Review: Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss Fat Burner

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Klick-ka-ching!

Money, no doubt, is the #1 motivating factor for the release of Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss fat burner. Bob Harper, of course, is a personal trainer made popular by the T.V. show, “The Biggest Loser” (Jillian Michaels, another trainer from the show, also has her own line of supplements; we’ve reviewed both her fat burner and her “calorie control” products).

On the face of it, you’d think supplementing with weight loss and diet pills run contrary to the message touted by both Michaels and Harper—that good diet and nutrition coupled with a smart exercise plan are the key to long term, sustainable weight loss. Hard to blame them for changing their tune though; very few of us would be able to turn up our noses at the sort of money they’re no doubt getting for allowing their names to be associated with the products in question.

Not all our visitors were particularly pleased with Jillian’s apparent willingness to “sell out” and endorse a diet pill, and had absolutely no problems saying so.

With that said, what’s the deal with Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss fat burner? Is it any good? Does it work?

Well, first of all let’s point out the obvious; Mr Harper might be a great trainer, motivator and life coach, but he’s not in the business of formulating supplements. Someone else has done that, and he’s leant his name to it, most likely in exchange for a couple of wheel-barrows full of money.

That said, he may have been “sold” on the product because of the “clinically-proven” weight loss ingredients and the positive clinical studies that were performed on the “key” ingredients.

Of course, we know the term “clinically proven” means next to nothing in the supplement industry; just because something produces measurable and statistically significant results in a study doesn’t mean it’s going to do anything for your weight loss success.

Like Elissa has said; “often, it’s like getting a $50 discount on a Cadillac… measurable, but overall it hardly makes a difference.”

But what about the clinical studies?

According to the product advertising…

“In study one, a 12-week third-party, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, test subjects using the key ingredients (TrimSmart™: Frauenmantle extract, Wild olive extract, Cormino extract, Horsemint extract) in Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss Formula lost an average of 20.94 lbs. versus the placebo group, who lost an average of 1.70 lbs. Both groups followed a calorie-reduced diet.”

And…

“In study two, an 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study funded by the makers of Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss Formula, test subjects using the same key ingredients lost an average of 16.50 lbs vs 1.73 lbs. for the placebo group. Both groups followed a calorie-reduced diet.”

Sounds pretty good, right?

On the surface, sure. But if you do a little digging you’ll discover a few problems…

First of all, the 4 ingredients referenced in the first study are the exact same ones used in the newest Hydroxycut Pro series supplements and the exact same series of statements used to validate the claims made for those products.

The only difference is the way they are labeled.

On the Hydroxycut label, these 4 ingredients are labeled as “Alchemilla vulgaris extract, Olea europaea extract, Cuminum cyminum extract, and Mentha longifolia extract.” If you didn’t know better you might assume these are two different formulas but they are not; these are different names for the same compounds.

That in itself is misleading. The only reason why these are labeled differently is so that it’s not immediately obvious these are near-identical products.

So the statement I read in the advertising—attributed to Bob himself…

“That’s why I helped create this Smart Weight Loss Formula – with clinically proven key weight-loss ingredients, plus a naturally sourced energy boost to get the most out of your busy lifestyle!”

… is complete and utter nonsense. This isn’t a unique and powerful formula created by Bob, it’s a simple rehash of an already existing product.

Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss Formula is produced by Iovate, which is the same company that manufactures all the Hydroxycut products. The nature of the relationship is to some extent revealed in Mr Harper’s Terms of Use document.

So that’s problem #1; there’s absolutely nothing unique or special about this formula.

What’s problem #2?

Well, the results attained by either study can hardly be described as “earth shattering”;1.75 lbs/week in the first and just over 2 lbs/week in the second. This is well within the realms of what you can reasonably expect to achieve on a smart diet and exercise program.

And problem #3?

Neither highly touted study is readily accessible for viewing. One doesn’t seem to be available anywhere, but the other does appears in the Open Complementary Medical Journal, although it did take some time to dig it up. Remember, it’s up to the retailer to ensure the studies they reference are available for review.

Why?

Because there’s not a lot of difference between an unpublished study that we can’t actually view anywhere, and no study at all. It’s one thing to say you have clinical studies to prove something works, but if you don’t let anyone see them to verify that your methodologies are sound and your results genuine, it doesn’t mean much.

Given the unregulated nature of the supplement industry and the willingness of retailers to push the limits, any study that you can’t find in the PubMed database must be immediately viewed with skepticism, unless you have some valid reason to believe otherwise.

And, when you actually look closely at the study that is published, you’ll quickly understand why it is not something eagerly referenced by the retailers of either the Hydroxycut or Smart Weight Loss products. There are some serious problems with the methodologies and after reviewing the document, it’s hard to allot a lot of credence to results.

Let’s take a look…

1. The caloric intake of the participants was not restricted or monitored.

The product advertising claims participants were following a calorie restricted diet. Here’s where we get into semantics; it’s true that participants were asked to restrict their meals to three per day. However, depending on their food choices, this may or not actually qualify as a “calorie restricted diet” as we understand it to mean; consuming fewer calories than one requires.

And, since the calorie value of meals can vary dramatically depending on your food choices, this essentially places each individual into their own unique study group—as no two participants will consume exactly the same amount of calories.

Think about it: if you know participants are still over-consuming calories in a significant amount, yet losing weight, that makes these ingredients significantly more valuable. If participants are under-consuming calories, that undermines the study results, does it not?

Fact is, if you don’t know how many calories your audience is consuming, it’s impossible to accurately attribute any success or failure to a series of ingredients.

2. The study was not performed on either Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss fat burner or any of the Hydroxycut Pro series products.

Nope, the study was performed on a product called “Weighlevel.”

Big deal, right?

Wrong.

These aren’t the same products, and you cannot attribute results obtained in one study to another product. Especially when that product (Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss) contains a proprietary blend, which means we can’t confirm the dosage in the product conforms to the dosage of the ingredients used in the study.

3. The study is published in an obscure journal and 5 of the 6 co-authors have a financial conflict of interest.

If you check the study, you’ll see that one co-author, Eli Kassis, is directly affiliated with Sprunk-Jansen (the manufacturer of the WeighLevel product).

And here, the plot thickens; Sprunk-Jansen is a partner of the Antaki Center For Herbal Medicine and has “exclusive rights” to world-wide distribution of the products the Center develops. And—wouldn’t you just know it—4 other co-authors are directly affiliated with the Antaki Center for Herbal Medicine.

Whoops.

It’s hardly “independent research” when 5 of the 6 study authors have a vested interest in a positive study result.

And to make matters worse, neither Elissa or I have ever heard of “The Open Complementary Medicine Journal”. If nothing else, it’s certainly not a well known, often referenced journal.

So let’s sum the study issues up…

  • The study hardly qualifies as “independent research” considering the financial conflict of interest exhibited by the majority of study authors.
  • The study was not performed on Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss fat burner, nor is there any way for us to determine whether or not Mr. Harper’s product contains an adequate amount of the 4 core ingredients.
  • The study’s methodologies can hardly be described as “rigorous.”.

OK, but what about the remaining ingredients? Well, in addition to the highly touted quartet (of Frauenmantle extract, Wild olive extract, Cormino extract, Horsemint extract) there’s that…

“… naturally sourced energy boost to get the most out of your busy lifestyle!”

… that Bob brags about. Of course, we like to call it what it really is; caffeine. The same stimulant you get from your coffee, tea, lattes, colas, chocolate and so on. And the same stimulant included in just about every fat burner under the sun. Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss fat burner contains a whopping dose; 180 mg in a two capsule serving.

At a full day’s 6-cap dosage, you’ll be getting 540 mg of caffeine, which is slightly less than the equivalent of 6 cups of coffee’s worth of caffeine. That definitely means you’ll get plenty of “energy” from this product. It also means it’s not ideal for anyone with high blood pressure or heart troubles.

Of course, caffeine is a well-established thermogenic and does deliver mild weight loss effects (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97).

If there’s a downside to caffeine is that’s it’s really cheap; you can buy a whole bottle of 200 mg tabs for $5. So its inclusion here does not justify a purchase.

The Smart Weight Loss product also contains a smattering of both goji berry and pomegranate; nether of which can be included in a dose potent enough to elicit any effect. They are here for label decoration only.

So where does that leave us?

Obviously, we’re certainly not overwhelmed with the formula, but we’re even less impressed by the regimen. Taken at the recommended dosage (days 1-3, 1 cap 3 X daily, days 4 on, 2 caps 3 X daily) this will last less than two weeks. This makes it much more expensive than it appears at first glance.

Summary of Bob Harper’s Smart Weight Loss
 
  • If you love caffeine, you’ll love this product.
  • Readily available in chain stores.
 
  • The claimed clinical studies are problematic.
  • Formula similar to Hydroxycut.
  • Taken as directed, the 72 capsule container won’t last very long.
  • Inexpensive alternatives are available.
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