Xenadrine is one of the more storied brands in the supplement market.
Their thermogenic weight loss aid first hit shelves back in the late 1990s and was one of the first products to use the ephedrine-caffeine-aspirin (ECA) stack as a fat burner. Ephedrine and caffeine proved to be potent as a thermogenic blend, but it’s no longer found in supplements due to regulatory limitations that vary by state (blame it on Heisenberg!)
Naturally, the new thermogenic fat burner Xenadrine Core doesn’t contain ephedrine.
It’s instead centered around 200mg of green coffee bean extract, a trendy but highly controversial fat burner additive. There’s also still a healthy dose of caffeine per serving (150mg, about a cup and a half of coffee), but the rest of the ingredient lineup is padded out with somewhat obscure herb and seed extracts.
To the cynical, this might look at first blush like an attempt to trade on the old-school Xenadrine reputation with a potpourri of whatever exotic extracts Dr. Oz is currently touting. But what does the science have to say about this new formulation? Let’s take a closer look.
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Our Xenadrine Core Summary
The product marketing page at Xenadrine’s website cites two studies centered on green coffee bean extract. In one study, participants lost 10.95 lbs over 60 days while also following a low calorie diet, and in the other participants engaged in moderate physical activity for eight weeks and lost an average of about 2.5 lbs more than a placebo group. This is why Dr. Oz originally called it a “miracle pill”.
One small issue, however – the page doesn’t cite the studies it’s using!
And further, the study that Dr. Oz cited in that “miracle pill” episode was later retracted for using falsified data!!
While this is likely a case of selective copywriting as opposed to outright fabrication, we can’t be certain as to which study they’re referencing. The one that it seems to be discussing is a research study that most trustworthy publications completely discredit – namely due to the fact that it was published by a biased, for-profit company whose website is no longer online, nor is the original study’s PDF.
There’s very little quality research behind green coffee bean extract for weight loss
Using two actual scientific and the limited science-based literature reviews on green coffee bean extract, we weren’t able to find the eight-week study, which suggests it may not have been randomized or double-blind. Two meta-analysis performed note the lack of actual quality studies on the extract.[4,5]
Problem is, if you take a stroll around the web you’ll see lots of other products referring to these same studies in their marketing materials… but nobody seems to want to actually provide citation links to them!
We have a lot more information coming out about the whole situation behind green coffee bean. Needless to say, when it comes to weight loss, we’re not at all convinced by the available “research”.
So there’s already questions about the centerpiece ingredient and the studies that supposedly support it.
The good news, however, is that reviewers are indeed loving the way that this product is making them feel. There’s one ingredient that improves “quality of life” measurements, and that could be the reason why it really sells.
Xenadrine Core Ingredients
Anyway, let’s take an in-depth look at each of the supporting ingredients to see how they work:
Green coffee bean extract (200mg)
So if we can’t find Xenadrine’s evidence for GCB, what else can we find out there? If the first study is indeed the 2006 French study that we think it is, all of the patients involved had a body mass of greater than 25, which is about the cutoff point for obesity, at least according to the CDC. The literature reviews that we mentioned previously also both independently came to the conclusion that if GCB is effective, it’s for individuals that are obese, but not for those of a lower body mass index.[4,5]
About the best thing you can say about GCB right now is that it won’t hurt you. It may also be good for blood pressure.
The second of those literature reviews concluded that existing research was largely of “poor methodological quality.” There’s also been serious general problems with GCB studies being funded by the companies that are selling it, which came out in the wash with the investigation of Dr. Oz.
The results might be promising for those who are significantly overweight, but have to be taken with a BIG grain of salt. If you’re otherwise fit but are simply looking to burn off stubborn stored fat in a particular area, there’s no evidence right now that GCB is going to help you in any way.
On to the next ingredient.
Caffeine Anhydrous (150mg)
Caffeine anhydrous (caffeine with all but 0.5% of the water removed) is basically a requisite ingredient in any thermogenic fat burner. It’s the cheapest, most effective and most safe stimulant and also provides a very mild metabolic boost. 150mg should be well-tolerated by all but the most sensitive, and some who have a higher tolerance will enjoy two capsules worth (300mg).
White kidney bean extract
Phaselous vulgaris is derived from the northern white kidney bean. It’s classified as an amylase inhibitor, meaning it interferes with the enzyme responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into glucose.
In short, it’s meant to block calories derived from starches. The evidence on their efficacy is unclear, however, and they may lead to digestive side effects such as gas and bloating.
Mangosteen Fruit PowderThere’s a fairly solid 2013 study out of the University of California that suggests mangosteen (garcinia mangostana) is actually quite effective in managing weight when combined with a healthy diet and moderate daily exercise.
It appears to partially block fat uptake and specifically promote the burning of visceral fat.
Interestingly, the study also noted a lot better mood and quality of life scores. This alone could be the reason why reviewers are loving the feeling that this product is giving them.
The study used 400mg of a herbal blend, however, and since Xenadrine Core’s formula is proprietary we can’t be sure it’s at the same levels here.
Sacred Lotus Seed extract
Nelumbo nucifera is a flower that has been used widely in traditional medicine throughout Asia. For supplement purposes it’s included (as higenamine) as a fat burner and also to block fat uptake.
There is some evidence that it does function in this way, but it’s mostly from rat studies at this point. Now, rat studies shouldn’t be entirely disregarded, especially when there’s a number of them confirming each other’s results and you’ve also got some anecdotal support from actual product users who swear by higenamine (when appropriately extracted).
But even if it is effective, the 1% extract present here doesn’t add up to the 20mg dose needed for it to function in a manner similar to synephrine.
Once again, we don’t know how much is here due to Core having a proprietary blend, but perhaps there’s something else in Sacred Lotus / Nelumbo that is being extracted (such as EGCG or Quercetin).
Perilla Seed Extract
Perilla seed is a rich source of antioxidants from polyunsaturated fatty acids, but aside from that we’re unclear on why it’s been included in a fat burner.
Gotu Kola is an herb indigenous to India. A literature review covering studies up to 2009 found that it had a lot of promise for a wide range of general medical treatments, but little evidence for it as a fat burner ingredient other than some small support for it being a cognitive enhancer and mood booster.
Caraway Seed Extract
This is the one new ingredient here for a fat burner, and it’s possible that it’s what may provide something “different” for users.
In a 2013 study, researchers determined that caraway seed extract has the ability to stimulate weight loss in obese women.
Traditionally, caraway is a plant that is used for digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, and mild spasms of the stomach and intestines. But perhaps the new obesity study is what’s really going to drive Xenadrine Core.
As our initial cynical diagnosis hypothesized, there’s little solid backing for most of the ingredient profile in this supplement and there should be no comparisons for the O.G.s who rocked it back in the ephedra days.
That said, mangosteen powder is somewhat legit and definitely the most interesting ingredient to us. This alone may make it worth it for some that are looking for a mood boost in their fat burner. Caraway seed also seems to be legit if you’re an overweight woman (we want more research on this one!), and nelumbo nucifera is great if it’s extracted for the required amount of higenamine.
The trouble is that even with the legitimate ingredients, it’s a proprietary blend so we can’t see if the included amount matches up to what was used in the studies. The only one we have detail on is the centerpiece green coffee bean extract, which unfortunately is the most controversial additive of the bunch at the moment and stands on shaky scientific ground.
The fat burner market is pretty crowded right now (see our best fat burner buyer’s guide) and there’s strong competitors with more open ingredient profiles that are much more solidly supported by science.
You could await for a nice price drop on this one (sign up below), or if you simply trust the Xenadrine brand, this is likely not going to be bad, it’s just not anything like the original.
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- Svetol®, green coffee extract, induces weight loss and increases the lean to fat mass ratio in volunteers with overweight problem
- Hausenblas, H, et. al; “Effects of Green Coffee Bean Extract on Weight Loss“; Natural Medicine Journal; March 2014
- Onakpoya, I, et. al; “The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials”; Gastroenterology Research and Practice; 2011
- Barrett, M, et. al; “A proprietary alpha-amylase inhibitor from white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): A review of clinical studies on weight loss and glycemic control”; Nutrition Journal; March 2011
- Stern, J, et. al; “Efficacy and Tolerability of an Herbal Formulation for Weight Management”; Journal of Medicinal Food; June 2013
- Ono, Y, et. al; “Anti-obesity effect of Nelumbo nucifera leaves extract in mice and rats;” Ethnopharmacology; 2006
- Asif, M; “Health effects of omega 3,6,9 fatty acids: Perilla frutescens is a good example of plant oils”; Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine; March 2011
- Gohil, K, et. al; “Pharmacological Review on Centella Asiatica; A Potential Herbal Cure-All”; Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences; September-October 2010
- Kazemipoor, M, et. al; “Antiobesity Effect of Caraway Extract on Overweight and Obese Women: A Randomized, Triple-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial”; Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 2013
- Oransky, Ivan; Authors retract green coffee bean diet paper touted by Dr. Oz; RetractionWatch.com; 2014