Hydroxycitric Acid - 15 Things You Need to Know
What is Hydroxycitric Acid?
Smaller amounts of Hydroxycitric Acid can also be found in hibiscus flowers and other close cousins to the Garcinia Cambogia plant. This chemical shares many of the same characteristics as citric acid- the stuff you find in oranges and other citrus fruits.
According to WebMD, many people take Hydroxycitric acid to help lose weight. There are also demonstrated scientific benefits from using HCA to increase your endurance and general physical ability during exercise.
Hydroxycitric Acid Ingredients
Hydroxycitric is the primary chemical ingredient of the rind of the Garcinia Cambogia tree. This chemical is also found in many other flowers and fruits. Due to the high presence of HCA in the Garcinia Cambogia plant most industrial concerns and manufacturers obtain their Hydroxycitric acid from this source.
Often online you will read the terms Hydroxycitric acid, HCA, and Garcinia Cambogia being used interchangeably- this is incorrect. There are many different places that this particular chemical compound comes from.
Since HCA is a chemical compound a better way to determine if what you are taking is safe is to check the ingredients list on the back. In the United States, all active and inactive ingredients must legally be written on the back of the item being sold. To get the best Hydroxycitric acid benefits it is necessary to get at least 30 mg of active ingredient.
What is Garcinia Cambogia?
This plant, also known as Malabar Tamarind, is one of the plants in nature with the highest levels of Hydroxycitric acid. The rinds of this plant actually contain a massive amount of HCA.
Most industrial companies that sell HCA for use in food products, beverages and supplements purchase their HCA from these sorts of companies. The plant is native to Asia, but has currently spread across the world as far as South America.
This natural substance has been used as a stand in for Hydroxycitric acid. Basically, it is hard to convince your average consumer to buy a health product with the word acid in it- so they simply used the scientific name for the derivative source. Not all HCA comes from Garcinia Cambogia- you can also find it in many citrus fruits like lemons or oranges- hence citric acid.
Since most people in the media and the general public have confused HCA and Garcinia Cambogia you can expect lots of people you meet and sources on the internet that you use to use the terms interchangeably. So when someone asks you- what is garcinia cambogia? You can give them the previous explanation- it is a bit complicated!
Does Hydroxycitric Acid Work?
While the science is not bulletproof we have good reason to believe that Hydroxycitric acid DOES work- to what extent we are not yet sure. There are two main mechanisms which scientists and research believe HCA works.
The first mechanism is the mild effect the compound has on appetite control. Similar to the way that stimulants encourage weight loss by preventing calorie consumption in the first place- Hydroxycitric acid may perform the same feat on users. Studies in this area are ongoing, but many patients report a mild to moderate lessening of hunger cravings.
This may be because Hydroxycitric acid potentially can increase the amount of serotonin your body produces. Serotonin regulates hunger, among other bodily functions. Many scientists believe Serotonin levels are closely linked to how much activity one gets done in a day.
HCA may boost serotonin, which can help to counteract the weight gaining properties of low serotonin levels.
The second way it is thought HCA may have a positive effect on weight loss is through the thermogenic effect. You see, when your core body temperature is increased your body must use more fuel to keep your energy level and your body was functioning correctly. To do this, it needs to burn previously stored fuel, or fat.
Hydroxycitric acid may cause your body to go into thermogenesis, thus helping you lose even more weight. Many other products on the market, such as nitric boosters and caffeine supplements have a similar effect. Different supplement products will also include HCA or Garcinia Cambogia as an additive.
According to NCBI, this two-pronged attack is at the base of the effectiveness of Hydroxycitric acid. This leads most researchers and casual observers to believe that this product does help with weight loss.
Hydroxycitric Acid Benefits and Results
The benefits of Hydroxycitric acid are well publicized. TV celebrities like Dr. Mehmet Oz and the hosts of “The Doctors” tout the benefits of HCA and Garcinia Cambogia on their shows regularly. Most people look to Hydroxycitric Acid to help them shed excess weight.
The benefits of taking an HCA supplement are two-fold. The first effect the substance has on your body is a thermal increase. This thermogenic effect puts your body into an optimum fat burning mode.
Whenever your body needs to draw up excess energy quickly, it resorts to the stores of fat in your body. The thermogenic effect simply means that increasing your body heat leads to weight loss.
The second benefit offered by a Hydroxycitric acid regimen is an increase in energy and serotonin. We do not know exactly how or why serotonin brings energy gains, but we know that HCA does just that. Also it can help your endurance improve incredibly from nonsupplement baseline.
According to PsychologyToday, an endurance boost means better and longer workouts. When you combine these two effects, they show the major benefits offered by a GC supplement. Of course, you will see better results from an HCA regimen if your diet and exercise at the same time.
Details on Hydroxycitric Acid and Weight Loss
The weight loss that you obtain from Hydroxycitric acid is relatively moderate. There are many other considerably more hardcore supplements on the market. These tend to have nastier side effects as well.
The best demographic for use of an HCA filled supplement is someone looking for a mild or moderate effect on their weight loss and life. While the effects of Garcinia Cambogia may not be tremendous- they are something. Any step towards losing weight is a good step- providing you are overweight.
You can expect to lose different amounts of weight based on a few different factors. Your initial starting weight and level of activity will have a huge effect on the actual number of pounds that you lose.
According to CDC, this is to say those who weigh more will lose more and consequently better benefit from taking a product with HCA as an ingredient.
How to Use (Take) Hydroxycitric Acid
Most people use Hydroxycitric acid by taking a Garcinia Cambogia supplement. The vast majority of natural HCA worldwide comes from this plant. The reason is the fact that the rind of the Garcinia Cambogia plant is incredibly rich in Hydroxycitric acid. This plant has been used for thousands of years in Asia and the near east.
Different supplements will have different instructions. They will also come in different forms. Some will be capsules and pills. You would, take one of these pills a few times a day.
Always remember that the more you take of a substance, the higher your potential side effects will be. That does not mean avoid taking larger doses- but simply be careful with the doses that you are taking.
According to WikiHow, foods and beverages are also infused with the essence of Garcinia Cambogia. Some of them have strong enough concentrations that you can get your daily dose from one of these products. Whether you take GC in a pill, capsule, or foodstuff there will be instructional labels explaining what dose you should take.
Hydroxycitric Acid Product Warnings
The scientific consensus is that Hydroxycitric acid is relatively safe when it is taken for three months or less at a time. The safety of HCA over a longer term period has not been understood yet.
This supplement has been in use for thousands of years. Many different cultures across Asia and Africa have readily taken this supplement. Just because people have been taking something for a long time does not necessarily mean that is safe- look at tobacco. Your best bet is to speak with a doctor before taking the jump on to this supplement.
According to NCBI, women who are breastfeeding or currently pregnant should avoid taking any Hydroxycitric acid supplement. The effects of this drug are currently unknown for expectant mothers, but most doctors choose to err on the safe side.
Is Hydroxycitric Acid Safe?
HCA is considered “possibly safe” for the vast majority of individuals that take the supplement for less than a three month period.
According to WebMD, if you are in a high-risk category, it is best to consult your physician before taking any new supplement products.
Hydroxycitric Acid Side Effects
- Upset Stomach
- Mild Headaches
- Trouble Sleeping
Hydroxycitric Acid vs Probiotics
According to WebMD, hydroxycitric acid does not have many things in common with probiotics. While some say that probiotics can increase energy the mechanism is still unknown. As far as taking these supplements with probiotics- that may be a good idea.
It is still best to check with a healthcare professional before taking HCA- especially if you already have some stomach issues.
Hydroxycitric Acid Alternatives
There are many different HCA alternatives on the market. The best supplement for you is always going to be the one that causes the least discomfort. Your supplement also needs to help achieve your personal fitness goals.
Since everyone’s fitness goals are different it is hard to find the right fit for everyone with one pill. Here are a couple of alternatives you may explore if you believe products containing Hydroxycitric acid and Garcinia Cambogia are not for you. Also, if you are particularly sensitive to Hydroxycitric acid side effects you may want to take a look at these.
This product was released in 2015 by Nutrex and has been a very popular NO supplement since it came out. One reason this supplement can compete with HCA is the proprietary blend offered by Nutrex. Many, if not most supplement companies jealously guard their exact proprietary blends.
The reason for this is their individual blends help them to stand apart from the competition. This allows them to find a niche in which to sell their product. Nutrex is generally pretty good about having the right ingredients listed in a semi-reliable manner.
Instead of just having one active ingredient NVein offers a number of different substances to kick your weight loss into heavy gear. The Nitric Oxide is one reason this substance will help you move forward. NO boosts your performance and thermogenics far more than HCA.
NVein also has carbs mixed into the supplement. These high end carbs, known as cluster dextrin are used by high end athletes and bodybuilders regularly. They also contain sodium nitrates. This supplement helps with your lifting and pumps.
This supplement is considerably stronger than HCA. The recommended audience is going to be people who have reached a wall in their considerable training. Other than that if you have a serious commitment to getting bigger or losing weight you could check out NVein.
This twice daily pill is inbetween NVein and HCA in terms of strength. The target market for a product like is someone in the middle stages of weight loss or getting back in shape.
According to MayoClinic, while there are no carbs or nitric oxide in Hydroxycut Advanced, there are a number of different active ingredients that contribute to fat loss. First of all, Hydroxycut is heavily filled with caffeine.
Many studies have shown that caffeine drastically aids weight loss when taken correctly. This is due to two of the main tenets of losing weight- getting activity, limiting hunger, and boosting your thermogenic effect whenever possible.
You typically take 1-2 pills of this supplement twice a day. Hydroxycut is hands down the worldwide leader in weight loss pills. You can find this supplement at nearly every grocery store and on the web. For those looking for something stronger than HCA but weaker than your typical bodybuilding stack Hydroxycut can be a decent solution.
This weight loss pill by Burns Nutrition came out almost a decade ago in 2008. This supplement has one purpose and one purpose alone- fat burning. While some Garcinia Cambogia and other supplements have dual uses like muscle gains and increased mood, Burnz is a beast that focuses on burning fat exclusively.
The advanced proprietary blend included in Burnz is not public, but it does contain NO, caffeine, ephedrine root, yohimbe, and many other different supplements. You are suggested to take one or two capsules a day depending on your current tolerance to stimulants.
According to WebMD, this pill is for people who have a busy lifestyle and also want to stop gaining weight. Losing it will also come with a good diet and working out. These are very powerful so please stay away from them before bed, lest you run into some side effects and lose the ability to comfortable sleep.
Hydroxycitric Acid Uses
Hydroxycitric acid is primarily used as a stimulant/weight loss aid. There are many other “natural” uses for this product. Many people swear by the healing effects present in the Garcia Cambogia plant. Science has determined that the vast majority of HCA uses lay within the energy boosting and weight loss realm.
Products Containing Hydroxycitric Acid
There are many, many different products available that contain HCA. A very easy way to identify whether or not a product contains HCA is to check the ingredients list. If Garcinia Cambogia is listed as one of the active ingredients it is almost guaranteed this product will contain HCA.
Marketers found out long ago that trying to sell something called Hydroxycitric Acid was an uphill battle. Therefore they decided to use the historical name, Garcinia Cambogia. People would ask- what is Hydroxycitric acid? This question could derail a sale in an instant.
Many different items including foodstuffs, beverages, supplements and pills contain HCA. Hydroxycitric acid uses are relatively well studied for a weight loss supplement so many people swear by it.
What Users Are Saying
“I wanted to give this an honest review after 2 weeks of purchase. It works. I feel less hungry and keeping my food portions intact with my weight loss plan. This works even better if you’re on an intermittent fasting plan. I don’t get hungry and lasts pretty good during IF window. I was looking for something that can break my plateau of weight loss and I found it. I got the veggie caps and it’s worth the money. Garcinia Cambogia is now a definite staple for my diet plan. Great buy indeed.”
“Ugh, they made me bloat like to the point where I had to take my wedding ring off because it was digging into my skin!! Took me 3 days of NOT taking these to fully de-bloat. Also gave me extreme headaches and stomach pain. I didn’t lose a single pound because of how bloated I was. Make sure to really research up on these before purchasing! These are NOT recommended to take at all and most websites say they may be healthy to take up to 12 days in a row. Significant health problems were seen in patients who took this for longer. Oh, by the way they also made me constipated! And I only took them for about 5 day’s before I realized what it was doing to me.”
“I lost three pounds over the course of the month. This might have helped? Nothing drastic and no fast results. I can’t really say if it was this or not.”
Bottom Line on Hydroxycitric Acid
So, what’s the final verdict on hydroxycitrc acid? Although the ingredient is commonly found in many dietary supplements and nutritional products, very little research is available to prove its many claimed benefits. Additionally, consuming the compound may come with a number of negative side effects.
Losing weight doesn’t always require supplementation, but instead a comprehensive program that’s backed by research.
Studies published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, International Journal of Eating Disorders, and Journal of Health Communications all support a weight-loss app called Noom. The program offers an extensive food logging database, live human coaching chat sessions, and educational lessons to help users make lasting changes to their lifestyle.
Right now, Noom is offering a free trial offer for all Dietspotlight readers.
Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.