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What are Fat Burners and How do they Work?

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We’ve all heard the term fat burner, but does anyone actually know what fat burners are and what it means? The term is used to describe a set of ingredients or supplements / supplement stacks that are claimed to increase your metabolism to decrease fat absorption or to stimulate a hormonal reaction to begin breaking down fat to use as fuel.

It really does all depend on the stack and in the ingredients in the supplement as to the type of fat burner you are buying, but one thing is perfectly clear. There is no substitute for having the right kind of meal plan and some sort of workout routine.

None of the fat burners we have come across are a magic pill that will melt away fat like ice cream in a hot summers’ day. It isn’t happening. Period. You have to use fat burners together with a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise – sorry to all those who thought that fat loss was going to be easy.

Natural Fat Burners

There are any number of ingredients that lay claim to help to burn fat, manufacturers of fat burners will tell us that we should take some of these ingredients together to get the most out of them, as some ingredients are in a stack to get other ingredients to work better or be absorbed more easily by the body.


One of the most common ingredients in fat burners is caffeine, which is known to increase the hormone epinephrine [1], which can help to breakdown fatty acids in the blood when exercising [2].

Caffeine can also increase your heart rate and metabolism helping to burn more fat as fuel, but there are side effects of too much caffeine including anxiety, insomnia, rapid heart rate and fatigue. Not great if you are trying to work out.

This ingredient is also used as an appetite suppressant so good news for those who can’t summon up the energy for a vigorous workout although if you have too much you may need a workout to calm yourself down.

Most fat burners include caffeine so that you get all of the benefits above, coupled with other ingredients it can really give a jolt to your fat burning routine, but there is a note of caution. You can have too much of a good thing and yes you can get similar results from a couple of strong coffees in the morning, but the body can get used to caffeine, so you end up having to drink more and more coffee to have the same effect (sounds familiar).

Taken in a stack with other ingredients can help to null ify the effect of the body getting used to it by combining its power with the other ingredients to get the best out of them, not just using the caffeine by itself – hence why you want to take a fat burning stack not just drink coffee all day.

Green Tea

Another staple of many fat burners and fat burning supplement stacks is green tea, which can help to boost your metabolism and therefore help to loos fat and weight. So you can just drink a few cups of green tea, look in the mirror and you are 10 lbs lighter, not really no if only it was that easy.

The green tea used in most fat burners is usually an extract which is stronger and more effective than guessing how much you are getting in a cup. There are also studies that suggest a combination of green tea and caffeine together can have a greater effect on fat loss than caffeine alone. [3]

The study also suggests that green tea has thermogenic properties that can promote fat oxidation, more that just the amount explained by the caffeine in the tea (caffeine also has thermogenic properties).

That isn’t to say that you need caffeine and green tea, you could have green tea on it’s own and still have the effects of the fat burning thermogenesis, and caffeine alone won’t give the same effect as both together. From this we can conclude that green tea extract is a powerful thermogenic that will help to burn fat as part of a fat burning supplement, often coupled with additional caffeine.
Green tea also contains Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) which is a catechin, a natural antioxidant that helps to prevent cell damage and has been shown to promote weight loss in some studies. [4]


We all know that you need fiber in our diets to keep you regular, but it is also essential to keep your body working as it should. Fiber can help with weight loss because it can’t be easily broken down in the body or absorbed into your system, so you feel fuller for longer as your body thinks there is still fuel in it, even though the body can’t digest it.

Your body will also take longer to digest other nutrients that you have eaten, also making you feel full. Your body will also absorb less fat and take on board fewer calories with increased intake of fiber [5] so it is no wonder this is one of the mainstays of fat burning supplements.

There are two types of Fiber, soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber takes on water in your stomach to for a gel-like substance that will make you feel full and possibly a bit bloated, not really in the right mood to eat!

The most common Fiber used in fat burners is soluble glucomannan, which is the only fat burning ingredient endorsed by the FDA and the FSA. Other natural sources of soluble fiber are oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples, and blueberries although it is difficult to tell how many apples you would need to eat to have the same effect as glucomannan, plus think of the sugar however natural it might be.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8964766
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10751201
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584049
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649093
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9109608

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