Supplement Saturday - Garcinia Cambogia
What is my opinion on Garcinia Cambogia? Well shucks! I'm flattered you ask. ;) You know I'm no supplement guru, but I have done a bit of research on this particular product and if you've been considering adding it to your daily regimen, read on.
Let me preface my response - on this, the day of our first Supplement Saturday - by saying: I do not believe in diets. Never have, never will. And I also certainly don’t believe in pills or supplements that promise things like weight loss, rapid results, "toning" properties, blah blah whatever.
I am, however, a huge proponent of nutritionist Ann Wigmore's statement, "The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." So supplements should always be used as just that - a SUPPLEMENT to a healthy diet. Not a quick fix or cure for not wanting to eat your veggies.
Let me also say that I have a very no-bullsheeze approach to eating. Real, whole (organic whenever possible) foods will not only help get a person to their weight loss goals and maintain them there, they will create a healthy working internal system which will support an individual's daily activity, workouts, brain function, longevity and general health on the whole. Working with a client on their eating habits is one of the most important (and possibly most sensitive and difficult) parts of what I do as a trainer.
So, all that said, back to our Garcinia Cambogia. What is it?
Well, it’s been on the market for a while but back in 2012, good ol’ Dr. Oz endorsed it on his show saying it was a “magic” weight loss aid and appetite suppressant. So it started gaining quite a bit of popularity. And currently, it’s still being reported that the extract is a proven effective weight loss method. A fat “blocker", “blaster” or “burner”. So assuming for a moment that's true, then HOW??
First of all, many companies, sites, "research panels" swear up and down that this supplement has been proven to work and go on to highly recommend it - providing you do your research on good brands and only buy ones with natural ingredients. Oh, and guess, what! They just so happen to sell said “good brands”! Yeeeeah. Looking at these websites and articles, you see pretty quickly that the authors of these "studies" claiming to be third party watch-groups, or professional journals, etc. are also sponsors of, or suppliers of Garcinia Cambogia. Go figure. So, as a consumer, you pretty much have to call bullhucky on those “studies” on that point alone. Always look at your source.
But let's give them the benefit of the doubt. (No, I don't know why either. We must just be really nice people. Nice people who want answers. So we'll give them a fair trial here...) Back to the “HOW?” Even when some of these sites attempt to explain the process of how this extract is supposed to work within the body - they fail. I was unable to find ONE source that sufficiently explains exactly what chemical process happens in the body to prove its validity as a weight loss tool.
Essentially, the extract is supposed to block the enzymes in your body that store your food as fat. Dr. Oz’s show explains the process by saying the extract puts a “cork” in the body’s ability to store food as fat and instead builds muscle with it. Whhaaaa?? I’m sorry. But that’s just plain crazy. Someone give this guy an eighth grade biology book. It doesn’t work like that, people. You don’t just get to flip some internal switch and say “I decided the crap I’m putting in my body will no longer negatively affect my weight and fat storage capacity - I’m just going to get ripped on donuts instead because I like them.” I like donuts just as much as the next gal, but I’m not silly enough to think that eating them will not make me blow up like Porky Pig as long as I pop a magic pill along with them.
Not only that, but another problem is, we want our body to be able to store fat! Yes really. If we do not have fat cells to burn as energy to use for daily activities, let alone our workouts - our body will start eating precious muscle tissue. So we don't want to consume something that claims to actually stop that process anyway. No bueno.
But wait, what if you’re really overweight and would like some help burning a few extra fat stores? Fair enough. But pay close attention to the intern Dr. Oz has on the show explaining the process during the segment. And read the “fine print”, so to speak, on those “studies” we discussed earlier. Guess what they all say. This product works!!! (ALONG WITH A HEALTHY DIET AND EXERCISE PROGRAM.) See what I did there? I blew it up for you. It’s not a secret here. I’m not down with trickery. They whisper it. I shout it. Healthy eating and fitness training is what gets you...healthy and fit. And you don’t have to spend the extra money adding “magical” supplements to that equation. The equation works on its own.
Back to reality and the science of this supplement, looking at more neutral sites like, Wikipedia, WebMD, LiveScience, you see there have been three major studies done in recent years that show there is NO significant (meaning like, less than a pound or so) difference of weight loss between study participants who took the Garcinia Cambogia versus those who took a placebo. Actually, the most promising thing found in the last 16 years-worth of research seems to be that the supplement causes weight loss in male rats. Sweet! Buuuuut, these rats also experienced testicular atrophy and toxicity from taking the supplement. Oh wait, bummer. One brand was even completely pulled from the market in 1998 for being linked to liver damage.
Long story (not very) short is, there are better things to spend your money on than Garcinia Cambogia (like a new pair of running shoes or week’s worth of fresh produce). Taking it probably won't kill you...but it may toxify your liver. And possibly shrink your rat nuts.
Cassandra Shoneck is a Certified Personal Trainer (NASM), CrossFit L1 Trainer, and CrossFit Kids Coach as well as a health and nutrition NUT! If she's not working out, training clients or creating healthy new recipes in the kitchen, she can be found reading and studying the latest articles and research regarding general fitness, nutrition & food, and how the body processes it all. She can be contacted at Cassandra@LiveSoFit.com.
"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." ~Aristotle