Do fat burning pills really work?

Fat burning pills are often sold as a quick fix to weight loss but they don’t work that way. There is some evidence that they can help you burn fat, but you’ll need to take them at the same time as dieting and exercising.

So before you order the latest faddy pills, give some thought to how you’re approaching weight loss and make sure you’re on the right path to success. These seven steps to effective fat burning will keep you on the right track:

1. Set realistic expectations

Even with dieting and exercise, the weight is not going to melt off with a fat burner. It’s not healthy to lose weight too quickly either. A safe rate of weight loss is about 1% of your body weight. This reflects the fact that people who have more weight to lose tend to lose it more quickly at first and this is usually quite safe.

A faster rate of weight loss can indicate that you’re losing lean muscle mass which will not be a good look in the end!

2. Change your diet

It’s reasonable to assert that people who need to lose weight eat too much food, or eat the wrong foods. So taking fat burning supplements without changing your diet won’t make a difference – you’ll still be eating too much. If you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit from your needs. Taking a fat burner and dieting at the same time can be really beneficial – it can boost your energy, help stop you feeling hungry, promote the use of fat for energy and increase your metabolism and core temperature – all helping you to burn more calories.

You might find these articles are helpful in your approach to dieting:

  • Counting calories – dos and don’ts
  • Dieting secrets – what the doctors don’t tell you
  • Eat little and often
  • 8 fat burning fruits
  • 6 amazing foods that fight fat
  • Fat burning foods – the natural way to lose weight

As you can see from these articles, sometimes choosing the right food can alone boost your fat burning potential!

3. Start exercising

Exercise is crucial to the fat burning process. If you’ve not exercised in a long time, swimming can be one of the best ways to get back into the game. It’s a fantastic all round work out which exercises practically every muscle in your body and burns 500 – 700 calories an hour, depending on how much effort you put in!

A 130-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 590 calories swimming fast, and 413 calories swimming slower. A 155-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 704 calories swimming fast, and 493 calories swimming slower. Source:

Once you’re feeling more energetic, HIIT is the perfect fat burning exercise – find out more.

Don’t be tempted to overdo it – too much exercise can burn you out and result in chronic fatigue syndrome, which will mean you can’t even walk up the stairs without wanting to lie down. Too much exercise can have a lot of other undesirable side effects as well which will hinder your fat burning efforts, as this article by Chris Kresser explains. If you want to exercise every day, mix it up – cardio one day, weights the next, swimming the next and so on. Always have at least one rest day where you don’t do anything.

4. Consider a supplement

Different pills in blister packsFat burners can be beneficial – when combined with exercise and diet. Some of the most popular include:

  • Capsaicin – it’s the chemical that makes peppers and chillies hot. Possible benefits include encouraging your body to use more fat as fuel, boosting energy expenditure and (where it is included as part of a meal) causing you to eat fewer total calories. There are scientific studies that show promising results.
  • Chromium Picolinate – it’s an essential trace mineral that is required by the body in very small quantities for normal development and growth. Chromium Picolinate is a potent form of Chromium. The best natural source of Chromium is broccoli.
  • Green tea – it’s thought to boost your metabolism and as a bonus, it’s full of antioxidants which have numerous benefits. It’s certainly the safest and healthiest fat burner you can choose!
  • Guarana – it’s a plant that’s often added to energy drinks. Together with improved weight loss, research has recorded benefits such as cognitive improvements, reduced hypertension, reduced metabolic syndrome and lower cholesterol.
  • Caffeine – combined with the polyphenol compounds in green tea, it’s thought to have weight loss effect. Of note, it is thought that combining guarana with polyphenols may have a similar effect.
  • L-Carnitine (carnitine) – it’s a natural nutrient that helps burn fat for fuel by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria – our internal power plants – to produce energy.
  • Phosphatidylserine – it reduces the stress hormone cortisol which is responsible for fat storage. The hormone can be excreted when you work out as you are putting your body under stress. As a result your body can use muscle tissue for energy. Phosphatidylserine blocks the secretion of cortisol allowing you to recover quicker, burn more fat and build more muscle.

It’s a good idea to consult a doctor before you start taking fat burning supplements as they may not be suitable for you. You should always follow the instructions on any supplement you take and never take more than the stated dose. We recommend starting on the minimum stated dose and sticking to this for at least a couple of weeks. Afterwards you can decide if you want to increase the dose, should the product suggest this is feasible.

5. Lay off the caffeine

A lot of people use caffeine both as a weight loss aid and to help them stay alert during the day. However, if you’re also taking a stimulant fat burner, you may need to reduce your caffeine intake elsewhere. Many fat burners contain caffeine or a similar substance and taking these while maintaining your regular caffeine intake can have some unwanted effects, including burn out. You’ll find it harder to exercise, you’ll feel tired more quickly and you won’t recover as fast. Too much caffeine does not equal better results – it can stop your plan from working properly.

6. Drink plenty

A lot of people who embark on an exercise and diet plan notice a marked drop in their weight over the first few days. This is often because they’re losing water through exercise and less food, and not drinking enough to replace it! Drink plenty – 6 to 8 cups is recommended – as not only will this keep you hydrated but it will also help flush toxins out of your body.

7. Measure your results

If you’ve got a realistic weight loss goal, you’ll know exactly where you want to be 6 weeks, 12 weeks and even 6 months from now. Measuring your results is essential to ensuring that your plan is working for you. Weigh yourself each morning without clothes on at roughly the same time and track your progress. Don’t be surprised if your weight fluctuates up and down from day to day. What you really want to see is a downward pattern from week to week (e.g. Monday to Monday). After a three or four weeks if there’s little change, you need to reevaluate what you’re doing and make a change. Try a different exercise plan, change up your diet or switch your fat burning supplement as everyone’s body is different and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another.

In summary…

  1. Set realistic expectations
  2. Change your diet
  3. Start exercising
  4. Consider a supplement
  5. Lay off the caffeine
  6. Drink plenty of water
  7. Measure your results and make changes if you need to

Scroll back up and check out our diet and exercise articles that will help you create the perfect fat burning plan!

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