Fat Burners … Help or Hype?


There certainly are no shortage of supplements and “magical quick fixes,” all touting their benefits to make the job easier for you. However, the truth is that unless you are committed to being consistent with a proper, well-balanced eating plan as well as regular consistent exercise, you are not going to see or feel any resulting weight loss.

Why? Well, because there are no shortcuts or “one pill wonders” that will make losing excess body fat and sustaining a healthy weight and lifestyle a real thing for anyone. Fat loss is the combined effort of solid, healthy nutrition and consistent exercise to create a caloric deficit that will allow for safe fat loss as well as the ability to sustain a healthy weight for the longterm.

With the weight loss industry being a multi-billion dollar business, there has been significant money put into the research and development of making better, stronger supplements that will have a greater impact in helping a person lose body fat. But will any of these really, truly work?  Well, let’s talk a look at some of them …


Thermogenic Fat Burners

These are probably the most commonly used fat burners on the market and are a combination of ingredients designed to work synergistically to increase metabolic rate as well as body temperature. These supplements typically contain high amounts of caffeine to give you a “boost of energy,” however they can also give you the “jitters” if you are not used to high amounts of caffeine in your diet.



Appetite Suppressants

Appetite suppressants are intended to help decrease your appetite and curb cravings, thereby having you consume less calories in your day. And we all know that if we can consume less calories creating a caloric deficit, we will lose body fat. However, appetite suppressants do not address psychological factors that are often the underlying issue with uncontrollable hunger/ over-eating.


Carb Blockers

Oh yes . . . the evil of carbs! As carbs become increasingly blamed for and targeted as the reason for substantial weight gain among the population, it’s no surprise that carb blockers have become very popular as a fat loss supplement. But how do they work? Carb blockers work by preventing the enzymes whose job it is to digest carbohydrates in the food we eat from doing their job. This allows the carbs to pass through our system without being digested or absorbed and therefore not consumed and added to our daily caloric intake.

Cortisol Blockers

If you have a very high stress lifestyle and get little to no sleep on a regular basis, then chances are that your cortisol levels are very high. High levels of cortisol result in an accumulation of excess body fat, particularly in the midsection . . . basically a dieters worst nightmare! Cortisol blockers are designed to prevent the effects that cortisol has on your body by reducing the chances that the food you are eating will be turned into body fat. However, before you run out and purchase please keep in mind that the best way to reduce your cortisol levels is to find effective ways to manage your stress and make sure you are getting sufficient sleep.



Fat Blockers

Fat blockers work similar to carb blockers in that they help to prevent the absorption of dietary fat that you consume in the food you are eating. This does not mean that you can make very poor food choices and expect fat blockers to completely eliminate the absorption of fat that you consume.


Herbal Fat Loss Supplements

There is a growing trend in the area of herbal fat loss supplements since they are perceived as more natural and therefore “better and safer for you.”

While natural herbal ingredients may be a better choice it’s still important to keep in mind that these are not miracle cures and fat loss requires that you make healthy choices with your nutrition and exercise regularly.

Probably the three most popular herbal supplements used for the purposes of facilitating fat loss are green tea extract, guarana and yohimbine. Yes, there are many, MANY others but these three are currently quite popular when discussing fat loss.

These herbs are meant to work by increasing thermogenesis, the process by which your body burns calories to produce heat. It is not uncommon to find these herbs combined in a formula with caffeine to increase the effects of their fat burning properties.

So if you are a caffeine drinker you may want to start monitoring your intake to cut down the amount of caffeine you are consuming, especially when the over-consumption of caffeine can lead to an increase in cortisol production.



Possible Benefits

If you decide to include a fat burner of some sort into your nutrition plan it MAY help to support your efforts to lose excess body fat. Ultimately they will not do the job for you unless you make the commitment to make better nutritional choices and regular, consistent exercise.

There have been some reported benefits or positive side effects from individuals who have used these types supplements. Some individuals have reported greater energy levels, which is most likely due to the caffeine content of many fat burning supplements.

Another reported benefit was improved concentration levels. Perhaps this has something to do with an overall shift in a persons focus once they decide to get on a plan to lose weight and start living healthier?  Just my opinion.


Possible Risks

Always check with your doctor before starting a regime of fat burners, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or health concerns. If you are a heavy coffee drinker, you may want to start cutting back as many fat burners have high doses of caffeine in them.

In my opinion, the greatest risk with using fat burners is not using them correctly and using them with the mindset that taking them is all you need to do to lose excess body fat.

Some of the documented risks of taking fat burners include increased heart rate, high blood pressure, irritability/ severe mood swings, diarrhea, insomnia, liver and kidney issues and rectal bleeding. This does not mean that you will experience any or all of these potential risks. What it does mean is these are things you want to be aware of before starting a cycle of fat burners and as a reminder to consult with your doctor.


Final Thoughts

Fat burners and fat loss supplements are not magic cures that melt away body fat. To lose body fat and to keep it off requires a sincere commitment to living a healthier lifestyle and that includes making choices that are healthy for you.

From your nutrition plan to your exercise plan to managing your stress, you have to choose better if you want to feel better, be better, live better and sustain a healthy weight and lifestyle for the rest of your life.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns ALWAYS check with your family doctor before implementing these supplements into your daily diet.

If taking a fat burning supplement has you feeling worse than you did before you started taking them … STOP!   However, if used responsibly and in conjunction with a solid nutrition and exercise plan, these supplements MAY help to support a healthy fat loss plan.

Author: Tonya

Tonya is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner & has over 25 years experience working in the health, fitness & wellness industry as a coach & nutrition counselor. She is also an international women's figure athlete, having represented Canada & New Zealand.

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