What are Skinnytabs?
Skinnytabs are like herbal Alka-Seltzer tablets sold as a “detox” product that will, according to the company, help you “lose weight, flush toxins, and burn fat.”
Is there any scientific merit to the marketing claims?
And most importantly, are Skinnytabs safe?
A common concern with these sorts of “detox” products is that they tend to use a lot of ambiguous and suggestive phrasing which might fool you into believing something that is either false and/or misleading.
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide a level-headed explanation of the marketing claims and compare them to what is physiologically plausible with regards to “weight loss, detoxing, and fat burning.”
If you’re on the fence about all the “detoxes” out there, then this review will give you the brutally honest unvarnished facts and help you make an educated decision about whether or not you should buy it.
Disclaimer: No conflicts of interest. This review is 100% independent and has no affiliate links. Ads appearing on this site are autogenerated based on your Google search and browsing habits and I do NOT have direct control over them.
What are Skinnytabs’ ingredients?
Skinnytabs’ marketing claims the product contains “15 natural superfood ingredients.”
Before we go on, it’s important to understand that the 15 ingredients are only extracts from the original plant and are spread out across each 400 mg (less than 1/2 gram) tablet.
This is different than the whole plant which contains all the health-promoting nutrients, phytonutrients, and fiber in their natural complementary ratios.
Many of the beneficial health effects found in clinical studies used significantly higher dosages of the isolated herb, as compared to Skinnytabs which has small extracts of combined ingredients.
In short, it is not known if you would receive the same purported health benefits from Skinnytabs.
I am unaware of any published independent clinical research which has objectively tested Skinnytabs for all the health benefits it claims on the website. If any research does exist, please forward me the reference for further review.
1. Burdock root
Burdock root exerts a diuretic effect on the body which could promote weight loss (not fat loss).
Pomegranate contains phytonutrients which may exert an antioxidant effect in the body and help combat atherosclerosis and cancer, but it’s not known if these effects are conferred when consumed in liquid form.
3. Ginger root
Despite Skinnytabs claims that they do not use any laxatives, ginger may exert a laxative effect on your body by stimulating the bowels. It may be also useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea, as well as promote fluid loss due to its diuretic properties.
Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.
Dandelion leaves may exert a diuretic (makes you pee) and laxative effect to increase bowel movements. It may also increase appetite.
5. Milk thistle
Milk thistle‘s active ingredient is silymarin, a flavonoid believed to have antioxidant properties. Milk thistle may help lower blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes, aid indigestion, or might help ease symptoms in those with documented liver disease like jaundice, cirrhosis, fatty liver, or liver cancer.
6. Lemon balm
Lemon balm is an herb from the mint family and has been used for digestive problems, including upset stomach, bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), vomiting, and colic; for pain, including menstrual cramps, headache and toothache, and for some mental disorders.
Chlorella is an algae that has a number of health promoting properties.
The idea that it can “detox” heavy metals is based on preliminary animal studies and has not yet been fully explored in humans.
Other health benefits such as modulating the immune system, improving blood sugar control, and better blood pressure control have been achieved using higher dosages of chlorella (i.e., several grams).
However, Skinnytabs contains only 400 mg of herbs in total, of which chlorella is a fraction of this. So it’s not yet known what effect this small amount would have on human health.
8. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is often ingested or applied topically to the skin for a variety of conditions (arthritis, bowel diseases, burns, psoriasis, cold sores).
Aloe is known to exert a laxative effect that can cause gastrointestinal upset in some individuals.
9. Matcha tea leaf
Matcha green tea contains caffeine but boasts a more level, even-keel sort of high compared to standard coffee’s jolt.
Like other classes of green tea, it also contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which may have protective effects against cancer.
Matcha has been promoted as a “fat fighter” but there is a fair bit of heterogeneity in research methods which has yielded disparate results regarding weight loss and weight maintenance.
Caffeine can also have an effect on fat metabolism as well, so depending on research participants’ habituation to caffeine, this could moderate the potential effects of the green tea.
10. Goji berry (lycium)
Goji berries are a fruit high in antioxidants which can have a variety of health benefits, including better blood sugar and insulin control in people with diabetes, improved mood, and improved eye health.
11. Green tea leaf extract
Boosts metabolism and energy, lowers blood pressure, stimulates cognition, reduces cholesterol, and enhances mood.
Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite. Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite. Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of pep in your step and help suppress appetite.
12. Ginseng root
Ginseng is known to have a number of health-promoting effects, including improved blood sugar control, mood, and brain function.
It is not clear which type of ginseng is used in Skinnytabs, but the effects can vary from one species of ginseng to another.
Elderberry is high in free radical-scavenging antioxidants and is known to have protective effects on the heart and possibly reduce the severity and length of cold and flu symptoms.
14. Beet root
Beet root is a nutrient-dense vegetable (the whole food and/or its juice)which may lower blood pressure, improve exercise capacity, protect against cancer, and fight inflammation.
Wheatgrass is nutrient and antioxidant-rich plant. Preliminary animal and test-tube studies show that it might help reduce cholesterol, reduce inflammation, help with blood sugar control, and reduce feelings of hunger.
How to take Skinnytabs
Unlike “detox” teas that must be steeped in hot water, with Skinnytabs, you only have to drop the tablet in water and let it dissolve for (according to company literature) up to eight minutes.
Because Skinnytabs contains diuretics and laxatives, you should start your dosages small and work up to a full dose.
The company recommends a half to one tablet until your body gets used to it.
Finally, because it’s a diuretic and laxative drink, you should drink plenty of water to remain hydrated.
Skinnytabs marketing claims
Skinnytabs makes a lot of lofty claims across its website, so I’ve listed them out below and will categorically review each of them below.
Claim 1: “Does not contain laxatives“
Translation: contains laxatives.
Skinnytabs contain a number of ingredients known to exert a laxative effect on the body.
Dandelion, ginger, and aloe are known to have laxative properties.
Milk thistle may also have an unwanted laxative side effect in some people.
Because Skinnytabs uses small extracts of the original ingredients, it’s not possible to quantify the strength of the laxative effect.
For this reason, you should try out a small amount and see how your body reacts.
Claim 2: “Detox, flushes out the toxins”
Though Skinnytabs markets itself as a “detox” that “flushes out toxins,” this claim is not true.
The product contains diuretics and laxatives which will make you spend more time on the toilet, but just because you’re pissing and shi#ing more often does not mean you’re “detoxing.”
Detoxification is actually a real medical term for a life-saving procedure used when your infant gobbles down all your Prozac pills thinking they’re candy, or your teenager binge drinks half your liquor cabinet because, well, that’s what teenagers do.
Unfortunately, there is no standardised legal definition for the word “detox,” so it is haphazardly thrown around diet and supplement marketing with little regard for accuracy of use.
The collective health industry has fabricated a false narrative that you can “detox” yourself with ingredients from the pantry.
And time has proven that if you repeat a lie often enough, it eventually becomes “true” in the minds of the public (i.e., 8 glasses of water a day myth).
So with that in mind, I challenge Skinnytabs to be specific and name precisely which “toxins” the product is “detoxing.”
Seriously. Name them.
Are we talking about hexavalent chromium? Lead poisoning? Mercury poisoning?
And if “detoxification” is actually happening, please state the physiological mechanisms responsible for detoxification and how you measure before and after to know that it’s actually working.
If you have two working kidneys and a liver, you have all the natural “detox” fire power you need.
If you’re considering a “detox” then please check out my interactive detox decision making tool to guide you.
Claim 3: “Lose weight“
Skinnytabs claims that it will help you “lose weight.”
However, “weight loss” is ambiguous and doesn’t really mean much.
So to evaluate this claim, you have to first take a look at your own personal expectations.
Specifically, what kind of “weight” do you want to lose?
Are you expecting to lose fat? Lose water weight? Lose muscle?
Because the product contains both diuretics and laxatives, pissing and shi#ing more frequently will cause “weight loss” on the bathroom scale.
However, “weight loss” is one thing (i.e., water and fecal weight loss), but FAT LOSS is something different that requires making serious changes to your diet and exercise regimen.
Skinnytabs recommends that you use the product in conjunction with diet and exercise.
This is common in the weight loss industry where if you use a product while you’re eating better and moving more, then you might give most of the credit to the magic pill rather than all your hard work.
If you’re looking to lose BODY FAT and keep it off, you won’t find a permanent solution in a diuretic or laxative drink.
Any immediate reductions in scale weight will mostly be water and fecal weight.
No single “detox” can substitute for making the core lifestyle changes required for losing stored body fat and keeping it off (which require significant effort and discipline).
Check out my article: 13 Fat Loss Principles: the “Secret” is No Secret.
Claim 4: “Boost metabolism”
Skinnytabs claims it will “boost metabolism.”
Much like the terms “detox” and “lose weight,” “boosts metabolism” is another loosely defined, unregulated marketing term that can mean a lot of different things to different people.
When scientists talk about an increase in metabolic rate, they’re talking about an increase in how many calories you burn with and without the supplement.
So how many additional calories are you actually burning when you take Skinnytabs?
Nobody really knows.
I did a search of the Medline database for peer-reviewed scientific articles and was unable to locate any research to substantiate Skinnytabs claims. If any clinical research has been done, please send me a link to the reference.
However, the product does contain caffeine, the effects of which have been studied on humans.
Skinnytabs contains caffeine (40 mg to be exact, according to the website), so let’s compare this to other research studies that measured the effects of caffeine on metabolic rate.
In a study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 12 healthy young male volunteers who consumed 200 mg of caffeine increased their metabolism by approximately 7% (or 13 calories in absolute terms).
To be clear, an increase of 13 calories is hardly a “boost” in metabolism.
In another study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a supplement containing 150 mg of caffeine and a number of other herbal stimulants induced a 129 calorie increase after 3 hours (see below).
So while it is technically true that a caffeine-containing supplement can cause a small increase in metabolic rate in a tightly-controlled laboratory setting, what happens in the real world with free-living human beings is less predictable.
Skinnytabs contains 40 mg or 1/5 of that used in the first study or 1/4 of that in the second study. So it’s not known what effect, if any, the 40mg of caffeine in Skinnytabs would have on metabolic rate.
For a more expansive discussion on the effects of caffeine on metabolism, check out this review article here.
“Technically” yes, caffeine will bump up your metabolism, but unlikely in any noticeable or meaningful way that it will cause you to shed copious amounts of fat (above and beyond that accomplished with changes in diet and exercise).
Claim 5: “Reduce bloating“
Before we discuss this claim, we must define the word “bloating” and address any expectations you might have.
Bloating, as in fluid retention, is a real and biologically normal thing, but tends to be transient and self-resolving.
In other words, if you tend to puff up every so often, there’s nothing wrong with you.
“Bloating,” on the other hand, is also a poorly defined marketing euphemism for extra body fat in those undesirable trouble spots.
Because Skinnytabs contain diuretics and laxatives, it will cause you to shed excess water and fecal matter.
More than likely, you will “lose weight” on the bathroom scale, but it is only temporary and should not be confused with fat loss.
But if you’re thinking the product alone will cause you to shed body fat, then you are likely to be disappointed.
This is a diuretic and laxative product which will temporarily dehydrate you a bit.
However, you will replace the lost fluid and fecal waste with your next meal (remember, your body weight fluctuates every day with meals, drinks, and your normal bladder and bowel movements).
Claim 6: “Boosts energy”
Basic bioenergetics lesson here: Foods that contain energy-yielding nutrients like carbohydrate, protein, and fat are converted in your body to chemical energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) which is used to drive the celular reactions that keep you alive.
Any feeling of increased alertness from this product would likely be due to caffeine which is a central nervous system stimulant.
But this is not actually “energy” per se.
Skinnytabs only contains 5 calores per serving so it has next to zero energy.
“Boosts energy” is yet another ambiguously defined marketing term that can mean different things to different people.
Be aware of what your expectations are versus what the product can actually deliver.
Claim 7: “Fight cravings”
This claim prompts more questions than answers.
“Fights cravings” for what? Cravings for carbohydrates? Cravings for heroin? Cravings for sex?
In order for this claim to actually mean anything other than marketing gobbledygook, Skinnytabs needs to be clear about what cravings the product fights.
What objective research using the Skinnytabs product directly supports this claim?
I was unable to find any peer-reviewed scientific articles which support this, or any other product claims.
Also as a consumer, what does “fights cravings” mean to you?
This is appears to be bog standard marketing taking creative liberties.
Claim 8: “Packed with natural superfood ingredients”
Spoiler alert: there is no such thing as a superfood.
Some foods are higher than others in certain nutrients, but this does not make them “superfoods.”
Playing devil’s advocate, even if there was such a thing as “superfoods,” Skinnytabs only contains extracts of the ingredients in tiny amounts, so you wouldn’t be getting the same health benefits of the entire food.
Whether for this product or any other, you should dismiss “superfood” claims as super bullshit marketing.
Check out these related articles:
Cockroach Milk: Superfood or Super Clickbait Headline?
37 Bullshit Health Marketing Phrases You Should Ignore
Want to Lose Weight and Be Healthy? Then Stop Chasing Golden Unicorns
Are Skinnytabs safe?
The boring health professional in me is always on alert when it comes to diet pills because, some people think if a little is good, then a lot must be better.
If you take Skinnytabs once a day or every other day, then chances are you’ll probably be safe.
The product contain diuretics, laxatives, and a small amount of caffeine, so I’ll provide some prudent guidelines below.
If you have any health condition, stop. Do not use this product UNTIL you speak with your doctor and discuss any potential interactions with your conditions or medications.
Potential side effects and risks
Having been in the health field nearly three decades, I’ve seen virtually every type of slimming diet, pill, and exercise gadget making all kinds of lofty claims while not adequately providing warnings about potential side effects.
With any “detox” product, the risk is never zero. So it’s important to at least arm yourself with some potential issues that could arise with this or any other similar product.
If you are taking the Skinnytabs as a weight loss product (which seems to be the main marketing message), I would encourage you to use it with care.
Any product that contains diuretics and laxatives, if used improperly, could contribute to dehydration.
Also remember that exercise (particularly in a hot environment) has a dehydration effect on the body. So exercise combined with Skinnytabs could increase the risk of dehydration.
When starting out on the product, try a smaller dose first and see how your body reacts to it, then work up to the normal dose.
Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies
If you experience any side effects such as diarrhoea, stop taking the product immediately.
Do not try to convince yourself you’re “detoxing.” You’re not.
Be sure to drink plenty of water while using the product.
Low blood pressure
If you have any underlying health conditions like high blood pressure for which you are prescribed diuretics, Skinnytabs could have an additive diuretic effect which could plausibly lead to low blood pressure and a feeling of dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
Please consult your doctor if you have high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular disease.
Reduction in birth control effectiveness
Lady buyers beware.
Detox products that contain laxatives can decrease the effectiveness of your birth control pills, particularly if you take your pill within 4 to 5 hours of using the product.
A woman in the UK became pregnant after using a “detox” product because it interfered with her contraceptive.
Reduction in bowel movements
As a general rule, you should not use laxative-containing products long-term.
This can lead to your body adapting to the product which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and irritable bowel syndrome) and make you dependent on the product for normal bowel movements.
If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the product, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.
To be safe, if you decide to try the product, use it for a month, have a break, and alternate on and off.
Weight loss abuse
Skinnytabs promotes “weight loss” through excretion of urine and feces.
As a general warning, if you have a tendency to obsess over losing weight fast, you may be at higher risk for overusing the product.
If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, please pay particular attention and keep tabs on their use of the product.
Where are Skinnytabs sold?
If you’re looking to buy Skinnytabs, they are mainly sold via the official website but there are also listings for the product on Amazon. I’m not sure if it’s sold in stores or pharmacies.
How much do they cost?
There are three options available on the website
The starter plan gives you 30 tabs and is $54 USD for a subscription or $79 if you buy it as a one-off.
They indicate this is if you want to take the product once per day.
The kickstart plan gets you 60 tabs and is $99 USD for a subscription and $119 as a one-off purchase.
They recommend this if you are going to take it twice a day
The Ultimate plan gives you 90 tabs and is $139 USD for a subscription or $169 as a one-off purchase.
They push this level if you plan on taking the product three times per day.
A word of caution
In my professional view, I find it alarming that Skinnytabs prompts you to take the product two or three times per day. As I’ve cautioned above, you need to be very careful with diuretic/laxative products, as your body can habituate to them.
It’s your money and your body, but if you insist on buying the product, buy the starter plan and try out a half a tab to see how your body responds to it before moving on to multiple tabs per day (which, from a safety standpoint, I would not recommend).
Skinnytabs claims that their “subscription plans are the best way to guarantee results and save money.”
For the safety reasons I have highlighted above, I would not recommend the subscription option until you try the product as a one-off purchase and see how your body reacts to it (i.e., do you get diarrhoea, gastrointestinal bloating/discomfort etc).
Being that the product contains diuretic and laxative ingredients, I would advise not taking the product indefinitely.
If you’re looking to cancel your subscription, you need to do it the right way.
I took the time to read Skinnytabs’ terms and conditions and found a couple contradictory statements regarding their cancellation policy.
In the first screenshot, it says you can cancel online, by phone, or by emailing them.
Then in the second screenshot, you can see they contradict themselves by saying cancellation MUST be done via the online management tool, and that ONLY cancellation done online will be honoured.
So which is it, Skinnytabs?
You “can” get a refund, but then there’s that darn pesky asterisk (*).
There are a long list of conditions that you must adhere which sort of make it a waste of time to even bother jumping through all their hoops.
I excavated the following from their official terms and conditions:
Products eligible for return
- Initial Order of Skinnytabs Detox only (no returns on renewals allowed)
Products not eligible for return
- Subscription Renewal of Skinnytabs Detox
Shipping and handling
If your product is eligible for a return, then expect to have the shipping and handling charges deducted from the purchase price as follows:
- Starter Plan or 1 Box: $5.95 Deduction
- Kickstart Plan or 2 Boxes: $9.95 Deduction
- Ultimate Plan or 3 Boxes: $14.95 Deduction
Cost of return shipping
So not only are you going to lose money for the shipping and handling deduction, but the cost of returning the product is on you as well.
According to the website:
- “We do not provide a label and do not provide re-imbursement for return shipping. We highly suggest shipping your package with shipment tracking so that you can confirm that it has been successfully delivered.”
30 days processing
After you’ve jumped through all the hoops and technicalities, expect to wait up to 30 days for processing.
About the company
Who are the names and faces behind Skinnytabs?
According to publicly available business records, Skinnytabs is a Texas-based limited liability company founded in October of 2018 and is under the umbrella of USA Super Foods (link) which offers a few different “detox” products.
Skinnytabs was co-founded by husband and wife Dylan Ralston and Chrissy Stecher who run what appears to be a digital marketing / e-commerce agency called the digital space (link). They have a background in digital marketing and coding as well as an interest in health.
The verdict: Do Skinnytabs work?
There is a LOT of marketing innuendo and sleight of hand at work here. Whether or not Skinnytabs “works” or not really depends on your personal definition of “works.”
Here are some objective considerations to bear in mind as:
- You might “lose weight” but it will be in the form of urine and feces. By itself, it is not a FAT LOSS product. That’s where diet and exercise come in.
- “Reduce bloating” is ambiguous. It’s a diuretic so will make you pee more, but if you think body fat is bloat, then you’ll probably be disappointed. When you stop using the product, your normal body water “bloat” will return.
- “Detox” claims are false. Pissing and shi#ing is not “detoxing.” Which toxins are being detoxed? Be specific.
- Skinnytabs’ false fear-based narrative that “toxins in your body are the primary cause of poor health conditions” should be disregarded. Which toxins? Which health conditions? Be specific.
- The small amount of caffeine in the product might make you burn a few extra calories, but it’s up to you to decide if this constitutes a “metabolism boost.”
- Claims that it’s a superfood are mere opinion, not fact. Moreover, the product only contains small extracts of the ingredients, so even if we pretended that “superfoods” actually existed, you wouldn’t be getting the entire nutritional value from the whole food.
After reviewing Skinnytabs’ advertising, I do not recommend the product.
I think the marketing claims are a combination of false and misleading and do not provide full and transparent disclosure to help consumers make an educated buying decision. In most cases, it’s not what you’re told, but what you’re NOT told.
“Detox” products are popular right now, but that should not be considered a stamp of approval that they’re totally efficacious or safe.
Skinnytabs’ own disclaimer they state that “exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss,” but this is stuffed all the way at the bottom of the website in grey font against a black background. For the most part, it’s invisible compared to the aggressive marketing and testimonials plastered across the site above it.
From a safety standpoint, I am concerned that they push to use the product up to three (3) times per day. This might be good for their bottom line, but I am not sure that Skinnytabs appreciates the potential health consequences of overusing diuretic/laxative products.
In closing, Skinnytabs uses all the same formulaic marketing tactics common to every other “detox” on the market. But it is yet another health fad that, like leotards and headbands, will eventually run its marketing cycle and fade away. The world doesn’t need another detox, but it does need a detox from toxic marketing.