Metabolife: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Interactions

Ingredients, Effectiveness, and Safety

metabolife review
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Metabolife is a brand of weight loss supplements that was founded in San Diego, Calif., in the 1990s—though its ingredients have changed over the years. Currently, there are two products sold in stores and online: MetaboLife Ultra and MetaboLife Extreme Energy. Both products are manufactured by Twinlab, a company that produces a variety of dietary supplements.

Earlier versions of Metabolife, including Metabolife 365, were manufactured and sold by Metabolife International, Inc., a multi-level marketing company. These products were removed from the market in 2004 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after multiple deaths were attributed to ephedra—a key ingredient in the product. Michael Ellis, the company’s founder, was convicted and jailed for lying to investigators and concealing information that may have led to serious harm and even death. 

Ingredients

The Metabolife products that are currently on the market do not contain ephedra. MetaboLife Ultra and Metabolife Extreme Energy contain other ingredients, each purported to address different stages of the weight loss process.

MetaboLife Ultra

According to the company’s website, MetaboLife Ultra is designed to assist in weight loss. The company suggests that you pair the product with a healthy diet and exercise program, but the website does not provide specific details or guidance to help you set up a plan.

MetaboLife Ultra includes several ingredients. The amounts are listed below for one tablet along with the daily value percent. Daily value (DV) is the amount of that nutrient that is recommended per day for Americans ages 4 and up. If no percent is listed, there is no recommended amount for that ingredient.

  • Garcinia cambogia (600mg): A diet supplement made from the rind of the garcinia cambogia fruit (Malabar tamarind), native to India and Southeast Asia. The rind contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA) which is purported to aid in appetite suppression and weight loss. According to the product label, MetaboLife Ultra contains 360 mg of hydroxycitric acid.
  • Chromium (133 mcg/380% DV): A product called ChromeMate is included in Metabolife. ChromeMate is a proprietary form of chromium that is bound in niacin. Chromium is a mineral that is known to enhance the action of insulin—a hormone important for the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Binding the chromium in niacin is believed by some to reduce the potential adverse effects of chromium on red blood cell and iron metabolism.
  • Meratrim (267 mg): A proprietary herbal blend that includes two plant extracts obtained from Sphaeranthus indicus flower heads and Garcinia mangostana fruit rinds.
  • Potassium (100 mg/2% DV): Potassium is a mineral found in many foods. It is needed by the body for proper kidney and heart function, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and other functions.
  • Calcium (60 mg/5% DV): Calcium is another mineral found in many foods like dairy foods and certain vegetables like spinach. Calcium is helpful for building strong bones and teeth.
  • Caffeine (100mg): Caffeine is a stimulant commonly found in food and beverages like coffee and soft drinks. A typical eight-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine.

The supplement also contains other inactive ingredients including cellulose and soy.

MetaboLife Extreme Energy

There are several ingredients identified on the label of MetaboLife Extreme Energy. This supplement is recommended by the company for weight maintenance.

The amounts of each ingredient are listed below for a two-tablet serving. However, it is difficult to determine the exact amounts of several key ingredients because they are listed as a proprietary blend. As such, specific amounts of each component do not need to be disclosed.

These ingredients include:

  • Guarana is an herbal stimulant commonly found in energy drinks.
  • Asian ginseng, also called Panax ginseng, is an herbal extract that may have stimulatory effects.
  • Green tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant and is often used for mental alertness, weight loss, and other benefits.
  • Yerba mate comes from a South American tree commonly and is used for weight loss.
  • Eleuthero, also called Siberian ginseng, this extract is purported to boost mental performance.
  • Rhodiola comes from a cold-hardy plant and is believed by some to reduce anxiety and fatigue.
  • Theanine is an amino acid that is said to alleviate anxiety, improve sleep, and reduce stress.

MetaboLife Extreme Energy also contains:

  • Magnesium (50 mg or 13% DV) is a mineral that the body needs for numerous functions
  • Niacin (30mg or 150% DV) is a B vitamin that helps convert food into energy.
  • Pantothenic acid (200mg or 200% DV) is vitamin B5, often used to treat acne

At the time of publication, both products were unavailable on the Twinlab website but were available through third-party vendors. The website associated with the brand (indicated on the package label) is no longer working.

Health Benefits

Clinical trials have been conducted on key ingredients in Metabolife products. There is no strong independent evidence to support the use of any of these ingredients for weight loss.

For example, garcinia cambogia has been studied extensively for its effect on weight loss. According to the National Institutes of Health, there is no convincing evidence that garcinia cambogia will help you lose weight.

Chromium supplementation has also been studied for its effect on weight loss with lackluster results. One study investigated the impact that ChromeMate had when overweight African-American women took the supplement and participated in a diet and exercise program for two months. Researchers concluded that the supplement improved fat loss and reduced muscle wasting compared to placebo. But the study was small, limited in duration, and funded by a for-profit nutraceutical company. The National Institutes of Health states that there is not enough strong evidence to support chromium supplementation for weight loss.

There is limited evidence that Meratrim may provide some weight loss benefits but it has not been studied by independent researchers. A nutraceutical company that sells weight loss supplements funded a small 2016 study that demonstrated Meratrim may be able to help healthy, overweight subjects lose weight.

Of the ingredients in MetaboLife Extreme Energy, only green tea has been studied extensively for weight loss. While it has been shown to increase mental alertness, there is not enough scientific evidence to indicate that it will help you lose weight.

Possible Side Effects

Consumers who use Metabolife may experience some side effects. Not all of the ingredients have been studied extensively for safety.

A published study addressed the safety and efficacy of Meratrim. Researchers conducted in vitro and animal studies to see if tissue samples or rats showed any adverse effects after being exposed to the herbal blend. After a 13-week examination, study authors concluded that Meratrim showed no adverse effects in controlled amounts. But study researchers provided disclosure statements noting that they have a financial interest in the product. Independent studies investigating the safety of Meratrim are lacking.

Consumers who consider taking MetaboLife Ultra or MetaboLife Extreme Energy should be aware that several of the ingredients are stimulants. Many people who take stimulants experience uncomfortable side effects. For example, ingredients such as guarana can cause increased heart rate and abnormal heart rhythms. When guarana is combined with other stimulants such as caffeine or green tea extracts the side effects may be more intense.

While it may be comforting to know that Metabolife products no longer contain ephedra, you may still experience ephedra-like side effects when taking this diet aid.

The National Institutes of Health cautions consumers about ephedra-free weight loss supplements that contain other stimulants stating that "Many ephedra-free supplements are now being sold, but side effects of some of their ingredients are similar to the banned products."

The NIH specifically cautions consumers about supplements that contain guarana and caffeine.

The company states on the package label that you should not use the product if you are pregnant or nursing. They also state that you should consult a healthcare provider if you are sensitive to caffeine, taking any other stimulant, have an anxiety or mood disorder, are taking any medication, or if you have any medical condition.

It is also possible to experience side effects from the overconsumption of certain minerals, like niacin. The upper limit (UL) for niacin supplementation is 35mg. The upper limit is the daily intake of a nutrient considered safe for most people. Taking more than the UL is not recommended and may be harmful, according to the National Institutes of Health.

A single dose of MetaboLife Extreme Energy provides 30mg of niacin. The company suggests that you take up to three doses per day—a potential intake of 90mg of niacin, well over twice the upper limit. Side effects from taking too much niacin depend on the specific type of niacin but can range from skin flushing to more serious effects such as hypotension severe enough to increase the risk of falls, fatigue, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, nausea, heartburn, abdominal pain, blurred or impaired vision and macular edema. The type of niacin included in MetaboLife Extreme Energy is not indicated on the label.

Lastly, this product contains soy. You should avoid if you have an allergy to soy.

Dosage and Preparation

Specific dose ranges are offered for each of the Metabolife products:

  • When taking MetaboLife Ultra it is recommended that you take one caplet three times daily, 30 minutes before each meal. You should not exceed three caplets per day.
  • When taking MetaboLife Extreme Energy it is recommended that you take one to two tablets three times per day at least 3–4 hours apart. It is recommended that you do not exceed four tablets per eight-hour period.

What to Look For

If you choose to take Metabolife for weight loss, speak to your healthcare provider. Be sure to discuss your current intake of other supplements, medications, and any other foods or beverages that contain caffeine or any other stimulant.

Also, be aware of knockoff products. In the years following the ephedra ban, some companies began selling products that look very similar to the products that were taken off the market, including Metabolife 356. Some even claim to contain ephedra. The safety or effectiveness of these products can not be established.

It's smart to exercise caution when buying or consuming any supplement. Some products may contain ingredients not disclosed on the label or may contain ingredients in amounts different than what is indicated on the label.

Also, supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way that medications are regulated. Supplements do not have to demonstrate that they are safe or effective before being sold. But according to the FDA, it is not legal to market a dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a specific disease or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease.

Other Questions

What were the ingredients in the original Metabolife?

The most popular product, Metabolife 356, contained varied ingredients. The most notable was ephedra. But it is reported that the product also contained guarana, nettle leaf and sarsaparilla (diuretics), damiana (believed to be an aphrodisiac), royal jelly, bee pollen, and chromium picolinate.

Is ephedra still banned?

Yes. On February 9, 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule prohibiting the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids (ephedra). This decision has not been reversed.

A Word From Verywell

While it is tempting to consider a weight loss supplement, most of these products have not been shown to be effective. When you consider the potential impact on your health, taking a diet pill may not be worth it.

You may also be able to get the benefits of some of these ingredients without the cost or risk of taking a supplement. For example, you can gain the potential benefits of green tea by drinking a daily cup of the tea, rather than taking it in pill form. Boost your intake of niacin with foods such as chicken breast, turkey breast, or salmon. Or get more chromium in your diet by consuming broccoli, grape juice, or an English muffin.

If you need help trying to lose weight, consult with your healthcare provider. You may be able to get a referral to a registered dietitian, health coach, or behavioral health specialist who can help you reach your goal weight and maintain it for life.

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Article Sources
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