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Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA)



What is HCA?  Hydroxycitric acid (HCA), also known as CitriMax, is a natural extract from the dried rind of the Garcinia Cambogia Fruit.  The dried fruit rind is traditionally used in South Eastern Asia to make food more filling and satisfying.  A number of studies have demonstrated HCA to be an effective and safe weight loss product, that doesn’t have the negative side effects associated with, thermogenic weight loss supplements.


Who might benefit from HCA?  People looking to loose weight may benefit from HCA supplements.


What does research say about HCA  supplementation?  HCA works in two distinct ways: Firstly, HCA reduces the amount of carbohydrate that is converted to bodyfat.  It does this by blocking a key enzyme (ATP-citrate lyase) which otherwise acts as a key building block for fat synthesis (Shara et al., 2003).  Because HCA reduces the amount of carbohydrate being converted to fat, more carbohydrate will be stored as glycogen within your muscles.  This will mean you are more likely to have increased glycogen storage.  Secondly, HCA is known to have an appetite suppressing effect (Roy et al., 2004).  As well as these two weight loss mechanisms, HCA also increase the rate of fat oxidation – metabolism of fats (Shara et al., 2003). 

The reason for the appetite suppression may be partly attributed to the raised glycogen stores.  When glycogen stores are full, the glucoreceptors in the liver, send chemical signals to your brain which then thinks you are full and thus suppresses your appetite.

Research has demonstrated that HCA supplementation increases the rate at which weight is lost and also has this appetite suppressing effect (Preuss et al., 2004; Roy et al., 2004). 

One of the main reasons that HCA may suppress appetite is through its ability to increase the level of the important neuro-transmitter serotonin (Ohia et al., 1998; Preuss et al., 2004).  Serotonin has a profound effect on mood, with low levels of serotonin associated with depression.  The rise in serotonin levels is an important factor for dieters as most people on diets generally suffer with low moods due to the low intake of food and when serotonin levels are low they you are much more likely to crave sugary foods.  Therefore, the increased serotonin levels will have a positive effect for dieters, by decreasing appetite, and decreasing cravings for sugary foods.   

A number of studies have demonstrated HCA’s to lead to reductions in body mass and body fat (Shara et al., 2003; Roy et al., 2004; Preuss et al., 2004).  However, it should be noted that some studies have failed to see a positive effect with HCA supplementation (Heymsfield et al., 1998; Pittler and Ernst, 2004).


How should I take HCA?  It is generally recommended that for weight loss you should consume 250mg of HCA, 1-3 times a day.  HCA should be taken before meals (45-60 minutes before meals) so that the active ingredients are in your system when you consume your food.



Heymsfield, S. B., Allison, D. B., Vasselli, J. R., Pietrobelli, A., Greenfield, D. and Nunez, C. (1998) Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomised controlled trial. JAMA. 280 (18), 1596-1600. 

Ohia, S. E., Awe, S. O., LeDay, A. M. and Bagchi, D. (2001) Effect of hydroxycitric acid on serotonin release from isolated rat brain cortex. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 109 (3-4), 210-216. 

Pittler, M. H. and Ernst, E. (2004) Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 79 (4), 526-536. 

Preuss, H. G., Bagchi, D., Bagchi, M., Sanyasi Rao, C. V., Satyanarayana, S. and Dey, D. K. (2004) Efficacy of a novel, natural extract of (-)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA-SX) and a combination of HCA-SX, niacin-bound chromium and Gymnema Sylvestre extract in weight management in human volunteers: a pilot study. Nutrition Research. 24, 45-58. 

Roy, S., Rink, C., Khana, S., Phillips, C., Bagchi, D. and Sen, C. K. (2004) Body weight and abdominal fat gene expression profile in response to a novel hydroxycitric acid-based dietary supplement. Gene Expr. 11 (5-6), 251-262. 

Shara, M., Ohia, S. E., Yasmin, T., Zardetto-Smith, A., Kincaid, A., Bagchi, M., Chatterjee, A., Bagchi, D. and Stohs, S. J. (2003) Dose- and time-dependent effects of a novel (-)-hydroxycitric acid extract on body weight, hepatic and testicular lipid peroxidation, DNA fragmentation and histopathological data over a period of 90 days. Mol Cell Biochem. 254 (1-2), 339-346.


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Last modified: 01/05/06