Fat burners are very popular within the fitness industry and among people who look to lose weight. Thermogenic fat burners are the new hype on the market with different types of fat burners working in different ways.
Fat burners can do the following:
- May increase the amount of fat you burn during exercise
- Fat burners may reduce appetite so you eat fewer calories and lose weight
- Prevent weight gain after weight loss by impairing fat absorption
- Increase metabolism
- Block absorption of carbohydrates
In this article you will find out what thermogenic fat burners are and what they do, but we will also provide you with detailed recommendations so you can make the right decision for yourself. Please stay with us until the end so you can see our beautiful infographic about thermogenic fat burners.
What are thermogenic fat burners and what do they do?
Let’s firstly discuss what the word ‘thermogenesis’ means. Thermogenesis refers to the production of heat. Have you ever used a hair mask that heats up to repair your hair? Well, thermogenic fat burners work in a similar way. They generate heat within your body so you burn more calories at rest. For instance, let’s presume that throughout a day that involves running your daily errands, play with children or simply just cook, but not including any exercise, you will burn an average of 500 calories. If you took thermogenic fat burners or ate thermogenic foods then you’ll be able to burn more calories doing the exact same tasks. The more calories you burn per day, the more weight you lose.
A list of thermogenic fat burners
Caffeine is a natural derivative, normally found in coffee and tea but also in energy drinks and fizzy drinks. Most of the caffeinated beverages are extracted from coffee beans or tea leaves, some are also extracted from cacao beans. Caffeine stimulates our central nervous system to make us feel more energised.
The contents of caffeine, whether from drinks or supplements, may have a thermogenic effect as it breaks down fats and releases them into blood stream as free fatty acids. This process makes these fats primary sources of energy for exercise. Caffeine includes alkaloids and polyphenols which may also contribute to caffeine’s ability to break down the fats.
Content of caffeine
The list of alkaloids:
- Theobromine – causes increased sensitivity of the body fat to sympathetic stimulation as it acts as a vasodilator, increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles thus increasing sensitivity
- Paraxanthine – causes an increase in the release of fats into the blood which can be used as a source of fuel by muscles
- Theophylline – increases the contractibility, efficiency and heart rate of the heart muscle, also acts as a muscle relaxant
The list of polyphenols:
- Tannins – antioxidant
- Flavonoids – blocks fat absorption and increases calorie-burning (metabolism), regulates blood sugar and controls inflammation.
Studies and evidence
There was a 2016 study that looked into the effects of caffeine on fat burning and weight loss maintenance. It was found that consuming caffeine can significantly help with weight loss and weight loss maintenance (Isken et al, 2016).
There was another study done in 2018 that looked at the effects of polyphenols contained in the caffeinated tea on weight loss. It was found that caffeine activates AMPK enzyme which normally gets activated during exercise. This enzyme allows you to break down fats and use them for energy. It was also reported that the polyphenols were stronger in black tea compared to herbal teas (Rothernberg et al, 2018). Therefore, if you are looking to drink tea to help you lose weight, you may be better drinking black tea.
Both studies show that caffeinated drinks help with weight loss by breaking down fats and allowing them to be used as primary fuel for energy. When we say that, we mean that our body will be more efficient at burning fat, otherwise we would need to burn sugars and carbs first before our body can use body fat as fuel. Similarly to other studies, the results were quite positive. More studies are required to generate a conclusive answer if they are effective but so far, the studies are quite promising.
The recommended caffeine intake for adults is 200-250mg per day. Please bear in mind that an average 200ml cup of filtered coffee contains approximately 125mg of caffeine. So, having 2 small cups a day would be considered safe.
However, the dosage that was used in clinical studies to promote weight loss was mostly 20mg/ 200mg supplements taken 3 times per day.
Are caffeine supplements safe?
Doses up to 400mg per day are considered to be safe but any more than that can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach irritation and increased heart rate. If you take supplements in very high doses, your heart may experience irregular beats and may even cause death (Webmed.com, 2019)
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Tachycardia – increased and irregular heart beat
- Diuretic – increases urine production
- Hypothermia – occurs when body loses heat faster than it can produce.
Fucoxanthin is a compound found in edible brown seaweeds, and in most clinical studies (both persons and animal) the results have shown to be very positive and in favour of weight loss. Studies show that fucoxanthin speeds up metabolism by generating heat within the body.
In ‘Fat Loss Forever’ book, Dr Layne Norton (PHD) and Dr Baker (2019) discussed a study that ran for 16-weeks. The participants were women who were classed as obese or overweight in the BMI category. They ate at their maintenance calories over the whole trial and still managed to lose an average of 5kg. This is VERY impressive because eating at maintenance calories is supposed to maintain your current weight, not lose any weight.
Furthermore, a 2005 study also found that fucoxanthin up-regulated UCP1 uncoupling protein which reduces body fat. The study reported a significant reduction in body weight (Maeda et al, 2005). Another study done in 2010 was again a 16 week trial with 151 non-diabetic but obese women. The results showed a significant reduction of body weight, waist circumference and liver fat content (Abidov et al, 2010).
In the trials, the dosage used was 2.4mg of fucoxanthin and 300mg of pomegranate combined.
No significant side effects have yet been reported.
3. Green Tea Extract
Green tea contains high volumes of catechin polyphenols which are processed from non-fermented leaves. Different teas go through a different fermentation / non-fermention process, but all teas contain caffeine which is well known for breaking down body fat.
The catechins found in green tea are said to stimulate fat breakdown by inhibiting a certain enzyme which degrades norepinephrine. This process increases fat breakdown even further than just caffeine contained in coffee or other teas. If norepinephrine levels are low, you may experience ADHD (Attention, Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), depression and low blood pressure (Cathy Cassata, 2015).
Studies and evidence
There was a study done over 24 hours using 10 healthy male participants. This study found that Greet tea has thermogenic properties and encourages fat breakdown as the results show that it does not only generate heat and allows body to burn more calories but also breaks down fats and uses them as primary energy source. This means that most of the calories you’ll be burning will come from body fat (Dulloo et al, 1999).
In addition, there was a meta-analysis (study of studies) in 2011 that looked at 4 different studies regarding teas, caffeine and weight loss. The analysis found that three studies reported an increase to fat breakdown as a result of catechin polyphenols content (tea variations). Whereas one study reported no significant changes to metabolism or fat breakdown (Hursel et al, 2011). So, the results are a little mixed but drinking green tea has plenty of health benefits so drinking it will only have positive effects and take weight loss as a bonus.
During weight loss trials, most common and successful dosage was 400-500mg per day.
In conclusion, we identified the most researched, and the best thermogenic fat burners that we believe have enough research to back up their claims. It seems that thermogenic fat burners are showing positive results but we’d say that more research is required.
However, one thing we’d like to mention is that everybody responds differently. Some people may respond fast to some fat burners and others might not, so the best thing you can do is try one of them and see how you get on.
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Maeda, H., Hosokawa, M., Sashima, T., Funayama, K. and Miyashita, K. (2005). Fucoxanthin from edible seaweed, Undaria pinnatifida, shows antiobesity effect through UCP1 expression in white adipose tissues. [online] 332(2). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15896707?dopt=Abstract [Accessed 18 Jan. 2020].
Rothenberg, D., Zhou, C. and Zhang, L. (2018). A Review on the Weight-Loss Effects of Oxidized Tea Polyphenols. [online] 23(5). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29758009 [Accessed 18 Jan. 2020].
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