Metabolife Fat Burner Reviews: Metabolife Ultra, et al.
Metabolife weight loss products and fat burners are pretty well-known in the supplement industry. In part, this is due to the unscrupulous and criminal activities of the company’s former owners. If you’re interested in the story, the Metabolife Wikipedia page has a pretty good summary.
But that was then and this is now. The Metabolife brand is owned/marketed by IdeaSphere Inc., under the aegis of TwinLab. At this point, the controversies that kept the brand in the news are history.
The brand, however, is not. Metabolife weight loss products are still on store shelves. Do they work? Are they good buys? Do we recommend them now that the brand is more respectable?
To answer those questions, let’s take a closer look at the four weight loss products in the current Metabolife line.
1. Metabolife Ultra: This consists of…
SuperCitrimax: a proprietary extract of Garcinia cambogia. The SuperCitrimax in Metabolife Ultra is part of a 1736mg proprietary blend. This suggests that Ultra provides the full amount (or close to it) of SuperCitrimax used in the positive study (see J Med. 2004;35(1-6):33-48), when taken as recommended (2 caps x 3 times/day). That’s good.
Don’t get too excited though; if you check the study, you’ll see that individuals participating were restricted to 2,000 calories per day. They also walked 30 minutes per day, 5 days out of 7.
Total weight lost?
An average of 5.4% in bodyweight over the course of 8 weeks. A two hundred pound man would have lost 10.8 lbs., or 1.35 lbs. per week. That’s well within the realms—actually probably less— than what you can expect to accomplish on your own with a more rigorous training program and a slightly more restrictive diet.
Caffeine: Caffeine can enhance exercise performance, and also has mild thermogenic effects. Because of these effects, caffeine is added to a wide variety of energy drinks, weight loss supplements and pre-workout boosters.
ChromeMate: A patented version of niacin-bound chromium, this is a pretty standard and cheap addition to many weight loss products. Although chromium polynicotinate is probably the best form of chromium to experiment with, evidence validating its weight loss characteristics are preliminary. Other forms of chromium have not fared so well in studies (see the full review for more information and clinical references).
Coenzyme Q10: 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. Supplementation has no known weight loss benefits, however.
2. Metabolife Ultra Caffeine-Free: Same as the above, with a spectrum of B-vitamins added to “replace” the caffeine (and coenzyme Q10).
3. Metabolife Green Tea: Same as the Ultra, with some of the HCA replaced with standardized green tea, plus caffeine from guarana and yerba mate.
Green tea extract is a glucose moderator and a source of powerful antioxidants. Green tea has been shown to increase metabolic rate — by about 4% in one study (that’s less than a hundred calories per day for an average individual). A quality ingredient to be sure, and standard fare in most ephedra-free fat burner compilations these days, but don’t expect miracles from it.
While green tea extract is a nice addition to a fat burner, in this case it’s concealed in a proprietary blend that’s shrunk to 1032mg. Since the recommended dose is still 2 caps x 3 times/day, this means that the amount of SuperCitrimax being supplied is lower than the same ingredient in “Ultra.”
Does the addition of green tea make up for the loss? No idea. Insofar as I know, this is a combination that has never been studied. I tend to doubt it, however.
4. Metabolife Green Tea + Vitamin D: Green tea extract, caffeine from guarana/yerba mate, bilberry extract and resveratrol from Japanese Knotweed and red wine extract.
Unlike the first 3 products, this one contains no SuperCitrimax at all.
Resveratrol is a polyphenolic antioxidant compound found in red grapes/red wine, peanuts and certain berries – as well as a few other plants (Polygonum cuspidatum – Japanese knotweed – is the primary source used for resveratrol supplements). Studies on resveratrol have linked it to a wide range of benefits: anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and improvement of cardiovascular health.
Certain cell culture models suggest that resveratrol may have anti-obesity effects, but there are no human studies to confirm this.
While resveratrol is certainly an interesting compound, it’s not a reason to prefer this product. For one thing, we have no idea how much resveratrol is present. This lack of information leads me to suspect that it’s little more than “label dressing.” Ditto the bilberry extract – a nice ingredient from a health perspective, perhaps, but one with no known weight loss effects.
Vitamin D has been in the news lately, and researchers have tentatively linked it to a range of health outcomes, including obesity. Research has shown, for example, that obese subjects have lower serum vitamin D levels than normal weight controls. As it turns out, obesity has an impact on vitamin D bioavailability. Thus, it’s probably a good idea for obese people to supplement with it, but it’s not a weight loss nutrient, per se.
So what’s the bottom line on Metabolife?
Yes, green tea extract/caffeine and SuperCitrimax are decent ingredients, but you don’t need to buy Metabolife to get them.
For example, 90 caps of NOW brand SuperCitrimax can be had for less than $13 US from Bodybuilding.com. This product also supplies chromium. And caffeine is available from virtually any drug or grocery store for under $5 US. And if you’d like to add some green tea extract to that, PrimaForce’s “Lean Green” standardized green tea extract is available for under $10 US.
An additional perk of buying products like those linked above, is that you know the exact amounts of everything. There’s no guesswork involved, as there is with proprietary blends.
Overall, Metabolife products are ok, but with less expensive alternatives available, I see no reason to prefer them.
|Summary of Metabolife Products