Fat burners have become very popular in today’s society, especially in America. It seems that everyone is looking for a “quick fix” to their problem…and that is why they turn to those “awesome” fat burners where you can just pop a pill and “lose 30 pounds in 10 days!”
However, do these fat burners actually work? Do they actually provide any benefits? Do the $40-$100 price tags justify any benefits that they may have? Here we will investigate some of the claims that they make such as
- increased thermogenesis
- decreased appetite
- fat loss without exercising
- increased energy
However, before I go into any more detail about fat burners, you must understand two important concepts:
Total Daily Energy Expenditure and The Law of Thermodynamics
(don’t worry -they’re quite simple).
Everyone has a set number known as “Total Daily Energy Expenditure” or TDEE for short. Your TDEE is how many calories your body uses per day to keep itself going. Pretty much everyone’s TDEE is different, and it changes everyday depending upon how much work your body does that day or if you gained more muscle mass, etc… This number can be affected by such things as how much muscle mass you have, genetics, what you do during the day, etc.
You can get a rough estimate of you TDEE at http://www.weight-loss-resources.com/calculators/dailycalories.html
Once you understand TDEE, there is another simple concept to understand. This concept is known as The First Law of Thermodynamics (don’t worry – our application of it is simple). This law states:
- If you eat less calories than your TDEE, you lose weight (this weight can be muscle or fat or a number of other things, but that’s for another article)
- If you eat more calories than your TDEE, you gain weight (once again, this can really be anything)
- If you eat the same amount of calories as your TDEE, your weight stays the same
So, in order to lose fat, you must create some sort of calorie deficit between your TDEE and the number of calories you eat. However, the deficit cannot be too large – otherwise your body will go into starvation mode. For more information on this topic you can check out www.burn-the-fat-feed-the-muscle.com.
The Fat Loss Claims of Fat Burners:
Thermogenesis is essentially a fancy word for TDEE. Saying that a product will increase thermogenesis is like saying it will increase your TDEE – which would mean that you burn more calories per day. Many of the products in these fat burner’s will increase your rate of calorie expenditure, but not by very much – the results are minimal.
Here’s an example: A while back I saw an ad touting that their “green tea extract” increased thermogenesis by 4%. Sounds spiffy, eh? Now, let’s take a somewhat normal number for TDEE – 2000 calories/day. 4% of 2000 would be 80 calories per day. If a pound of fat is 3500 calories, this means that you could get rid of an extra pound of fat about every 44 days by taking this supplement!
This small deficit could be easily accomplished many other ways though. For instance, you could eat 10 less wheat thins for a day, replace soft drinks with water, or not add mayonnaise to your sandwich at lunch.
When trying to diet (actually, just achieve a calorie deficit), many times people complain that their appetite is holding them back – therefore companies that produce fat burners like to claim that their product “reduces appetite”.
It’s true, many ingredients in products may reduce your appetite. But do you really need these special herbs or ingredients to do that?
In my opinion, nature provides everything. Here are some strategies:
1. Drink water. If you get some sort of craving for something, just drink some water. This will help to decrease your appetite by filling up your stomach, it’s natural, and you need water to function properly anyway.
2. Eat fiber. You can either eat foods with fiber in them, like vegetables, or you can just buy some of that powdered fiber at the store (it actually doesn’t taste that bad), and take some with your meals. Fiber cannot be digested, so it will decrease the actual capacity for your stomach to hold food. Plus fiber pushes food through your digestive tract faster than normal. This can cause roughly 15%-20% of the food you eat to not be digested – resulting in a smaller amount of calories that your body actually digests. Fiber also provides too many other benefits to list here.
3. Eat foods that are low in calories, but high in satiety. These are foods that have a low amount of calories per amount of food that you eat. For instance, a stomach full of jello contains less calories than a stomach full of peanut butter.
Fat Loss Without Exercise
It’s possible to lose some fat without exercising. However, when you do this, you’re setting yourself up for failure in the long run. Muscle is an integral part of permanent fat loss. When you cut calories without lifting weights or exercising, part of the weight you lose will be muscle as well as fat. When you add weight lifting/exercise to your routine, you essentially signal your body to keep your muscle. For more information on this topic of “weight loss and weight lifting”, check out our free 7-day fat loss e-course. The second lesson involves the effects of weight lifting on fat. So, in essence, you can lose weight without exercising – but it’s kind of a waste of time.
Increased Energy & Focus
Many fat burner’s contain ingredients like caffeine or vinpocetine, which they claim to help increase your energy and focus. In many cases, some (a rare few might I add) of these compounds can and have been proven to do this – but (this is from personal experience) mostly by a minimal amount. Probably the best way to gain focus and energy is the way nature intended – through exercise. Ever gotten that endorphin high after a great workout? You’ll be surprised at how “high” you get and at how clearly you can think.
Fat Loss & Water Loss
Due to some of the ingredients in fat burners, they can make you lose weight – but not necessarily the correct type of weight. Some ingredients such as caffeine can be classified as mild diuretics. This can be deceiving, as the weight that you may have lost from the “fat” burning supplement may not be fat at all, it may just be water.
So, all in all, fat burning supplements do provide some benefits – that is, if the ingredients actually DO support their claims. However, many times, even though they do provide benefits, the benefits are many times small compared to what can be accomplished through intelligent dieting and exercising. It is up to the buyer whether the price tags justify the benefits that these supplements may provide.
About The Author
Johnny Lavot is an avid weight-loss and fitness researcher. You can find tons more information on these topics at http://www.weight-loss-resources.com.