Garlic Extract – how to choose a good one?

Garlic extract is an ingredient of Tim Ferriss’ PAGG Stack. In this article you will find some basic information about garlic extract and its weight loss related properties.

There are four elements of PAGG Stack, a supplement set outlined by Tim Ferriss in his best selling book “4 Hour Body”. Policosanol, a compound of fatty alcohols, derived from sugar cane, alpha-lipoic acid, green tea extract with EGCG being the active agent and garlic extract, with allicin bringing the most health benefits, but also being not very durable and thus really complicated to make a supplement from.

Allicin – the garlic’s active agent

For the first time allicin was isolated in 1944 by Chester J. Cavallito and John Hays Bailey (link to the research), who analysed its antibacterial properties. From chemical point of view it is an organosulfur compound, i.e. an organic compound containing sulfur. Organosulfur compounds are very common, like two amino acids (from 20) or penicillin.

When pure, allicin is a colorless liquid with distinctive smell. It’s intended to repel herbivores grazing on garlic with its pungent smell. For garlic allicin is also the defence against pests as it exhibits strong antibacterial and anti-fungal properties (link to publication.)

For us allicin is a natural supplement for weight loss, but it has also other health benefits. Medical lab tests have proven that it works anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory, reduces fat deposition and arteriosclerosis, decreases blood pressure, normalizes the lipoprotein balance and have some antioxidant properties.

Allicin is not actually present in fresh or dried garlic, it is produced only when garlic gets crushed, like when bitten or chewed by a grazing animal. Allicin is created from alliin and enzyme alliinase. Allicin produced from crushed garlic is not stable (it means you cannot store it) and is not bio-available. Allicin must be made stable, a common way is to purify allicin and solve it in water. Furthermore the enzyme alliinase stops working permanently in acidic environment, when pH drops under 3 (e.g. in your stomach).

Due to the above mentioned limitations fresh, dried or aged garlic cannot deliver as much allicin (if at all) as garlic extract with stabilized, bio-available allicin. Aged garlic products contain S-allylcysteine (SAC) which has some of Allicin’s benefits, but less potent and only a fraction of Allicin’s broad range of benefits (read more about it here).
Other products like distilled garlic oil or oil macerates do not contain allicin at all.

How to choose garlic extract supplement?

When buying garlic-based supplements, first of all check the allicin content. A garlic extract for fat loss it should contain “standardised” (consistent amount of) allicin with content expressed and quantified in mcg (microgram) or mg (milligram).

What are the no-go’s? Don’t go for products which are “allicin-rich” (meaningless term), have “allicin potential” (which means that it is not protected against stomach acid) or containing alliin (you want allicin, not alliin).

The daily dosage of garlic extract / allicin as suggested by Tim Ferriss is 200mg. According to Tim Garlic extract should be taken four times a day, before each meal and before bed time.

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