Lipofuze Review: Analysis of Ingredients
This is Part II of the Lipofuze review—click here if you missed Part I and want to review it before continuing!
The Lipofuze formula contains the following ingredients…
1. Vitamin D. Serum vitamin D is lower in obese vs. normal weight people, but there is no evidence that vitamin D supplementation helps people lose weight.
2. Chromax. This is a proprietary form of chromium picolinate, produced by Nutrition 21. The Lipofuze write up states…
“In the official Chromax clinical trial, the average subject administered Chromax ate 365 less calories of food each day.”
There’s something similar noted on the Nutrition 21 site, although it’s less specific:
“In a study conducted by researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, subjects taking 1000 mcg of chromium as Chromax chromium picolinate saw a reduction in carbohydrate cravings, appetite and caloric intake by as much as 25 percent over an eight-week period.”
The Nutrition 21 summary is more informative – and more honest – than the Lipofuze version. Note the phrases “by as much” and “over an eight-week period.”
The study is here. As I would expect from Pennington, it’s pretty meticulous. And it contains details NOT reported in either summary, such as…
“The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of CrPic on food intake in healthy, overweight, adult women who reported craving carbohydrates.”
Emphasis mine. Thus, they looked at a specific population of overweight women. In addition, the measured calorie reductions occurred only in the laboratory; were not seen in full until the 8 weeks was up; and did NOT result in any meaningful weight loss – just a skosh over a pound.
“Moreover, participants receiving CrPic lost a small amount of weight (0.5 kg) over this 8-week study, which suggests they may have also reduced their food intake outside of the laboratory. However, participants receiving CrPic lost a smaller amount of weight than would be expected based on the difference in food intake (i.e., 210 kcal) between the two groups during their final (week 8) food test day. This suggests that participants receiving CrPic may not have maintained a consistent reduction in energy intake throughout the entire 8-week period.”
So much for that 365 calories.
This is not to say that Chromax – or chromium supplementation in general – is useless for weight loss. But a) there are negative as well as positive studies to consider; and b) there’s exactly nada in any of the positive studies to support claims of rapid, effortless weight loss.
3. Green tea – this one’s standardized for 50% caffeine, not catechins, so I’ll kick the discussion of green tea extract down to the next section, and talk about caffeine. It’s is a mild thermogenic with demonstrated benefits for weight loss (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97).
It also has antioxidant and diuretic properties, making an ideal ingredient for fat burners – particularly since it can serve as an “energizer.” This is where its true value lies in a fat-burning formula.
4. Green Select Phytosome (green tea extract): There’s no doubt, green tea is a great supplement, showing some real benefits for weight loss. Nonetheless, “real” doesn’t mean “dramatic.” For example, in one widely cited study, men consuming 690mg green tea catechins in beverage form lost nearly twice as much weight and fat as did men consuming a low-catechin control beverage. That’s a genuine difference… but in real terms, it meant that the test group lost an average of 5.3 pounds over 12 weeks, while the controls lost 2.9 pounds.
Another study found that green tea and caffeine (from guarana) together increased 24 energy expenditure by an average of 750kJ. That’s only about 180 calories (kcal). This is significant, yes… but in real terms, it’s only about 20% of the deficit you could create by knocking 500 calories off your diet, and adding 45-60 minutes of moderate exercise (approx. 400 calories). It’s a decent little boost, but that’s all it is.
Ok, but what about Green Select Phytosome? It’s a special, proprietary extract that – according to the graph on the Lipofuze site – yields results far superior than the studies noted above…
“In one clinical trial, 50 subjects lost an average of 30.52 pounds by taking Green Select Phytosome alone.”
Ok, let’s talk about that clinical trial… it’s actually published in a peer-reviewed journal, albeit one that’s devoted to “Alternative Medicine” – a status that almost certainly has an influence on the rigor of the peer-review process. This more “relaxed” attitude can be seen in the paper itself… although the general facts are correctly reported on the manufacturer’s (Indena’s) web site…
One hundred patients affected by overweight and obesity have been treated with 150 mg of Greenselect® Phytosome® twice daily (300 mg/day). During the study, all patients (treated and placebo) followed a low caloric diet (1250-1350 Kcal for women and 1650-1750 Kcal for men) distributed in at least 4 meals per day.
Parameters such as body weight, body mass index, waistline, total cholesterol, basal glycemia and total triglycerides were measured at the beginning, after 45 days and after 90 days (end of the study).
The average weight loss was of 6 kg in the diet only group and 14 kg in the treated group. Accordingly, relevant results have been reported in terms of body mass index, waistline and blood parameters.
…the account obscures the fact that no placebo was used for the control (diet alone) group!
This is a methodological issue, as it’s well-known that people respond strongly to pills, particularly those given in a clinical setting. And the study write up makes no mention of blinding, either – how the researchers interact with the subjects and set expectations is critical. That’s why placebo-controlled trials are also typically “double-blind” – that is, neither the subject nor the experimenter knows which treatments being dispensed are the “real” or “dummy” ones. That way, the experimenter cannot subtly (or overtly) influence the subjects’ behavior.
Placebo-controlled, double-blind studies are the “gold standard.” This one fell short, and inexplicably so, since it would not have been difficult to add this extra layer of care. Thus, this study is suggestive, but far from conclusive.
In the light of past research on green tea, it’s easy to believe that Green Select Phytosome had some positive effect on the subjects’ weight loss, but until a better-controlled study is done, it’s impossible to say if it really is a superior alternative to other standardized green tea extracts as a weight loss supplement ingredient.
5. Irvingia gabonensis. I’ve written a full review on the subject, but I can summarize the primary issue: the studies are all done by the same guy who just happens to have a patent on Irvingia gabonensis for weight loss, Julius Oben. This is a serious conflict of interest. Needless to state, there are no independent confirmations available.
And that’s a shame, because – after reading the studies – they’re clearly needed. There are a range of details that cry out for explanation.
This includes the study discussed on the Lipofuze site… The authors clearly state that – while dietary composition was assessed, “[n]o major dietary intervention or formal physical activity program was instituted during the course of the study.” And, the subjects were “randomly” assigned to placebo and active groups. But lower down, I saw this:
“The mean daily energy intake in the IGOB131 group was 2767 ± 187 kcal of which 56% was from carbohydrate, 29% from protein, and 15% from fat. In the placebo group, the mean daily energy intake was 3156 ± 185 kcal of which 56% was from carbohydrate, 29% was from protein, and 15% was from fat.”
Wow. One small paragraph… so many questions!
- If the subjects were given no dietary instructions, how is it that the diet compositions of the two groups (56% C, 29%P and 15% F) just happened to be exactly the same – with no “error bars”? Random groups of people simply don’t eat that uniformly.
- Furthermore, those diets are the same in a rather peculiar way: they’re very low in fat and high in protein. According to this 2000 survey of dietary intakes in Cameroon, rural and urban men and women generally consume diets that range, on average, between 42% – 43.8% fat. The higher protein intakes are curious too – the linked survey actually puts it at 8.9% – 10.4% of calories. How is it that two “random” groups of Cameroonians just happened to be eating uniformly low fat/high protein diets?
- In addition, the difference in energy intakes between the IGOB31 and placebo groups is substantial – nearly 400 kcal. Was this at baseline… or did it change over the course of the study? The wording in the text is quite vague.
- Why is this difference in energy intake not discussed in the text? If it was the result of supplementation, then it’s evidence of appetite suppression – surely a result worth reporting. On the flip side, if it existed at baseline, its still quite relevant to the discussion. The whole point of having a placebo group is to be able to make valid comparisons. Where differences between placebo and treatment groups exist, they need to be accounted for, one way or another. Total silence simply isn’t an option – the peer-reviewers must’ve been asleep at the switch.
Even stranger, the authors do not seem to comprehend, let alone acknowledge, the magnitude of what they’re reporting: a mean weight loss of 28 pounds over 10 weeks… on more than 2700 calories a day? As weight loss guru and natural bodybuilder Tom Venuto put it…
“To a lay person, a 28-pound weight loss (12.8 kilos) looks incredible. To those familiar with research methods and weight loss, these results look IN-credible, meaning NOT credible. To the informed and discriminating crowd, results like these don’t send you running to the health food store, they raise all sorts of red flags, prompt more questions and demand better-controlled research.”
Amen to that. Oddities like those described above highlight the importance of independent replication.
6. Cissus quadrangularis. The case for Cissus quadrangularis as a weight loss nostrum is just as tentative as that of Irvingia gabonensis – and for similar reasons. Once again, Julius Oben is the lead researcher; and once again, he just happens to have a patent on Cissus quadrangularis for weight loss.
And once again, we await independent replication… particularly since Cissus-based weight loss formulas like Cylaris and CardioTrim have bitten the dust. If Cissus was as effective as claimed, why are Cissus-based weight loss products becoming less common, vs. more?
7. Coenzyme Q10. From our glossary:
“A naturally-occurring, fat-soluble compound in the ubiquinone family; Coenzyme Q10 is found in cell membranes and lipoproteins. It’s required for the synthesis of mitochondrial ATP, and functions as an antioxidant. Coenzyme Q10 has been used experimentally to treat cardiovascular and mitochondrial diseases. Coenzyme Q10 is often abbreviated as CoQ10. It’s sold as a supplement in either its ubiquinone or reduced ubiquinol form.”
The Lipofuze site states that supplementing with CoQ10 can “…can increase your metabolic rate and increase your overall calorie burn” – but the evidence for this is virtually non-existant. Certainly CoQ10 has therapeutic potential, but it’s a stretch to portray it as a weight loss nutrient.
8. Lactobacillus acidophilus. Sorry, but for any good probiotic bacteria supplement, it’s the number/activity of the organisms that’s important… not the weight. Four milligrams doesn’t tell us if they’re alive or dead, and since this is an unrefrigerated product with no guarantees of activity, “dead” seems more probable.
Now, that we know what’s in Lipofuze, what’s the final verdict?