Firstly, the choice of name baffles us – this product seems to be named after two of the worst choices for health. The ‘fen’ reminds us of fenfluramine, a banned stimulant that has been known to cause serious arterial valve damage, being one of the biggest scandals in the diet pill industry and carrying an awful reputation to this day.
Overall, we’re perhaps more concerned with the dubious scientific claims on the official Fenphedra website, which appears to claim results for the ingredients that are definitely flying in the face of scientific consensus. This is never good, as we consider scientific accuracy to be the key to effective supplementation and nutrition, companies that are happy to misinterpret data to sell products are probably trying to turn a quick buck.
What is it? What does it claim to do?
Fenphedra claims to be a fat-burner, containing a mixture of industry-standard ingredients and suggesting weight loss improvements as high as 10-times greater than placebo-controlled weight loss. Fenphedra claims to improve metabolism, reduce hunger, increase satiety and combat a number of the aesthetic and health problems associated with excessive bodyfat.
Does it work?
This product is effective or ineffective depending on the effectiveness of the individual ingredients – there doesn’t appear to be many synergistic effects between these ingredients, so we can safely understand the effectiveness of the whole product in terms of its constituent ingredients.
Chromium is the headline ingredient of this product, with Fenphedra claiming that Chromex (a brand-name solution of chromium) increasing weight loss in clinical tests. They suggest that this is the result of regulating insulin sensitivity to reduce the storage of fat and improve overall health and wellness.
The problem with this is that Chromium has only been shown to adjust body weight in those who are experiencing Type-2 diabetes, where it is still unreliable. Overall, studies using chromium on healthy individuals have been shown to have no effect on performance or weight loss .
This is made more concerning by 2 additional factors. Firstly, Chromium is an essential mineral but can be consumed in a well-balanced diet without the need for supplements. Deficiencies are possible but changing the diet should be the first solution for this. Secondly, this product has a price point of anywhere between $70 and a staggering $130. This is unbelievably expensive and regular chromium can be bought at 10-20% of this price!
Caffeine is a great addition to the diet – in many forms – for athletic performance and improved metabolism. This household name has been shown to have relatively large benefits on short-term metabolic function, mental performance and power output . There are some small side-effects to be expected for those who are very stimulant-sensitive, but caffeine has been used so widely and intensely that we know that it is both effective and safe.
Our criticism of caffeine is not that it does not work, nor that it is unsafe of threatens health or wellbeing. The problem we have with caffeine in dietary supplements is that it is so unbelievably cheap and available that there is no justification for buying dietary supplements where caffeine is the only active ingredient or key ingredient – we can buy coffee from 1000 brands across various types of product. There is no reason to prefer the caffeine in Fenphedra to that in a strong coffee, especially with the price tag!
Green tea extract
Green tea extract has been one of the most popular dietary aids in one form or another for the past few decades. Green tea and its ingredients are definitely great for health and relaxation, but the effectiveness of this ingredient as a fat-burner has been debunked in countless reviews – including many that we have performed ourselves. The catechins in green tea do have a positive effect on weight loss and fat oxidation, but this is so small that it isn’t a profound effect, nor even the best effect of green tea extract!
EGCG has been shown to burn around 5g of fat per 50mg consumed, making it effective at increasing fat loss by around 0.035% per week, to put it into perspective . We also believe that there are far better ways of consuming EGCG, such as through the consumption of matcha teas (which contain around 3-400% the EGCG of regular green teas) or liposomal EGCG supplementation. These both totally eclipse standard supplementation and make Fenphedra look ridiculous for charging huge amounts for obsolete forms of green tea extract.
As of the time of writing this review, thermodiamine is equivalent to raspberry ketones. This is to say that there is no reason to believe that it actually has any positive effects in humans. The reason this has been included in this product is because of a number of rodent studies, but we have seen that these do not translate well in recent times, with products like raspberry ketones and garcinia cambogia being popular ineffective ingredients.
Theacrine is basically useless in this supplement. This is not because it is necessarily useless itself, but because it is an analogue for caffeine but has more side-effects and becomes detrimental to health and performance at lower doses than caffeine does. This is a problem because they use similar chemical pathways as stimulants, so there is almost no benefit to using theacrine rather than caffeine – especially if they directly or indirectly compete for uptake.
Using Theacrine is not only questionable for competition with caffeine, but scientific research surrounding theacrine is incredibly sparse, especially in relation to weight loss and metabolic support. This makes it even more questionable to make large claims of untested ingredients and inconclusive data.
Practicalities: value and market alternatives
One of our biggest criticisms of Fenphedra is that the ingredients – whilst not particularly effective – are incredibly expensive in this product, despite being found elsewhere on the market at lower prices and without the need to include unnecessary products like theacrine or thermodiamine (evodiamine).
For example, whilst Fenphedra is marketed between $70 and $130, caffeine and green tea extracts are both available individually for the princely sum of around $10 each for concentrated, month-or-greater supplies. Why anyone would feel the need to purchase these ingredients blended into a poor-quality and poorly-marketed supplement escapes us.
Market alternatives easily surpass Fenphedra at a fraction of the cost. We are always sceptical of fat burners, but there are some genuine contributors to the body’s ability to burn fat on the market. Even the most expensive among these effective dieting aids are around $40-50, with many dietary supplements being cheaper still. Against the background of this market, the cost of Fenphedra – paired with its lack of actual benefits – is a huge negative.
Overall, fenphedra is not the kind of supplement that we recommend. The overall effectiveness of the product is a serious issue, especially when we add In the exorbitant price of the product. We need only consider this product in relation to its competitors to realise that it is massively overpriced – the ingredients for this product can all be bought individually on the supplement market for less than half the RRP ($130).
Fenphedra is characteristic of some of the worst trends in the supplement industry, misrepresenting scientific data, exaggerating the effectiveness of ingredients and generally propagating poor business and marketing practices.
 Walker et al (1998): ‘Chromium picolinate effects on body composition and muscular performance in wrestlers’. Medicine and science in sport and exercise, 30(12), pp.1730-1737
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.