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 Weight Loss Supplement Recommendations
There exist several weight loss supplements with significant clinical backing in terms of both efficacy and safety.
We recommend dietary fiber as a safe and effective weight loss supplement, especially when combined with caloric restriction.
A landmark medical study found that moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline) combined with dietary fiber intake (a minimum of 20 grams per day) caused an average weight loss of 16.03 pounds over 6 months. That’s a potential pace of 32 pounds per year of weight loss in overweight individuals simply by adding fiber to a moderately-restricted-calorie diet.
The fiber supplement we recommend is SuperGut Fiber Mix. It contains a clean and effective formulation: a blend of three different types of unflavored dietary fiber and zero additive ingredients. It can be mixed into liquids or foods. Interested consumers can buy SuperGut fiber at this link.
We recommend using two fiber mixes per day, which provides 16 grams (g) of total fiber. Diet should provide the remaining fiber necessary to meet the 20 g minimum threshold.
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is another dietary supplement which has been shown in clinical trials to cause weight loss.
MCT oil is quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A meta-study on MCT oil documented weight loss of 1.12 pounds over 10 weeks. This equates to a potential annualized weight loss of 5.84 pounds with MCT oil supplementation.
We recommend Bulletproof MCT Oil as our top MCT oil product, because it has a clean and effective formulation. The only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts, and the product has no questionable additives. Interested consumers can buy Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link.
The effective dose range of MCT oil for weight loss (based on the medical review) is 1.7 g to 10 g per day. Bulletproof's MCT oil provides 14 g in one tablespoon, so around two-thirds of one tablespoon should be a maximally-effective dosage.