that this is simply false: as with many of the claims made of garcinia cambogia, there is no scientific support for this statement, with no studies providing definitive evidence that it actually has any positive effects on appetite . Whilst this did not control for carbohydrate intake, specifically, any significant trends would’ve been highlighted had they presented themselves. Appetite control – and effects on specific cravings or dietary patterns – are often claimed because they are incredibly difficult to quantify reliably and can be suggested without much scientific evidence because they are purely subjective reports.
Another fallacious claim about garcinia to add to our list is positive effects on blood lipids: whilst it is often marketed as a health supplement, garcinia has no effect on reducing “bad” cholesterol, increasing “good” cholesterol or reducing triglycerides. These are referred to as the blood lipids because they are fats that are found in the blood stream – excessive build up of either LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) or triglycerides can result in the development of excessive blood pressure (hypertension) and hyperlipidaemia, both of which are associated with heart health problems. The threat of heart failure, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease are not dampened by consuming garcinia extract.
The final possible mechanism for the claims of Garcinia – to improv metabolism and increase energy – is an improvement in the hormonal profile of customers. The endochrine system, which produces hormones, is intimately linked to both the metabolism and perceptions of energy, as well as the brain chemistry that supports this. Clearly, if garcinia can positively affect hormones, it can drastically change the way that dieting works.
As ever, this is simply false. There were no significant effects on either testosterone or estrogen in a 12-week clinical study, suggesting that there are unlikely to be any effects on the hormonal health of those who are consuming supplementary doses of the extract over prolonged periods of time. This really does suggest that there is very lit to the supplement given the longevity of the study and the likelihood that positive effects, if they existed, would manifest in this timeframe.
The easiest way to acquire diet works’ garcinia cambogia supplement is to get it online through companies like amazon.com, where it is sold at a modest price of around $10-15. This may reflect the fact that it doesn’t work, but it is still a relatively cheap price for any dietary supplement – especially when we consider the exorbitant prices that other ‘dietary aids’ can fetch. Reviews on this product are perfectly matched between 1* and 5* reviews, with 34 of each. This polarising effect is common among supplement reviews – though the science supports a lack of effectiveness.
The product is currently only available through third parties from Amazon, reflecting the general trend that suggests that diet works’ product is not stocked wholesale by any distributors and does not appear to be in production currently. We’re unsure as to why anyone would choose to chase this product down, but there are some difficulties acquiring it in person, as a further obstacle to actually getting any effect from the product!
We aren’t fans of garcinia cambogia – despite customers suggesting that they have seen some positive effects, many reviews suggest a lack of effectiveness and the science is conclusively against the claims made about garcinia cambogia. At the given price point, however, we can understand those who are curious and wish to experiment with the product – we recommend this in general and the antioxidant/phytonutrient profile may have some small benefits for health. However, diet works does not market the pills for health, so we can definitively say that they fail to meet their intended purpose.
This article has repeatedly shown that the effects of garcinia cambogia have been universally over-stated and that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that it assists in weight loss at all. This leaves us with an overall rating of 1/5: the product is not dangerous and may have some incredibly small positive effects on health but – even at only a fistful of dollars – there are better market alternatives. We’d recommend buying vitamin D supplements or cod liver oil, instead!
Amanda is a gym instructor and a diet and nutrition fanatic that has reviewed 100s of supplements for the benefit of consumers. She struggled with obesity 7 years ago and after losing more than 30lbs, dedicates most of her time in helping others achieve similar results and transform their lives.
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