There are many supplements on the market that promise rapid fat loss results. But do fat burner pills really work? Or should you stay away from them? In this article, you’ll discover the evidence-based truth.
What are Fat Burner Pills and How do They Work?
Fat burner pills are supplements that promise to help you lose weight and burn more fat. While the ingredients vary among fat burners, they usually claim to work in one or more of the following ways:
- By increasing metabolism, causing you to burn more calories.
- By reducing hunger, so you’ll consume fewer calories throughout the day.
- By enhancing fat burning, leading you to burn more fat for fuel.
- By inhibiting fat storage so that your body will store fewer calories as fat.
- By enhancing activity levels, to increase the number of calories you burn.
While that looks good on paper, do fat burners really work? The answer is that:
Almost All Fat Burner Pills Are Useless
That's right. Most fat burners do nothing besides ridding you of your hard-earned money. What follows is a list of commonly-used fat burners that scientific research shows to be ineffective.
(Manufacturers of the compounds below often claim that they have been scientifically proven to work.
The problem, though, is that they base that statement on animal research, which doesn’t mean similar effects apply to humans.)
1) Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
CLA, a mixture of polyunsaturated fatty acids, only shows fat loss benefits in rat studies. There is quality human evidence that CLA is no more effective than a placebo for weight and fat loss in humans(1)(2)(3)(4)
2) Garcinia Cambogia
While labeled by Dr. Oz as a potent fat burner, research has found Garcinia Cambogia to be less effective than a placebo at aiding weight loss.(5)
3) Raspberry Ketones
There is no human evidence that raspberry ketones aid weight or fat loss. Only one study on mice found that consuming 100 times the recommended dosage caused them to gain less weight upon overfeeding.(6)
So, unless you want to put your health at risk by consuming dangerous quantities of raspberry ketones in the hope of gaining less weight (an entirely different process than losing weight), don’t bother with this compound.
If you’re over one hundred years old, the amino acid l-carnitine may aid fat loss. However, if you’re younger, there do not appear to be any fat loss benefits to l-carnitine supplementation.(7)(8)
The reason l-carnitine only aids fat loss in centenarians is most likely that l-carnitine only aids weight loss if you’re deficient in this amino acid, which can occur as a result of aging.
5) White Kidney Bean Extract
White kidney bean extract may provide slight weight and fat loss benefits. That’s because this supplement reduces fat storage by blocking the digestion of carbs in the small intestine.
The problem? This compound also hurts health by preventing the absorption of various crucial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. That's why the potentially small benefits are not worth the risk.
6) Green Coffee Bean Extract
In mice studies, this compound aids weight and fat loss by decreasing fat absorption, activating fat metabolism in the liver, and increasing levels of the fat-burning hormone adiponectin.(9)(10)
In human studies, however, only research sponsored by companies that profit from the sales of green coffee beans show weight and fat loss benefits. Independent research has thus far failed to show enhanced results.
7) Hoodia Gordonii
Marketers often claim that the plant Hoodia Gordonii, which is native to the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, can aid weight and fat loss by suppressing appetite.
But according to randomised and double-blind research on mildly overweight women, Hoodia Gordonii is no more effective at reducing hunger, energy intake, or bodyweight than a placebo is.(11)
Only Two Fat Burner Pills Do Work!
These are caffeine and multivitamins. We've covered in depth how these compounds aid fat loss in this article, so you may want to take a look. But here’s the gist of it:
Caffeine aids fat loss by speeding up metabolism, enhancing fat burning, and improving workout performance.(13)(14)(15)(16)
Multivitamins help you correct nutrient deficiencies, which is beneficial because all vitamins and minerals are, in one way or another, involved in processes related to obtaining and maintaining healthy body weight.
That's why research shows that supplementing with a multivitamin can aid weight loss, reduce weight circumference, decrease BMI, and lower body fat percentage.(17)
Now, there are other compounds that can help you become leaner. Examples are yohimbine and norepinephrine.
The problem is that these highly stimulatory compounds tend to come with side effects, which is why they're not suitable for long-term use.
Here’s What We Recommend You to Do
Aside from supplementing with caffeine and a quality multivitamin, don’t waste your money on pills that claim to help you lose fat. They are a waste of money.
Instead, if you want to become leaner, here’s what we recommend you to do:
1) Be in a calorie deficit
To lose fat, you must be in a calorie deficit, which means that you consume fewer calories than you burn. This article explains how you can set your calorie intake for optimal fat loss results.(18)(19)(20)
2) Consume enough protein
Increasing your protein intake is one of the most effective ways to lose fat. That's because protein is highly satiating, which is why consuming more of it tends to reduce total calorie intake automatically.(21)(22)
Plus, consuming enough protein also helps you prevent muscle loss while you slim down. Not only does that benefit your appearance, but it also keeps your metabolism high.
If you're having a hard time taking in enough protein, a high-quality protein powder offers a solution.
3) Get enough sleep
Sleep is crucial for your fat loss efforts.
If you get enough sleep, you'll feel less hungry and will thus consume fewer calories. Plus, more of the weight you'll lose will come in the form of body fat instead of as muscle mass.(23)(24)
While sleep requirements vary among individuals, a good general guideline is to aim for at least seven hours of it per night.
4) Lift weights
Contrary to popular belief, cardio is not effective for losing fat. One meta-analysis, for instance, found that adding cardio to a diet plan doesn't enhance weight loss.(25)
What you want to do instead is to lift weights. This form of exercise prevents muscle loss while you slim down, which benefits both your appearance and your metabolism.