Review: Jillian Michaels Extreme Maximum Strength Fat Burner


Yup, Jillian Michaels has her own fat burner, the “Jillian Michaels Extreme Maximum Strength Fat Burner.” This is one of four Jillian Michaels brand products currently being aggressively promoted at GNC (the others include the “Triple Process Body Detox & Cleanse plus Probiotic Replenishment”, a “calorie control” product, and a 2-bottle “quick start” program).

You know Jillian, of course, from the NBC reality T.V. show series, “The Biggest Loser” where she put her abilities as a personal trainer to the test. Jillian is in amazing shape, and she’s drop-dead gorgeous. But does that mean her endorsement of this product is indicative of its amazing fat burning powers?

To answer that, let’s take a closer look at the “Jillian Michaels Extreme Maximum Strength Fat Burner” and dissect the ingredients list…

A daily, 4 capsule serving (delivered in twice daily, 2-capsule servings) delivers a hair over 2,000 mg of ingredients (2 grams), divided up like so…

1. Proprietary blend: A daily dose (4-caps) contains 1018 mg of the following ingredients…

Grapefruit extract: Because of the ambiguous nature of the way this ingredient is labeled, it’s difficult to assess its role here. Is it standardized for narinigin? After all, naringin is often included in products to enhance the bioavailability of ingested nutrients/nutraceuticals, although specific benefits have not been demonstrated.

It also has cholesterol-lowering effects, and can affect drug metabolism. Grapefruit seed extract, on the other hand, has anti-microbial properties; nothing wrong with that, of course, but not a valid reason for its inclusion in this product.

Bitter Orange extract: Standardized for synephrine, once thought to be a credible alternative to ephedra. Unfortunately, published evidence shows synephrine to have only the mildest of weight loss effects.

Blood Orange extract: Again, because of the “ambiguous labeling” issue, it’s difficult to determine why this ingredient is included. It is a source of potent antioxidant called anthocyanin, which may help slow age-related cognitive decline. Additionally, the terms “blood orange”, “bitter orange”, and the next ingredient on the list ( “sweet orange”) can all be used to describe the same thing, so perhaps this is an additional source of synephrine.

Sweet Orange extract: See “blood orange”, directly above.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid: A non-essential fatty acid, a recent meta-analysis concluded that a dose of 3.2 g/day…

“…produces a modest loss of body fat in humans.”

The problem, of course, is that the “Extreme Maximum Strength Fat Burner” contains nowhere near this amount—if this proprietary blend contained nothing but CLA, it would take 3-days worth of capsules to deliver this dosage. And of course, it does not; it contains 7 other ingredients. So the CLA here has no real purpose other than “label dressing.”

White Willow Bark powder: A standard ingredient in herbal versions of the old ephedra, caffeine, aspirin stack, white willow is standardized for salicin, a natural anti-inflammatory. It was thought to improve the efficiency of the E/C/A stack, although there is little evidence to support this claim. And there is no evidence it provides any benefit when included in an ephedra-free product.

Coleus forskohlii extract (10% forskolin): Forskolin is a cAMP stimulator (cAMP is a “cellular regulator.” In other words, this compound is required to “spark” many intercellular processes. An increased concentration of cAMP can have such “total-body” effects as raised thyroid hormone levels and increased fat burning). One study (using 250 mg twice daily doses of 10% standardized forskolin) showed a modest weight loss effect.

Does a daily, 4-capsule dose of Jillian’s new fat burner contain 500 mg of Coleus forskohlii extract? It’s hard to imagine that it does, given that it is listed 7th (out of 8) on the ingredients label (by law ingredients must be listed according to prominence).

Tribulus terrestris (20% saponins): Tribulus is often found in men’s supplements, for its “ability” to increase “androgen” (i.e., testosterone) production.

Unfortunately, published research does not confirm tribulus’ androgen producing qualities.

And its libido-boosting characteristics have only been confirmed in animal models (see Life Sci. 2002 Aug 9;71(12):1385-96, J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Apr;9(2):257-65).

What’s it doing in this product then, other than making the label look impressive? No idea.

2. Proprietary Xanthine blend: Contains 986 mg of the following…

Coffee bean extract (70% caffeine): Caffeine is a well known thermogenic with a proven track record of modest weight loss (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97).

Guarana seed extract (12% caffeine): Guarana, the wild-growing shrub common to Brazil, has been a standard in weight loss products for years, largely due to its caffeine content. Beyond that, there’s no evidence to suggest it has additional fat burning characteristics.

Cocoa seed extract (4% theobromine): Theobromine is a “xanthine” like caffeine, and a stimulant, although not as potent as its cousin. And while there have been studies validating caffeine’s thermogenic effects (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97) no such evidence exists to suggest theobromine offers similar benefits.

Kola seed extract (12% caffeine): Riddle me this… what’s the point of using 3 different sources of “natural” caffeine when the sources it is drawn from offers no additional benefits to the consumer? The answer is… none. But it looks a heck of a lot more impressive on the label.

Now that we’ve completed an overview of the ingredients profile, what’s the verdict?

Despite the impressive looking label, this is a caffeine + synephrine blend that is likely potent enough to have you jittering merrily through your day.

Other ingredients demonstrated to be moderately useful (i.e. CLA and coleus forskohli) are present in doses too low to offer much in the way of benefits, while the remainder of the ingredients (tribulus, white willow powder, cocoa seed, etc.) offer no additional value at all.

At the end of the day, the Jillian Michaels Extreme Maximum Strength Fat Burner is a very simple product disguised—by tossing in middling amounts of impressive sounding ingredients—as something much more complex.

Don’t get me wrong—many people enjoy basic stimulant based fat burners because they provide the “ooomph” to get up and going, to eat properly and make it to the gym.

The problem here is cost; this product retails for slightly over $50 for a month’s supply.

Good value? Hardly.

For $50 spent at a reputable online retailer like, you can buy a month’s supply of CLA (delivering the recommended 3.2 gram daily dosage), plus caffeine and synephrine and still have money left over.

If you want to look like Jillian Michaels, you’d probably be better off investing in her online program which might actually help you to do what it says it does… “burn fat faster!”

I have no doubt it will yield better results (as an aside, check out Elissa’s blog post, “The Biggest Sucker” which discusses another “Biggest Loser” spinoff product… protein powder).


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