Your Midwife’s Thoughts on the Plexus MetaBurn Supplement
If you are on social media at all, it is likely you have seen information on, or have a friend enjoying, the new Plexus MetaBurn supplement. Plexus has a wide range of products to promote health and wellness. This product is no different. MetaBurn contains botanicals (herbs) and amino acids specifically combined to increase metabolism, burn fat, and promote weight loss.
Since I am a midwife, I have many women contacting me asking if MetaBurn is safe to use, or even beneficial, when pregnant or breastfeeding. To determine my recommendation, I have looked at each individual ingredient, read a lot of studies, and weighed potential benefits and risks to the pregnant and breastfeeding mother. Please read on to learn more and determine if this product is appropriate for you.
Disclaimer: I am not an ambassador for Plexus nor do I currently use Plexus products. I have many clients and patients who use Plexus products, especially VitalBiome, ProBio5, XFactor, and XFactor Plus during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. I do not promote a particular brand of prenatal vitamins or probiotics but encourage all of my clients to take a high quality supplement daily. I do not gain anything monetarily, or otherwise, from Plexus or any other company by writing this article. My purpose is to educate so you can use the information to make the right decision for you.
MetaBurn is advertised in this way:
“Plexus MetaBurn is a multi-action blend that delivers a fat-burning metabolism boost to help you achieve your weight management goals, boost metabolism, and support healthy energy and mood. Featuring a unique blend of exotic botanicals and extracts, Plexus MetaBurn supports weight loss by helping your body’s healthy metabolism burn more calories. Plexus MetaBurn contains a blend of clinically studied ingredients to help achieve your weight goals.”
Benefits as advertised on the Plexus website:
Supports fat burning
Helps your body reduce abdominal fat*
Supports weight loss*
Supports mood and focus*
Supports energy with a mild lift*
Increases fat burning from hips, thighs, waist, and abdomen areas*
Lets look at each ingredient and see their benefits, risks, and drawbacks in relation to pregnancy and breastfeeding.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that produces noradrenaline and dopamine which tend to help a person cope with stress. “A toxic effect of a combination of mildly increased phenylalanine and tyrosine was shown in offsprings of rats after taking tyrosine supplementation. The offsprings of the rats showed difficulties in learning. However, there have been no studies showing this toxic effects in humans. Theoretically, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine may be harmful to the unborn baby but we do not have any studies with human mothers to show whether this supplement is safe or unsafe during pregnancy.” Because of this, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is not recommended during pregnancy. It is unknown whether it passes into breastmilk and at what rate.
Caffeine in the MetaBurn supplement is from Green tea (Camellia sinensis) leaf extract, tea leaves, or Camellia sinensis, and the guarana plant, or Paullinia cupana. Caffeine is a stimulant that causes the adrenal glands to secrete epinephrine which increases alertness, speeds metabolic rate, thought, reaction time, and aids in concentration. This is why many of us drink caffeine in the morning to begin our day. Most of us know how much we can drink and know when we have had too much because of the side effects including insomnia, tremor, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), diarrhea, and heart palpitations.
During pregnancy, caffeine has the following drawbacks and risks:
Caffeine crosses the placenta and attains higher levels in the fetal bloodstream than that of the mother because the fetal liver is unable to process the caffeine as quickly as the mother.
Caffeine also remains in the mother’s bloodstream much longer than if she were not pregnant.
Caffeine drains calcium from a pregnant woman’s body by increasing the amount of calcium she excretes in her urine.
Caffeine is a diuretic and may contribute to dehydration and increase frequency of urination, which is already a nuisance for pregnant women.
Caffeine interferes with the absorption of iron, a very important nutrient during pregnancy.
Animal studies have shown animals given high doses of caffeine (equivalent to six to ten cups of a coffee a day) are more likely to have babies with malformations. This lead the FDA to recommend all women reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption as much as possible.
Studies have shown that drinking three or more cups of coffee or tea a day during the first trimester of pregnancy may double the risk of miscarriage.
Caffeine raises the levels of adrenaline in a woman’s body and could, theoretically, reduce blood flow to the uterus, reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
Measureable amounts of caffeine do pass into breastmilk but the amount available to the infant is very minimal, only 0.06 to 1.5 percent of the maternal dose. Studies show that no caffeine is detected in the breastfed infant’s urine when the infant’s mother ingests caffeine.
A study by Ryu from 1985 showed that infants whose mothers ingested 5 cups of coffee a day over 5 days were not affected by the levels of caffeine their mothers ingested. It appears that when a breastfeeding mother ingests caffeine, it has very little affect on the full-term infant. Premature babies may exhibit a delay in eliminating caffeine. However, maternal intake of caffeine could have potential effects on preterm or sick infants.
Unfortunately, the label of MetaBurn does not indicate how many milligrams of green tea leaf extract or caffeine are in the product. The MetaBurn product information page on the Plexus website says 80mgs are in one capsule but not where that amount of caffeine is coming from. If it was a small amount, I would feel better about a pregnant or breastfeeding woman taking the product but because we don’t know the percentages, and it is likely it is too much caffeine while pregnant or breastfeeding, I cannot recommend MetaBurn during the childbearing year.
If you are struggling with energy in the mornings, and currently drink caffeine, I would recommend slowly cutting bag over time until you are consuming less than 40mg in the mornings. Try to eliminate it completely during pregnancy, if possible. Consider drinking antioxidant rich drinks, like fresh squeezed juices, ningxia red, a bit of Sole, or the Himalayan Salt & Vitamin C Adrenal Tonic from Mommypotamus. These options should give you energy while also nourishing your adrenals. Taking your daily prenatal vitamin and vitamin C in the mornings should also give you energy. It may seem basic, but not drinking enough water will also cause fatigue. Are you drinking half your body weight in ounces a day? If you still continue to be fatigued, consider what is normal for your pregnancy, if you are not going to bed early enough, if you can incorporate naps into your daily routine, or if you are anemic or have thyroid issues, which could be contributing to fatigue.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea which increases mental alertness and arousal. It has other benefits including inducing a calming effect, promoting and easing sleep, and reducing anxiety and stress. It may reduce blood pressure which may be helpful for some individuals. Studies have not been initiated to determine whether it is safe for mothers to take L-theanine during pregnancy and whether it has any effects on the fetus, long or short term. The caffeine in green tea extract has been shown to alters neuromotor development in fetal mice when ingested by the mother through interfering with cholinergic neurotransmission during brain development. We do not know if L-theanine is isolated and ingested, if it would only have beneficial effects or not.
There is little research on whether L-theanine passes through breast milk to the breastfed infant. Because little caffeine passes through breast milk and green tea is considered safe while breastfeeding in small doses, and L-theanine has minimal side effects, it may be helpful for breastfeeding women, especially with anxiety. As with the caffeine in this product, we do not know the dose in MetaBurn. If you are considering taking L-theanine while breastfeeding, do your own research and consider taking it as a solo supplement, not in a combination like this product.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) root extract, also known as rose root, smells like roses and is an adaptogen. This means it helps our bodies adapt to stressful situations. The benefits include immune support, aiding in memory and cognitive function, elevates mood, promotes energy and stamina, and may help with altitude sickness. There is little research on the use of adaptogens during pregnancy and how they may effect the fetus, especially long term. For this reason, they are not generally recommended during pregnancy except for the occasional cup of tea. Since we don’t know how much rhodiola is in MetaBurn, I would not recommend ingesting rhodiola by taking MetaBurn.
When breastfeeding, it is unlikely that a cup of rhodiola tea or supplement will pass through breast milk and harm the nursing infant. There is no research on its use when breastfeeding and so most hesitate to recommend it. If you struggle with anxiety or your quality of life is being affected, you may want to do your own research and consider if rhodiola is something you want to incorporate into your daily life.
Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) seed extract, is a spice that is part of the ginger family, and is similar to cardamom. The bioactive properties are like ginger and it does have anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties. This seed has anti-estrogenic properties and may increase testosterone. “High doses of Aframomum melegueta have been noted to abolish live births in rats according to one study, and a later study noted that this did not occur at a much lower dose; [there may also be] possible contraceptive properties at higher oral doses (which have not necessarily been cleared for being safe).” For this reason, this seed is not recommended during pregnancy. Whether the extract passes through breastmilk is unknown.
Forskohlii (Coleus forskohlii) root extract is an herb that is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for weight loss. It may also increase testosterone and has been shown to aid in weight loss and the maintenance of that weight loss in several studies. Because of its effect on hormones, it is not recommended during pregnancy. It is unknown whether it passes into the breastmilk and at what rate.
AstraGin [astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) root extract and Chinese ginseng (Panax notoginseng) root extract] is an absorption amplifier that helps the body digest and absorb nutrients. These two plants have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Only certain compounds extracted from these plants are included in AstraGin but I could not find a list of which exact compounds are in AstraGin. Astragalus is an adaptogen which is not generally recommended during pregnancy and whether it passes into breastmilk is unknown. There is conflicting evidence as to whether ginseng is estrogenic, which is not recommended in pregnancy. In lactation, there are no human studies on the safety of Panax ginseng, only in vitro evidence based on three animal studies reporting minimal risk. Panax ginseng should be consumed with caution during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, and during lactation.
Guarana is a fruit bearing tree, the seeds of which are ground into powder to result in the Guarana (Paullinia cupana) seed extract in this MetaBurn supplement. Guarana is an energy stimulant that contains four times more caffeine than coffee. There is some potential that Guarana may also interfere with platelet production and regulation, a very necessary process around childbirth. Because of this, and that we do not know how much Guarana is in MetaBurn, it is not recommended for pregnancy. It is not known at what rate it may pass into breastmilk.
Griffonia simplicifolia seed extract is a West African shrub that contains the largest source of the compound 5-HTP, or 5-Hydroxytryptophan, the precursor to serotonin. This herb and compound have aphrodisiac and antibiotic properties as well as a remedy for diarrhea, vomiting and stomachache. More recently, the plant appears to be used in the treatment of anxiety and depression, insomnia, migraine and headache, as well as the regulation of appetite leading to weight reduction in obese patients. It makes sense why this herb is included in MetaBurn but the label does not tell us how much is included and whether the leaf, or the isolated 5-HTP alone, is in the supplement. At this time, we know Griffonia simplicifolia has anti-anxiety effect in rats but we don’t have studies on its use with humans, and certainly not pregnant humans. The use of serotonin as a pharmaceutical for depression and anxiety is very cautiously used during pregnancy because of how it can interfere with neurodevelopment in the fetus. I would not recommend the use of 5-HTP during pregnancy. It is not known if it passes into the breastmilk.
“Attempts to restrict weight gain in pregnancy can be potentially harmful to the fetus and mothers in some circumstances. There is a positive association between weight gain during pregnancy and fat concentration in the mother’s milk. Therefore, when fat stores laid down in pregnancy are minimal, milk fat content may decrease.” -Counseling the Nursing Mother by Riordan and Swisher
In conclusion, I would not recommend this product during pregnancy because it contains several ingredients with high amounts of caffeine and the amount of each ingredient is unknown. The other ingredients are also not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
As a midwife, I would most likely recommend this supplement to someone who is seeking pre-conception counseling and would like to become healthier before they become pregnant. I think this supplement may be ideal for someone with PCOS, pre-metabolic syndrome, or who is currently over weight and should lose weight to decrease their chances of developing complications during pregnancy, like gestational diabetes and hypertension. Because some of the ingredients in MetaBurn may have hormonal effects, with the potential to increase testosterone levels while others may be anti-estrogenic, MetaBurn may or may not be the right for someone needing to lose weight, especially if it is related to a hormone imbalance, like PCOS. More research is needed to determine how this product may interfere with hormone levels.
If you are currently pregnant and are gaining too much weight during your pregnancy (if you are not over weight or under weight, gaining 25-40 pounds during pregnancy is normal), I recommend first considering what you are eating. Eating plenty of protein, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, then, whole grains if still hungry, is the recommended diet during pregnancy. Consider if you are eating a lot of simple carbohydrates like sugar, desserts, bread, pasta, or fast food. This is probably what is causing excessive weight gain. I highly recommend Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols for more information.
If you are eating a nutritious diet, and you are still gaining weight, consider if it is water weight from swelling. I recommend my clients take 1 dropperful of HerbPharm Milk Thistle tincture daily for weight gain caused by edema (note: this is when no pre-existing conditions or complications are currently present that could also be causing excessive swelling). If you are concerned about weight gain, ask your care provider what they would recommend and if these suggestions are a good option for you.
If you are postpartum and breastfeeding and desire to lose weight, remember that breastfeeding raises your metabolism. Studies show that well-nourished, breastfeeding women who are eating wholesome foods and exercising 30 minutes per day on most days, lose approximately 2 pounds per month during the first 6 months postpartum without dieting or restricting calories. After 6 months, weight tends to stabilize and weight loss is increased with moderate reduction in caloric intake and/or increased exercise. Breastfeeding women do tend to lose more weight, compared to their non-breastfeeding counterparts, by 12 months postpartum and the longer a woman breastfeeds, the more weight she is likely to lose.
In other words, healthy weight gain during pregnancy may seem like unnecessary fat stored on your body after your baby’s birth, but as you breastfeed your body will burn off the fat, and make wonderful fat-filled milk for your baby because of that fat on your body. It may not seem glamorous and you may not feel beautiful, but your nourished body is now nourishing your baby and because of your sacrifice, you get to look at a chunky baby with the cutest fat rolls ever! Normal weight gain results in a healthy baby during pregnancy and in your baby’s first year of life.
If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and are wondering if using a midwife during your pregnancy is right for you, I would love to talk to you! Long appointments, building relationship, and looking at your health holistically and individually are hallmarks of my care.
Click on the “contact” button and send me an email, or call, or text today!
Breastfeeding and Human Lactation 4th ed. By Riordan and Wambach pg. 498-509
Counseling the Nursing Mother: The Lactation Consultant’s Guide 5th ed. By Lauwers and Swisher pg. 170-172
Varney’s Midwifery 5th ed. Pg. 1109
Mosby's Handbook of Herbs & Natural Supplements by Skidmore-Roth 4th ed. pg. 40-41, 296, 324
The Pregnancy Book by Dr. Sears pg. 50-51
Holistic Midwifery Vol. 1: Care During Pregnancy by Frye pg. 240-247
Plexus MetaBurn Product Information: https://helpcenter.plexusworldwide.com/hc/en-us/articles/360020766171-MetaBurn-New-Product-Launch-U-S-