You can lookup “ fat burner ” in the search engine only to find that hundreds of products exist stating they are the best for fat burning efficiently and effectively. But how do we honestly know what supplements are legit; and which ones are a load of crap?
The supplement industry has grown from $6 billion in annual sales to more than $35 billion within 20 years, which needless to say is a drastic increase in consumer consumption. This is both a good and bad thing.
The good part is that more research is being done on the ingredients being used in fat burner supplements, but the bad news is that a lot of useless supplements are being sold now.
How can a Company Sell “Bad” Fat Burners?
A bad fat burner would be one that has too many ineffective ingredients that have no proof of being able to assist with fat loss. I understand that many supplements work great with a few ingredients that should be taken out, but the ones in question contain too many to overlook.
What happens is a supplement company will take the cheapest herbal ingredients and pack them into a bottle with fancy labeling. The price to create is probably $4, but the price they sell them for is $60-$80.
Notice a scam in progress? These cheap ingredients, which will be discussed more in-depth later in this guide, are the ones that have barely any scientific data proving they work for humans.
I’m sorry, but poking a poor lab mouse with needles to “test” the effectiveness is offensive and not good enough to claim a product works.
Notice how most supplements state that their label information has not been approved by the FDA, which means they can say most-anything they want so-long-as it uses words like may, might, could, and possibly. However, the FDA recently created a new division specific for supplement control, so this may soon change the way we see all supplements being sold.
The biggest things we face are the misleading statements made about fat burners.
“You can lose 20lbs. in just 2 weeks!” is a good example of the “magic pill”. Sadly, there are no magical pills that reduce fat at such a high rate; plus this is dangerous for your body anyways.
Everything is about your proper diet and fitness regimen, and supplements such as fat burners are merely meant to “supplement” the way you train and eat. If your diet is terrible and you sit around expecting the fat burner to “melt” the fat away then think again.
This wish for easy fat loss is what the companies use to mislead you in the wrong direction with labels talking about:
- Inducing thermogenisis
- Preserving lean mass
- Fat oxidation rates
- Reducing water retention
- Manipulation of hormones
- Enzymes that inhibit fat loss
A supplement that truly does any of these MAY work for you, but in the end they are probably just false statements using scientific jargon to catch your eye.
The Two Primary Functions You Want from a Fat Burner
You honestly need but look at two primary functions provided by a supplement designed to assist with fat loss. They are:
- Increasing your basal metabolic rate (BMR)
- Appetite Suppression
We see the word “BMR” used quite frequently across the internet, but what does it even mean? Your body burns energy (calories) throughout the day, and your metabolic rate is count of how many calories are being burned.
The more calories your burn means the more body fat you lose. This is a simple and effective concept that people tend to overlook.
Here’s a simple equation I like to use: CALORIES IN < CALORIES OUT
The amount of calories you consume needs to be less than the amount you are pushing out for energy production. This is a result from energy balance that your body needs. There’s the energy that your body is burning and the
energy required from the food you give it.
Reducing your calorie intake below daily needs is required – but only slight adjustments are to be made.
You can reduce calories for up to 1,000 calories a day; but this is strongly not recommended. High calorie deficits almost never work for people. The reason is because we dropped so many calories that causes muscle loss, fatigue, headaches, and increase our cravings; thus leading to binge eating and regaining fat back twice as fast.
You may lose weight, but the fat is most likely to be retained. I discuss this more in-depth in another article The Differences Between Weight Loss and Fat Loss.
The point is that you only want to drop 100-300 calories daily in order to lose fat effectively.
Okay, so what does this have to do with fat burners?
A good fat burner supplement is one that can increase your metabolic rate along with your proper diet and training program. As mentioned, you will not find a supplement that simply cuts the fat away.
It just isn’t going to happen. The way your BMR increases is through cells producing more energy from carbs and fatty acids. We can also increase it by elevating the “energy cost” the body needs to function.
Appetite Suppression is a Necessity with Fat Burners
What’s the point of paying for a supplement intended to assist with fat loss, but it doesn’t suppress your cravings?
It’s fruitless to diet with high cravings, and those that seek fat loss almost certainly have a carb addiction to some extent. Your body develops a resistance to insulin progressively over the years, and the more resistant you are means the higher your cravings are for sugar.
Serotonin is a hormone that plays a role in all this. Your brain sends signals throughout your body every second, and serotonin is the “mood hormone” that decides whether you are going to have cravings for sugars and fats or not; amongst other things.
If you’re depressed then you are going to crave for carbs and fats. If you are happy then your cravings are minimal with the exception being if your body is experiencing insulin resistance tendencies. When this happens your body wants sugar, better yet it NEEDS sugar to stay satisfied.
A good fat burner can counter this by suppressing your appetite to prevent excessive cravings.
This is accomplished through ingredients discussed in a bit. We also want to keep your mood high to prevent overeating due to sadness or depression, which is why supplements with nootropics capabilities are great to have in diet pills as well.
Nootropics are ingredients that affect brain functions such as memory and mood. 5HTP is a good example. Basically the happier you are the less likely you will food binge.
Common Fat Burner Ingredients
Let’s talk about the ingredients you will commonly see within fat burners, and see which ones are effective or in-effective. Remember, as discussed a good fat burner is going to increase your BMR and reduce your appetite. Anything beyond these two functions is ineffective or unproven at this point and time.
This is probably the most common ingredient found within a fat burner because it truly is effective. Sure you can get caffeine from beverages, but they usually have high amounts of sugar unless you like black coffee. Plus caffeine placed in supplements is pure and higher than what you would find in beverages making it convenient.
Caffeine falls under increasing your BMR. When your heart rate becomes elevated your metabolism speeds up, which causes more calories to be used for energy production.
This ingredient also decreases cravings naturally, increases strength, endurance; and fights back sleepiness and fatigue.
Caffeine is safe for people without any medical conditions and is an effective aid to fat loss. A good fat burner has great potential with this ingredient.
Raspberry ketones have no proven research to conclude that they are effective for fat loss. Sure, there’s a research performed on mice that shows it MAY have done something effective, but the results were inconclusive. On top of this – animal research cannot be used as showing effectiveness for humans.
The only research performed on humans had added ingredients such as caffeine with the raspberry ketones. This made it a flawed research because raspberry ketones weren’t the only ingredient.
There are no proven studies showing that raspberry ketones have any effectiveness for fat loss potential. I’d venture to guess any person who DID experience results from a supplement with this was merely a “placebo effect”. But that’s my own speculation. Basically all studies attempting to make this look effective were biased and used it in dangerously high levels.
Synephrine (Bitter Orange)
This chemical compound is naturally found within citrus fruits that are bitter usually. The parent chemical to this that was banned from the US is known as ephedrine, which was a powerful chemical compound that caused the breakdown of fat cells.
Due to the high rate of harmful incidences while on ephedrine, the FDA stepped in and banned this ingredient.
Synephrine then took over because it has the same effects on the human body as ephedrine did, but of course is less potent than its predecessor.
Research shows that synephrine is capable of increasing your BMR and stimulating lipolysis (break down of fat cells). It also prevents the creation of further fat cells, and the thermal effect used to metabolize foods i.e. calories burned while eating. Appetite suppression is also another feature of synephrine.
Note: ECA (ephedrine, caffeine, aspirin) stacks are just the same with synephrine in place of ephedrine, but not AS potent.
Synephrine is a great ingredient to have in a fat burner and has proven effectiveness across the board. Fat loss potential, inhibits fat cell production, and suppresses appetite.
Green Tea Extract
This is a natural herbal ingredient that has been used for centuries, and is capable of helping with fat loss with proven research. The most effective benefits include elevated fat loss potential while training, reduces abdominal fat on its own, and reduces the overall fat mass.
Green tea extracts work by reducing the enzymes responsible for preventing the chemicals in your body that allows fat storage’s to be burned. You get more out of green tea extract when it is paired with pure caffeine. Caffeine is going to increase the levels of the chemicals that burn those fat storage’s, and green tea allows the effects to last longer.
Green tea extract is a good addition to any fat burner supplement, and can be effective on its own as well. You could also consider drinking a cup green tea 2-3 times daily.
However, studies show that this is a conclusion from yet again testing on lab mice. But when it came to the effectiveness on humans, the results seemed a little off.
On another note, conclusive studies on two different occasions showed that garcinia cambogia is ineffective for fat loss.
One study even stated in its conclusion “Garcinia cambogia failed to produce significant weight loss and fat mass loss beyond that observed with placebo.”
Basically most evidence on this supplement is stating that it’s not capable of assisting with fat loss.
Due to the studies I have read this ingredient seems ineffective and serves no purpose in a fat burner. Hopefully if you purchased a supplement with this added in it has other beneficial ingredients and is not a proprietary blend.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
Green coffee bean extract has become popular over the past 5 years, and is being widely seen within fat burner supplements. Studies show that fat loss is possible with the presence of this ingredient.
However, this was a study not performed by a third party lab, which leaves us to question how much money was paid to state that this ingredient works?
Sure, mainstream health gurus across the internet and television speak highly of this product.
But we have to note that they are being paid to broadcast these statements, and everything discussed is for ratings and not really your own personal health.
This is a tough one because there isn’t enough unbiased evidence showing that there are any benefits of using green coffee bean extract. All companies refer back to the same study that most supplement reviewer’s question. So it may or may not be effective at this point.
Yohimbine is another extract that derives from a fruit, and is intended to prevent the chemicals that are used to inhibit weight loss from fat cells. Basically preventing these “blockers” is supposed to encourage fat loss.
This ingredient is proven to work for people who are in a fasted state, which means you are drinking only fluids that day, or have just woken up from a full night’s sleep. Without having fasted yohimbine has been noted to be ineffective.
Increased dosages of yohimbine have caused cases of high blood pressure, so never exceed the recommended daily amount.
Yohimbine is a decent ingredient with studies showing that it works under certain circumstances. People have noted that it is also the reason behind the “jitters”, which may hinder proper training.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
This is actually a fatty acid, which sounds strange to use for fat burning purposes, but there’s a reason behind it. CLA is a good ingredient to see within a supplement because studies have proven that it helps maintain lean muscle while burning fat, which is every bodybuilders dream come true.
However, you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to enjoy this ingredient within a fat burner. Various studies show that using 3-6 grams daily significantly reduced body fat and prevented it from being retained – while following a proper diet and training program of course.
Conjugated linoleic acid appears to be a safe ingredient to have within a fat burner supplement at the proper doses discussed. Other ingredients may have a synergestic bond with CLA, but the studies only discuss the awesome effectiveness of CLA on its own at 3-6 grams.
All current research only go as far as 6 months of continuous use, so it may be wise to cycle on and off like creatine just to be on the safe side.
NutraBio has quality supplements with a fully disclosed label. They carry a 150 softgel bottle of CLA for under $20.00.
This ingredient is being used quite often now, but a lot of companies are trying to scam us with underdosed amounts. 350mg is a good amount to have daily for fat loss possibilities. However, the fat loss side comes from the effect of this supplement on your mood, which essentially means it curves your cravings.
This is more focused as a nootropic ingredient since it enhances mental focus and alertness. Great when added with other ingredients that actually target fat cells.
The ingredient is shown to work, but is better off being used within fat burners that are taken pre-workout at least once during the day, which allows you to stay focused while training and also curve your appetite. If you want to purchase this on its own, NutraBio has a powdered and softgel capsule version of N-Acetyle L-Tyrosine.
7-Keto is not commonly referred to by many, but this is quite a popular fat burner ingredient that you should consider testing. Clinical studies show that this ingredient is able to aid in significant fat loss capabilities.
This is not harmful to take under most circumstances because it is naturally occurring within our adrenal glands. The reason it works is because it plays a role in the enzymes our bodies use for fat burning purposes. Essentially consuming more than your body produces increases the amount of fat being burned.
7-Keto gets the green light for supplementing with in my opinion. This reminds me of all the other supplements that are simply what your body already produces, so you add more to make your body more efficient.
This is not needed in high daily amounts, and NutraBio once again carries 7-Keto in softgel capsule form. If you’re wondering why NutraBio all of a sudden; it’s because I’ve really enjoyed how well the supplements work, and because the fact that they are about as pure as you can get at an affordable price.
Newer Ingredient: BioPerine Black Pepper Fruit Extract
Black pepper is a common household ingredient that I’m sure you have heard of, but the extract that is clinically formulated known as BioPerine is used for increased nutrient absorption.
This means that the fat burner is supposed to kick in faster with energy potential and appetite suppression. However, it is not intended for increasing fat loss potential. We may start to see this in more supplements, but the brand name is more expensive.
My Fat Burner Supplement Recommendations
The following two recommendations are based off of my own personal experience. They’ve been separated into caffeine based and caffeine free. I had great results with them during different cutting cycles, and believe they could possibly work for you as well.
SKALD: Oydynamatic Fat Scorcher
This is my all time favorite fat burner with caffeine from BELDT Labs. I’ve always had great experiences with their product line. They are a newer brand in comparison to other large corporations, but the products work effectively and the representatives for SKALD are quite polite. I created a more in-depth review on this fat burner here.
Benefits of SKALD for fat loss:
- Increased energy production for training
- Increases BMR for fat loss potential
- Capable of assisting with breathing during aerobic training (first fat burner with this ability)
- Suppresses appetite
PHOENIX fat burner
A caffeine free fat burner may suit your needs if you wish to combine a pre-workout supplement for energy boosts in the gym. NEVER mix caffeine based fat burners with pre-workout supplements. This could be a fatal combination due to the possibility of elevating your heart rate too high.
PHOENIX is a product of LEGION, which is a pretty legit company that uses quality ingredients with little to no fillers. This allows you to get the most out of your supplement without all of the potential risks. I’ll have a more in-depth review on SupplementReviews.com in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
Benefits of PHOENIX:
- Increased fat loss and destruction of fat cells
- Dramatic BMR boosts
- Increases the ability to feel content after eating
- Similar to the ECA stack with synephrine being used in place of ephedrine
As a trainer I deal with a lot of questions about what supplements to take, and which ones to avoid. All I can really do is make a suggestion about the supplements.
All the information provided in this guide is not to take the place of a physicians or registered dietician. Never take a fat burner if you have had any medical conditions related to heart disease or high blood pressure.
Consult a physician prior to changing any part of your diet, training, or supplement regimen, or if you feel any abnormal effects while using a fat burner.