We’ve all been there before; walked into a supplement store and seen an entire wall devoted to fat loss supplements… Copious amounts of shiny tubs promising to assist us in some way as we partake on our weight loss journey. Fat burners have quickly become one of the most popular categories of supplements in the fitness industry, with an influx of brands and products becoming available as more and more of us want to take the fastest route possible to achieving our desired lean physique. With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine exactly which products will deliver on their promises and help us reach our goals.
Enter our Guide To The Best Fat Burner Supplements! Designed to break down…
Fat Burners: What Do They Do And How Do They Work?
No product will magically cause all your Body Fat to melt off and disappear overnight. Fat Burners work in a variety of ways, each targeting Fat Loss from a different perspective. Most Fat Burners are recommended to take first thing upon rising in the morning, however, some are specific to being used prior to exercise or accompanied by a meal. There are a variety of benefits supplementing with a Fat Burner can have, including:
- Increase Metabolic Rate and Increase Calorie Output
- Increase Thyroid Activity
- Break Down Stored Body Fat
- Use Body Fat As Fuel (Fat Metabolism)
- Enhance Mood
- Reduce Appetite
- Increase Energy and Performance
- Reduce Carbohydrate Absorption
- Eliminate Excess Estrogens
- Eliminate Excess Water Weight
- Regulate Blood Sugar and Insulin
Fat Burners will attempt to achieve one or a combination of these benefits, and we will explore each whilst highlighting key ingredients and products to look out for to ensure you are making the right choice for your goals.
Increase Metabolic Rate and Calorie Output
One of the most frequently promised benefits of using a Fat Burner is the impact it has on your metabolic rate. Fat Burner formulas will often include a variety of key ingredients which have proven to increase one’s metabolic rate, and therefore how fast they are burning calories. Common ingredients frequently seen in products on the market include:
- Green Tea Extract
- African Wild Mango
- Green Coffee Bean
- Forskolin (Coleus Forskohlii)
The result of supplementing with products which contain the above mentioned ingredients is an increase in the speed of your metabolic rate and therefore an increase in the total number of calories you are burning each day. When trying to lose weight, it is important to achieve a calorie deficit, whereby you are burning more calories than you are consuming. In order increase this deficit, you can either:
- Burn More Calories
- Consume Less Food
As we need to be sensible about the amount of calories we can deduct from our diet and the amount of exercise we can perform, increasing our metabolic rate and therefore our overall output of calories burned is a smart way to increase this deficit we need to be in. The greater the difference between the calories we burn and the calories consumed, the greater our potential at losing weight.
In addition, the more calories you burn, the greater amount of thermogenesis you can achieve. Thermogenesis is a hot word thrown around in the weight loss industry, with many products promising to deliver ‘thermogenic effects’. Thermogenesis, quite simply, describes the production of heat within our body. When calories are being burned, heat is produced, and the more heat your body produces, the more calories you can burn! Therefore, supplementing with the above listed ingredients will not only see you increase your calorie deficit, but increase to occurrence of thermogenesis too.
For products which will assist in increasing your metabolic rate, your total calorie expenditure, the size of your calorie deficit and that will induce thermogenesis, we recommend:
Increase Thyroid Activity
Thyroid Health is imperative when it comes to achieving successful weight loss results. Your thyroid is a large gland in your neck that secretes powerful hormones, which actively influence the activity of your metabolism. The most well known hormones produced by the Thyroid are T3 and T4, which work to regulate your metabolic rate (the rate at which you use available energy sources, including stored body fat). If your Thyroid is working optimally and producing a sufficient amount of hormones, then you will experience a normal metabolic rate. By increasing the activity of your thyroid hormones, you will be able to increase the speed at which your body uses energy, and there increase the amount of calories burned during a single day.
Thyroid diseases are slowly becoming more prevalent in society, with an estimated 20% of individuals suffering some form of problem with their thyroid. An underactive Thyroid, or Hypothyroidism describes when one is unable to produce adequate levels of Thyroid hormones. This in turn means their metabolic rate and the rate at which their internal bodily processes occur will slow down dramatically. Common symptoms include feelings of lethargy, poor concentration and memory, depression, weakness and weight gain.
If you have been diagnosed with poor Thyroid function, or want to ensure you Thyroid is working optimally to maximise your weight loss results, the following ingredients are commonly included in supplements promising to improve the efficiency of your Thyroid:
- Omega 3 Oil
- Devils Horsewhip
For supplements which contain the above listed ingredients and can be used to improve the activity and regulation of you Thyroid Hormones, we recommend using:
Break Down Stored Body Fat
This particular benefit that can be achieved from supplementing with a Fat Burner is a favourite when it comes to companies selecting advertising messages. Typically disguised as terms such as ‘Burn’, ‘Incinerate’, ‘Melt’ or ‘Blast’, breaking down stored body fat is an effective means of supporting your weight loss journey. Fat Burners aim to do this by including particular ingredients in their formulas which work to physically break down chains of triglycerides in the form of body fat. Once these chains have been broken down, individual fat molecules are more accessible and free to move around the body, and be used as an energy source to fuel activity. Stimulants are the most frequently used ingredients to burn and break down stored body fats, with Caffeine being the most commonly used stimulant in both Fat Burner and Pre Workout Supplements. Caffeine has been shown to cause greater Lipolysis (breakdown of stored body fats) and greater Fat Oxidation (using Body Fat as a fuel source). Other ingredients used to induce Lipolysis or the breakdown of stored body fats include:
- Green Tea Extract
- Garcinia Cambogia
- Forskolin (Coleus Forskohlii)
- Grapefruit Peel Oil
For supplements which contain the above-listed ingredients and can be used to enhance Lipolysis and therefore encourage stored body fats to be broken down in order to be used as fuel, we recommend using:
Once stored body fat has been broken down, it needs to be transported into cells in order to be used as the preferred energy source. Otherwise, it will remain in the blood stream, which does no favours for our weight loss goals. We want to see these broken down fats used as our predominant energy source, hence where the ingredient L-Carnitine comes into play.L-Carnitine is made of of two Amino Acids (Lysine and Methionine) bound together, considered a conditionally essential Amino Acid. L-Carnitine is responsible for shuttling fatty acids from the bloodstream into the Mitochondria (or the powerhouse) of the cells, where they can be used for energy. This increases Fat Metabolism and therefore allows more body fat to be burned, resulting in weight loss for you!
It is imperative to ensure your diet is sufficient in Protein to ensure you have the means to create a sufficient quantity of L-Carnitine in the first place. However, if you participate in frequent, intense training, it is likely you may be depleting your stores much faster than desirable. In addition, only a limited quantity of L-Carnitine can be stored at a single time, until the Mitochondria have become completely saturated in it. Recent studies have however showed that Insulin may be able to increase the uptake of L-Carnitine, through it’s ability to transport nutrients into a cell. Therefore, if you are truly deficient in this Amino Acid, you can supplement with it in the presence of carbohydrates or a Whey Protein Shake; both of which possess the ability to spike Insulin levels and therefore enhance the absorption of L-Carnitine. However, we recommend using L-Carnitine on an empty stomach, prior to exercise to maximise fat loss results. Supplementing with L-Carnitine has also been linked to greater muscle fullness, increased energy levels and less muscular fatigue during training.
L-Carnitine comes in a variety of forms, with Acetyl L-Carnitine being our favourite due to it’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which results in improved mental alertness, focus and concentration. Alternative forms include:
- Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine: Increases Blood Nitrate levels and therefore Nitric Oxide levels, resulting in better muscle pumps and nutrient delivery.
- L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate: A salt form of L-Carnitine which is reported to have greater absorbency, but otherwise not noticeably different to the Acetyl form.
- L-Carnitine Fumarate – Similar to Acetyl L-Carnitine but is effective in increasing Oxygen transport around the body.
- Propionyl-L-Carnitine: A form of Carnitine used to treat specific diseases including Angina, Heart Failure and Ischemic Heart Disease.
The best time to use L-Carnitine is approximately 15 – 30 minutes prior to training or cardio, and can be stacked with a Fat Burner or Pre-Workout. However if you do suffer from a serious deficiency, it may be necessary to supplement with L-Carnitine at other times, accompanied by Carbohydrates as previously discussed to increase absorption.
For Supplements which contain L-Carnitine and will assist you in transporting body fat to be burned as energy, we recommend:
Fat Burning Supplements frequently proclaim their ability to enhance user’s moods, happiness and cognitive function levels. This is particularly of interest to those eating in a calorie deficit, who may experience bad moods or struggle to focus while dieting. An additional benefit that supplementing with a Fat Burner can provide is the ability to elevate your mood and maintain your brain function! What does this translate too? Maintained motivation, mental energy, and happiness – all whilst consuming lowered calories! This will better your chances of sticking to your diet, even during those tough days where you want to throw in the towel and devour a block of chocolate (or two). There are a variety of ingredients which have the ability to achieve these effects including:
- Nootropics (often referred to as Cognitive Enhancers or Mental Focus Boosters, describe a category of substances which are used to improve one’s cognitive function)
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan (HTP)
- B Vitamins
If you elect to use a Fat burner that contains one or a combination of the above listed ingredients, you can expect to notice:
- Improved Memory
- Increased Learning
- Increased Attention Span
- Improved Mood
- Improved Blood Flow and Oxygen to the brain
- Increased Mental Energy
- Increased Alertness
- Increased Wakefulness
- Increased Motivation
As you can see, these benefits would be welcomed while eating in a calorie deficit, and can become the difference between you sticking to your diet or caving! For supplements which contain such stimulants and Nootropics that will allow you to feel great whilst dieting, we recommend:
If you’re on a reduced calorie diet, you’ll absolutely relate to having temptations and cravings throughout the day. Feelings of hunger, day dreaming of donuts, instagramming amazing brunches; we’ve all been there. A Fat Burner has the ability to suppress your appetite, whereby it can dull unwanted feelings of hunger and dramatically reduce cravings for foods that aren’t specified on your meal plan. This will dramatically increase your ability to actually stick to your diet, one of the most common downfalls individuals have on their quest to fat loss. Ingredients that work to suppress one’s appetite include:
- Green Coffee Extract
For Fat Burners with a powerful ability to curb your appetite and provide you with a better chance of sticking to your diet, we recommend the following:
Increase Energy and Performance
We all know those days where we feel on top of the world, full of energy and ready to face anything that comes our way. Those are the days we are motivated and more likely to actively pursue what we need to do in order to reach our goals. It’s the days when we are feeling off, lethargic, unmotivated and even at times hopeless, that can become a hurdle on our quest for fat loss! Fat Burners, as discussed, frequently use stimulants and other ingredients to boost energy levels and leave you feeling able to accomplish the tasks and training you are required to do.
Stimulants are the most frequently used ingredients in order to raise user’s energy levels. Increased energy will allow you to perform better when it comes to your exercise and training. If you have more energy, you’ll be able to push yourself harder, resulting in the burning of more calories. You can also ensure your body has access to stored energy which can be broken down and made available during training, which will also increase your overall energy levels. As discussed, exercise is a great way to create or increase a calorie deficit, whereby you are burning more calories than you are consuming. Fat Burners can also be substituted as a Pre-Workout, with the energy boost being useful for those participating in performance based training too! Common ingredients used to boost energy in Fat Burner Supplements include:
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
For a Fat Burner containing the above listed ingredients and that has the ability to provide you with a boost in your energy levels, for both training and during the day, we recommend:
Reduce Carbohydrate Absorption
‘Carb Blocking’ or is another way in which a Fat Burner can assist users toward their weight loss goals. Ingredients which aim to do this work by inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb ingested carbohydrates and fats that derive from food consumed. Instead of absorbing these macronutrients, the body will excrete them instead, which will enable stored body fat to be the predominant source of energy used, ideal for fat loss goals.
Carb Blockers specifically work by inhibiting the enzyme Amylase, that is responsible for breaking down molecular chains of ingested complex carbohydrates before they can be absorbed. If this food continues to be passed through the digestive system undigested, they will not be absorbed or have an effect on blood sugar levels. While studies reveal that although Carb Blockers have shown to block the enzymes responsible for breaking down these macronutrients, this doesn’t mean that 100% of consumed foods will not be absorbed. But it can certainly help, thereby increasing one’s calorie deficit.
Common ingredients used to reduce the absorption of carbohydrates ingested from food include:
- White kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
For supplements which can assist in blocking the enzyme responsible for breaking down and absorbing carbohydrates, we recommend:
Eliminate Excess Estrogen
Hormones are one of the most influential factors when it comes to determining whether our body is able to lose unwanted body fat. For successful weight loss to occur, your hormones must be balanced and in a healthy state. Estrogen is an important hormone that should be paid attention by those seeking to lose weight. Estrogen-dominance describes a state by which both men and women have excess levels of Estrogen in the body, which can inhibit healthy fat loss. The reason being, Estrogen increases the amount of fat storage in the subcutaneous area (under the skin). In addition, fat cells actually create estrogen, and the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen you produce. Increased estrogen slows down the metabolism, which encourages the body to store more weight. Estrogen and Thyroid hormones interact quite proximately, and excess Estrogen can inhibit thyroid activity, leaving you sluggish and fatigued. Estrogen also increases the quantity of receptors known as anti-lipolytic alpha 2A-adrenergic receptors. When these receptors are activated, estrogen increases the number of anti-fat breakdown receptors in subcutaneous fat. Because of the increase in these receptors, cells break down fat less frequently.
Another contributing factor to high Estrogen levels is through the aromatization process, whereby Testosterone converts to Estrogen in the body through the action of the Aromatase enzyme. This occurs as the body likes to remain in homeostasis, whereby it aims to keep the body at stable, healthy levels when it comes to temperature, weight and hormones. If the body detects an excess of Testosterone, the aromatase enzyme will convert this perceived excess into estrogen in a bid to balance hormone levels. This can occur in both males and females.
It is therefore imperative to ensure your body is able to metabolise and excrete Estrogen efficiently to avoid Estrogen Dominance and to reduce unwanted body fat. There are many methods you can implement in your daily regime to reduce unwanted Estrogen, such as improve your diet, drink more water, consume more fibre and avoid chemicals and toxins. You can also supplement with various substances that can help you eliminate excess estrogens and block the conversion of testosterone into Estrogen. Ingredients which perform this role include:
- Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) sprout
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) extract
- Kelp (Fucus vesiculosus)
- DIM (Di-Indoly Methane)
- Phosphatidyl Serine
For products which contain the above listed ingredients and can help you improve your ability to metabolise excess Estrogens and avoid symptoms of Estrogen Dominance, we recommend:
- ATP Science Alpha Prime (For Men)
- ATP Science Alpha Venus (For Women)
- ATP Science Block E3 (Transdermal, target specific areas)
Diuretics and Water Weight
Diuretics are debated a lot in the fitness industry, especially as we’ve come to see many abuse them and quite seriously jeopardise their health. Diuretics work by allowing you to excrete more fluid than you otherwise would, which results in losing body water, both subcutaneously (under the skin) and intracellularly (within cells). This allows athletes to achieve a drier, harder appearing physique or allow athletes to meet a certain ‘weight class’ when participating in competitive sports. This loss of water is temporary however, and can come with a diverse range of side effects. Initial symptoms one may experience when experimenting with Diuretics include fatigue, headaches, poor coordination and of course thirst. Depending on the type of diuretic you use, your body may also wash away anything else that is contained within your body water, including Magnesium, Chloride and Potassium. If the balance of these Electrolytes is off, this is where the potentially hazardous ramifications can occur, with reports of muscle weakness, pain, fatigue and muscle destruction! Other side effects have included water retention when water is reintroduced, insulin resistance and increased blood sugar levels.
That’s not to say diuretics shouldn’t be used at all. But you should make the effort to ensure you are educated enough as to the kind of Diuretic you are using and how to use it safely. Fortunately, there are safe, natural diuretics that exist and frequently appear in Fat Loss supplements as they are safe to use. These compounds help shed excess water weight, but not to the degree where you are losing large quantities of essential Micronutrients. Some common ingredients that are used in Fat Burners include:
- Dandelion Root
- Juniper Berry
- Devil’s Horsewhip
- Green Tea Extract
- Celery Seed
For products that contain either one or a combination of the above-listed ingredients that will assist you in shedding excess water weight, we recommend:
Regulate Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Another important factor determining one’s success in their ability to lose body fat is the efficiency of one’s Insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas when a high amount of Glucose (sugar) enters the bloodstream at a single time. It works to transport this glucose out of the blood stream which would others lead to a Hyperglycemic Attack, and shuttles them into muscle cells. This is favourable for those looking to build muscle mass and kick start recovery as your muscle cells require replenishment and nutrients after training. However, if you’ve eaten an excess of carbohydrates and your muscle cells are full, or if you suffer from Insulin Resistance, this glucose will be transported into the next available location: Fat cells. In addition, in the presence of Insulin, fat loss is severely inhibited as your body will cease to use existing energy stores (body fat) and switch to ingested glucose. The less insulin you produce, the greater chance you have at encouraging body fat to be used as the predominant fuel source. There are a host of ways you can improve your blood sugar levels and therefore reduce the incidence of insulin, including reducing total Carbohydrate intake, opting for Low GI (slow digesting) carbohydrates, increasing Fibre intake, accompany carbohydrates with proteins and fats and increasing resistance training. You can also supplement with a variety of ingredients which will mitigate the Insulin response of the body in the presence of carbohydrates, which will enable you to achieve your fat loss goals quicker including:
- Cinnamon Extract
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Banaba Leaf
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Gymnema Leaf
- Bitter Melon
- Super Berberine
- Green Tea Extract
For supplements which use the above-listed ingredients and can assist in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing insulin spikes and provide you with better energy and moods, try one of the following:
So, there it is! It is evident that not all Fat Burners are made equal, each offering one or multiple benefits as discussed above. As each serve to assist you Fat Loss journey differently, it is important to establish where exactly your personal downfalls lie: Do you have a slow metabolism? Are you experiencing severe cravings? Do you have a problem with Insulin? Learning what particularly is preventing you from having success as you attempt to lose weight will allow you to choose a product which is most suited to your needs. Don’t simply pick a product based on what it promises to deliver; learn which ingredients are proven to help you and look for those next time you’re due to incorporate a Fat Burner in your Supplement Stack.