What are Fat Burners?
Since there's no miracle pill that burns fat, what do people mean when they refer to fat burners? "Fat burner" describes any dietary supplement that, when taken in combination with a healthy diet and exercise program, enhances the loss of body fat. Fat burners don't literally burn body fat, but they support the process in other ways.
Thermogenics: Most fat burners are thermogenics (thermo = heat genesis = creation). Thermogenics are supplements that increase metabolism which leads to increased heat production and more calories burned. This is achieved through the use of thermogenic ingredients like caffeine and green tea extract. Thermogenics may also help suppress appetite, improve mental focus and support healthy insulin metabolism. Here is an overview of the most commonly-used thermogenic ingredients.
- Synephrine (or Citrus aurantium, bitter orange): Bitter orange extract is used for its synephrine content. Like ephedra, synephrine increases metabolic rate and caloric expenditure by targeting tissues such as fat stores as sources of energy. But unlike ephedra, synephrine has a negligible effect on heart rate or blood pressure. Synephrine can also produce other weight-loss effects such as increased energy levels and suppressed appetite.
- Caffeine, guarana, kola nut, green tea extract: Caffeine is the most popular stimulant used in thermogenic fat burners. Caffeine elevates metabolic rate, encouraging thermogenesis and calorie-expenditure. Caffeine is also effective as an pre-workout energy booster, enabling you to work out harder for longer periods of time. Product labels may indicate caffeine as: caffeine anhydrous, guaranine, guarana, green tea extract, methylxanthine, kola nut, or yerba mate.
- 7 Keto (or 7-Oxo-Dehydroepiandrosterone): 7 keto, a metabolite of DHEA with fewer side effects, increases metabolism and encourages fat loss. Unlike stimulants, however, 7 keto doesn't exert its effects via the nervous system, instead increasing metabolic rate by affecting the thyroid gland. By increasing the release of thyroid hormones that effect metabolic rate, 7 keto can be be very beneficial as a weight loss supplement.
- Guggul: Made from the resin of the Commiphora mukul tree, guggul supplements contain compounds called guggulsterones which reportedly reduce blood cholesterol and fat levels. But guggul resin is also said to help normalize thyroid function, which may have a positive effect on metabolism. Prolonged dieting along with continued use of stimulants in fat burners may have an adverse effect on thyroid function.
Others: There are other fat burning supplements that do not fall into the above categories.
- Pyruvate: A form of pyruvic acid, pyruvate is made by the body and found in food in limited amounts. Pyruvic acid assists in the production of ATP, which is a primary energy fuel for the body, powering both vital functions and work/exercise. Studies have shown that pyruvate can significantly increase fat loss when paired with exercise and a healthy diet. Pyruvate may also increase exercise endurance, further helping to promote fat loss.
How Well Do Fat Burners Work?
Fat burners enhance the fat loss effects of a healthy diet and exercise program. The better the program, the better the results. Fat burners can be used by beginners just embarking on a diet-and-exercise program or by more experienced users to help break through the inevitable plateau periods of stagnant progress. To evaluate the effects of your fat burner, have your body composition measured just before beginning, and measured again at regular intervals such as monthly or biweekly.
Fat Burners: Dose and Saftey
Since most fat burners contain stimulants, starting with a small or half dose is advisable so new users can assess their tolerance to the formula. Most fat burners contain extensive fine-print warnings that pertain to heart health, blood pressure, and many other conditions, so be sure to read and respect labels. Consult your physician before beginning any weight loss plan or taking any fat burning supplements.