Fat burners have gained a negative reputation in the world of nutrition supplements, with many unregulated and artificial supplements containing types of unsafe ingredients that may have a detrimental effect on the body.
However, the evidence suggests a role for some of the more natural fat burners, as they may positively affect metabolic speed compared to just a healthy diet alone.
Therefore, we will explore whether fat burners really work, if they are effective, and which types are safe to take.
- What Are Fat Burners?
- How Do Fat Burners Work In The Body?
- Which Natural Fat-burning Ingredients Are Effective?
- When And How To Take Fat Burners?
- What Are The Side Effects of Fat Burners?
What Are Fat Burners?
Fat burners are the name given to specific substances, which are often found within dietary supplements. These compounds may increase the rate at which your body loses excess fat.
Fat-burning nutrition supplements can be natural or synthetic and have a reputation of being at best ineffective, and at worst, dangerous.
However, several natural options can have additional health benefits for the body too. An excellent example of a natural and relatively safe substance capable of improving our capacity to lose weight would be caffeine.
However, to obtain the benefits of increased calorie burn, it is necessary to take these natural ingredients at a higher dose, which is why you will find them in supplement form.
How Do Fat Burners Work In The Body?
Fat burners work in three distinct ways, either by increasing the metabolism, speeding up the rate of fat breakdown, or reducing appetite.
Usually, all three processes are triggered by the most effective forms of fat burner supplements.
Here we explore these three methods in more detail:
This term refers to the generation of heat. In this instance, fat burners can increase weight loss by increasing the body’s internal heat production, which increases the speed of our metabolism.
When our internal temperature increases through thermogenesis, our rate of calorie burn is higher too.
This increased energy expenditure can raise the number of calories we burn at rest and through exercise through alterations to our basal metabolic rate. This can boost the impact of a healthy diet (1).
Helpfully, numerous natural fat burners can trigger thermogenesis, including those high in caffeine (2).
In addition to increased basal metabolism and increased core temperature, they may also support a more effective and intense exercise plan by enhancing our capacity to exercise at a more strenuous rate.
Which, combined with a calorie restriction, can also boost our metabolic speed.
Lipolysis is the name given to the process of breaking down fats within the body.
Once broken down, these free fatty acids can be utilized for energy purposes, reducing the level of stored fat remaining in the body.
It can be hard to trigger lipolysis in the body through diet and exercise alone, as the body likes to store fat in case of starvation/ energy restriction.
Helpfully some fat-burning supplements such as those containing caffeine can increase the rate of lipolysis, leading to a helpful body fat reduction (3).
Therefore, fat burners can ensure that the body changes the fuel it uses for energy from carbohydrates to fatty acids, which results in a more effective weight loss process.
A fat-burning supplement can reduce our appetite, which helps to promote fat loss through reduced calorie consumption.
Appetite suppressants that are natural and safe are a valuable aid to weight loss, and many fat burners fall into this category, including caffeine-rich green tea.
Fat burners can reduce appetite in the human body by targetting the adrenal gland, which influences hunger signaling within the brain (4).
Also, some fat burners can work as appetite suppressants by altering serotonin levels in the body, creating feelings of fullness.
Which Natural Fat-burning Ingredients Are Effective?
With so many fat burners on the market, it can be overwhelming. Here we examine the most effective, natural fat burners available.
This is our top ten:
Caffeine is one of the most popular, natural fat burners.
One of the reasons behind caffeine’s popularity is its capability to increase our metabolic rate by over ten percent. As mentioned before, when this metabolic speed is higher, so is our rate of calorie burning (5).
In particular, caffeine can increase thermogenesis, one of the three main methods of burning fat, as well as helping your body to utilize the fat stores available better.
A series of well-conducted studies have also recently demonstrated that caffeine might promote a more significant fat loss when compared to non-fat burning supplements (6).
We may consume caffeine in our daily life via coffee and tea. Still, also, you can find caffeine in specially designed supplements that aim to improve weight loss, often alongside other equally helpful elements.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea contains the fat-burning benefits of caffeine, such as increased metabolism and appetite suppression.
But also, green tea is packed with unique antioxidants, which also play a crucial role in promoting fat loss in the body. One of the antioxidants in green tea is called EGCG, and this has the power to boost metabolism (7).
While drinking green tea is healthy for several reasons, it is the concentrated green tea extract that has the most significant impact on fat loss.
Animal studies show green tea can increase lipolysis, making it a helpful fat burner.
In addition, green tea extracts can also increase energy expenditure during exercise, helping you get more value and improving your capacity to burn fat from your movement.
In one study, there was a 17% higher rate of fat loss during exercise when green tea was consumed before beginning (8).
Protein powder is another effective fat burner.
Protein powder can help you to convert fat into muscle when combined with resistance exercise. The added benefit of this change is that you will also experience a faster metabolism when you have more lean muscle mass (9).
When you have more muscle mass, you burn more calories, even when at rest, compared with the same percentage of body fat.
For this reason, protein intake may help you change your body shape, but it can also increase your exercise performance by allowing you to repair and recover after a heavy workout.
Additionally, whey protein can naturally reduce your appetite, enhancing your weight loss results (10).
We have an inbuilt protein target, which makes us keep eating until this has been met. One of the purposes of this inbuilt mechanism is to help our body build the muscle it needs to be fit and strong.
Therefore when we consume extra protein via protein powders and supplements, we meet this target quicker, causing the body to produce satiety hormones to stop us from wanting to keep eating.
The science behind soluble fiber shows it can help to reduce insulin resistance, keep us fuller for longer, and the result of this is an increased loss of fat.
Soluble fiber supplements such as psyllium husk form extra bulk in our diet, which can slow down our gut transit, reduce our hunger, and, in combination with healthy fats, can help keep us satisfied throughout the day (11).
Several of us fail to consume sufficient fiber intake, and our stomach can feel empty and unfulfilled without it.
Studies show that increasing fiber-rich foods and supplements can help us lose weight compared to a refined, western-style diet.
Soluble fiber also requires extra water to work well, so make sure you stay hydrated for the best results.
This natural fat burner is derived from an African tree, making it an all-natural fat-reducing option. By blocking adrenal receptors in fat cells, Yohimbe may be capable of increasing our ability to burn fat.
Studies had shown great success – as when a group of obese female patients took yohimbine, and they actually lost significantly more weight than the placebo group (12).
The benefits for weight loss don’t just apply to those who are obese, as, when an elite football team took yohimbine as part of a diet and exercise regime, they too lost more weight than their non-yohimbine taking teammates (13).
L-carnitine is a natural amino acid and a popular fat burner.
One of the mechanisms behind l-carnitine promoting weight loss is its help to increase the rate at which the body can break down fat into free fatty acids, making them ready for use as energy.
In older adults, using l-carnitine supplements to aid fat loss resulted in an impressive 2.9 pounds weight loss difference compared to those who were not supplementing (14).
More studies are needed, however, to confirm the effectiveness of l-carnitine in active, younger individuals.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
CLA is a natural fatty acid that can be found in animal products such as meat and dairy.
Research shows that conjugated linoleic acid may produce special enzymes which support the fat breakdown process. When excess fat is broken down, we can use the fat as fuel, helping to reduce our overall body fat percentage.
Of course, for fat-burning supplements such as CLA to be effective, we also need to have a regular fitness routine, whereby we exercise enough to use up this broken-down body fat.
In mice models, taking CLA had the fantastic result of reducing fat stores by up to 70% (15). But when it comes to humans, we should lower our expectations slightly, as most proven benefits from CLA relate to animal studies.
However, one study showed significant beneficial effects in humans, where CLA reduced weight gain compared to a food-only intervention (16).
Medium-chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
While it might seem counterproductive to take triglycerides (a form of fat) to help you burn fat, there is some compelling evidence that shows that MCTs can have some impressive effects on the weight loss process (17).
MCTs can increase our feelings of fullness by stimulating two satiety hormones – this can mean we don’t consume more energy than we need for our activity level, thereby helping people control their weight better.
Those people who added medium-chain triglycerides such as coconut oil as part of their breakfast reduced their overall daily food intake by enough to affect their fat loss goals positively (18).
MCTs also reduced body mass index and waist circumference for older adults, which are two measures associated with obesity/ overweight.
Originating from the peel of a type of tropical fruit, garcinia Cambogia is another popular fat burner.
It is high in a compound known as HCA, which is shown to have its own weight loss benefits. However, it is essential to note that most of the studies which demonstrated its effectiveness as a fat burner featured pills with a relatively high percentage of Garcinia Cambogia.
Studies show that this supplement can help people lose modest amounts of fat by reducing appetite and preventing new fat cells (19).
As a bonus, garcinia Cambogia supplements may also improve blood lipids and triglyceride levels without drugs.
Glucomannan is a natural dietary fiber, which benefits weight loss in a number of ways.
Firstly, it is very low in calories and can simultaneously stimulate fullness by reducing the stomach empties’ speed (20).
It can also act to reduce body fat by interfering with the absorption of fat from the diet, which can reduce weight gain, even with moderate fat intake.
Glucomannan may also feed our healthy gut bugs, which is another health benefit in its own right and a healthy microbiome that can support our ability to lose weight more efficiently (21).
When And How To Take Fat Burners?
There are numerous different available forms of fat burners, from capsules to powders. You can indeed find one to suit your needs. You can also find fat burners as extracts, oils, and ‘blends’ where more than one ingredient is combined to enhance the effects.
You can take fat burners at two main times, either before breakfast to kick your metabolism into gear or just before your workout to help increase your rate of fat burning during your exercise.
Remember that some fat burners are also stimulants, such as caffeine and green tea, meaning you should avoid taking them before bedtime, as taking a stimulant late in the day can interfere with your sleep quality.
Fat burners can take a different amount of time to work for other people. The rate at which you lose weight also depends on how often you workout, your levels of muscle, and the foods you eat regularly.
However, you will likely experience almost instant indications that your fat burners are a help. You may increase in core temperature, feel more alert, energized, or full. These effects may take a little time to translate into visible weight loss, but you should see the effects in a couple of months.
There are no shortcuts to weight loss, though, so try to be patient.
By burning fat, you will start to lose weight, especially if your workout style promotes muscle growth, as this will also increase your metabolic rate. A high protein intake can also boost these effects, leading to better weight loss results.
What Are The Side Effects of Fat Burners?
If you take natural fat-burning compounds, then most research indicates it is a safe way for you to burn fat, providing your products are of high quality and that you do not exceed the recommended dose.
Most people will not experience any side effects of a fat-burning supplement and will instead gain multiple health benefits. But be aware that if you exceed the safe dosage of stimulants such as coffee, you can expect to experience an increase in heart rate.
Many people drink coffee every day with no issues, but high doses of concentrated caffeine/ stimulant sources can increase blood pressure and metabolism when it comes to safety.
The supplement manufacturers should put a clear indication on their products if any ingredient is a stimulant fat burner or contributes to your daily caffeine intake, and remember that stimulants also include green tea, as well as coffee.
If you are pregnant or have any other health conditions, please check with your doctor before taking a supplement to help you lose weight.
Taken daily, in the correct dose, you can burn fat, increase your energy, provide your body with a much-needed fuel source, and reduce your absorption of fat.
If you have realistic expectations, then fat-burning products can support your ability to lose calories, lose weight, and improve your health.
Many of the ingredients found in a fat-burning supplement are natural, and unique components within products such as Yohimbe can reduce your hunger, improve metabolic activity, and boost your energy levels.
Research and reviews of several types of fat-burning pills show us that in addition to a healthy, antioxidant-rich, junk food-free diet, we can reduce the difficulty in losing weight and burn fat more efficiently.
We just need to ensure that the products we take are safe for our health, don’t contain substances that may harm our body, and that any claims relating to the results of ingredients are backed up with solid research.
- Can anyone use fat burners?
Most people can take fat burners safely, but if you are prone to high blood pressure or are sensitive to caffeine-containing ingredients, you may want to check in with your doctor before taking these natural fat-burning ingredients as a concentrated supplement in a pill form.
- Can you take fat burners for a long period of time?
If you take fat-burning ingredients for a long time, you can expect to lose more calories than if you only take them for a shorter period.
However, make sure you continue with adequate water intake and good nutrition, as you will be more likely to get better results this way.
- Can fat burners cause stomach pain?
Most people will not experience stomach pain, especially if you are eating a healthy diet and not consuming too many calories.
Fiber-rich burners can improve your gastrointestinal health. However, some of the fat-based products, such as the MCTs, may stimulate digestive discomfort in sensitive individuals.
- Will fat burners work without exercise?
For the best results, you should take fat burner ingredients such as yohimbine combined with healthy nutrition and a good fitness regime.
Fat burners will increase your exercise performance, and subsequently, your daily dose of fat burners will have a more significant impact than diet or supplement alone.