Review: Aspire For Weight Loss
Upon reading the Aspire® weight loss product sales copy you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled upon the ultimate diet pill. After all, the claims are appealing and the ad copy makes liberal use of buzz words like “revolutionary,” “potent,” “all natural,” and “doctor-recommended.” Aspire supposedly “…boosts your metabolism into overdrive” (although what this means is never really defined).
And the product is safe too. According to the web site…
“Most companies don’t bother testing their products, which is why you constantly hear about diet pill recalls. But we went the extra mile to make sure our diet pill was designed to help you safely burn fat.”
Time for a reality check. We’ll go through ALL the problems with Aspire, including a complete dissection of the product formula, but let’s begin with the statement directly above.
There have been no published clinical studies performed on Aspire… which suggests the manufacturers are no different than those other companies which “don’t bother testing their products.” Notice how they don’t define what “we went the extra mile” means? It sounds good, but falls far short of “we tested our product for safety and efficacy.”
More amusingly, the home page also features a photo of a smiling doctor with the caption, “Dr. Shah explains why it’s impossible to lose weight.”
Who is Dr. Shah? Is he a bariatrician or obesity researcher? I have no idea – the site doesn’t tell us.
Nonetheless, I have a pretty good idea who “Dr. Shah” isn’t: the smiling doc in the picture. That man is a model from a stock photo archive. According to the description on iStockphoto.com, he’s “Portrait of Hispanic doctor wearing lab coat and stethoscope with shirt and tie underneath, isolated on white background.”
Ooops (again!). So much for “doctor recommended!”
But I digress… So what’s in Aspire?
The sales page I visited displayed an impressive list of “clinically proven, all natural” ingredients—12 in all.
And yes, it certainly appears impressive.
But there are some major problems.
While certain natural herbal compounds have demonstrated effects beneficial to weight loss, they have to be present in a potent enough dosage to elicit any effect. In some cases, they also need to be standardized for certain chemicals/compounds.
When they are not, they serve only one purpose; “label dressing.” In other words, retailers add them to make the label appear impressive to the consumer, but they add nothing of value to the formula.
In the case of Aspire, the ingredients are revealed, but just how much of each is included in the formula is not. Nor is it always revealed whether an ingredient is standardized for a certain relevant chemical or compound. That makes it impossible to accurately assess the value of this product…
Is there enough of a certain ingredient included to elicit the advertised benefit?
Is the beneficial ingredient standardized for the correct chemical, and what is the potency of the extract?
A lot of the time, we can use simple math to demonstrate the likelihood that a product is under-dosed in most ingredients. For example, if you check out this capsule sizing chart you’ll find the largest size most people can tolerate (size “00”) contains 600-735mg of ingredients, depending on the density of the powder used. That means Aspire will deliver somewhere between a minimum of 1200 mg of ingredients (1 capsule taken twice daily) to a maximum of 2800 mg of ingredients (2 capsules taken twice daily).
The problem in this case, is that Aspire contains some ingredients that need to be present in relatively high doses to elicit the desired effect… and some that do not. That means it’s entirely possible it contains effective doses of certain ingredients—there’s just no way for us to confirm this for sure.
However, the fact that Aspire’s retailers do not reveal this information is not confidence-inspiring, and one of the main reason we’re so suspicious. If your product did contain dosages corresponding to positive clinical studies, wouldn’t you want customers to know that?
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the 12 “clinically proven” ingredients. As you’ll soon discover, the term “clinically proven” means almost nothing when used in the advertising copy of a supplement retailer…
ChromeMate®:The patented form of chromium polynicotinate (a form of chromium bonded with niacin). Chromium plays a positive role in insulin function, and as such, is a smart addition to any weight loss supplement. At the same time, its effects on weight loss have been greatly exaggerated (studies are contradictory) and one of the claims made by the Aspire retailers—that it increases lean muscle—has been demonstratively proven to be false (see Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Dec;30(12):1730-7, J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1995 Dec;35(4):273-80).
Phase 2® Starch Neutralizer: The patented version of Phaseolus vulgaris, or white kidney bean extract, Phase 2 is advertised as a carbohydrate “blocker”. It “works” by inhibiting the action of the enzyme alpha amalyse—an enzyme required for the proper digestion of carbohydrates. The Aspire web site references (but does not link to or name directly) a study “conducted” in California (they are referring to this study: Altern Med Rev. 2004 Mar;9(1):63-9) but neglect to reveal two things; first the study’s own conclusion…
“Clinical trends were identified for weight loss and a decrease in triglycerides, although statistical significance was not reached. Phase 2 shows potential promise as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of obesity and hypertriglyceridemia and further studies with larger numbers of subjects are warranted to conclusively demonstrate effectiveness.”
And second, the fact that study participants took 1500 mg of Phaseolus vulgaris twice daily with meals, for a total of 3,000 mg.
Remember earlier when I was talking about capsule/serving size revealing certain things about a product’s formula? Well, the greatest amount of ingredient 4 capsules of Aspire can contain is approximately 2800 mg (4 “00” size capsules with 700 mg of ingredient each).
That’s 200 mg less than what the study participants received, and there’s 11 other ingredients in this formula. In other words, there’s no way this product contains an effective dose of this ingredient.
See what I mean about how the term “clinical studies” can be manipulated?
Advantra-Z®: A patented source of synephrine (derived from the Seville orange or Citrus aurantium). It’s a chemical cousin of ephedra, but hasn’t proven to be nearly as potent. The Aspire retailers once again are “cherry picking” the clinical data, ignoring the less than complimentary data and neglecting to reveal the complete details of the study they do reference. The study they mention—a study conducted at McGill University in Montreal (see Obes Res. 2005 Jul;13(7):1187-94) did find synephrine elevated the metabolism, but not in any dramatic fashion…
“CA (citrus aurantrium) alone increased thermogenesis, on average, by 4% (52), a response that is statistically significant but not necessarily clinically significant, representing an average 1 kg over 6 months.”
In other words, synephrine is helpful, but losing 2 pounds of weight over 6 months isn’t the sort of results you’d expect from this product’s advertising, correct? And as I said, not all studies show even that much promise. This one, for instance, concluded…
“There is little evidence that products containing C. aurantium are an effective aid to weight loss.”
Green tea extract: Green tea and its standardized extract (EGCG) do show potential for weight loss through several mechanisms. However, we don’t know how much green tea is included here, or how its standardized. Does Aspire contain enough green tea to offer some benefits? Who knows?
Magnolia extract: There is some preliminary evidence magnolia extract works as a “de-stresser” and can reduce cortisol levels.
Inositol: Is a glucose isomer that plays important roles in the body, although it has no real direct role pertaining to weight loss—see the complete inositol review for more details.
Choline: Choline serves a number of vital functions, including maintaining the structure/function of cell membranes, normalizing homocysteine levels (via a metabolite, betaine), and serving as a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important to learning and memory. It plays a vital role in maintaining proper fat metabolism by the liver.In one study, it was shown that choline supplementation reversed fatty liver disease—something that can occur when the liver has an inability to process fats properly. Other studies show it has no particular effects on exercise performance.
Banaba Leaf Extract: Standardized for corosolic acid, studies validate Banaba’s ability to lower blood glucose levels, therefore providing some benefit to those with non-insulin dependent diabetes. See the complete banaba review for more information and supporting references.
White tea extract: Green, white, oolong and black teas can all have benefits for dieters—if they are present in a potent enough dosage and standardized for the appropriate catechins. Are they in Aspire? Who knows…
Bioperine®: A black pepper extract, normally added to formulas to improve the bioavailability of certain ingredients. And while there is evidence to support this use, there’s no evidence Bioperine aids in weight loss, or elevates the metabolism to any significant degree.
Evodiamine: A compound derived from the Chinese fruit Evodia Rutaecarpa. It’s claimed to burn fat by increasing the body’s production of heat, as well as reducing the body’s ability to store fat.
Although a preliminary animal study shows promising results, to date there’s no evidence showing evodiamine works in people.
7-Keto: A metabolite of DHEA, a naturally occurring steroid hormone. Several studies validate the ability of 7-Keto to help with weight loss, apparently through its positive effect on thyroid hormone levels in obese people and its ability to raise resting metabolic rate. See the complete 7-keto review for more information and supporting documentation.
And there you have it; the complete breakdown of the Aspire weight loss pill formula. There are two “take home” points…
- Insofar as Aspire is concerned, all that “clinically proven” means is “proven to show some effect”, however inconsequential it may happen to be.
- Furthermore, “clinically proven” means absolutely ZERO when the ingredients are not included at anywhere near the dosage used in the positive study.
The folks selling Aspire could tell us exactly what their product really contained, if they wanted to. The fact that they do not, speaks volumes, and should be considered a “red flag.”
And, since they are asking you to hand over your hard earned money for the product, they are obligated to provide some real proof the product does what they claim; not just advertising nonsense or selected testimonials.
Plus, Aspire is extremely expensive compared to readily available products. This isn’t because it produces “amazing results”, but because the retailer (Everest Nutrition) offers a 35% commission on referred sales. This is the reason you’ll find all sorts of web sites gushing on and on about it. This commission artificially inflates the cost of the product, as the it comes directly out of your pocket.
I guess if you want to pay an inflated price for a product that contains an indeterminate amount of various ingredients, that’s up to you. I know what I would do.