Some fat burners simply burn calories as heat. Others also claim to stimulate the release of adrenaline, increase your metabolic rate or act as appetite suppressants. The evidence for them working is limited, though. “A careful calorie intake and exercise are likely to produce better weight-loss results in the long term,” says nutrition expert Anita Bean.
Where Can I Buy Them?
A wide selection of fat burners can be found in most high street supplement stores, such as Met-Rx (formerly GNC). Complementary medicine stores such as Holland & Barrett stock a range of fat-fighting remedies while pharmacies like Boots and Lloyd’s often sell a small selection. Lastly, head down the healthcare aisle on your next trip to the supermarket where you’ll find the more popular gut busters alongside a variety of sports supplements. The advantage of getting them from a supermarket is that you can also fill your basket with natural fat burners such as blackcurrants and dark chocolate (see below).
Who Shouldn’t Take Fat Burners?
“Fat burners raise cortisol – a stress hormone – so if you suffer from anxiety it could make things worse,” says strength coach Gregg Marsh. “If you think you need them, consult your doctor first.” And be sure to check with your GP before using fat burners if you’re taking medication, some may cause interactions with prescribed medicines.
How Much Should I Take?
Follow the instructions on the bottle and stick to capsules or pills which are the easiest way to keep track of how many you’re taking. Be careful if you’re planning to use them over a long period of time. “Take them on a rotation cycle of 14 days on 14 days off for only two cycles every eight weeks,” advises Marsh.
When Should I Take Them?
Most fat burners contain caffeine and will make you jittery, so taking them in the morning is probably best. “Never take fat burners after 2pm because they affect sleep patterns,” says Marsh. Other than that, go with the recommendation on the bottle, but combine them with a structured exercise plan if you want to see tangible results.
Do Fat Burners Have any Side Effects?
“Taking high doses of ephedrine can have serious effects, including palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, vomiting and dizziness,” says Bean. “While herbal alternatives are generally safer, you may get side effects with high doses – some can raise blood pressure or cause heart disturbances.”
Are Fat Burners Performance Enhancing Drugs?
Some are, and along with a variety of other sports performance products, fat burners can be at risk of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process and it is difficult for companies to guarantee they’re not, even if third-party testing is claimed. It can be a risk to athletes under the scrutiny of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
During the 2015-16 Premier League football season, Liverpool FC’s Mamadou Sakho was suspended by WADA for having taken a substance believed to be a fat burner on the banned list. He was cleared of any wrongdoing but how can you be confident your fat burner is clean? First, look carefully at the product’s label for an Informed-Sport logo, meaning the product has been certified by a body who aim to assist competitive athletes and the armed forces to avoid banned supplements. If purchasing online, trustedprosupplements.co.uk use Informed-Sport’s parameters and offer products which batch numbers have been checked.
Which Fat Burners are the Key Players?
Caffeine increases fat oxidation during rest and exercise, boosts the body’s ability to metabolise fat (converting it to energy) and produces heat in your body to hike up your energy expenditure, called thermogenesis. Concentrated pill form is more manageable than caffeine via your daily coffee hits – to increase energy expenditure you need a high daily dose of 8mg per kg of bodyweight, that’s equal to eight Starbucks short Americanos per day.
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