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Fat Burner 101
What's the hardest part of dieting for you? Constant cravings for foods that will hinder your weight loss results? Lack of motivation and daily energy? Always fatigued and walking around with the dreaded brain fog that can come along with restricted calories/nutrients? Or maybe stress/emotional eating which leads to overeating and constantly snacking? As we all know, dieting can really suck at times! You're eating less, eating very clean, and doing a lot or cardio. This can leave you feeling burned out, unmotivated, and even lethargic at times.
Everybody's weight-loss journey looks different and personal, but the fundamentals that drive it should always remain the same: consistent exercise and nutrition designed around your needs/goals. Once those are in place, a fat burner can really help you turn up the heat and not only to help you see better results, but also feel better while doing it. Now that's not to say that fat burners are a magic pill you take and your body will start melting fat like ice cream on the hottest day of summer. Think of fat burners as rocket fuel that can really give you an extra boost to help burn fat, while diet and exercise are the engine and transmission that drives the entire process. If the engine and transmission are in poor condition, it's going to operate poorly regardless of the grade of fuel. This remains true for fat burners and the weight loss process as well. The better condition (more optimized) of your diet and exercise routine, the better a fat burner will boost weight loss. No fat burner on the planet will fix a broken diet!
How do fat burners work? Fat burners contain specific blends of ingredients (or sometimes a singular ingredient) that will increase fat metabolism or energy expenditure, debilitate fat absorption and accumulation, increase overall weight loss, increase fat oxidation during exercise, increase mental clarity and focus to combat brain fog, and stimulate lipolysis (the breakdown of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids). Each fat burning formula will be unique and hit harder on these particular attributes. Some will focus more on daily energy and energy expenditure, while others will focus more on stimulating lipolysis. Some fat burning formulas such as Lipo Shred by Titan Nutrition will be potently dosed to hit all of these attributes hard.
What are some of the key ingredients in fat burners? One primary ingredient you will find in almost every fat burning formula is Caffeine, and for good reason. Caffeine not only increases daily and exercise energy, heightens mood and mental alertness, it also helps you lose weight by increasing your metabolism, helps the body to utilize fat for fuel by shifting calorie burn more towards fat and increase the maximal rate of fat burning relative to carb burning, meaning instead of burning through stored carbohydrates, you will burn through stored fat. Caffeine also delivers an appetite suppressing effect, and helps control comfort-food cravings. Other stimulants you may see in a fat burning formula include English Walnut Extract, Theobromine, and Dynamine. These ingredients will work synergistically with caffeine to heighten energy levels and keep them sustained throughout the day to keep you motivated and ready to tackle your work day and exercise routine. An ultimate fat burner such as Lean Phase by Phase1 Nutrition will contain high amounts of stimulants to provide to provide long-lasting and dynamic daily energy, along with thermogenics and ingredients that increase lipolysis to maximize fat-burning capabilities.
Lean Phase contains a unique formula of stimulants and nootropics to provide long-lasting and dynamic daily energy to keep you motivated, intensify workouts, suppress your appetite to fight off cravings, help the body adapt to physical and mental stress, provide substantial increases in cognitive abilities to heighten mood and get rid of that dreaded brain fog, and power you through your day!
Other ingredients that are commonly found in fat burners are thermogenics. These ingredients are used to increase heat production in the body, also known as thermogenesis. This takes place by increasing the metabolic rate so that energy is produced from the utilization of food consumed and also from what is stored in the body (such as body fat for example). Some of the most commonly used thermogenics are Yohimbine, Synephrine, Grains of Paradise, Green Tea, ProGBB (Gamma-Butyrobetaine Ethyl Ester Chloride) and Capsaicin (the ingredient found in different types of hot peppers, such as cayenne peppers, that makes the peppers spicy hot). These ingredients will help increase your metabolic rate to help you burn calories more efficiently, as well as elevate your metabolic rate while at rest. It should also be noted that there is also a thermic effect of consuming food. Protein has the highest thermic effect of all the macronutrients and creates the most heat following a meal. Now you see why it’s vital to combine the three pillars of weight loss (exercise, nutrition, supplements) to maximize your results and put yourself in the best position to burn body fat and improve your overall body composition.
You may also see ingredients such as L-Carnitine, L-BAIBA (β-aminoisobutyric acid) and Garcinia Cambodia in a fat-burning formula that increase lipolysis. During this process, free fatty acids are released into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. These are often the key hitters in fat burning formulas that are stimulant free such as Mitoburn by Alpha Lion and Trojan Horse by Blackstone Labs. These are the perfect formulas for those who are sensitive to stimulants, have sporadic sleep schedules, or just want to enjoy stimulants from other sources such as coffee. These ingredients work by melting and converting existing fat cells into daily long lasting energy, amplifying the fat-burning effects of exercise for quicker results.
Do fat burners really work? Yes, fat-burning formulas can absolutely help to optimize your weight loss journey, but it is also important to remember to keep reasonable expectations for what a fat burner working actually means. While your rate of fat loss will be enhanced, just simply using a fat burner won't magically make you drop and keep off 10+ pounds in a week. Keep in mind, that a safe rate of fat loss is 1-3 pounds per week, for average, healthy individuals. In extreme cases, you can bump it up to 5-6 pounds a week, but this should be for very short durations as dropping weight too rapidly can have adverse effects on the body such as extreme fatigue/lethargy, muscle loss, and nutritional deficiencies just to name a few.
Should I take fat burners on non-workout days? Yes and no! This is going to be a personal choice and will depend how you are utilizing the product. Taking a high quality fat burning formula will help you boost calorie expenditure, reduce food cravings and appetite, increase energy levels, stimulate lipolysis, and boost your metabolic rate even on rest days. Since the purpose of fat burners is to “stimulate” your body (whether or not it contains stimulants) and suppress your appetite, helping to reduce food intake and burn fat, timing is everything. If you’re going to take them on non-workout days, it’s best to do so first thing in the morning to help you throughout the day, or to give you a little boost if you’re planning to do some light activity.
Should I cycle on and off fat burners? Yes! Even the best thermogenic fat burner won't keep giving results forever. It's best to cycle use of fat burners by using them in a 4-8 week cycle and then come off for 15-30 days and repeat. Once your body gets used to a particular formula, you're not going to see the same increase in fat oxidation or increase in metabolic rates with continual use over time. By cycling on and off you give your body a break from that ingredient profile, and ensure you reap the peak benefits every cycle. Keep a close eye on your progress over time, stick with your nutrition and training, and utilize fat burners to really optimize your results, and see if you can surprise yourself with what you achieve!