Garcinia Cambogia & Apple Cider Vinegar Diet for Weight Loss?
If you want to shed some extra pounds, one of the many diets you may have stumbled across is the garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar diet.
This diet was popularized when Dr. Oz in 2012 referred to garcinia cambogia as “an exciting breakthrough in natural weight loss.”
As to apple cider vinegar, it has been all the rage for years now among health nuts the world over.
Does taking garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar together promote weight loss?
In this article, we will take a look at the evidence and make recommendations based on our findings.
Let’s start out by introducing both garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar in more detail.
What is the Garcinia Cambogia?
There is a good chance you are already at least somewhat familiar with apple cider vinegar.
But you may be less well-acquainted with garcinia cambogia—at least if you live in the western world.
Garcinia cambogia is a fruit which comes from Indonesia.
It is also known by a few other names.
Some of these include Garcinia gummi-gutta, brindleberry, kudam puli (pot tamarind) and Malabar tamarind.
If you were to see a garcinia cambogia fruit growing in the wild, you would notice it bears a resemblance to a pumpkin. It may be green or yellow.
As already mentioned, garcinia cambogia fruit is a rarity in western supermarkets.
In Southeast Asia however, the rind is a popular cooking ingredient, especially for fish curries.
Outside of Southeast Asia, you will more commonly encounter it in supplement form.
The extract from the fruit is used to make capsules.
You take these capsules if you want to experience garcinia cambogia’s purported health benefits.
KEY POINT: Garcinia cambogia is a fruit which is used frequently in Southeast Asian cooking. In the west, the fruit itself is uncommon, but its extract in capsule form is marketed as a weight loss supplement.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)?
Now let’s introduce apple cider vinegar, often known simply by the abbreviation “ACV.”
Apple cider vinegar is popular around the globe. If you walk into your local supermarket right now, you can almost certainly find it with the other vinegars.
ACV is made using apple or cider must.
It can be filtered or unfiltered. The filtered version of ACV is clear, while the unfiltered version has a cloudy appearance.
The unfiltered variety of apple cider vinegar contains the “mother” of vinegar.
The “mother” consists of proteins, bacteria and enzymes.
It is possible that some of ACV’s health benefits may come directly from the mother, but research has yet to prove this.
Unfiltered ACV also has a bit of a different flavor than filtered ACV.
Having tried both types of apple cider vinegar, I have found I prefer the unfiltered type.
To me, the flavor seems a bit milder, and the vinegar has less of an acidic bite.
I am not sure whether this is really the case or just my subjective perception, but it has been enough to sway me toward purchasing it over the filtered variety.
Hopefully the “mother” really does provide some extra health benefits as well.
Want to learn more about apple cider vinegar? See my article, “37 Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits and Uses.”
KEY POINT: Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made from cider or apple must, and can be filtered or unfiltered.
While many people believe that unfiltered ACV is the healthiest option, more research is needed to confirm this.
What is the Garcinia Cambogia and Apple Cider Vinegar Diet?
The garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar diet is what it sounds like.
It is simply a diet where you supplement each day with a combination of garcinia cambogia and ACV.
The idea is that garcinia cambogia can (supposedly) help you lose weight, and so can ACV.
So in theory, doubling up on them by taking both at the same time should enhance this fat-burning effect.
To find out whether this is truly the case or not, we will take a look at the research into weight loss effects for both components of the diet.
KEY POINT: The garcinia cambogia and ACV diet involves taking both supplements for weight loss each day.
Does it work? We will examine the evidence below.
Garcinia Cambogia for Weight Loss: Let’s Look at the Evidence
We will begin by taking a closer look at garcinia cambogia.
The hype surrounding this fruit extract comes from a 2012 episode of Dr. Oz’s TV show where he interviewed a Doctor Julie Chen.
Describing garcinia cambogia, Dr. Oz stated, “Thanks to brand new scientific research, I can tell you about a revolutionary fat buster.”
He promoted the supplement with the phrase, “No Exercise. No Diet. No Effort” (1).
Dr. Julie Chen stated on the show that garcinia cambogia has,
“actually been seen in studies to help increase weight loss by 2-3 times, what people would naturally lose with just diet and exercise alone”.
The theory behind garcinia cambogia’s effectiveness is twofold.
Dr. Chen described it this way:
“It suppresses appetite and it helps to prevent fat from being made in the body. It moves it towards glycogen which is actually an energy source for the muscles to burn when you exercise”.
Great - two doctors have told us that garcinia cambogia works.
But should we believe them?
Considering that Dr. Oz was subject to a congressional hearing due to making these types of claims about health products, it is prudent for us to research and think for ourselves.
Here is the research which I was able to find on garcinia cambogia.
This study (3) in 2007 on 50 obese women in Thailand found that a group given water soluble calcium hydroxycitrate (HCA) as Garcinia atroviridis “lost significantly more weight and at a greater rate” than a control group.
The researchers add
“The decrease in their body weight was due to a loss of fat storage as evidenced by a significant decrease in the triceps skin fold thickness. On a short-term basis, HCA in Garcinia atroviridis was an effective for weight management.”
In a 2003 study (7) on 39 subjects (18 of which were in the experimental group, 21 of which were in the control group),
“the G cambogia group had significantly reduced visceral, subcutaneous, and total fat areas compared with the placebo group (all indices P<0.001). No severe adverse effect was observed at any time in the test period … G cambogia reduced abdominal fat accumulation in subjects, regardless of sex, who had the visceral fat accumulation type of obesity.”
In an animal study (4), it was found that HCA-containing garcinia cambogia
“showed significant suppression of epididymal fat accumulation in developing male Zucker obese rats.”
Unfortunately, those given a dosage of 102 mmol HCA/kg or more experienced “potent testicular atrophy and toxicity.”
The rats which consumed 51 mmol HCA/kg or less did not experience these adverse reactions.
Here is a review (8) which was conducted in 2012. It reports that studies have been mixed in terms of whether or not garcinia cambogia can promote fat loss.
Plus, human studies have on the whole been small and have only examined periods of 12 weeks or less.
The researchers also addressed issues of toxicity, pointing out,
“Furthermore, at the doses usually administered, no differences have been reported in terms of side effects or adverse events (those studied) in humans between individuals treated with G. cambogia and controls.”
A meta-analysis conducted in 2010 (11) examined 23 different trials and concluded,
“RCTs suggest that Garcinia extracts/HCA can cause short-term weight loss. The magnitude of the effect is small, and the clinical relevance is uncertain. Future trials should be more rigorous and better reported.”
No Improvement in Weight
A 1998 study (5) took a look at garcinia cambogia’s weight loss effects on 135 participants.
The experimental group received 1500 mg of hydroxycitric acid a day, while the control group took a placebo.
The study concluded,
“Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.”
Another study in 2011 (6) found that garcinia cambogia “supplementation failed to promote weight-loss or any clinically significant change in %body fat.”
“GCE [garcinia cambogia extract] had no effect on triglycerides, non-HDL-C, adipocytokines or antioxidants when compared to placebo supplementation.”
This review (9) looked not only at garcinia cambogia, but at CLA, chia seed, and other popular weight loss supplements as well.
While the researchers did find some “limited data” to support CLA, chitosan, pyruvate, and Irvingia gabonensis for weight loss, they did not report the same for garcinia cambogia.
You can read a detailed review here (10) from 2013.
The researchers looked at 17 different studies on HCA and garcinia cambogia, comprising a total of 873 participants.
Based on these studies, they concluded that “a dietary dosage of up to 2800 mg/day of HCA was regarded as the “no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL).”
But they also stated that,
“definitive conclusions that Garcinia/HCA supplements are efficient tools against various health problems especially obesity remain to be proven in larger-scale and longer-term clinical trials, despite substantial public interest in such supplements.”
So, taking all of these studies into account, how can we summarize what we currently know about the effectiveness and safety of garcinia cambogia?
There are some human studies which indicate that garcinia cambogia may be an effective weight loss aid.
These studies are limited however by their small sample sizes and short durations.
There are other human studies which failed to find any improvement in fat composition or body weight with garcinia cambogia supplementation.
Animal research with high dosages of garcinia cambogia did result in findings of toxicity.
A dosage as high as 2,800 mg/day however has been found to be safe for human consumption.
WebMD however mentions (12), “At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for garcinia.”
So we cannot necessarily say that garcinia cambogia is a total scam, but it certainly does not deserve the massive amount of hype it has received.
We can also say that more research is certainly warranted, particularly since so many people are interested in trying it.
KEY POINT: Despite Dr. Oz’s hype over garcinia cambogia, there is only limited evidence to suggest that it may promote weight loss.
It does however appear to be safe at dosages up to 2,800 mg/day.
There have been reports of concerning side effects however - more on that in a bit.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss: Let’s Look at the Evidence
Between apple cider vinegar and garcinia cambogia, ACV actually has more in the way of scientific evidence backing it up as a weight-loss aid.
But even here, support is not that strong yet.
One of the principal beneficial compounds in ACV is acetic acid (13).
Research supports the notion that acetic acid can suppress body fat accumulation by modifying gene expression (14).
It may also be helpful in suppressing appetite to prevent overeating (15).
One good example of a promising study on vinegar and weight loss is this Japanese one from 2009 (17).
It was a double-blind trial in which participants were divided into three different groups.
One group received 30 ml of vinegar daily, while another took half that dose, and a third took a placebo (all were given in the form of a beverage).
The research spanned a period of 12 weeks.
At the end, the researchers reported,
"Body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower in both vinegar intake groups than in the placebo group. In conclusion, daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.”
While this study is exciting, you should temper your enthusiasm.
According to this review in 2014 (16) regarding vinegar and body weight,
"Although some evidence supports the use of vinegar as a complementary treatment in patients with glucose and lipid abnormalities, further large-scale long-term trials with impeccable methodology are warranted before definitive health claims can be made."
Weight loss is not the only possible benefit of ACV.
Again, please see the article “37 Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits and Uses” in order to learn about everything which ACV may be able to do to improve your health.
KEY POINT: There is research which suggests that apple cider vinegar may be helpful for weight loss, but more studies are needed to firm up this data.
Are There Special Benefits for Weight Loss If You Take Garcinia Cambogia and ACV Together?
Now you're familiar with the research on both garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar concerning weight loss.
You probably noticed however that these studies examine each agent independently.
As of right now, I have been unable to locate any research on the concurrent use of these two supplements.
It certainly seems logical that doubling up on two products which each (possibly) facilitate weight-loss would provide a more dramatic effect.
But this does not necessarily mean that apple cider vinegar and garcinia cambogia are exerting some sort of holistic effect where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
But neither does this mean that it is not happening.
Research would be needed to confirm or deny the possibility.
KEY POINT: Many people believe that if you take garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar together, you will achieve a more dramatic weight loss result than you would from taking either product alone.
As of right now, this claim is anecdotal.
Possible Side Effects of Garcinia Cambogia
Previously, I mentioned that garcinia cambogia may come with side effects.
A few side effects are commonly reported with the use of this herb. These include digestive disturbances, headaches and rashes.
Side effects like these tend to be mild in nature, and are generally not much of a concern.
WebMD reports however (12), “There have been reports of serious liver problems in some people who have taken products containing garcinia.”
You can read more about one such case in this (13) article.
The patient in question experienced acute liver failure while taking a “purified” garcinia cambogia supplement.
The article states that doctors were able to rule out other possible causes of the liver failure, and only garcinia cambogia appeared to remain as the possible culprit.
There is also some evidence to suggest that garcinia cambogia may act on serotonin.
If you are taking an SSRI or another medication or herb which increases serotonin levels or inhibits serotonin uptake, you should talk to a doctor before you consider trying garcinia cambogia (16).
On a related note, WebMD mentions that garcinia cambogia may worsen bipolar disorder.
In short, you may want to avoid garcinia cambogia if you have liver issues, bipolar disorder, or are concerned about interactions involving serotonin.
Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding also should not use garcinia cambogia.
KEY POINT: Garcinia cambogia has a few common side effects which are generally mild to moderate.
There are concerns however of serious side effects such as liver failure and serotonin syndrome.
More research is needed to identify those who may be at risk.
Possible Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar
Now you're familiar with both the potential benefits and drawbacks garcinia cambogia.
You also are aware of the possible ways in which apple cider vinegar could benefit you.
But does apple cider vinegar have any possible adverse effects?
Thankfully, there is a way you can get around this, which is to make sure that you always dilute your vinegar.
There are mixed reports on whether apple cider vinegar can cause heartburn or not.
Some people actually say that ACV helps them to combat acid reflux.
There is no scientific research on this topic, so whether or not this is true is hard to gauge.
Acidic products certainly can be a heartburn trigger however.
If this is the case for you, you might experience heartburn when taking apple cider vinegar.
Once again, diluting your vinegar can help to reduce this side effect.
But even doing this may be insufficient in some cases. I know that I for example have to be very sparing with highly acidic foods or beverages.
For a lot of people however, this is not an issue, and daily ACV can work out fine.
KEY POINT: Apple cider vinegar is for the most part a healthy product with few or no side effects.
It can however trigger heartburn in some people, and if it is insufficiently diluted, it can also were down on the teeth, gums, and esophagus.
Want to Try This Diet? Here is How to Do It
There are plenty of other weight-loss methods you can try which are backed by more data than the garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar diet.
Nevertheless, you may decide that you want to give this diet a try anyway.
If that is the case, you will need to purchase some apple cider vinegar and a garcinia cambogia supplement.
Shopping for High-Quality Garcinia Cambogia
Your first step will be to track down a pure and reliable garcinia cambogia supplement.
Here are a few tips to help you pick the right product:
Choose the right dosage.
It is very important to make sure that you are not exceeding the recommended safe amount.
You can reference the studies which I shared with you previously to help guide you in this regard.
If you have any doubts or questions, you can also consult with your physician.
Make sure that the product you are purchasing is pure.
Contaminated supplements are disturbingly pervasive on today's market.
You might want to see if the product you're thinking about buying has been tested by a third party and if you can access the batch results.
Try to pick garcinia cambogia which has been grown and harvested sustainably and organically.
This is healthier for you and better for the planet.
If you have a difficult time swallowing capsules, check reviews to see if other buyers said that the capsules you are thinking about purchasing were easy to swallow.
On that note, you should also read reviews to check for general satisfaction.
Just remember that the success stories you read are anecdotal. There is no way to prove that garcinia cambogia is what made the difference.
Some garcinia cambogia products come with a satisfaction guarantee.
You may be able to get a 100% refund if you find that garcinia cambogia is not for you.
Remember to be realistic when you are reading reviews and claims about products.
Particularly with the supplement, you will encounter a lot of hype. Take it with a grain of salt.
KEY POINT: It takes research and discernment pick a high-quality garcinia cambogia product.
Doing so is important however for reasons of (possible) efficacy as well as safety.
Choosing Your Apple Cider Vinegar
With apple cider vinegar, you actually have two options.
You can purchase actual apple cider vinegar in a bottle as we've been discussing, or you can purchase a supplement in capsule form.
The main appeal of taking apple cider vinegar capsules rather than the vinegar itself is to get around the experience of drinking the vinegar (which is not a pleasant experience for everyone).
My recommendation however is to try to stick with the actual vinegar if you can in liquid form.
The reason is that apple cider vinegar capsules are notorious for not containing much in the way of vinegar (19).
This is not to say that this is the case with all ACV capsules, but it does mean that you need to be particularly mindful when doing your research so that you do not get ripped off.
Another potential problem with ACV pills is that if you get one stuck in your throat, it may release a significant amount of highly concentrated vinegar.
There is at least one recorded instance of this resulting in esophageal burns,
Liquid vinegar can of course damage the esophagus as well, but this is an unlikely occurrence if you just water it down properly.
Here are some quick pros and cons of each so that you can choose the type of product which is going to suit your needs.
Pros of Liquid ACV:
- Liquid apple cider vinegar is vinegar. There's a lot less uncertainty involved in the buying process than there is when purchasing capsules.
- There are multiple ways that you can take liquid ACV. You can dilute it and drink it, or you can use it as an ingredient in salad dressings and so forth. Some people enjoy the taste.
- With liquid ACV, you're getting the full spectrum of benefits. With the processing involved in creating capsules, you do not know if this is necessarily the case.
- You do not need to swallow a capsule.
Cons of Liquid ACV:
- The taste and acidity of apple cider vinegar can be a turnoff for some people.
- If acid reflux is a problem for you, there's a chance that ACV could trigger it.
- If you do not dilute ACV correctly, frequent use could lead to burns in your esophagus or abrasion on your teeth.
Pros of ACV Capsules:
- Taking apple cider vinegar capsules gets you around the unpleasantness which can be involved in swallowing the liquid form.
- You do not need to deal with the hassle of dilution ratios.
Cons of ACV Capsules:
- Heartburn may still be an issue with the capsule form of ACV.
- Selecting a high-quality product may be a challenge. You may have to do extra research to make sure that the product you're getting actually contains ample amounts of apple cider vinegar.
- You need to take extra care to make sure that you do not get a capsule lodged in your throat.
KEY POINT: Apple cider vinegar comes in both liquid form and capsule form.
Choose the type of product which you think will be the right fit for you.
Tips for Choosing a Liquid ACV Product
- As discussed previously, it is pretty much up to you whether you want to use filtered or unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
- As always, you should double check the ingredients label on any unfamiliar product to make sure that you are getting pure apple cider vinegar.
- Take a look at the expiration date before you make your purchase.
That is pretty much all there is to it. Shopping for apple cider vinegar is pretty straightforward.
Tips for Choosing Quality ACV Capsules
- Check the dosage which is listed, and then see if you can find confirmation via third-party testing on the potency of the product. You do not want to waste your money on capsules which do not contain that which they claim to.
- Consider taste and smell. For some folks, avoiding the flavor and smell of apple cider vinegar is one of the key reasons to choose ACV capsules. If that is the case for you, you can check reviews to see what others had to say in this regard.
- Search for ACV capsules which are easy to swallow. You do not necessarily need to be overly paranoid about this, but it is important. While there is that one story about the person who got esophageal burns, obviously most people who take these capsules on a daily basis manage to do so without a problem. Nonetheless, if you do have a hard time getting capsules down, you should look for some which are small and easy to swallow. This will reduce the likelihood of getting one stuck in your throat.
KEY POINT: You now know what you need to look for purchase a high-quality apple cider vinegar product.
How Much Do You Take Each Day, and When and How Do You Take It?
Obviously, this diet requires you to take garcinia cambogia together with apple cider vinegar.
But what does that look like on a day-to-day basis?
Here's how to take the supplements:
1. Check the dosage for the garcinia cambogia capsules you have purchased.
2. Take the recommended amount of capsules.
3. Pour a glass of water. Aim for 8 ounces, and consider making the water warm (this seems to make it much easier to swallow the vinegar). But do not make the water hot.
4. Pour around 2 teaspoons of ACV into the glass.
5. Stir the ACV and water together well.
6. Down the entire glass of water and vinegar. You can do this quickly or slowly; it is entirely up to you.
It is recommended that you do this routine twice a day.
To reduce the likelihood of heartburn, I suggest that you take your vinegar and garcinia cambogia shortly before a meal.
For the same reason, you may wish to avoid drinking the vinegar late at night. Give your body some time to digest it before you go to bed.
If you are taking the apple cider vinegar capsules instead of the liquid form, the risk of heartburn is still present.
Because of this, the instructions are much the same.
You should still drink 8 ounces of water with the capsules, and you should take them before a meal, and avoid doing so at night.
KEY POINT: Taking apple cider vinegar and garcinia cambogia each day is a simple process.
Following the recommendations above should ensure that it goes smoothly.
Conclusion: Garcinia Cambogia + ACV Is an Over-Hyped Weight Loss Diet Supported by Limited Evidence
We have gone over the garcinia cambogia and apple cider vinegar diet in-depth now.
You know what this diet is, how it became popularized, and you have seen the research currently available on both of its components.
Right now most of the support for this diet is anecdotal, not researched-based.
There are also possible side effects, and this diet may not be suitable for everyone.
Certain health conditions and medications may interact with garcinia cambogia to cause adverse reactions.
But if you do decide to try it, you now have some tips to help you select high-quality products and carry out the diet correctly.
Whatever course you decide to take, I wish you the best of luck achieving your weight loss goals.
Be sure to check out the other articles on our site to discover alternative diets for weight loss and overall health.
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