Are fat burners effective?

Stimulant-type supplements are often referred to as “fat burners”. If properly formulated, they may slightly increase your daily calorie burn, and as long as you don’t simultaneously increase your food intake, “fat burners” may help with weight loss. However, the goal of incorporating a dietary supplement or fat burner into a weight loss program is only to assist the user in following the daily routine that leads to weight reduction. Also, the supplement ingredients must have safely demonstrated the potential to act in one or more of the following ways:

• Help create and maintain a calorie deficit by increasing daily calorie expenditure when compared to a non-supplemented state

• Raise energy levels that may make one more active throughout the day

• Reduce the drive to consume food

• Decrease calorie absorption

Potentially helpful weight loss supplements

Herbal combinations such as caffeine, green tea components and capsaicin have been clinically shown to be effective in producing significant effects on metabolic targets such as satiety (feeling of fullness), thermogenesis (increasing metabolism) and fat oxidation (increased use of fat for daily energy needs). These natural substances are the most well established for increasing calorie burn and are therefore used in many weight loss supplements as “fat burners” - but not necessarily in the right doses. They need to be in the proper amounts in order to be effective, which will vary depending on a person’s size. For example, 150-300 mg of caffeine, 10 mg of capsaicin and 270 mg of EGCG from green tea per dose. There are a few other natural ingredients that may slightly increase metabolism such as bitter orange, but they may also pose greater risks. You shouldn’t use any of these products if you have adverse reactions to stimulants.

These types of dietary supplements may be appropriate for: 1) people with aggressive goals and a time limit (e.g. special events on set dates, making a certain weight class for sport or competition, etc.); 2) athletes/entertainers preparing for competition that may require very low body fat; 3) people who have failed multiple times at reaching or maintaining weight goals. The user would cease supplementation once the weight goal is reached or when they have their daily routines under control to continue making progress without the supplements.

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