Having assisted many people with their physiques, and maintaining a low body fat year round for my own sport (drug-free bodybuilding), I am quizzed on a daily basis regarding diet and exercise. One recurring subject is fat burners.
Fat burners ...hmmm... where to start with this subject. First off, if you’ve come across this article, the likelihood is that you have (or are) considering using a fat burner of some sort. Unfortunately though, the associated marketing blurb and hype can make the subject of fat burning supplements somewhat exaggerated and at best deliberately misleading. Because of this, I may be annoying throughout the remainder of the article body and enclose the term “fat burner” in inverted commas each time.
Due to misleading advertising, I am often asked for, or about, fat burners that “melt away fat”, “stop fat building up”, “strongest at burning fat” etc. You get the idea!
The majority of “fat burners” offer a supplement stack of ingredients – appetite suppressants, thermogens, fat binders, fat blockers and carb blockers. “Fat burners” are described as something that will either burn more fat when introduced, or inhibit (stop or reduce) fat from being created.
Well, is any of this true? Sort of, but it is, again, misleading at best. First, we should consider that fat is stored energy. The only way to utilize stored energy is to cause an energy (calorie) deficit i.e. burn more energy than we consume / consume less energy than we burn. In short, doing what we should be doing – eating less and being more active. To this end, the appetite suppressing qualities of a “fat burner” will aid us to eat less, whilst a stimulant ingredient should give a “buzz” to be more active. So, far removed from “melt away fat”. Often, “fat burners” are referred to by people as being “stronger” if the stimulant hit is greater, thereby often increasing their activity levels further.
With the above in mind, the following statement is also given in relation to thermogenic aids/ metabolic optimizers....
“Fat burners increase your metabolism thus converting the stored body fat into energy that will be used by your body”
Again, this is slightly misleading. A stimulant will increase metabolic rate for a duration, however, the change is fairly insignificant to consuming food more often and exercise on metabolic rate. Note: We’ll cover “optimal eating” and types of exercise on our metabolism (body functions) amongst other training articles.
In my view, "fat burners" are best used once you reach a plateaux during weight loss - when you just need a little extra push in the right direction in order to eat a bit less or train a little bit harder. A stimulant product (like the many you’ll see advertised) can help to achieve this. To this end, the more popular products tend to be those with a higher stimulant dose. However, a stronger supplement doesn't necessary mean better, as you may find that a weaker dose supplement proves more advantageous (i.e. achieving enough of a "buzz" without any adverse side effects).
As with your eating and exercise regime, you should consider what is realistically sustainable. I am only able to keep to a low body fat percentage by being consistent with my eating and exercise habits. A “fat burner” should never be considered as a long-term solution, it’s not! It may present a short-term aid though to help improve your eating and exercise habits.
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