Review: Universal Nutrition Animal Cuts Fat Burner
The Animal Cuts fat burner comes to us from Universal Nutrition, makers of Animal Stak, Animal M-Stack, Animal Pump and other “animal” products.
With it’s distinctive “can” packaging and “hardcore” image, Universal Nutrition’s series of products always garner a fair bit of interest. And like their other products, Animal Cuts contains a pretty extensive blend of ingredients—and plenty of them, too! In fact the updated version of this formula (our review was completed in late summer 2012) sports over 40 ingredients (over 4,000 mg per serving) divided among 8 different complexes.
Of course, it`s a relatively easy process to jam a ton of ingredients into a formula. It only means something if they are useful ones, included at dosages shown to be helpful in accompanying clinical studies.
So let’s take a closer look at Animal Cuts and its 8 complexes…
The core ingredient of this complex is caffeine; in addition to being present on its own, kola nut, yerba mate and guarana also contain it. Caffeine, of course, is the most common of thermogenics, with a demonstrated (albeit mild) effect on the metabolism (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97, Am J Physiol. 1995 Oct;269(4 Pt 1):E671-8).
Yerba mate, like the recently popular green coffee extract, is also a source of chlorogenic acid, which may have benefits for dieters as well. One study on mate showed that consumption led to delayed gastric emptying and an increased feeling of satiety when combined with guarana and damiana (damiana is missing from this formula).
Despite being featured prominently on the Dr. Oz show, the clinical data supporting raspberry ketones and their effects on weight loss is almost entirely animal based. There is some evidence coleus can be helpful for weight loss, although it is unclear whether or not Animal Cuts contains an effective dose of this ingredient. Theoretically, evodiamine (which is a a vanilloid receptor agonist like capsaicin) should be helpful for weight loss, but so far, the only existing studies to verify its effects are animal based.
When it comes to weight loss ingredients, green tea extract is about as close to a no-brainer as you can get. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a powerful antioxidant, anti-cancer agent, and is the most potent catechin in green tea. Studies show that ingesting such compounds can lead to a lowering of bodyfat AND of cholesterol levels (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 81, No. 1, 122-129, January 2005).
And that’s just the beginning; check out the complete green tea review for a complete overview of its benefits. Ooloong tea too, has benefits for weight loss. And while there are no studies to confirm the weight loss effects of either white or black tea, there is no doubt they contain many of the same helpful constituents that contribute to both green and oolong tea’s usefulness.
Coffee bean extract probably refers to chlorogenic acid, but it would nice if Universal eliminated the need for any speculation by revealing exactly what it is for which they are standardizing this ingredient.
3. Thyroid complex: The previous version of Animal Cuts contained guggulsterones, but this one contains L-tyrosine (a thyroid hormone precursor), olive leaf extract (standardized for oleuropein), and Salvia officinalis (common sage). I was unable to find any human bases studies to suggest any of these play any significant role in supporting thyroid function.
This newest version also adds Hydrangea root, Buchu leaf, Juniper berry and celery seed into the mix. One serving of Animal Cuts offers up 800 mg of this 6 ingredient blend. That’s not a lot, when you consider that most dedicated diuretic products contain several thousand milligrams of dandelion root extract per serving.
5. Nootropic complex: This element of the formula is designed to help with mood and mental focus. This 500 mg blend contains DMAE, bacopa, phenylethylamine (or PEA, the “feel good” chemical found in chocolate) and huperzine A.
Huperzine is an alkaloid isolated from Chinese moss, and although it is has “brain boosting” characteristics, it is also a selective inhibitor of the enzyme monamine oxidase—the enzyme that metabolizes the aforementioned phenylethylamine.
By including huperzine in this formula, Universal has increased the likelihood that some PEA may cross into the bloodstream intact, and effect energy levels and mental focus accordingly.
6. Cortisol Inhibiting Complex: Cortisol is the major stress hormone, elevated levels of which can attribute to weight gain as well as the loss of lean muscle. The 300 mg in this complex is divided up between the following ingredients…
- SerinAid®: Produced by Chemi Nutra, this is a patented form of phosphatidylserine, an ingredient which has been demonstrated (at a dosage of 600 mg/day and up) to reduce exercise induced cortisol levels (yes, exercise can stimulate cortisol production). There is also some evidence it “works” for mental stress as well.
- Ashwagandha extract: Also known as Indian ginseng or Withania somnifera, there is a small amount of evidence to suggest this ingredient can indeed affect cortisol levels.
- Rhodiola rosea: An adaptogenic herb used in Russian folk medicine, preliminary evidence suggests anti-stress effects, as a result of its effects on cortisol levels.
- Magnolia Bark extract: Probably standardized for ” honokiol” (it would be nice to know for sure), an ingredient which has well established stress reducing effects, although I wasn’t able to find any evidence it effects cortisol levels directly.
7. CCK Boosting Complex: CCK is short for “cholecystokinin”, and it’s a powerful “satiety” chemical produced naturally in our bodies. Retailers have been trying to harness its powers—unsuccessfully—for some time. This 300 mg complex contains…
- Apple pectin: The only clinical evidence I could find suggests apple pectin—in dosages much, much higher than included here—does not impact cholecystokinin levels.
- Cha-de-bugre: A Brazilian tree, Cha-de-bugre is thought to have some effect on cholecystokinin, but this has not been established in peer reviewed studies.
- Jojoba Seed Extract (Simmondsin): Animal studies confirm that Simmondsin has weight loss effects in rats.They also confirm that it has cholecystokinin boosting effects. Whether or not it has the same effect in humans has not been established. Even if it did, it’s hard to imagine how the light dusting included in this product would have much of an effect.
8. Bioavailability complex: Such complexes are designed to improve the “uptake” of the ingredients in the formula. The 500 mg in this complex is divided up between 6 ingredients. The first, bioperine, is pretty typical. The others; ginger root, cayenne, grapefruit, quercetin, naringin are not.
Flavonoids like quercetin, naringin, and grapefruit may be included for their ability to inhibit the action of the enzyme cytochrome P450. Ginger is likely included here for its stomach-soothing and nausea-reducing effects, and cayenne too, which may also have benefits for digestion.
So there you have it; the new and “improved” Animal Cuts.
But does adding more ingredients and increasing the complexity of an already complex product really improve things?
Sure, Animal Cuts does try to cover all the “fat burning bases” by including thermogenic ingredients, diuretics, thyroid boosting ingredients, cortisol inhibitors, as well as others.
And, it looks like it contains a TON of caffeine, so you’ll definitely “feel” this product. Plus, it appears to contain plenty of green tea/EGCG as well—the “caffeine +EGCG” combination is about as close to you can get to a “no-brainer” pairing of ingredients in a fat burner, despite the fact that the effects of green tea on weight loss is grossly exaggerated by most retailers.
But at the same time, many of the ingredients in Animal Cuts either do not have much (or any) clinical evidence validating their effectiveness, or they are severely under dosed.
Both the Cortisol Inhibiting Complex and the Cortisol Inhibiting Complex for example, contain ingredients for which some small amount of evidence validates the claimed effects. However, by stuffing more ingredients than necessary in these complexes, you pretty much guarantee that the most effective ingredients are being diluted down to a “light dusting.”
Why bother? Why not just eliminate the ingredients for which the evidence is weak, and ramp up the amount of those likely to be effective?
I’ll answer the question for you; it doesn’t make for an impressive looking label, that’s why.
And that’s too bad, because obviously some thought went into this product.
So what about value?
At this time of this writing BodyBuilding.com is selling the 3-week, 42 packs can of Animal cuts for the $34.98. If it were up to me, I would opt for a product that contained fewer, proven ingredients at a relevant dosage. However, for $34.98, you could do a lot worse. (I would definitely not pay more however: GNC is selling it for $61.99!!!).
Regardless, I’d love to hear from those of you who have used Animal Cuts…
|Summary of Animal Cuts