Losing body fat is not an easy task and having something that speeds up the process would be the holy grail of weight loss. This is one of the reason fat burners, or supplements that claim to speed up weight loss, have become so popular. This NutriWiki will cover the truths and myths about fat burners.
- Fat burners cannot replace diet or exercise.
- The majority of supposed fat burning supplements are ineffective.
- Those that do work have a very modest effect, on the order of 5-10% extra energy expenditure.
Fat burners are a common sight in most supplement stores. Their efficacy, however, is debatable.
First, it is worth mentioning that no fat burner will supersede a caloric deficit. Diet and activity will always be the primary determinants of fat loss. While some supplements can assist aspects of calorie intake and expenditure, they cannot overrule the net balance.
Also, while there are a plethora of compounds touted for fat loss, most contain only a few fundamental ingredients that do anything significant. The vast majority of herbal extracts and other pills lining the shelves of shops are functionally useless.
Although most supplements make fantastic claims about what they do, true fat burning compounds work in much simpler terms. Fat burners assist with fat loss in three fundamental ways:
- They are thermogenic (increase metabolic rate).
- They act as stimulants (they increase energy expenditure by promoting activity/making a person move more).
- They have an appetite blunting effect, which reduces calorie intake.
Finally, it is important to put the magnitude of these effects in perspective. While some compounds do indeed assist with fat loss, the net effect is usually only about 5-10% at the absolute most. In other words, they may add a bit of an extra boost to a pre-existing deficit. They will not make or break a diet, nor will they greatly accelerate fat loss. Although more potent compounds do exist, they are illegal and therefore inaccessible to the general public.
This article by Lyle McDonald extensively covers most of the commonly available fat loss compounds on the market.