“Have you tried that crazy wrap thing?” is the slogan I kept seeing online when I started looking into the company called “It Works!” This is because It Works! started out as a company that sold toning wraps that were said to make people skinnier. Since then, the company has branched out and now sells all kinds of different supplements. In this review, I want to look at the It Works Advanced Formula Fat Fighter (with “carb inhibitors”) and see if it really burns fat or not. I also want to take a look at the It Works! company too, in case you were as curious as I was. Hopefully, by the end of this review you will have more information to help you do your own research, and have a better idea if the It Works Fat Fighter is right for you. Also see my review of It Works Greens for more information.
Who Makes It Works!?
The website, MyItWorks.com was first registered in 2002 by a company called It Works Marketing. The address on record for It Works Marketing is 2006 44th Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49508. Later, It Works Marketing, was renamed “It Works Global.”
When I searched the Better Business Bureau, I found two listings for It Works Global. I found the Michigan address mentioned above, as well as this address: 5325 E State Road 64, Bradenton, FL 34208-5534. Based on this, I believe the company has moved from Michigan to Florida. If you click on the address link I provide, you see it shows a building that displays “It Works” on the outside.
As of 5/21/14 the BBB file gave It Works Marketing a rating of “B+.” When I checked the BBB file, they had a consumer alert for It Works Marketing which stated that:
“BBB has received a pattern of complaints from consumers alleging that they received the wrong products. Consumers have stated that after trying to cancel with the business, they continue to receive additional products. Complaints also allege that the business continues to bill after cancellation, and consumers are not informed that there is a $50.00 cancellation fee”
Because BBB files often change, see the Better Business file for more information and updates.
The CEO of It Works Global is Mark Pentecost, who is a retired math teacher from Michigan. This Forbes Magazine article from 2013 provides additional information on how the company was started.
It appears that It Works Global started out as a company marketing toning body wraps but has since diversified into one that sells a variety of supplements. The It Works wraps might still be the company’s biggest seller, because when I searched for their website —MyItWorks.com—the tagline for the site was “Have You Tried That Crazy Wrap Thing?”
For a review of It Works wraps, I’ll direct you to Dr. Bill Sukala’s website who has done a nice write up on them.
How to Contact It Works!
The contact page of the MyItWorks website lists the following “loyal customer” contact numbers for those in the US: 1-800-537-2395 and 952-540-5699. The Better Business Bureau lists an additional contact number of (941) 348-6650. International toll-free customer support is also available in these countries as well:
- Australia: 1-(800) 750-398
- Canada: 1-(855) 560-1020
- United Kingdom: 0-(800) 098-8925
- Sweden: +46-770791808
- Belgium: +32-78480292
Fat Fighter Ingredients
According to the product label, a bottle contains 60 tablets. Two tablets contain the following ingredients:
|Chromium dinicotinate glycinate 150 mcg||130%|
|NeOpunita (cactus leaf) 500 mg||N/A|
|Proprietary blend of the following 510 mg||N/A|
|1. Garcinia cambogia fruit extract||N/A|
|2. Green tea leaf extract||N/A|
|4. Bitter melon fruit||N/A|
|5. Banaba leaf extract||N/A|
|6. Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract||N/A|
|7. Wheat amalyase inhibitor||N/A|
N/A = there is no daily value
Now that we know the ingredients, let’s see if we can find any research on this product to see if it really does fight fat.
It Works Fat Fighter Research
When I searched the National Library of Medicine (which lists millions of studies from around the globe) for “It Works Fat Fighter,” no studies showed up. Likewise, doing a Google search for the product turned up no studies. In addition, MyItWorks.com website shows no research.
This says to me that the product – itself – likely does not have any published peer reviewed proof that it helps people lose weight. So, if the product has no good proof for it, how do they know It Works, really works?
I believe that if the Fat Fighter works, it’s because of the research on some of its ingredients. Let’s take a look at the research on those ingredients now and see what we can discover.
It Works Fat Fighter Ingredients
I’ll bet most people reading this think chromium burns fat and helps weight loss. Be honest. Am I right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The makers of weight loss supplements know that most people believe this myth also―that’s why they add it to their products. The marketing of chromium was just that good!
I think their belief is, “If it doesn’t contain chromium, people who want to lose weight won’t buy it.” I’m convinced of this because a LOT of weight loss supplements contain chromium, despite the fact that the vast majority of studies I’ve seen over the last 15 years show that chromium does not work. As such, I don’t think it plays a significant role in this product. Here is my review of chromium. Notice how many studies show it doesn’t work for weight loss.
One thing chromium might do is reduce blood sugar levels. Keep this in mind as you review the ingredients below.
The name NeOpunita (neo-pUnch-a) is actually a trademarked name for the prickly pear cactus called Opuntia ficus-indica. The cactus is said to bind fat, preventing it from being absorbed.
As we absorb less fat, we absorb fewer calories. Theoretically, this might lead to weight loss.This is why some websites call NeOpunita a “fat-fighting cactus.” NeOpunita is a product of the French company, Bio Serae Labs SAS.
See my review of Calorase/FBCX, which is also said to bind fat, for more information.
Two tablets of the It Works Fat Fighter contain 500 mg of NeOpunita. Remember this as we review the research.
I located a company sponsored study from 2007 titled The effect of NeOpuntia on blood lipid parameters–risk factors for the metabolic syndrome (syndrome X). In this 6-week study, 68 women (20–55 years of age) with metabolic syndrome (basically “pre-diabetes”) were either given a placebo or NeOpuntia 3 times a day with meals. People ate a “well-balanced diet” with “controlled lipid input” (in other words, a low fat diet). Forty-nine women completed the study.
Results: At the end of the study, the women taking NeOpuntia showed significant improvements in various pre-diabetes symptoms, such that 39% of the women were no longer diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (compared to only 8% of those taking a placebo).
These are very impressive results, but there are two things you need to know:
1. This study makes no mention of weight loss. I’m not sure if weight loss was even measured.
2. The people in this study used 4.8 grams of NeOpuntia per day. This is FAR MORE than the 500 mg (1/2 gram) that 2 tablets of It Works Fat Fighter give you.
Each person in the study used 1.6 grams of NeOpuntia with each meal, for a total of 4.8 grams per day.
This single study—which did not look at weight loss—appears to the basis why It Works uses NeOpuntia in their product. So why does It Works Fat Fighter contain less than what the research shows might work?
Opuntia ficus-indica is the main ingredient in the popular health drink called TriVita Nopalea Juice, which you may have seen advertised on TV. See that review for additional information.
There are several weight loss studies that involved Garcinia cambogia. Its active ingredient is said to be hydroxycitric acid (HCA). The way Garcinia cambogia is said to work is by preventing carbohydrates from being turned into fat.
In my review of Garcinia cambogia research, which I suggest you read, I noted that research showing it worked (helped weight loss) used at least 1,667 mg per day (or 1,000 mg of HCA per day). This is important because the entire proprietary blend in It Works Fat Fighter (2 tablets) only contains a total of 510 mg.
Garcinia cambogia is the first ingredient listed, so it likely comprises the most of this blend. But even so, I see no evidence that this amount works. If you read my Garcinia cambogia review, you’ll see studies showing that 500 mg did not work. Based on what I’ve found, I don’t think the Fat Fighter has enough.
Green Tea Leaf Extract
While they dont tell us what extract they are using, the label says that this extract has 20% caffeine. To me that says caffeine might be the active ingredient in this extract—but how much caffeine does the product contain? They don’t tell us. Caffeine might be the single most popular ingredient in weight loss supplements. It’s an ingredient in these supplements which you may have heard of before:
Caffeine is so popular that I even once reviewed a caffeine shampoo! That said, I’m not convinced that caffeine―by itself―helps people lose weight. I say this because the best weight loss research usually combines caffeine with ephedra, another stimulant. Ephedra is banned from supplements in the US because it was linked to several deaths.
As the label indicates, this refers to an extract from white kidney beans. Another name for this ingredient is Phaseolus vulgaris. On some websites this stuff is also called Bean Pod extract. It has several other names, including Fabenol—as it was referred to when I reviewed the product called Lean and Fab.
Tip. It’s been my experience that ingredients that begin with “Phas” usually refer to kidney bean extract.
Phaseolamin is said to inhibit a carbohydrate-digesting enzyme called alpha amalyase. If you block the action of this enzyme, in theory, carbs would not be digested as well. If we can’t digest carbs, we can’t absorb their calories. In this way, phaseolamin is supposed to promote weight loss.
The blocking of this carb-digesting enzyme is the reason that some call phaseolamin a “carb blocker.” It turns out that there is some weight loss research on phaseolamin. Let’s take a look at some of that research.
In a 2004 study titled, Blocking carbohydrate absorption and weight loss: a clinical trial using Phase 2 brand proprietary fractionated white bean extract, researchers randomly gave 50 people either a 1,500 mg placebo or a phaseolamin supplement called “Phase 2” twice daily with meals (3,000 mg total) for 8 weeks.
At the end of the study, those receiving the Phase 2 supplement lost an average of 3.7 lbs compared to the placebo group which lost an average of 1.65 pounds.
One problem was that only 27 people completed this study. That’s almost a 50% drop out rate. It should also be noted that this study gave people 3,000 mg of the Phase 2 supplement. That is far more than is in It Works Fat Fighter.
Phase 2 is a proprietary phaseolamin supplement that is in many products.
Here is Phase 2 on Amazon for those who want to see what others are saying.
In a 2013 study titled, Phaseolus vulgaris extract affects glycometabolic and appetite control in healthy human subjects, 12 people who ate a normal meal were randomly given either a placebo or Phaseolus vulgaris extract. Those who were given the Phaseolus vulgaris extract showed reduced appetite, lower ghrelin levels (a hormone that tells us to eat), reduced insulin levels, and lower blood sugar, compared to those getting the placebo.
This was a very small study and only lasted 3 hours, but it’s interesting and worthy of a follow-up study.
In a 2007 study titled, A Dietary supplement containing standardized Phaseolus vulgaris extract influences body composition of overweight men and women, 60 slightly overweight men and women were randomly given either a placebo or 445 mg of a Phaseolus vulgaris extract for 30 days before their main carbohydrate-containing meal of the day.
Those who received the Phaseolus vulgaris extract showed a significantly greater reduction in body weight, fat mass, BMI, and other parameters, compared to placebo. The product used in this study was also called Phase 2.
In a 2013 study titled, Reducing effect of an extract of Phaseolus vulgaris on food intake in mice–focus on highly palatable foods, when mice were given Phaseolus vulgaris, it reduced consumption of good tasting foods. There are many other mouse studies of this ingredient. See this scientific phaseolamin review for more information.
Bitter Melon Fruit
Its scientific name is Momordica charantia. It’s called bitter melon because it has a bitter taste when eaten. Additional names include bitter gourd and salsamino, among many others. As is pointed out in this scientific review of bitter melon, there are over 200 different compounds in this plant and different parts (seed, oil, fruit) have various studies relating to its effects on a variety of issues.
Having looked at the research, the vast majority of that research appears to be limited to rats and mice. Much of that research is related to how bitter melon might help diabetes and blood sugar issues by way of its ability to increase insulin levels. Also, not all of that research involves the fruit.
Some of the mice and rat research I saw has used the seeds of bitter melon and oil from the seeds. As such, that research would not be applicable to the fruit, which is what It Works Fat Fighter contains.
In one of the studies that might be applicable to humans, titled Momordica charantia (bitter melon) inhibits primary human adipocyte differentiation by modulating adipogenic genes, researchers treated human fat cells with bitter melon juice. They noted that the juice enhanced fat burning in those fat cells.
This is intriguing, and while I like that they used human fat cells, unfortunately this was just a test tube study. In other words, they studied the effects of bitter melon juice in isolated human fat cells, rather than in people.
The name “bitter melon” might remind people of “bitter orange,” which is often used in ephedra-free weight loss supplements. As far as I can tell, bitter melon and bitter orange have no relationship to each other. Because of the lack of human research at this time, I don’t think anyone—including the It Works! company—knows if bitter melon helps people lose weight.
The leaves of this plant appear to have a blood-sugar lowering effect, and it might also reduce carb absorption. The majority of the weight loss research I saw on Gymnema sylvestre involved mice and rats. That said, one human study I located might provide some insights on why some of the ingredients in the Fat Fighter were chosen.
This study was published in 2004 and was titled, Effects of a natural extract of (-)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA-SX) and a combination of HCA-SX plus niacin-bound chromium and Gymnema sylvestre extract on weight loss. All three of the ingredients in this study are in the It Works Fat Fighter.
In this 8-week study, 60 overweight people were randomly given either:
- Garcinia cambogia (4667 mg)
- Garcinia cambogia (4994 mg) + niacin-bounded chromium (4mg) + Gymnema sylvestre (400 mg)
The results showed that those getting the combination of all three ingredients showed more weight loss than those taking the placebo. That said, the amounts of the ingredients used in this study are far MORE than are contained in It Works Fat Fighter.
Gymnema sylvestre has been in a few products I’ve looked at previously, including:
- Healthe Trim (for weight loss)
- Glucotor V2 (for diabetes)
So see those reviews for more information.
Wheat Amylase Inhibitor
Remember that amylase is an enzyme that helps us absorb carbs. This ingredient just sounds to me like a carb/starch blocker that’s derived from wheat. But, just calling it “wheat amalyase inhibitor” is vague, because without knowing the exact name of the inhibitor compound, I can’t say much about it, other than it probably works similarly to phaseolamin, discussed above.
Another name for this compound is valadyl sulfate. According to some studies, vanadium appears to have an insulin-like effect and might reduce blood sugar.
For example, in a study from 1996 titled, Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, vanadium was shown to reduce blood sugar levels in people with type II diabetes.
Vanadium is listed last in the ingredients of the proprietary blend. This means it is likely present in the least amount. This is good because vanadium might become toxic at high levels. They don’t tell us how much vanadium is in the Fat Fighter. The amount, beyond which side effects might be noticed, is currently thought to be 1.8 mg per day for adults.
When I was in college in the 90s, weightlifters used to think vanadyl sulfate made them bigger and stronger. Research shows it doesn’t do that.
Vanadium is found naturally in very small amounts in foods.I also noticed that vanadium was an ingredient in
The health drink called Vemma also contains vanadium.
Interestingly, vanadium was in the old Plexus Slim Accelerator, but was removed from their Accelerator Plus supplement.
Blood-Sugar Lowering Ingredients
Here are the ingredients in It Works Fat Fighter that might reduce blood sugar levels. This list is based on the information I was able to uncover:
- Gymnema sylvestre
Ingredients That Block Carbs
Here are the ingredients in It Works Fat Fighter that are thought to be carb blockers:
- Garcinia cambogia
- Gymnema sylvestre (maybe)
- Wheat amylase inhibitor
Note. While I call them carb blockers, the It Works company calls them “Carb inhibitors.” They mean the same thing.
Ingredients That Block Fat
Here are the ingredients in It Works Fat Fighter that might block fat:
Ingredients with the Most Evidence
Based on the studies I could locate, here are the ingredients in It Works Fat Fighter that I feel have the most evidence and are likely the main active ingredients in this product:
I highlight these two ingredients because:
1. There are more weight loss studies on these ingredients than any of the others in the product.
2. These are listed toward the top of the proprietary ingredients list, which says to me that they compose most of that blend. Since they are at the top of the list, I think It Works! also feels they play the biggest role too.
For those who want to compare prices and see what others are saying:
Notice that I have not included NeOpuntia as an active ingredient. I didn’t include it because it only has one study, and as far as fat blockers are concerned, the product called Calorase (also known as “FBCX”) currently has more evidence.
See my Calorase review for more information.
It Works Fat Fighter Side Effects
I’m not aware of any significant side effects from the product at this time. Some people on Amazon do talk of some stomach bloating and constipation. There are also people saying it didn’t work for them, so reading the comments is worth it.
Here is a list of theoretical side effects based on what I know about its ingredients:
- Bitter melon might reduce blood sugar, which may be an issue for some people who take diabetes medications.
- Gymnema sylvestre might lower blood sugar levels.
- Vanadium might lower blood sugar. At high doses, vanadium might also cause a color change on the tongue (a green color). The amount which might cause side effects is controversial, due to the lack of good research on vanadium.
If you had any side effects—positive or negative—please leave a comment below so others (including me) can benefit from your experiences.
Does The Fat Fighter Work?
While having a company called “It Works!” is very bold, from a marketing standpoint, I don’t think It Works Fat Fighter actually works. I don’t think it does what they say it will do, for a few reasons. First, there is no scientific research on the product itself. In other words, they showed me no proof that the unique combination of ingredients in the Fat Fighter actually fought fat or caused weight loss. Second―and this is the most important for me―the levels of active ingredients in the product are less than what research shows might work. Third, even though the product is called a “Fat Fighter,” many of the ingredients are actually carb blockers. I only found one ingredient that might block fat! What’s up with that?
I admit, I could be totally wrong and the supplement might do exactly what its name says it will do, but for a company having the name “It Works!,” they will have to prove it to me. For example, why not compare It Works Fat Fighter to the two things that I feel are its active ingredients—phasolamine /Phase 2 and Garcinia cambogia—and see which might work the best. This isn’t difficult research to do; in fact, any grad student could do this. If research like this is ever published, I will gladly update my review.
Here is the Fat Fighter on Amazon for those who want to see what others are saying.
What do you think?