Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to weight loss.
Phenocal is a weight loss supplement manufactured by a company called Pharmaxa Labs. The product’s website suggests that it can provide “dramatic weight loss results” due to its “highly effective and extremely potent ingredients.”
But does this supplement actually contain ingredients proven in medical studies to cause weight loss, or are these just marketing claims? Does it contain any unsafe ingredients? Is it likely to cause side effects? And how do real customers rate it?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review every ingredient in Phenocal based on medical studies to give our take on whether the supplement is likely to cause weight loss or if it’s a waste of money.
This supplement contains a large number of active ingredients, so we’ll break our ingredient review down into two sections: vitamin and mineral blend, and herbal blend.
Ingredient Review - Vitamin & Mineral Blend
Phenocal contains ten vitamins and minerals, including ingredients like vitamin B2 and chromium.
While vitamins and minerals are often added to weight loss supplements, we have not come across any medical evidence that these ingredients are effective for weight loss. It’s also easy to obtain these nutrients from diet alone, so we fail to see their purpose in a weight loss supplement.
Phenocal’s website does not publish any research proving these ingredients to be effective, so we consider them ineffective for weight loss.
We generally recommend against taking supplemental vitamins and minerals without evidence of a deficiency, because this may lead to blood levels of these nutrients that are too high. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that in early 2022 a wellness brand had to recall some of their supplements from the market because all of the added vitamins and minerals were causing toxicity to some consumers.
Ingredient Review - Herbal Blend
Phenocal’s herbal blend is a proprietary (“prop”) blend with a total dose of 2,230 milligrams (mg) or 186 mg per ingredient.
Green tea leaf extract is an effective weight loss ingredient but not one we recommend given that it may cause liver injury in a small subset of patients according to a Health Canada review.
Garcinia cambogia extract is effective for short-term weight loss, but may be underdosed in Phenocal. A medical review published in the Journal of Obesity found that this plant extract can cause short-term weight loss, but the dose used in all of the trials analyzed was over 1,000 mg, or over 5x the amount in Phenocal.
Glucomannan is a type of dietary fiber that appears to be effective for weight loss based on medical studies, but as we outlined in our Lipozene reviews article (reviewing another weight loss supplement containing this ingredient), the effective dose appears to be around 4,000 mg or over 20x the dose in Phenocal.
Evodiamine was found to be effective for weight loss in an animal study even at very low concentrations, but we cannot locate any medical evidence that this ingredient is effective for weight loss in humans.
Overall we consider this blend to be potentially effective for weight loss given that it contains several research-backed ingredients, however we believe most of these ingredients are underdosed. We also recommend avoiding supplements that contain a prop blend because this prevents consumers from determining individual ingredient doses which is important information for safety, and which we believe consumers have a right to know.
Different Ingredient Doses Listed On Website and Amazon
Phenocal is sold on the official brand website and on Amazon, and some of the ingredients are listed differently on both channels which is concerning in our opinion.
Fucoxanthin is listed at a 10 mg dose on the brand’s website and a 100 mg dose on Amazon.
Vitamin D is listed at 125% Daily Value (DV) on the brand’s website and 250% DV on Amazon.
We cannot confirm for certain that the Amazon listing is managed by the same manufacturer (Pharmaxa Labs), but if it is, this is a serious oversight and a consumer safety issue. It’s unacceptable for a brand to have differing ingredient doses between channels because this prevents consumers from accessing information they need to make an informed purchase decision.
There is also an “Other Ingredients” section listed on Amazon (containing questionable ingredients like artificial dye) but not on the brand’s website.
We consider this to be the sign of a low-quality brand, and we urge the brand to update either clarify if the Amazon listing is counterfeit, or to update the accurate set of information across both channels.
Does Phenocal Cause Side Effects?
Since many weight loss supplements contain stimulants, consumers are often curious about whether Phenocal is likely to cause side effects.
Based on its ingredients, we believe that this supplement is somewhat likely to cause side effects. Both evodiamine and yerba mate extract can have a stimulatory effect and increase metabolic rate and body temperature. Some Amazon reviews (which we’ll cover below) mention unpleasant side effects like stomach upset, dizziness and increased heart rate.
There is no way to tell conclusively whether Phenocal is likely to cause side effects, because the supplement has not been studied in a clinical trial that would report on side effects and safety.
Phenocal Real Customer Reviews
Phenocal is sold on Amazon which is a more objective resource for customer reviews than a brand’s website in our opinion. The product has an average review rating of 2.9 out of 5 stars, which is unimpressive and is one of the worst average review ratings of any Amazon product we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “zoryanavira” who claims the supplement is effective for weight loss:
“phenocal works great for me. my heart did beat much faster during my workouts after taking the pill, and it was harder for me to catch my breath during the first mile of my run, but it was only a temporary effect- after a week everything was back to normal. this is the first medication i’ve taken that actually kills food cravings. it has a definite diuretic effect but this, too, seems to level out after a week.”
The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “MARGARET CONNOLLY” who claims it didn’t cause weight loss over the course of a week:
“I have been taking it for over a week and have not lost anything - I thought maybe my metabolic syndrome was a factor, but I bought it because I thought it would counteract the metabolic syndrome, but apparently not. Six pills a day is a lot to swallow for little or no results. Very disappointed, but I will keep at it, maybe it takes longer.”
Our Clean Weight Loss Picks
There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.
Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).
Supergut Fiber Mix is our recommended fiber supplement, because it contains three different types of fiber powder and no questionable additive ingredients. Interested consumers can check out Supergut Fiber Mix at this link to the product page on the brand's official website, where it retails for under $2 per serving at a subscription rate.
MCT oil is quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A 2015 meta-study on MCT oil documented more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.
Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. There are no questionable additives. Interested consumers can check out Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link to the product page on the brand's official website, where it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.
Coffee is one of the few whole food ingredients associated with weight loss in clinical trials. A meta-analysis published in the Nutrients journal found that coffee intake was associated with reduced body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.
VitaCup Organic Instant Coffee Sticks is our top coffee product for weight loss, due to its convenience. No preparation or machinery is needed. The sticks can be mixed into hot or cold water (or other beverages) and consumed. The only ingredient is organic instant coffee; no questionable additives.
Interested consumers can check out VitaCup Organic Instant Coffee Sticks at this link to the product page on the brand's official website, where they retail for $1 per serving at a subscription rate.