Onyx is a dietary supplement in the “CarbonFire” range, a range of supplements offering weight loss, multivitamin and preworkout products. CarbonFire claim to be the “leading fat metabolizer on the market” – a claim that is hard to verify since it has no set meaning. The company offers an extended 100% money back guarantee and its product manufacture is performed in labs that have sought out and earned FDA approval. Whilst this does not guarantee the effectiveness of the product, it does guarantee that the product contains what it says it contains – for better or worse, we know what we’re getting.
Onyx attempts to set itself apart from other fat burners by focusing on synergistic effects between ingredients and moving away from thermogenesis and stimulants towards “thermo-lypolysis’ and nootropic sources. One of our favorite marketing ploys is evident here, where the active ingredient is listed as “3,5,7-trimethlyxanthate” or, as it is more commonly known, caffeine. Other key ingredients are green coffee bean extract and a nootropic called Huperzine A. Obviously, some serious effort has gone into developing a “science-y” appearance for this product, in this article we’ll discuss whether the real science supports the use of this product, whether its practically-viable and what our overall verdict is.
Looking at the ingredients individually will give us some idea of how effective the supplement will be as a whole, considering any synergistic effects have not been subjected to clinical investigation. Caffeine has a wealth of literature supporting its effects on metabolism, exercise performance and psychological arousal . We can say that this is definitely an effective ingredient, though it does not seem to be any reason to prefer Onyx to any other supplement on the market – or even caffeine tablets by themselves. The rest of the ingredients will either have to be more impressive or have synergistic effects if CarbonFire are going to convince us of the superiority of their product. They do point out, however, that caffeine should only be a single piece of a larger picture when it comes to weight loss.
Huperzine A is a scientifically-controversial compound that has been shown to have some positive effects on neurological health. Aside from the therapeutic effects that this compound has on degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s , it has been reported to improve cognitive function and awareness in healthy individuals . This may have similar effects to caffeine on the prevention of excessive fatigue during a caloric deficit, as well as improving productivity and perceptions of fatigue during exercise and other taxing activities.
There have been some accounts which suggest that, when meta-analytics are applied to Huperzine A, the effects may have been exaggerated by poor experimental design or difficulties in measurement . This suggests that there might be some caution necessary when we discuss the effectiveness of the compound in the context of both Alzheimer’s and health individuals. However, this meta-analysis maintains that there are demonstrable positive effect associated with the compound – it simply points to the need for further research and improved experimental design. We can say that there are some positive psychological effects associated with the Huperzine found in Onyx, but this does not seem to include thermo-lypolysis or any other body composition effects.
Onyx also contains B3 (Niacin) and B6 (Pyrodoxine Hydrochloride). These are essential vitamins that should be included in everyone’s diet, either in dietary or supplemental form. Niacin has been associated with glucose metabolism and regulation in the bloodstream, whereas Pyrodoxine’s main role in the body is related to brain function and metabolic function. Interestingly, however, B3 cannot be supplemented infinitely as it has been linked to insulin resistance (a precursor to, and result of, obesity and type-II diabetes) . Conversely, B6 has very few relevant roles in the human body compared to other B vitamins (e.g. Niacin or B12, Folate) – this is a co-enzyme, meaning that it is only necessary in a dose that allows other processes to occur. Whilst deficiency in B6 can be related to cancers due to the role in cell metabolism, this deficiency is relatively rare and supplementary doses (such as those in Onyx) are unlikely to be of much positive effect for those who have healthy levels. B6 is found in a variety of common foods such as red meats, white meats, fish, green vegetables and nuts/seeds – no individual on a healthy, balanced diet should ever be deficient in B6!
This is a very common ingredient in weight loss supplements, with a variety of market competition and claims for the validity of its effects. Green coffee bean extract (GCBE) has received a lot of press coverage in recent years due to endorsement from high-profile “gurus” such as Dr. Oz due to the reported effects of chlorogenic acid. The majority of the scientific support for this ingredient are less convincing than either caffeine or Huperzine. Studies confirming the effects of GCBE for weight loss were performed on individuals who were overweight or obese and did not measure the caloric or macronutrient intakes of the individuals tested  – essential variables in the way that the body gains or loses weight. If these have not been controlled in the study, then we cannot accept it as an actual guarantee that GCBE is responsible for weight loss.
We can, however, say that there are positive effects associated with the consumption of GCBE, including reduction in blood pressure , anti-oxidant properties and reduced glucose absorption during the digestion process . This suggests that there are some positive health benefits associated with the consumption of GCBE, and makes for a reasonable justification for its inclusion in the Onyx formula – what we do not understand, however, is which ingredient is linked to fat loss? At this point, we have seen that Caffeine has been included (which will increase resting metabolism), Huperzine will improve psychological health and GCBE is anti-oxidant and has some small effects on the absorption of glucose. This makes the case for an effective dietary aid in a variety of areas, but it seems hard to point out a coherent mechanism for effective fat loss. The reduction of glucose absorption will not contribute to the calorie balance in a meaningful way and the effects of caffeine have been noted, but are not particularly significant.
Onyx present us with an unusual case. When asked if it works, the only real response is “for what?”. We can see that it definitely has a variety of positive health effects, and scientifically-verified ones at that, but they do not seem to be associated with the metabolism of fat, the main effect for which it is marketed.
As far as the effectiveness goes, we are relatively impressed with Onyx – whilst it may not necessarily have the touted effects, it does seem to be genuinely beneficial as a dietary supplement (not replacement). However, the cost for these benefits is relatively high: a bottle of Onyx (1 month’s supply) will cost $80. This seems exorbitant – whilst the tested benefits of the product are significant, we don’t see any justification for this price point: the effects can be achieved through other dietary and supplementary sources of the active ingredients and, even among supplements, $80 is a hefty price tag. For those with incredibly deep pockets, this might be worth the investment, but for the vast majority it is an unsustainable cost and might not be worth the returns.
In terms of alternatives, there are some dietary interventions that will mimic the effects of Onyx – for example, consuming proper caffeine in the form of coffee (no sugar) andhigh-quality sources of B3 and B6 (such as salmon or good beef) and many of the other active ingredients are isolated from foods. The only real concerns are GCBE and Huperzine A – these are effective ingredients (though not necessarily for weight loss), but they can also be purchased as individual tablets relatively inexpensively (a month’s supply of both will cost around $25-30). There seem to be dietary alternatives to Onyx, though they do not save much and they are definitely not as convenient. Overall, it is simply not a practical supplement: if you believe the effects are worth the cost, then it may be beneficial to simply try the product and see how it works for you.
Onyx is one of the most credible and genuinely useful supplements that we have reviewed so far. Whilst it does not seem to have much effect on the weight-loss process, it does have a variety of other health benefits which, to some, will justify the costs. From our perspective, it is a supplement that exaggerates its effectiveness (common industry practice!), but will have some positive effects. Overall, we’d be fans of the product if it was not so expensive – as such, we’d give this product a rating of 3/5: it could be better, but it is definitely above average and may have some value to those with deep pockets.
 Yoshida et al (1994): ‘relationship between basal metabolic rate, thermogenic response to caffeine, and body weight loss following combined low calorie and exercise treatment in obese women’. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders, 18(5), pp.345-350
 Bai, D (2007): ‘Development of Huperzine A and B for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease’. Pure Applied Chemistry, 79(4), pp.469-479
 Ma et al (2013): ‘Huperzine A promotes hippocampal neurogenesis in vitro and in vivo’. Brain research, 1506, pp.35-43
 Yang et al (2013): ‘Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials’. Public Library of Science ONE, 8(9).
 Thom (2007): ‘The effect of chlorogenic acid enriched coffee on glucose absorption in healthy volunteers and its effect on body mass when used long-term in overweight and obese people’. The journal of international medicine research, 35(6), pp.900-908
 Watanabe et al., 2006: ‘The blood pressure-lowering effect and safety of chlorogenic acid from green coffee bean extract in essential hypertension’ in Clinical and experimental hypertension, 28(5), pp.439-449
 Kelly et al (2000): ‘Effects of nicotinic acid on insulin sensitivity and blood pressure in healthy subjects’. Journal of human hypertension, 14(9), pp.567-572
Emily has spent the last 8 years comparing, reviewing and analyzing ingredients in the supplements industry. She has worked extensively with dieticians, nutritionists and personal trainers to separate fact from fiction and help people achieve their fitness goals. In her free time she works and enjoys the outdoors with her husband and 2 children.
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