Review: Gaspari Nutrition’s Spirodex Fat Burner

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According to the product advertising, Gaspari Nutrition’s Spirodex is…

“Guaranteed to provide you with an intense feeling of mood enhancement, mental clarity and energy.”

Although Gaspari also claims Spirodex will help “suppress appetite”, they really don’t make much in the way of claims regarding the weight loss abilities of the product—which, quite frankly, is pretty refreshing. As you no doubt are aware, most manufacturers can’t prove their products have the “fat blasting” powers they claim.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent them from making those claims.

So this is a refreshing change, and an encouraging one; Gaspari has a reputation for making class-leading products (although they are not above engaging in scummy behavior) and it’s nice to see they aren’t lowering themselves to the level of their competitors by “ratcheting up” the outrageousness of their advertising..

That said, Spirodex doesn’t “look” like your typical “off the shelf” fat burner. The small, compact bottle looks like it would be more at home occupying a shelf behind the counter at your local pharmacy—in other words, it looks like a prescription medication.

Which, of course, it is not.

So with all that said, what’s in Gaspari’s new offering?

Oxytropis falcata extract: Misspelled in the Gaspari advertising as “Oxytropis falcate” (also known as “locoweed”), this is a toxic Chinese plant of the bean / pea / legume family that has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries as an anti-inflammatory—there is some evidence to support its usage.

It’s also a rich source of numerous flavanoids including kaempferol, quercetin and chrysin.

According to Gaspari, this element of the formula is standardized for “biogenic amines” (in “cognition supplements” like this one, this often refers to neurotransmitters), although they do not reveal which one(s) or to what potency they are standardized.

That turns out to be a problem, because discovering which “biogenic amines” O. falcata might be standardized for is difficult, as the English studies I located discussed its flavanoid content solely, while other studies discussing its constituents were published in Chinese. However, this review article indicates O. falcata is a source of several substituted phenylethylamines.

Once again, it’s impossible to confirm exactly which—if any—phenylethylamine (PEA) derivatives are included here (phenylethylamine is the amphetamine-related chemical commonly found in chocolate. It is rapidly metabolized by the enzyme monamine oxidase (MAO), which makes oral supplementation pointless unless it’s accompanied by an MAOI (monamine oxidase inhibitor) or two).

Nonetheless, PEA is an ingredient Gaspari likes to “play” with; both their CytoLean (now discontinued) and CytoLean V2 fat burners contain it and a series of MAOIs. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. As Elissa noted in a correspondence with me about Spirodex…

“The family of phenylethylamine-derivatives contains some pretty scary members. And there appears to be very little information available on either the pharmacology or toxicity of these derivatives. I feel it’s irresponsible for Gaspari to be playing “guessing games” with its customers over the ingredients in this product.”

We’re looking into O. falcata in greater detail to see if we can’t reveal a little more about its constituents and how it may impact this formula. Stay tuned!

Camellia sinensis: Quite simply, Chinese tea. Since many teas are actually harvested from this species (including green, oolong, and black teas) it’s impossible to know which tea we’re dealing with here. Both oolong and green tea show benefits for weight loss, for example. This element of the formula is not standardized for EGCG, as is the green tea in most weight loss supplements. That likely diminishes the value of the tea in this formula.

Hordenine: A biogenic amine found in a number of plants, hordenine is often included in weight loss supplements, largely because of its ability to stimulate norepinephrine release (there’s zero documented proof to confirm this, however!). In this formula, hordenine may play a different role. Because it also acts as a highly selective substrate for MAO-B, it may prevent the quick metabolizing of the phenylethylamine derivatives we’re assuming are included in the formula. Once again, it is impossible to know for sure.

Geranium maculatum extract: Also known as “Wild Geranium” or “Spotted Geranium.” So-called “geranium extracts” are pretty popular in both weight loss supplements (see OxyElite Pro) and preworkout formulas (see USP Labs’ Jacked) for the incredible boost of energy they provide. While most retailers are labeling this ingredient as DMAA or 1-3 dimethylamyamine, Gaspari has labeled it as “4-methylhexan-2-amine”, which happens to be exactly the same compound. While this compound is a potent CNS stimulator, there is zero credible documentation that it facilitates dramatic weight loss.

Incidentally, DMAA has been added to the World Anti Doping Agency 2010 prohibited list, so if you’re a competitive athlete, you’ll want to avoid this product.

Paullinia cupana (standardized for purine content): This is more commonly known as “guarana“. Its purine content, in this case, is likely caffeine. Two thumbs down to Gaspari for needlessly complicating the label and making their product seem more “advanced” than it actually is.

Caffeine: No surprise here; caffeine graces the label of most stimulant based weight loss supplements on the planet. Caffeine’s benefit as a mild thermogenic is well documented (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97), and some evidence indicates that when combined with green tea (as it may be here) it elicits somewhat greater fat burning effects (see Obes Res. 2005 Jul;13(7):1195-204).

Of course, caffeine also gives most people a much needed “boost” of energy to help them get through their day.

So there you have it; Spirodex in all its “glory.”

How’s it measure up?

Well, since the only claims Gaspari really makes for Spirodex are that it will provide you with mood enhancement, mental clarity and energy, plus a bit of appetite suppression, it’s hard to argue that this product won’t deliver on those promises.

The simple combination of DMAA and caffeine will provide you with plenty of energy. For many people, a hearty dose of caffeine is all that’s needed for mental clarity and “mood enhancement”… same deal for mild appetite suppression.

It’s the Oxytropis falcata extract that’s the wild card here.

As addressed earlier, we don’t know if and or which phenylethylamine derivative(s) it is standardized for, and that’s a problem, as there is very little information available on either the pharmacology or toxicity of these derivatives.

In other words, there’s a potential for risk here, and it’s irresponsible of Gaspari not to be more forthright with its customers about the true nature of all Spirodex’s constituents.

For that reason, this is not a Gaspari offering we can heartily recommend.

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