Tuesday Tip: Burning fat or just burning cash? 🔥
Fat burners – you’ve seen them on social media, you know people taking them, you may even have taken them yourself. But do they work and are they worth the money?
Fat burners are combinations of food based natural or chemical products which claim to burn fat/increase metabolism. Common ingredients include caffeine, green tea extract, green coffee extract, ginseng, pepper, capsicum etc. More dangerous ingredients include bitter orange, yohimbine, garcinia etc (linked to risk of stroke, heart attack). They claim to increase fat oxidation, induce thermogenesis, affect fat burning hormones/enzymes, etc. In reality they do none of that.
There is limited evidence that SOME fat burners may help reduce hunger (for people in bodybuilding competition prep where calories are unsustainably low), though they’re linked to gastrointestinal distress so not a great option. They usually contain caffeine so provide a stimulant effect but a study in the journal “PLoS one” found that coffee has exactly the same effect on exercise performance and endurance (i.e. an instant coffee an hour before you workout).
They increase metabolism slightly, in the short term (increasing heart rate) but in terms of increasing BMR i.e. calorie burn at rest, which is what is needed to burn more calories (and hence fat), the effect is negligible. A 2017 study found an increase of 65 cals in BMR. This is a tiny increase over the day and won’t lead to increased fat loss. Green tea extract has been shown to increase fat oxidation (i.e. fat burnt by the body) BUT this only leads to fat loss IF you are in a calorie deficit, as fat stores are simply restored the moment you eat. Another study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found no difference over 6 weeks between fat burners and a placebo in fat loss (or muscle mass).
Bottom line – if someone is selling you fat burners stop, think and reconsider. Aside from the potential health risks, you’re throwing money down the drain. Make yourself a coffee or green tea and enjoy the same effects with less risk for less money.
Happy Tuesday 🤗