In today’s technologically-advanced society, most of us are all about the quick fix. Apps like Uber, Tinder and Menulog allow us to have whatever we want at the click of a button – whether that’s a transport, a date or food! Unsurprisingly, the same mentality is often applied to diet and exercise. We all want ripped abs, and we want them yesterday. At the end of the day, we know that it doesn’t happen overnight. But that doesn’t stop us from getting excited about things that promise to give us a six-pack in 5 minutes!
Fat burning supplements are one thing I’d always lumped into the ‘too good to be true’ fad category. In fact, something about them actually seemed rather unhealthy to me! But in researching (and following) a ketogenic diet recently, I’d learned all about exogenous ketones. These are supplements that help push the body into the fat-burning mode of ketosis. Having personally lost body fat while in ketosis myself, it got me thinking – could fat burning supplements actually be the real deal? So, I spoke to two experts, The Fit Pharmacist, Holly Louise and The Diet Doctor, Moodi Dennauoi. Holly is a registered pharmacist, certified personal trainer and online coach and Moodi is a nutritionist and bodybuilder. Here’s what they had to say.
What are fat burning supplements and how do they work?
Effective ‘fat burning’ supplements are those that contain key ingredients that create or support a thermogenic environment. Most fat burners are designed to target fat cells, burn calories, enhance your metabolism, improve your energy levels, reduce your appetite and improve your mood, when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Fat burning supplements have the ability to assist in speeding up the fat burning process via an array of methods. Their thermic effect is one of the most common. That is, they increase your body¹s core temperature so you expend more calories than you normally would in a sedentary state. Other ingredients include stimulants such as caffeine that help you push harder in the gym, and L-Carnitine which helps your body use fat for fuel as opposed to storing it.
Should the average person be using fat burning supplements?
As we all know, making lifestyle changes is the most effective basis for achieving long-term weight loss. This means following a healthy eating pattern, reducing caloric intake, and engaging in regular physical activity. However, many people underestimate the benefits of supplementation for optimising weight management, energy, focus and overall health. While fat burners aren’t magical drinks or pills that will make you lose 5kg overnight, I believe fat burners and thermogenics do provide a benefit, even for the average person.
What types of fat burning supplements should be avoided?
I would avoid using any fat burners that use a proprietary blend. This means that the label will state something like “fat-burning blend” and list the ingredients without disclosing the actual amounts. This can be very misleading to consumers and can make it very difficult for you to know exactly what you are taking and how much.
You also want to avoid really high doses of caffeine and other stimulants. While caffeine is not necessarily a bad thing, if you are not aware of your total daily caffeine intake you could be overdosing. This can lead to faster fatigue and longer recovery periods – known as a “crash”. If you are caffeine sensitive you may want to avoid fat burners containing significant doses of caffeine or start with half a dose and slowly increase according to your response.
It’s important to avoid products that only contain a potent caffeine, such as caffein anhydrous. It’s great for an immediate kick but if other sources of caffeine aren’t included that also offer a more sustained release you’ll crash VERY quickly. Moreover, if the brand you are using haven’t spent the money to also add ingredients that help mental acuity such as L-Tyrosine then keep shopping. Get more bang for your buck!
What should you look for in an effective fat burning supplement?
Not all fat burners are created equal! You want to look for a product that contains the following evidence-based ingredients:
Caffeine is a natural stimulant and can be found in many forms including guarana, kola nut, yerba mate or other herbs. It can aid fat loss via increased thermogenesis and mobilising fat from the fat tissues, allowing it to be used as energy. It has also been shown to have a modest effect on increasing metabolic rate and can act as an appetite suppressant. Due to its potent stimulation of the central nervous system, caffeine can improve exercise performance and mood. This may help you burn more calories during your workouts!
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid. Carnitines are responsible for the transportation of fatty acids into the cells of the body where they can be used as energy. Elevating levels of carnitine can also improve physical performance by sparing glycogen, clearing lactic acid, reducing fatigue and optimising some hormone levels. It is also a powerful cognitive enhancer and can protect and improve overall brain health.
Green tea extract
Green tea is packed with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants. It has been associated in benefiting almost every organ system in the body. Experts have suggested that the caffeine and EGCG (both found naturally in green tea) may actually have a synergistic effect when it comes to reducing body weight. They do so by increasing energy expenditure and fat oxidation, reducing fatty acid production, and decreasing fat absorption. Green tea is also associated with a reduction in sugar cravings and appetite regulation.
Which fat burning supplements do you use yourself?
I never used to use fat burning supplements, due to the crash I would get once it wore off. But now that products like Body Science Hydroxyburn Neurothermogenic Shred exist, I do! The reason I like this one is because it has three different types of caffeine for a sustained release. This means there’s no crash! It also includes nootropics to help you stay focused on the task at hand when in the gym.
I also take Body Science Hydroxyburn daily and this is the supplement that I recommend to my clients. The reason for this is because it contains evidence-based ingredients in clinical doses. It is also an open label product, so you can see all of the ingredients and the amount that is contained in each serve of the product . I would recommend choosing a product that is from a trusted brand, uses Good Manufacturing Practices, contains minimal calories and doesn’t use artificial flavours or colours — and this one fits the bill. It also contains several nootropics including caffeine, green tea extract, acetyl-L-carnitine and tyrosine which work synergistically to provide the best results.
Do you have any tips for someone who is considering taking fat burning supplements?
The average individual should spend a week or two cleaning up their nutritional habits and not rely on supplements to do wonders for them. They are definitely not a scapegoat to eat as you please. They work synergistically with a good diet.
It’s also important to note that when taken frequently for an extended period of time, your body eventually becomes used to the supplement. This means you’ll notice the supplement becomes less effective. For this reason, it is best to “cycle” your fat burner supplement. This essentially means you take it for a period of time and then have a break. A good example to follow is 8 weeks on, followed by 2 weeks off.