Quick Change - Better Nutrition

Quick Change

Garcinia cambogia: The fast fat buster

Which dietary supplement can help you lose weight fast? According to Dr. Oz, it's Garcinia cambogia. Why? Because it prevents much of the sugar and carbohydrates that you eat from being converted into fat. It offers other benefits, as well, including appetite reduction and cholesterol and blood sugar support-all without jitters or other side effects.


Garcinia cambogia is a type of tamarind fruit used in Indian cuisine to add a sweet-and-sour flavor to chutneys and curries. Historically, it's also known to suppress appetite, and when foods are flavored with the fruit, they become more satisfying. But to benefit, you don't have to become a whiz at preparing Indian dishes.

How It Works

Scientists began analyzing garcinia more than 40 years ago and quickly identified its active ingredient: hydroxycitric acid, or HCA. Both animal and human studies have demonstrated unique ways in which HCA promotes loss of body fat.

When we eat sugars and carbohydrates, an enzyme known as citrate lyase helps to break down those foods and turn them into fats. Some of these are stored as body fat, and others make up cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood-both of which may be harmful when elevated. HCA reduces levels of this enzyme, blocking the process of fat production.

Instead of being stored as fat, sugars and carbs are converted into glycogen, a fuel that's stored in the liver and muscles and burned to generate energy. And because the body is producing less fat, it releases existing fat stores to be used as fuel.

The process of raising glycogen levels may also reduce appetite because it signals your body that your fuel tank is full. In addition, HCA has been shown to raise levels of serotonin, the "feel good" neurotransmitter.

Study Results

HCA has been used safely in supplements for 15 years. In the United States, the leading HCA researcher is Harry Preuss, MD, of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, a pioneer in nutrition research and author of The Natural Fat-Loss Pharmacy. His studies, published in the Journal of Medicine and other scientific periodicals, tested a proprietary form of HCA: Super Citrimax, in which HCA is combined with calcium and potassium to enhance absorption. In other types of supplements, HCA is combined only with calcium.

The people in Preuss studies were healthy but overweight. For eight weeks, they ate 2,000 calories daily and walked 30 minutes a day, five days per week. Compared to subjects taking a placebo, these were some of the results:

Super Citrimax


Weight lost

12 lbs

3 lbs

Increase in “good” HDL cholesterol



Decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol


No change

Decrease in triglycerides



Change in appetite

Ate 4% less food per meal

Ate 2.8% more food
per meal

Increase in serotonin



Other studies have shown that HCA helps reduce blood sugar and blood pressure. And both athletes and sedentary people taking HCA had more energy during exercise, so the supplement may make it easier to stick with a fitness program.

What to Expect from Garcinia cambogia

You may find that you actually drop a clothing size before you begin to see a dramatic change in the numbers on the scale. The reason for this is that fat weighs less than muscle and other lean tissue-and HCA promotes the loss of fat.

Many people who have tried HCA for weight loss report that their cravings for sugary and/or starchy foods decrease, while their energy levels (not the jittery kind that you get from caffeine or other stimulants) increase. They also often feel satisfied with smaller portions than they did before. And if you've already lost some weight, but can't seem to lose any more, HCA can help you overcome a weight-loss plateau.

Fast Facts

How to UseGarcinia cambogia
Take 500-1,000 mg of HCA, three times daily on an empty stomach, 30-60 minutes before each meal. In studies, the higher dose produced more weight loss.

How to Read Labels
The Supplement Facts panel of a product label usually lists the quantity of Garcinia cambogia extract, and a smaller quantity of HCA-and that's the number to use to determine your dose. This is how it works: In some supplements, HCA makes up about 50 percent of the extract, so you would need 1,000-2,000 mg of the extract to get 500-1,000 mg of HCA. In Super Citrimax, a proprietary ingredient used in many supplements, HCA makes up 60 percent of the extract, so you would need less to get the recommended dose. The Preuss studies found that approximately 1,500 mg of Super Citrimax, three times daily, was an effective dose.

HCA is not recommended for women who are pregnant or lactating, or for growing children. Since HCA has lowered elevated blood pressure and blood sugar in some studies, anyone who is taking medication for either of these conditions should be monitored by a health professional, as the dose may need to be reduced.


Diet Chrome-Care is a synergistic blend of hydroxycitric acid (as Super CitriMax), chromium, and other blood sugar-balancing nutrients.

Pure Super CitriMax delivers unadulterated, standardized hydroxyci-tric acid (Super CitriMax) derived from dried Garcinia cambogia fruit.

Nature's Plus
Ultra Sugar Control features CitriMax, chromium, and amino acids to help prevent blood sugar spikes and fight
cravings for sugary, high-carb foods.

Better Nutrition contributing editor, Vera Tweed is the former editor in chief of GreatLife magazine and the author of numerous books, including Hormone Harmony and the User's Guide to Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine.



Red Revolution

Tomayto or tomahto? While the argument may never end, we do know that tomatoes are red, and the reason why-lycopene-holds a key to our health.