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How Do Fat Burners Work & Are They Effective?
The Complete Beginner’s Guide

Last Updated on

Do Fat Burners Work featured image

When I talk to friends about the supplements I take, they are often surprised that I regularly go on a cycle of fat metabolism boosters. They see a healthy and fit vegan, so why would I possibly need to lose some fat?

For me, the reason comes down to different bodybuilding phases where I go through bulking and cutting, but these products are also ideal if you’re struggling with some stubborn flabby areas.

They are not a replacement for good nutrition and exercise, but rather give a little helping hand to get you to your goals a little faster. So, when I get asked “do fat burners work,” I say they absolutely do, and in the following sections, you’ll learn how they work.

How Do Fat Burners Work?

man and woman side by side

Fat burners work by triggering metabolic processes in your body that target body fat for energy expenditure.

They also often contain ingredients that reduce the ability to turn excess glucose into fat for storage.

Basically, you get rid of some flabby stuff and avoid adding to it as well.

Using these in combination with exercising and a healthy diet is a great way to get to weight loss goals faster.

In general, fat burners fall into two categories:

1. Thermogenesis 

The first category is thermogenesis. This process involves producing extra energy by burning up calories, thereby increasing your body temperature slightly. This extra burning of calories to produce more thermal energy is also maintained during rest and sleep periods. (1)

By combining a healthy diet, exercise, and supplements, you can increase fat metabolism to a maximum. The great thing is that there are very natural ingredients that can help with this boost.

2. Lipolysis

The second category is lipolysis. This is a little more complicated than thermogenesis. Basically, it just means that any dietary fat or fat stored in your body is broken down into free fatty acids and glycerol by the fat metabolism of your body.

These are needed so that the cells in your body can generate energy. By taking supplements, this effect will be triggered through a hormone boosting process, especially the hormones epinephrine, ghrelin, and norepinephrine.

Ultimately this will lead to an increase in the amount of fat loss.

Vegan-Friendly Fat Burning Ingredients

No two supplements use the exact same blend of ingredients, but the ones you consider should be 100% nutritional. First, let’s take a look at natural foods that help your body to burn fat.

1. Natural Food Sources

Natural Food Sources

​A. Ginger: 

Studies on obese men have shown that by regularly adding ginger to their diet, there was a positive impact on BMI levels. After slicing the ginger and steeping it in boiling water for 12 hours, it can be drunk alone or added to a smoothie for extra nutrition. With regular intake, it will improve thermogenesis and help your body to burn fat. It’s one of the oldest known weight loss boosting foods. (2)

​B. Turmeric: 

Curcumin is an antioxidant found in turmeric that helps the thermogenic process by burning fat, which in turn increases body temperature. It also helps break down dietary fat by causing an increase of bile in the gallbladder. There are two ways to ingest this; either spice up your meals with it or drink it as a tea.

Turmeric is a readily available spice, and adding it to your diet has no side effects, unless you have an allergy.

Andrea Cespedes

Personal Trainer

Green Tea Extract

​F. Green Tea Extract: 

Green tea extract can be taken in powder form or as a pill if you don’t like the taste. It contains epigallocatechin gallate, which is a polyphenol, and caffeine (there’s be no prizes for remembering those terms).

The combination of these two substances is proven to boost thermogenesis while increasing the fat burning process.

Apart from being used for reducing fat, green tea extract is also an ideal antioxidant and helps to dispose of any build-up of toxins.

​G. Soluble Fiber: 

Soluble fiber is of nutritional value as it slows down the digestive system so that it’s possible to absorb more nutrients. Beans or any kind of green vegetables are an ideal source, but if necessary, you can also purchase it as a powder to help your digestion along. There have also been some positive study results on the metabolic rate that results in a faster loss of weight.

​H. Yohimbine: 

Mainly used as a West African aphrodisiac, one study has proven positive effects it has on body fat. Small doses given to soccer players resulted in a 2.2% BMI decrease. You won’t find it in most supermarkets, but you should be able to pick it up at a health or whole food store.

2. Concentrated Ingredients

Concentrated Ingredients

Although it’s easy to include the natural products mentioned above in your diet, some ingredients are naturally only found in small volumes. You would have to eat far too much of them for any kind of effect.

Therefore it’s better to take them in a concentrated form as a powder or pill.

​A. L-Carnitine: 

It’s well worth checking out labels for this as it impacts directly on your metabolism by transporting fatty acids to the relevant body cells, which then convert them into raw energy. Any fat stored in your body can be processed faster when you take a lot of L-carnitine. So it’s an ideal ingredient if you’re looking to lose weight.

B. Conjugated Linoleic Acid: 

Conjugated linoleic acid, easier remembered as CLA, is a form of Omega-6 which has been modified slightly. It is not possible for your body to produce Omega fatty acids, so you have to take them in with food or supplements. Most people just think of them as an antioxidant and immune booster. (3)

However, dieticians recommend it as a way of reducing fat and retaining muscle tissue without having to be concerned about side effects.

​C. L-Tyrosine: 

This has the effect of intensifying both noradrenaline and adrenaline production. The result is that body temperature and heart rate increase as the neurotransmitter level rises.

Metabolic activity will rise, resulting in oxidation of fat and also reduction of appetite. It’s a subtle impact that you won’t notice as an adrenaline rush, but it’s enough to help you lose weight.

Tyrosine is an amino acid that the body produces from phenylalanine. Supplementing with it is thought to increase important brain chemicals, which affect your mood and stress response.

Gavin De Walle

Registered Dietician

​D. Sinetrol: 
Sinetrol can be found in lemon, orange and grapefruit peel, or the peel of any other citrus fruit, but how would you add this to your food? Not easy, which is why it’s an ideal ingredient to look out for.

In 2014 a study proved that taking 900 mg of Sinetrol daily, increased the metabolism of overweight people, which resulted in a reduction in abdominal fat.

It’s not easy to find as it is a newcomer on the market, but keep an eye out for it.

5 Tips For ​Effective Fat Burning Results

Here are a couple of tips to help maximize the fat oxidation effects of these products.

1. Stay Away From Cardio

Man Running

Although cardio exercise is excellent regarding your vascular system and heart, it’s not the ​most recommended way to burn calories in order to dispose of fat.

If you’re looking to increase fat loss, then a balanced diet and exercise are what you need. But for the exercise part, you need to focus on high-intensity training to bring your metabolic rates up as high as possible.

2. Regularly Switch Supplements

When you rely on just one product, your body will get used to it, and it can quickly happen that it will no longer respond to the metabolic and stimulating impacts.

It’s important to change products regularly; every couple of weeks or months should be enough for you to still be able to reach your goal.

3. Limit The Use Of Stimulants

You need to avoid overdosing on stimulants such as caffeine. While it will help reduce your BMI, you could end up with some negative side effects.

Too much caffeine, whichever way you ingest it, will just make you jittery and you could find yourself suffering from insomnia.

4. Take Regular Breaks

It’s never good to overdo anything, even if it’s good for you. Not even professional athletes or bodybuilders are in a continuous fat burning phase.

If you regularly take metabolic boosters to lose weight, you’ll find that you can end up with digestive and immune system issues. I generally recommend to take a week off ever 5 weeks.

5. Slow And Steady Fat Loss Goals

Whatever the amount of fat you want to burn, it’s much healthier to burn it slowly and steadily, to achieve lasting long-term results. It’s important to know your body composition, but an average weight loss of 2-3 pounds per week is ideal as long as you’re not obese.

This type of regular and steady weight loss is also far more motivating than seeing constant and drastic fluctuations.

What Are The Side Effects Of Fat Burners?

Side Effects

The side effects of fat burners most commonly are jitters, insomnia, and nausea, but these are generally associated with higher doses. (4)

By reading a product's label and keeping to the recommended dose, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about side effects from taking these products before workouts or exercise. Also, keep in mind that negative effects are often caused due to food intolerances or allergies, so always check the label for known substances that might be a problem for you.

One way to try to avoid side effects is to either take them after a meal or at least eat a snack first. They can be a bit harsh on an empty stomach.

If you suffer from any of the following side effects after taking fat burners, you should stop taking them or at least reduce the dosage:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • check
    Jitters
  • check
    Constipation

​Don’t ignore these symptoms when you notice them, or you’ll find your motivation dropping due to the reaction on your metabolism and digestive system. They can be easily reversed, and by taking a smaller amount, you can still achieve great results.

Watch this video to learn more about the side effects of fat burners and tips on what you can do about them.

​Frequently Asked Questions

fat burner supplements

Are fat burners dangerous?

No, fat burners are not dangerous unless, of course, you don’t keep to the dose recommended by the manufacturer. They mostly come in the form of powders or pills with the recommended dose you should take clearly stated. Stick to the recommendation and you should be just fine.

What are thermogenic fat burners?

Thermogenic fat burners are supplements that raise your body temperature slightly by burning fat. However, you need to be aware that you have to stick to a healthy diet for them to work effectively; they are not some sort of magic pill.

Is apple cider vinegar a fat burner?

Yes, apple cider vinegar is a proven fat burner, and many dieticians recommend it as one of the ​most effective ways of reducing belly fat. The recommended dosage is between 15 and 30 ml spread over 2 to 3 doses a day added to water and should be drunk prior to meals for best results on fat metabolism. (5)

When should I take fat burners?

You should take fat burners several times a day, ideally before food and exercising. A lot of products are available that require 2 to 4 pills per day, which is great to spread out the effects for maximum results.

Does caffeine burn fat?

Yes, caffeine does help burn fat, and it does this by boosting the metabolic rate even when you’re resting. If you don’t like coffee, then you could try taking green tea or stick with some of the products we recommend on this site.

What is the recommended appetite suppressant and fat burner?

The ​recommended appetite suppressant and fat burner for men is a product called Zotrim and for women LeanBean. It’s ​suggested to stick to a gender-specific one as male and female metabolisms react slightly differently. You should definitely check out our page on vegan fat burning products.

Bottom Line: Do Fat Burners Work?

Yes, vegan fat burners do work in reducing body fat, but it’s important that you also keep to a healthy diet, have healthy sleeping habits, and exercise regularly.

Furthermore, you should also be aware of your calorie intake.

Supplements may help you burn more calories and help your calorie intake by suppressing your appetite, but at the end of the day, they’re not a magic pill.

They are ‘supplements’ which means just that – they won’t work on their own.

Looking for the​ top vegan fat burners out on the market? See this article where we tested a bunch ourselves to find which one works and which ones are just a marketing gimmick.

>> See our list of fat burners that work <<

Man and Woman with fat burners

References:

​1. ScienceDirect, Thermogenesis, retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/thermogenesis
2. Kathryn Watson, Miho Hatanaka, RDN, LD, Can Eating or Drinking Ginger Help Me Lose Weight?, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/ginger-for-weight-loss
3. Fagali N, Catalá A., Antioxidant activity of conjugated linoleic acid isomers, linoleic acid and its methyl ester determined by photoemission and DPPH techniques., retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18656302
4. Janet Renee, Harmful Effects of Fat Burners, retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/171610-harmful-effects-of-fat-burners/
5. Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE, Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-weight-loss

Hey, I'm Jason and welcome to my website. I created VeganLiftz because of my passion (more like obsession) with the vegan diet, strength training, and bodybuilding. Feel free to peruse the various articles on this website; I hope you find something useful!