Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, of reality TV Jersey Shore infamy, is crediting some recent weight loss to taking a product called Zantrex-3. The questions that come to mind are: What is Zantrex-3, does it work, and should you take it?
The manufacturer calls the product a high-energy fat burner and proudly announces Snooki’s use of their product on their website, but let’s start off with what this stuff is: mostly, a tonne of caffeine.
This over-the-counter supplement contains 300mg of xanthine (per “serving” – meaning for two pills), which is the primary ingredient in caffeine. The stuff is not clinically proven to cause weight loss, is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, and does not have to meet any criteria for safety or efficacy.
Speaking of safety, lots of caffeine is not good for you. It can cause numerous cardiovascular risk factors, such as a spike in blood pressure, increased heart rate and heart palpitations. Often people who are looking to lose weight are a higher risk of heart disease, so supplements like this pose an additional risk.
The supplement can also cause gastrointestinal problems and even psychological ones. Too much caffeine can make you a little nuts.
Does it work? Who knows? It can make you feel a bit more energetic and willing to move around more, which would burn some additional calories. Also, the increased heart rate will burn some additional calories, but this likely won’t translate into many additional pounds burned.
I just think any type of weight loss supplement is a terrible idea. I’ve written about ephedra before and how that’s a bad idea, and the real issue I have with these things is the whole Zen of a healthy lifestyle that they interfere with.
If weight loss is your goal, you must learn to love the idea of lots of intense exercise and eating a healthy diet. It is the only sustainable way. Taking “magic pills” and “miracle supplements” interferes with the positive mindset necessary to embrace permanent lifestyle change.
So don’t take them. Embrace healthy living instead.