Can HCA Help You Lose Weight?
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Can a relatively unknown plant native to Indonesia be the key to fast weight loss? Maybe! Garcinia cambogia is a small, pumpkin-shaped fruit that's often added to meals to make them more filling, according to doctoroz.com. In some villages of Malaysia, it's also used to make a soup that's eaten before main meals because of its appetite-suppressing properties.

Now studies suggest that when paired with a healthy diet and exercise regime, taking garcinia cambogia extract in supplement form may help accelerate weight loss.

How does it work?
The specific extract being used in garcinia cambogia supplements is called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and it works in two ways to promote weight loss:

First, it suppresses your appetite by increasing serotonin levels. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression and anxiety, which drive many people to eat emotionally. Thus, as your serotonin levels rise, your mood improves and lessens the drive to reach for food during emotional situations.

Second, HCA stops the fat-making process in your body by inhibiting a key enzyme called citrate lyase that your body needs to make fat from carbohydrates. It also may help lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol.

RELATED: Read the latest about an exciting study demonstrating the weight-loss benefits of garcinia mangostana.

Is HCA right for everyone?
While the plant and its fruit has been eaten safely for years, people who are breastfeeding or pregnant shouldn't take an HCA suplement. Additionally, diabetics who take insulin or glyburide should talk to their doctors before popping an HCA supplement since it may cause an unsafe drop in blood sugar. And although HCA may help lower cholesterol, those taking a statin should consult a physician because HCA can increase the risk of harmful side effects such as muscle degradation. Lastly, as with all dietary supplements, HCA is not evaluated by the FDA for safety or effectiveness.

What should I look for in a quality supplement?
Look for “garcinia cambogia” or “GCE” with at least 50 percent HCA. Take 500 to 1000mg before each meal, and make sure to take no more than 3000mg total per day.

Does it really work?
Obviously, taking an HCA supplement alone won't help you shed pounds. But in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, the studies seem promising. In fact, participants in a recent study who took an HCA supplement lost about four pounds per month, on average.

RELATED: Learn the facts on green coffee bean extract

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