Review: Jillian Michaels Extreme Maximum Strength Fat Burner

Our Recommendation: Jillian Michaels’ “fat burner” isn’t really much more than a stimulant. It’s fine for a pick-me-up (although generic caffeine is much cheaper), but underwhelming otherwise.

Jillian Michaels’ fat burner product is an attempt to capitalize on her “Biggest Loser” reputation

Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels

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 promotion of this product is based on its amazing fat burning powers?

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The short answer is “no.” To see why, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients.

Certain ingredients are redundant; and were chosen to make the formula look more impressive than it really is

A daily, 4 capsule serving (delivered in twice daily, 2-capsule servings) delivers a hair over 1,700 mg of ingredients (1.7 grams), divided up like so…

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.

So far, we have four citrus fruit extracts, three of which are probably sources of a disappointingly weak weight loss compound: synephrine. What makes three sources better than one? No idea.

To continue…

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.

Coffee bean extract: Likely standardized for caffeine. When we originally reviewed this product, the label details revealed this ingredient was indeed standardized for caffeine – which, of course, 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). The newest variation does not do so, but given the 100 mg of caffeine included in every 2-cap dose, this makes the most sense.

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.

To add to the redundancy, there are 4 sources of caffeine/related xanthines.

Ingredients new to this version…

An earlier version of this product contained an undetermined amount of CLA, tribulus and forskolin. Those have disappeared and have been replaced with…

Cayenne pepper powder: Its main constituent capsaicin has thermogenic effects (i.e., the ability to boost the metabolism) when included in a potent enough dosage. For the record, that’s not happening in this product.

Alpha lipoic acid: A potent antioxidant with blood-sugar moderating properties. Animal studies show a weight loss effect, but this has yet to be replicated in humans.

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Now that we’ve had a look, what’s the verdict?

Jillian Michaels’ Extreme Maximum Fat Burner is little more than a glorified stimulant pill.

Despite the impressive number of ingredients, this is a very simple stimulant product that will have you jittering merrily through your day.

Other ingredients demonstrated to be moderately useful (i.e. alpha lipoic acid and cayenne) are likely present in doses too low to offer much in the way of benefits, while ingredients like white willow powder 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.

But there’s nothing really special here.

One bit of good news at least; this product is now much more affordable; a 2-week supply clocks in just below $15.

At least now the price is a little more in line with the value it offers (personally, I think you’d get 80% of the benefits from a $5 dollar investment in caffeine pills).

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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What do you think? Share this post or join in or start the discussion below!


  1. I started taking ths pills yesterday and exercised I’m not in any diet but I did exercise yesterday and today. Today I only took 1 pill in the morning because yesterday I felt my heart beat really fast. However I do feel energy but as soon as I’m done working out I feel tired. Also I’m only 16. I dnt know if they work because i still eat like usual and last nite felt rEally hungry. What should I do?

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    • Editor`s comments: These products are not recommended for anyone under the age of 18. STOP taking the product… you don`t need it.

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  2. I took this for 6 months total and lost 25 pounds. There is no miracle drug. You cannot expect to take a pill and the weight drops off. You have to invest time and effort into your weight loss. I ate better and did two hours of exercise a day. A high intense aerobic in the morning and then I ran at night. I slimmed down and felt great. I would and have recommended this to my friends who ask what I did to jump start my weight loss and muscle build.

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  3. yes for all you newbies taking these yes they worked at first for me and i was following the directions on the bottle 2 in the morning and 2 with main meal great for awhile lost some weight has i got close to finishing the bottle i notcied i started having bad:( side effects feeling ,very tired, having headaches, fatigue, not so good after all will not be finishing the bottle :( good luck to all you newbies who are just starting them maybe!!! they will work better for you then they did for me

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  4. All you are saying you lost respect for her and its a diet pill are confused. A diet pill is simply caffeine to boost your metabolism, and a combination of ingredients which can help reduce appetite. You can use this with a healthy diet and exercise regime. If you weigh 250 pounds, sit on the couch all day, and want to continue eating badly, you don’t need to be using the product. On the other hand, if you hit a plateau, are reducing to low bodyfat for some type of athletic competition, there is nothing unhealthy about it. You need to do it with the right nutritional and physical knowledge.

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