What is Garcinia cambogia?
Garcinia cambogia is a tropical species of the family Garcinia, a group of evergreen plants and shrubs. It produces a yellow fruit that is similar in shape to a pumpkin, but about the size of an orange or grapefruit. The colour can vary considerably from a greeny yellow to an orangey yellow, and it becomes black when dried and stored.
Where Does Garcinia cambogia Come From?
Garcinia cambogia is found in South East Asia, India, and some areas of West and Central Africa. It grows only in forests with a high moisture level, but is quite widely distributed. It is generally used as a flavour enhancer in culinary dishes, to increase sourness or counteract sweet flavours in curry. It is also used in coastal areas to cure fish, making use of its antibacterial properties.
Garcinia cambogia Health Benefits
Garcinia cambogia has traditionally been used to add flavour to savoury dishes and has also been used to enhance satiety after consumption. There has also been evidence to suggest that the fruit was traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal issues. Interestingly the seeds of the garcinia cambogia plant have quite a high iron content, a mineral that is extremely useful for women, but also for trainers who participate in a lot of running due to the phenomenon known as ‘footstrike hemolysis’, whereby constant foot impact can result in loos of red blood cells and therefore iron.
Garcinia cambogia Benefits for Bodybuilding
Most of the benefits for Garcinia has been attributed to its potential as a fat loss ingredient. Garcinia cambogia is often included in weight loss products such as fat burners. This is due to its ability to reduce fat synthesis and storage from non-fatty foods, although many of the studies were performed in rodents, which have different fat storage mechanisms to humans. It does however attenuate the rate of weight gain in general as well as regain after a diet. While the effects aren’t huge, average weight loss from use of Garcinia cambogia is 1.3kg more than placebo – which for some people can be a good push towards achieving further weight loss.
Garcinia cambogia has also been studied to have mild diuretic effects, however this is only when the leaves of the plant are eaten. Hydroxycitric acid, the key active component of garcinia cambogia may also be able to support better glycogen resynthesis when supplemented alongside carbohydrates in a post-training state.
Garcinia cambogia Side Effects, Safety and Negatives
Few studies have been conducted on the safety and side effects of Garcinia cambogia or hydroxycitric acid supplementation. In general there are no side effects or mortality associated with doses of Garcinia cambogia up to 5g/kg of body weight.
Garcinia cambogia Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing
There are no conclusive recommendations on the dosage of Garcinia to support its positive effects. Generally however, most studies have utilised a 500mg dose of Garcinia cambogia to be taken 30 minutes to an hour before eating a main meal, and can be taken at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Garcinia cambogia Supplements
Stacking Garcinia cambogia
Garcinia cambogia would be best stacked with other weight loss products, either with or without a Garcinia cambogia component, to enhance the effects, such as fat loss proteins and even pre-workouts and intra-workouts. You can also easily stack Garcinia with any other supplement really such as regular protein powders or creatine.Márquez F, et al. Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of hydroxycitric acid or Garcinia cambogia extracts in humans. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. (2012)
Telford RD, Sly GJ, Hahn AG, Cunningham RB, Bryant C, Smith JA (January 2003). "Footstrike is the major cause of hemolysis during running". J. Appl. Physiol. 94 (1): 38–42.
Heymsfield SB, et al. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. (1998)
Mathew GE, et al. Diuretic activity of leaves of garcinia cambogia in rats. Indian J Pharm Sci. (2011)
Cheng IS, et al. Oral hydroxycitrate supplementation enhances glycogen synthesis in exercised human skeletal muscle. Br J Nutr. (2012)