Fat Burners: Do They Really Work?

You’ve seen the ads for hydroxycut, hypershred, cellucor and others. These are all supposedly fat burning supplements. You pop the pill, and fat starts to melt. Do they actually work? And if so, how?


Original source: here.

 How Do They Work? 

First, let’s go over the theory. There are really 2 types of fat burners on the market: true fat burners, and appetite suppressants.

True fat burners include things like caffeine, ephedrine, yohimbine, and others. How do they do it? They stimulate your adrenal glands to release adrenaline. Adrenaline is in and of itself a very potent fat burner. Some of them have the word “thermogenic” attached to them. “Thermogenic” just means “heat producing”, so they’ll make you feel warm or hot, and yes, when you have a faster metabolism, you feel warmer.

Appetite suppressants   work by several different mechanisms. They can affect the chemicals in the brain (called “neurotransmitters”) responsible for things like mood and appetite. Two of those in particular are called “dopamine” and “serotonin.”

 Do They Actually Work? 

Some of them do, but some of them don’t really work in the real world. So which ones really work?

The fat burners that really work, and have been tried, tested and true are caffeine and ephedrine (or the herbal version, ma huang). In the 1990s, they even had an “ECA stack.” People would take ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin, and fat would just melt off without exercise or much of a change in nutrition. Is this a dream come true?

Some would say yes. But experienced users would call it more like a nightmare. Yes, fat would melt off without exercise or nutrition, but a few other interesting things happened. Resting heart rate rose to 100-120 beats per minute (it’s supposed to be 60-72, unless you’re in really good shape, in which case, it would be under 60), and blood pressure rose along with it to unacceptable levels. In other words, you were a heart attack waiting to happen. You’re wired all the time, jittery, can’t sleep, but yes, you’re lean.

So to my knowledge, these are the only proven fat burning supplements. Other trendy ones, like raspberry ketones, and green coffee bean extract are not proven yet.

As for appetite suppressants, there are several in this category. Some examples include green tea extract, caffeine (yes, it fits in both categories), 5-HTP, forskolin and others.

And yes, these are also supplements proven to work. They really do suppress the appetite.

But why not go for things that both suppress the appetite AND add nutrients to your body? Like this exotic thing called “food.” For instance, veggies, meat, fish and butter are natural appetite suppressants, except beside suppressing your appetite, they provide you with vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K, fibre, protein, healthy fats, and so much more that I just can’t list here.

Non-Traditional Fat Burning Supplements 

If we really consider what we actually use with our clients, they really aren’t fat burning supplements per se. They’re used for other purposes, but fat loss happens as a healthy side effect.

For instance, for our clients who come and have depression, cardiovascular disease, and low energy levels, we’ll look at their blood work (specifically a test called “homocysteine”), and find that if their homocysteine is high, we’ll recommend a B complex of vitamins. Without any other changes, their mood gets better, inflammation decreases and energy levels improve. Oh yeah, and fat tends to drop as well. Is the B complex a traditional “fat burning supplement?” No. But it certainly has that effect in this case.

Another one of our clients started gaining body fat for seemingly no apparent reason. She had lost a good amount of weight, but due to hormonal imbalances, she gained mystery weight. She was exercising well, eating right, but gaining weight. Weird. When she started using a simple B6 supplement, she lost 3 pounds in 2 weeks, and 1.5% body fat in 2 weeks (as a reference, 1% per month is average. So she tripled the average rate). Just by plugging a simple nutrition deficiency.

So the lesson is that anything can be a “fat burning supplement” if you identify a nutritional deficiency, and plug it. With our clients, we use a thorough, 321-symptom questionnaire (and sometimes, we’ll ask for blood work) to help us identify their nutritional deficiencies, after which we plug them. Then we’ll measure their body fat every 2 weeks to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. If you need help with that, let me know.

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