Looking for ways to make losing fat easier has been a priority for many people out there — from athletes to regular folks. 

Losing weight is a massive endeavor. It takes a lot of time and consistent effort to get the desired results. Mistakes and being undisciplined cost you a lot and can set you back quite a bit, making the whole thing even more challenging.

There are quite a few substances that can help people lose weight faster, and we’re here to discuss one of them — Garcinia Cambogia.

What kind of plant is Garcinia Cambogia?

This plant comes from the Clusiaceae family and has been used in phytotherapy for a long while now. It contains hydroxycitric acid and provides many benefits to those who consume it. The fruit is the most useful part of this plant, its peel to be exact, and it has a pretty unique look to it. It basically looks like somebody photoshopped an apple and a pumpkin together. 

Why do people believe that it burns fat?

Garcinia Cambogia helps with fat loss in more than a few ways. It increases the oxidation of lipids while also promoting the synthesis of fatty acids. We already mentioned that it reduces sugar cravings while also curbing your appetite. It regulates cholesterol levels which is a great addition to this entire combo.

These effects have been picked up on by the fitness industry, and that’s the reason why you will find bottles of this stuff in the dietary section of most health food stores.

What we want to examine here is if there’s any scientific evidence that the fruit of Garcinia Cambogia can be used as a fat burner. The efficacy of a lot of these types of plants tends to be overblown by the marketing departments of the fitness industry, as people love to hear that something natural can resolve an issue for them. 

Fortunately, there are quite a few studies that focus on the fat-burning capabilities of this plant, and we’re going to go through some of them to try to figure out the legitimacy of the claims made about it. 

How does it achieve this?

The main active ingredient of Garcinia Cambogia is hydroxycitric acid, also known as HCA. Its primary role is to block the citrate lyase enzyme, which our bodies use to create more fat. Another way it impacts fat burning is by raising the levels of serotonin which is one way to avoid the feeling of hunger. 

While research shows that hydroxycitric acid is the main active ingredient here, and we know what it does, we’re still a bit foggy on how exactly Garcinia Cambogia raises our serotonin levels. Still, the serotonin increase is not put into question, and this effect, along with curbing the appetite, may help people persevere through the grueling process of losing weight as a lack of serotonin due to dieting and feeling miserable due to the strain we put on our bodies. It is not uncommon for feelings of depression or anxiety to occur throughout this process which is why the boost serotonin is so valued. 

The plant is also known to improve bowel movement and digestion while also protecting the stomach from ulcers. It is often added as a dietary supplement to the keto diet as, in combination with ketosis, it may provide increased fat loss. 

What does the science say?

Now let’s take a look at a part of the body of work covering the fat-burning capabilities of Garcinia Cambogia to see how much scientific backing these claims have. 

Let’s start with a study by Igho Onakpoya et al. from 2011 that focused on the effect of hydroxycitric acid on weight loss. This was a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials performed up to that point. The study showed that there are some fat-burning capabilities to the acid and the fruit itself. 

A human study from 2015 by Ruchi Badoni Semwal et al. outlined some of the other benefits provided by Garcinia Cambogia. It showed that the plant had effects on reducing inflammation, improving blood sugar, decreasing insulin levels and increasing sensitivity, and regulating leptin levels. 

Now, this study was performed on rats, but the conclusion drawn from it should also apply to humans as well. P Mahendran et al. performed this study, and it showed positive results when it comes to Garcinia Cambogia and its capability of protecting the inner lining of the digestive tract and preventing ulcers from developing. 

A study by C.H. Lu et al. showed through clinical evaluation that the supplement has modest fat-burning effects and controlled blood sugar levels to an extent. This clinical evaluation was performed in 2012, lasted for eight weeks, and included 114 overweight adults. 

Another positive study from Kohsuke Hayamizu et al. included participants between the ages of 10 and 65. The study lasted for 12 weeks, and it was a placebo-controlled trial that showed a noticeable reduction in belly fat

A commonly referenced study is one by Harry G Preuss et al. from 2003, as it shows some great results in detail. The study participants were moderately obese people who were given 2800 mg of the supplement daily, and the data showed the following results. 

  • A 6.3% reduction in total cholesterol;

  • A 12.3% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels;

  • A 10.7% improvement in HDL cholesterol levels;

  • An 8.6% reduction in blood triglycerides;

  • A 258% increase in lipid (fat) metabolites were noticed in urine excretion.

It’s not all positive, though, as there are studies that show there are no fat-burning capabilities to it. 

A study by E M Kovacs et al. from 2001 is one of those studies. After a two-week period of ingesting HCA, subjects showed no signs of increased fat loss or appetite suppression.

We could say that this study was too short for the effects of the supplement to take hold, but there is another study from 1998 that shows the same results. This clinical trial by S B Heymsfield et al. lasted for 12 weeks and included 135 participants, and had a placebo control group. 

As you can see, there is a large body of work on this subject and some conflicting results too. We didn’t even cite all the studies related to this subject, as there are so many. The best conclusion we can draw is that Garcinia Cambogia can help burn fat in some situations, and we’re still unsure when and why it doesn’t help.

Is it safe to consume?

It’s quite normal to be concerned about safety issues when introducing a new supplement into your body. The first thing you need to figure out is the proper dosage. 

According to a review of 17 different studies, the safe upper limit for Garcinia Cambogia ingestion is 2800 mg per day. Still, there was also a situation where a woman aged 57 contracted acute hepatitis due to liver issues after ingesting 2800 mg of Garcinia Cambogia for one month. She had no previous signs of liver issues or complications. This is an extreme case, though, and has not happened prior or since. 

There are some other side effects to this supplement, as with most others, and they include:

  • A 6.3% reduction in total cholesterol;

  • A 12.3% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels;

  • A 10.7% improvement in HDL cholesterol levels;

  • An 8.6% reduction in blood triglycerides;

  • A 258% increase in lipid (fat) metabolites were noticed in urine excretion.

There are several groups that should avoid this supplement, including:

  • A 6.3% reduction in total cholesterol;

  • A 12.3% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels;

  • A 10.7% improvement in HDL cholesterol levels;

  • An 8.6% reduction in blood triglycerides;

  • A 258% increase in lipid (fat) metabolites were noticed in urine excretion.

As you can see, there are a few ifs and maybes around the side effects of Garcinia Cambogia, so we recommend starting at smaller doses, seeing how your body adjusts, and then upping the dose if necessary. 


Garcinia Cambogia is a very difficult plant and supplement to evaluate at the moment. On the one hand, we have plenty of studies that show how effective it is when it comes to weight loss. On the other hand, we have studies that contradict the positive studies and a couple of scares when it comes to safety and side effects. We recommend caution and consulting your doctor on this type of supplementation before you start using it, especially if you are going for the upper limit when it comes to dosage. At the end of the day, we are still not sure how this supplement works, so being careful is a must. 

There are alternatives for fat burning on the market that can help you achieve better weight loss results without potentially endangering your health. Most popular choices include all-natural, clinically tested, and safety-proof ingredients, so we really don’t see any reason why someone should take this option instead. This plant shows some great potential, but we still need some more research to put our minds at ease. 

How Much Garcinia Should I Take A Day?

The regularly recommended dose is 500 mg, three times a day, 30 to 60 minutes before a meal — 1500 mg in total. The safe upper limit has been postulated at 2800 mg, but we wouldn’t recommend doing this as there is a reported case of liver issues.

Is Garcinia Cambogia Safe?

For most people, yes. Still, there are some groups of people that should avoid it, like pregnant women, people using diabetes medicine, people with liver issues, etc. Furthermore, there are side effects like nausea, stomach issues, headaches, and symptoms of the common cold.

About the Author Tim Rockwell

Tim Rockwell is a highly skilled and knowledgeable fitness expert. With a background in exercise science and years of experience in the fitness industry, Tim is passionate about sharing his expertise with others through his writing. He currently contributes articles to Eurasc, where he shares practical tips and strategies for leading a healthy, active lifestyle.

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