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(Fat) Burning Questions

We’ve recently talked about pre work-out supplements and protein powders. But another little tub that might be grabbing your attention in the fitness section of our store could be the “FAT-BURNER”. Being a nation where 67% of adults are considered overweight or obese, we’ve become acutely aware of anything that might help bring us back into a more healthy weight range.

What does a fat burner supplement do?

As the name suggests, a fat burner supplement is designed to help the body burn fat. Ingredients such as caffeine or green tea extract may boost metabolism, supress appetite and help the body use fat for energy.

Who should take a fat burner?

Studies suggest that fat burner supplements are more effective for people who are obese and/or people who have hit a plateau in their fat loss goals (plateaus often happen around the 4-6 week mark of a diet and lifestyle change). Many people take a fat burner as a pre-workout supplement because in addition to boosting metabolism, caffeine or green tea extract can also increase energy and increase focus. Like any supplement, a fat-burner supplement should be taken in conjunction with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

When to take a fat burner supplement?

Most fitness supplement brands recommend that their fat burners are taken first thing in the morning. This is when the body’s metabolism is at its slowest and the fat burner supplement can give it a kick start. Some will also suggest taking another dose in the early afternoon. Because fat burner supplements usually contain caffeine, taking late in the afternoon or into evening is not recommended.

What does Thermogenesis mean?

On the packaging of many fat burner supplements you were see the term Thermogenesis – this is a metabolic process where the body burns calories to produce heat. Thermogenesis happens naturally in the body throughout the day and is influenced by exercise, diet and environmental temperature.

Caffeine, green tea, capsaicin and some other plant extracts are said to boost thermogenesis and potentially increase the amount of calories burned over the course of a day. The number of calories burned as a result of thermogenesis alone is not enough to result in significant weight loss. However, when combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, a thermogenic supplement (or thermogenic inducing foods) may increase the number of calories burned at rest or during regular daily activities (also known as NEAT: non-exercise activity thermogenesis).

What ingredients might be in a fat burner supplement?

Caffeine or green tea extract are usually found in fat burner supplements because of their potential to boost the metabolism but they shouldn’t be overshadowed by a bunch of other ingredients. The longer the list of ingredients found in a fat burner supplement means the less effective the caffeine or green tea extract will be in your dose.

L-Carnitine and L-Tyrosine are also common ingredients in fat burner supplements. L-Carnitine helps burn fat by moving it to the mitochondria, where it can be used for fuel during exercise or activity. L-Tyrosine helps create adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine and thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which all contribute boosting the metabolism and reducing release of stress hormones (which can sometime increase during exercise).

Other ingredients differ from brand to brand but most will be included with the intent to help to improve focus and boost energy and in some case, support digestion and gut health.

A word about caffeine.

Tolerance for caffeine varies from person to person. Some people who already consume quite a lot of coffee or similar, may not notice the benefits of a fat burner supplement, as the body is accustomed to the caffeine. On the flip side, some people may find that the stimulating properties of caffeine interfere with their natural sleep-wake cycle.

Either way, when adding a fat burner supplement to your diet be aware of other sources of caffeine that you are consuming throughout the day and adjust your intake or supplement dose accordingly.

Is a fat burner supplement the answer to getting rid of fat?

No, a fat burner supplement is not the magic pill you might have been looking for. But taken in conjunction with a regular exercise regime – that is varied in intensity, type and duration – and a well-balanced diet, a fat burner supplement may help improve the effectiveness of your weight loss efforts and/or move you out of a plateau in your weight loss journey.

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