|The Buzz: Can you lose 57 pounds in nine weeks? Not in a healthy way, but that hasn’t stopped Cytodyne Technologies from making such a bold declaration about its hot-selling Xenadrine RFA-1. Available at GNC and other such stores, this supplement claims to be a “clinically proven rapid fat-loss catalyst.”
The Basics: Xenadrine contains pantothenic acid, bitter orange, ma huang (ephedra), guarana, white willow bark, ginger and a “proprietary thermosynergist blend” of L-tyrosine, acetyl-L-carnitine, fisetin (a flavonoid), magnesium phosphate and DMAE (2-dimethylaminoethanol). While some of the ingredients, like ma huang and guarana, have metabolism-boosting properties, we are at a loss to explain the purpose of many of the other ingredients. So was the company, which couldn’t offer consistent answers when we asked.
The Bonus: An abstract published in the January 2000 Obesity Research describes a controlled trial of Xenadrine in 30 overweight volunteers. Half were given Xenadrine, the other half placebos. All participants exercised three times a week and received nutrition counseling. After eight weeks, the Xenadrine group lost twice as much weight (9%) and body fat (16%) as the control group (4% weight loss and a 1% gain in body fat), while muscle was reportedly spared. All this without side effects.
The Bust: Although some ingredients in the Xenadrine formula are involved in energy production (like carnitine and magnesium), there’s no evidence these nutrients boost fat loss. Other ingredients have no known relationship to metabolism (e.g., white willow bark), are available in too small amounts to have much effect (ginger) or are easily obtained from food (pantothenic acid). We also question the wisdom of taking compounds like DMAE (a neuro-stimulant), about which there is little clinical information. Of more concern is the potential danger of supplements containing ephedra, particularly for people with high blood pressure. Such supplements have been linked to several deaths. Particularly worrisome is when ephedra is paired with guarana or other caffeine-containing substances that exacerbate its dangerous effects.
The Bottom Line: Even if Xenadrine offers a slight metabolic boost, the presence of so many ingredients of dubious benefit and potential risks is reason enough to steer clear. To lose weight, we recommend a safer and more proven route: Eat less and move more.
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