PhenQ Review: Blue Pills for Weight Loss?

PhenQ Review: Blue Pills for Weight Loss?


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PhenQ is a supplement used to promote weight loss and reduce food cravings. The brand advertises that their supplement contains “five powerful fat scorchers in one simple, daily formula."

But does PhenQ contain ingredients shown in research studies to cause weight loss? Does it contain any questionable additive ingredients? How do real users rate and describe its effects? And does this supplement cause side effects?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in PhenQ based on clinical studies to give our take on whether or not PhenQ is likely to be effective for weight loss, and whether or not it's healthy.

We'll also share our concerns about some of the clinical trials cited by the brand, feature unsponsored customer reviews and discuss the potential for side effects.

We'll also discuss where to buy PhenQ from the official manufacturer.

Ingredient Analysis

The vitamin and mineral ingredients in PhenQ are shown below:

PhenQ vitamin and mineral ingredients

We apologize for the low quality of all PhenQ Supplement Facts images. For some reason, the brand adds watermarks to their Supplement Facts label, which is highly strange, and which we've never seen before in our hundreds of supplement reviews.

Chromium is a mineral that's often included in weight loss supplements at too low of a dose to have any likely effect.

A meta-study on chromium supplementation for weight loss, published in the Obesity Reviews journal, analyzed results from 18 clinical trials and found the mineral to be effective for weight loss.

However, the lowest dose used in any of the trials was 137 micrograms (mcg) per day, or 6.85x the dose in PhenQ.

Copper is a highly questionable active ingredient in any supplement, especially at a 111% Daily Value (DV) dose, as exists in PhenQ.

A 2008 medical review reported that free copper levels in the body are associated with Alzheimer's disease, and the study authors concluded that "People in the general population may wish to take steps to lower their free copper levels and, in particular, to abstain from taking copper supplements."

We're unable to identify any clinical studies suggesting that the other vitamins and mineral in this blend cause weight loss.

The remaining active ingredients in PhenQ are shown below:

PhenQ other active ingredients

L-carnitine l-tartrate is included "to give cognitive support" according to the PhenQ website.

However, the study that PhenQ cites to prove this marketing claim uses a different form of l-carnitine, and uses a dose 27x higher than what's included in one serving of this supplement.

Caffeine is clinically shown to be effective for weight loss, but the 75 milligram (mg) dose in this supplement is less than that in one cup of coffee.

The above-linked medical review found higher doses of caffeine to cause greater weight loss.

Capsimax is clinically shown to cause weight loss, but the Capsimax website suggests a minimum effective dose of 100 mg, as we documented in our Burn XT reviews article.

The Capsimax dose in PhenQ is only 50 mg, or 50% of what we consider to be the effective dose.

Nopal cactus fiber is included at a comically low 20 mg dose. The medical study that PhenQ cites to support this ingredient used a daily dose of 3,000 mg, or 150 times the amount in PhenQ.

We're unable to find any clinical studies backing the potential efficacy of the remaining active ingredients.

The inactive ingredients in PhenQ are shown below:

PhenQ inactive ingredients

Sucrose is a form of added sugar, but the good news is that PhenQ seems to have removed the artificial dye in their updated formulation.

When we initially published this article, PhenQ included artificial blue dye on their inactive ingredient list.

Overall, we do not believe that PhenQ is likely to cause weight loss. While this supplement contains some active ingredients with research backing, many of these ingredients appear to be underdosed based on clinical studies.

This is one of the first supplements we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health where the manufacturer cites clinical research on its own product page suggesting that some active ingredients are underdosed.

Questionable Medical Studies

PhenQ uncited medical studies

PhenQ's website contains graphics depicting clinical trial results, shown above, with a header that its key ingredient is "Backed By Science."

α-Lacys Reset is the ingredient referred to here, and the clinical trials cited do not appear to be published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Rather, these graphics have a citation to clinical trials conducted by a for-profit research company called "Principium Beauty Systems Innovations." The full studies are not currently shared or linked to on PhenQ's website.

As we detailed in the Ingredient Analysis section, we cannot find any publicly-availble clinical trials, published in peer-reviewed medical journals (which is the gold standard of product research), suggesting that α-Lacys Reset causes weight loss.

We recommend that consumers be extremely wary of health claims made by supplement brands, when those health claims are not cited by publicly available research. 

Real People Try PhenQ

A TikTok creator named "kristenclark1970" claims to have had a negative experience taking PhenQ pills:

@kristenclark1970 not impressed#PhenQ #RevitalU #dietpills #50 #menopauase #weightlossjourney #weightloss ♬ original sound - user5619562271481

A TikTok creator named "ayeeitsbrynn" claims to have lost five pounds taking PhenQ:

@ayeeitsbrynn Down 5 pounds using phenq and consistent climb classes. Looking forward to this next week 💪🏼 #weightloss #gym #motivate #sweetsweat #sweatitout #sweatinglikecrazy #motivated #myjourney #fyp #weightlossjourney ♬ original sound - ayeeitsbrynn

Does PhenQ Cause Side Effects?

PhenQ doesn't appear to have been studied in any clinical trials, which makes it more challenging to determine whether or not the supplement is likely to cause side effects.

However, we can make an educated guess based on its ingredients.

Caffeine and Panax ginseng are both stimulatory, although their respective doses in this supplement are relatively low, so we do not consider PhenQ likely to be overstimulating for most consumers.

There are no ingredients in this supplement that we consider to be acutely dangerous.

Overall, we consider PhenQ unlikely to cause short-term side effects in otherwise healthy individuals, although we have concerns about the potential for long-term side effects, given the documented risks of supplemental copper.

The FAQ section of the brand's website currently states that there are "no known side effects reported so far."

Where to Buy PhenQ

We want to be clear that we do not currently recommend PhenQ.

For consumers intent on purchasing the supplement, the official manufacturer's website can be found here, and the supplement is currently retailing for $69.99.

At the time of updating this article, PhenQ does not appear to be sold on third-party retailers such as Amazon or Walmart.

There are supplements branded as "PhenQ" sold on other websites like eBay and EveryMarket, but we cannot verify whether or not these are authorized distributors using the same formulation reviewed in this article.

In the case of this supplement, we consider it to be safer to purchase directly from the manufacturer than from third-party retailers.

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).

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ is our top fiber pick because it's certified organic, provides 7 g of fiber per serving and costs under $1.85 per serving at the time of updating this article.

MCT oil was shown in a meta-study to cause 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. and it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.

Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.

Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.

All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Pros and Cons of PhenQ

Here are the pros and cons of PhenQ in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Caffeine may support weight loss
  • Manufacturer seems to have removed artificial dye

Cons:

  • Contains copper
  • Contains sucrose
  • Doesn't appear to be clinically studied
  • Brand makes questionable health claims
  • Many active ingredients may be underdosed
  • Some of the brand's own research citations suggest ingredient underdosing
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

PhenQ has an extremely unimpressive formulation in our opinion.

While this supplement does contain some active ingredients that are clinically shown to cause weight loss, we can only identify one single active ingredient (caffeine) that we consider reasonably close to the effective dosing range based on existing research.

Some of the research citations on PhenQ's own website are to clinical trials that use vastly higher doses than that provided in one serving of PhenQ.

We're concerned about the high dose of supplemental copper in this supplement, as some research studies have shown that high blood levels of copper are associated with negative health outcomes.

The PhenQ website has a graphic highlighting results from a clinical trial on one of its active ingredients, but the associated research citation is to a for-profit research firm. 

We recommend that consumers only consider product research that's published in peer-reviewed medical journals, as the potential for bias with research-for-hire is too high.

PhenQ seems unlikely to cause acute side effects, but we're concerned that long-term use of this supplement may cause unsafe blood levels of copper, and we recommend that consumers speak with a doctor prior to taking this supplement for an extended period of time.

At the time of updating this article, the brand's website, which we linked to for convenience, appears to be the only official retailer of this supplement.