Why Your Fat-Burners Aren’t Burning Fat

Why Your Fat-Burners Aren’t Burning Fat


Why Your Fat-Burners Aren’t Burning Fat

– By Dylan Madigan


Expectations tend to be too high for weight loss supplements.


Thermogenic Potential of Natural Ingredients


To put this into quick perspective of why people overestimate the amount of work done by their supplements, let’s quickly mention Ephedrine, used in the infamous ECA stack.

This is now illegal in the United States. It’s effects were deemed too dangerous to offer over the counter for this use anymore. Taken 3 times a day, in combination with caffeine, it offered a 5% increase in metabolic rate on average [1-3]

Randomly asking people buying over the counter fat loss supplements today you will get answers as absurd as assuming it increases by 50%. Even drugs cannot do this.



You have marketing schemes to thank for this. Some products actually list the exact amount of calories supposedly burned by each dose (and apparently if taken 5-6 times daily the average person would be at an energy state lower than if they were eating absolutely nothing)


Don’t buy the hype. Research the ingredients. Be sure these ingredients are at the studied doses as well.


I will go through a couple commonly used ingredients quickly for you.


L-Carnitine: Seems to have no real effect unless in a deficient state [4,5]


Green Tea Extract (ECGC) Mixed results but seemingly little to no effect on both metabolism and loss of fat mass [6,7]




Green Coffee Bean Extract (GCBE) This has a large lack of data, the main study being done by a company with vested interests in its success. That said it doesn’t mean it can’t be considered. It does show potential for fat loss, but again it is mild, much more so than people using it likely assume.



There is not really any single natural ingredient with substantial effects (as people assume, or as marketing may imply)


What does have a substantial effect is below.


Diet Comes First


Diet, diet, diet.


If you want to use something to burn fat, undoubtedly your goal is to lose weight. Don’t neglect the number one factor in this regard. No supplement will come close to the importance of your diet, not even at far above listed doses.


If you have ever used a supplement and your results were not as well as you hoped (did not lose weight or not enough) it wasn’t the supplement 99% of the time. It was your diet.


If you want to lose fat eat to suit your goal, it’s as simple as eating in a caloric deficit. Period.


Burn more energy than you ingest.


Sadly this is something that people tend to be bad at (even after seeing a nutritionist in the cited example) [8]


Knowledge of nutrition and your own body is priceless.


Another important thing to note here is that your supplements should suit your diet, never the other way around. If something needs to be taken fasted (which many do as they work better in the absence of insulin) don’t skip a meal to incorporate it. Fit them into your well-constructed diet the best you can.


You’re Using The Wrong Ones


I’m not anti-supplement. I do believe they have a place for fat loss, absolutely.


The error is in wanting them to burn the fat for you, instead of eating or being active enough to suit this goal. Popping a pill will never be a substitute for your efforts.


I listed a few above that fit into this category for the most part. Do not expect much from any natural supplement promising a metabolic boost, it will be mild at best.


Another trend going around is using things that offer very quick results and are sold on this appeal.
What you are losing is water, not fat.

Upon cessation of use you will gain this weight all back. Weight loss from a calorie deficit in your diet will remain, the other weight from these supplements is mainly water.


Wraps are getting big now, as well as “detox” supplements and fast weight loss pills. Almost all of these main ingredients are diuretics. They flush out water weight that will just come back. They are actually counter-productive to weight loss and lean mass preservation as adequate hydration is important in both regards. It can also assist dieters losing fat [9]


So what will be the best things I can use when aiming to lose weight?


In tandem with what has been said so far, ideally you place all your hopes on your diet and training.


The most effective weight loss supplements are those which can help you adhere to your diet, meaning appetite suppressants and mood-improving ingredients; and also stimulants or any supplement giving you extra energy for performance and so your diet is not impossible to maintain in your life.


Effects that help keep you on top of the things that really matter: your diet and exercise.


It is fairly easy to feel these effects, so you will know if your supplement has these qualities or not.

If they genuinely made dieting easier for you, it is doing its job. Less emphasis should be placed on stimulants just because it often has people spending their money on something just for the stimulant boost you can feel, be sure it also has the other qualities mentioned, or else you could be saving a lot of money and just use caffeine.


There are ingredient examples I support for this, and expect them to come in another article from me along with much more.


The Take Home: 


If you aren’t putting in your own efforts, you won’t get results.
If you want the most from a fat loss supplement, it’s the one that helps you in continuing to put forth your own efforts. A big player being appetite suppressants.




  1. Astrup A, et al The effect of ephedrine/caffeine mixture on energy expenditure and body composition in obese women . Metabolism. (1992)
  2.  Vukovich MD, et al Caffeine-herbal ephedra combination increases resting energy expenditure, heart rate and blood pressure . Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. (2005)
  3. Cheng JT, et al Stimulatory effect of D-ephedrine on beta3-adrenoceptors in adipose tissue of rats . Auton Neurosci. (2001)
  4. Brandsch C, Eder K Effect of L-carnitine on weight loss and body composition of rats fed a hypocaloric diet . Ann Nutr Metab. (2002)
  5.  Melton SA, et al L-carnitine supplementation does not promote weight loss in ovariectomized rats despite endurance exercise . Int J Vitam Nutr Res. (2005)
  6.  Gregersen NT, et al Effect of moderate intakes of different tea catechins and caffeine on acute measures of energy metabolism under sedentary conditions . Br J Nutr. (2009)
  7. Stendell-Hollis NR1, Thomson CA, Thompson PA, Bea JW, Cussler EC, Hakim IA. Green tea improves metabolic biomarkers, not weight or body composition: a pilot study in overweight breast cancer survivors J Hum Nutr Diet. 2010 Dec;23(6):590-600. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2010.01078.x. Epub 2010 Aug 27.
  8. Kline GA, Pedersen SD. Errors in patient perception of caloric deficit required for weight loss–observations from the Diet Plate Trial. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2010 May;12(5):455-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01179.x.
  9. Dennis EA1, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, Davy BM. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb;18(2):300-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.235. Epub 2009 Aug 6.



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