Fat burners make many claims around their ability to accelerate fat loss and reduce the time it takes to sculpt the body you desire. It is only human nature to seek out the easiest and fastest route to our end goal. This is especially true when it comes to getting rid of body fat. Supplement companies are more than aware of our impatience and laziness, which makes us a prime target as buyers of their products.
How do they work?
First and foremost, fat burners do NOT work unless you are in a caloric deficit
There will be no fat loss unless you are in a deficit through nutrition and activity level. You cannot simply just take a fat burner and continue with life as usual.
The term ‘fat burner’ is used to describe nutrition supplements that are claimed to acutely increase fat metabolism or energy expenditure, impair fat absorption, increase weight loss, increase fat oxidation during exercise, or somehow cause long-term adaptations that promote fat metabolism. Often, these supplements contain several ingredients, each with its own proposed mechanism of action and it is often claimed that the combination of these substances will have additive effects. The list of supplements that are claimed to increase or improve fat metabolism is long; the most popular supplements being caffeine, L-carnitine, green tea, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), forskolin, chromium, Yohimbe, Glucomannon and Raspberry Ketones to name just a few.
Basically, the idea behind a fat burner is not necessarily to burn fat by itself, but to support fat loss in various ways.
How do they support fat loss?
- Energy – Most fat burners are stimulant based or have some type of caffeine. There is some benefit to inducing lipolysis, but exercise must be paired with this process to use the free fatty acids released into the bloodstream. This can be helpful towards the end of a diet phase to assist with energy.
- Appetite Suppression – As we lose body fat cells we have less leptin. Leptin is produced by fat cells and decreases your appetite. This helps one to deal with increased hunger during a fat loss phase based around a strategic caloric deficit.
How to think of fat burners:
Let’s say that Diet is 70% to 80%, Exercise is 10% to 20% and fat burners are that final 10%, the final weapon being brought into the play to support all your persistence and hard work to maximize the amount of fat loss that your body achieves throughout the fat loss period of your training.
With most supplementation, consider fat burners as “icing on the cake” or something to consider once all the basics are covered; primarily adherence to a caloric restriction and consistent exercise. In other words, save them for when they may be needed, typically towards the end of a fat loss phase, to help with energy needs and appetite suppression.
Solution to save money:
Research shows that caffeine Improves strength, improves muscle endurance and anaerobic performance and finally, accelerates fat loss. Caffeine accomplishes this last feat by increasing the amount of catecholamine’s in your blood, which are chemicals that mobilize fat stores to be oxidized. This, in turn, raises your body’s basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy it burns at rest.
The more energy your body burns every day, the more body fat you can lose, and that’s why caffeine is an effective fat burner. As well as increasing the rate of fatty acid metabolism, caffeine also decreases the rate of carbohydrate (glucose) metabolism during aerobic exercise. Every study done on the effects of caffeine during aerobic exercise that has measured muscle glycogen levels, has found that glycogen is spared after ingestion of only 150 to 250 mg of caffeine. An increased reliance on fat, and decreased reliance on glucose and glycogen translates into increased aerobic exercise endurance and increased time to exhaustion. In addition to this, for a given number of calories used during exercise, more calories will come from body fat if caffeine is consumed prior to exercise.
Unfortunately, most people are not buying fat burners to work harder and be more disciplined. Most people are buying them as an alternative to exercise and diet because they lack discipline.
Like most marketing campaigns, supplement companies often oversell their product and give you false hope or great expectations. These claims can set you up for failure if you don’t have a good understanding of what a fat burner really does.