Despite all the millions of weight loss products out there that make big promises, the best way to lose weight is still diet and exercise. Our website has reviewed plenty of these products and usually they fail to live up to the hype.
So we were naturally suspicious of Irvingia Gabogenesis, the compound found in African mango seed extract. The last thing dieters want is to waste more money on a disappointing and potentially dangerous supplement.
This article summarizes the current research about African mango seed extract as a weight loss aid. Feel free to send in any questions if there's something we didn't address.
What Is Irvingia Gabogenesis?
Irvingia Gabogenesis is the name of a species of trees that are native to central Africa. They are primarily found in the Congo region, and parts of Nigeria, Angola, Ghana and Uganda.
It is a fruit-bearing tree that can produce thousands of mango-like fruits depending on the dryness of the region they are in. The fruits are typically smaller than mangos grown in the United States, and have a thick seed coating and an edible pulp on the inside (source). Despite the nickname “African mango” the fruits are not of the same family as mangos (which belong to the genus Mangifera).
In recent decades, irvingia gabogenesis (IG) has been domesticated for mass production. However the species is considered “nearly threatened” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (source).
There are many different ways these trees are used commercially.
The fruits produced are edible and a rich source of protein and vitamins. They can also be prepared in such a way that they can be used as butter, vegetable oil, or made into “dika bread” (source).
The trees also have use in agricultural settings, providing shade for mass-produced crops such as coffee and cocoa.
There are still a variety of other ways IG is used in commercial settings (besides as a weight loss supplement):
- construction material
- black dye
- soap making
- medicinal remedies
And still more. This is by no means a comprehensive list.
African Mango and Weight Loss
The question most of us have is: does this stuff help you lose weight?
It turns out that the research on this is limited and inconclusive.
You may have seen the general claims about African mango seed extract and weight loss. Such as:
- it dramatically suppresses appetite
- it targets and reduces bad cholesterol
- accelerates weight loss on its own
- decreases blood glucose
The truth is that these claims are not definitively supported by research.
There has been some research on IG and weight loss, and the findings are inconclusive. This is because only a few studies have been conducted, and the number of participants was too small in each case to reach a definite conclusion. Furthermore, some of the studies that are cited by supplement companies were actually sponsored by the companies, raising more red flags.
What The Research Says
The best objective summary of current research on IG and weight loss that we could find is a 2013 systematic review published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements. The review focused on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that investigated the effectiveness of IG in reducing body weight in overweight and obese individuals.
Only three studies met the criteria to be included in this review. All three studies found that the groups given IG supplements lost more body weight than placebo groups.
Although this sounds promising, the review authors emphasized that each of the three studies were flawed in their methods, and did not actually provide enough evidence to show that IG is effective for losing body fat. From the review article:
Three RCTs (two parallel and one cross-over) were included in the review (208 participants, range 72 to 120). None of the trials reported appropriate randomisation or allocation concealment. No RCTs reported outcome assessors as being blinded; two RCTs, patients and care provider were blinded. One RCT did not have similar characteristics at baseline. None of the RCTs performed an intention-to-treat analysis or reported sample size calculation or attrition.
As WebMD points out, there were confounding factors in these studies that makes it hard to isolate which factor(s) contributed to weight loss. Furthermore, subjects in two of the studies reported side effects including headaches and poor sleep.
WebMD also notes in the same article that supplement companies have sponsored this research, but we could not independently verify that.
Still, the results certainly left open the possibility that IG can help with weight loss and improve cholesterol levels. The fiber content in IG might be a contributing factor.
Even though they aren't conclusive, the results are somewhat promising. From the review:
All RCTs reported statistically significant reductions in body weight and waist circumference favoring I. gabonensis over placebo. The results from the RCTs also suggest positive effects of I. gabonensis supplementation on the blood lipid profile.
The key word here, of course, is “suggest”. There is no proven weight loss benefit for African mango seed extract, even if a limited amount of research is promising.
Even though the research is inconclusive, supplement companies are eager to mislead you into buying their IG products. You will see sales videos that claim there have been “groundbreaking” studies that show IG to be a weight loss miracle.
At this point we cannot recommend any African mango seed formula for weight loss. There is simply not enough evidence to make it worth your money, or to suffer possible side effects.
The best alternative is to follow a diet plan that doesn't require taking unproven supplements. As we stated at the beginning, eating right and exercising are the best proven methods for losing weight.
There are plenty of diets out there to choose from. One of our favorites is by a trainer named Matt Marshall. You can read more about it here. The sales page might seem a bit gimmicky to some, but the actual book is quite good and should make a difference if you're struggling with extra body fat.