There’s hundreds of ‘fat burners’ for sale in shops and on Internet sites. Do they work? Some might, some won’t, and some might even leave you with nasty side effects.
I’ve picked four fat loss supplements that may help you burn unwanted fat, without burning a hole in your pocket or risking your health....
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in dairy and beef.
Our bodies cannot make CLA and so must be obtained by food, however CLA isn’t classed as an essential fatty acid because we can still be healthy without it. CLA has shown to improve body composition by helping to reduce body fat and simultaneously increase muscle mass. Overall weight loss will not be great (if even at all) due to an increase in muscle mass.CLA works by helping your body to use existing fat for energy by increasing the metabolism of fat and blocking the storage of fat.
Studies have shown that 3.2gr a day of CLA is the amount needed in order to have an effect; doses any higher than this do not have any additional effects. In order to have a noticeable benefit CLA should be taken for 3 months and you can take CLA indefinitely due to it not being a stimulant.
Apart from improvements to body composition, CLA may also prevent the formation/progression of cancer, improve insulin levels/lower insulin resistance, improve metabolic rate, lower cholesterol, and enhance the Immune system.
Caffeine is a stimulant found in the seeds, leaves and fruit of certain plants, most commonly the seeds of the Coffee plant and the leaves of the Tea bush. It can be bought in supplement form, but is also found in beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks, along with the more obvious Coffee and Tea. It is also sometimes added to painkillers to increase their effectiveness. Caffeine can help with fat loss by increasing alertness and decreases physical fatigue and drowsiness which in turn helps with physical activity when dieting. Caffeine works by acting as a Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant by binding to Adenosine receptor sites. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that normally makes you drowsy. When Caffeine binds to the receptors it has the opposite effect and causes adrenal glands to release Adrenaline, the ‘fight or flight’ hormone which in turn leads to an increase in heart rate and blood flow to the muscles. The result is a ‘buzz’ and an increase in energy output, which at the gym means you can push harder and for longer whilst training so in theory burn more energy and the result being greater fat loss/strength gains. Obviously you need to make sure that you consume sufficient protein and carbohydrates around your training to ensure muscle loss doesn’t occur due to the increase in energy output.
The amount of Caffeine needed will vary from person and will depend mainly on body size and any tolerance that might have built up from past use. Taking too much at any one time can have adverse results such as a lack of coordination and headaches, and at extremely high levels can be lethal. Any effects of Caffeine will be greatest in the first hour and should wear off after five hours. For this reason, it is recommended that Caffeine based stimulants are not taken within five hours of going to sleep as it may cause Insomnia. The stimulatory effects of Caffeine will be reduced if consumption is continued over a long period of time and at too high a dose. Therefore it is recommended that you have a break from Caffeine every so often so your CNS can have a break and to reduce tolerance levels. People who take Caffeine too frequently may become addicted and physically dependant and will therefore experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability and drowsiness when Caffeine intake is then stopped. However, by limiting its use to times off necessity and keeping doses low, Caffeine is safe and will not cause any long lasting side effects.
Green Tea is derived from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis. It can be drank or taken in supplement form. Green Tea has been shown to increase resting metabolic rate and increase fat oxidation during exercise as well as having appetite suppressant properties. If drinking cups, experts say you will need 3-5 cups a day. If using pills, follow the recommended dose which is usually 2 pills a day. It can be taken every day and does not have to be cycled because it is not a stimulant. Green Tea has been used around the world for many years due to its health benefits. These include helping to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system and being an antioxidant it could lower the chances of cancer and heart disease. The effects of Green Tea on weight loss can be heightened by combining it with Caffeine.
L-Carnitine is an Amino Acid that can help metabolise fat which can then be used as energy. It does this by breaking down fat into fatty acids and transporting them to the mitochondria in the muscle where it is then converted into ATP (and therefore energy to be used by the body). L-Carnitine can also help increase strength and muscle mass which will increase metabolic rate. L-Carnitine is naturally produced in the body by the synthesis of Lysine and Methionine, but a deficiency in either of these two amino acids will limit the amount of L-Carnitine produced.
A dose of at least 1000mg a day is recommended in order to benefit from its fat burning potential. It is advised that you supplement first thing in the morning and an hour before your workout in order to boost performance. On non training days take your second dose at lunch time. As it is an Amino Acid, it is not a stimulant and will not leave you feeling ‘jittery’ or give you a ‘buzz’. For the same reason it does not need to be cycled, and there is no limit to the amount you can take.
L-Carnitine can be obtained from food sources such as red meat, chicken and dairy. L-Carnitine can help reduce cravings by stabilising blood sugar levels, which is beneficial in reducing the likelihood of developing, or helping people who already have Type II Diabetes. Other benefits include reducing age related bone loss which can help reduce the chances of fractures and Osteoporosis.
It goes without saying that none of the above will have any effect unless your diet and training are both up to scratch, but they could help make a noticeable difference if used correctly.