Whey protein, caffeine, green tea extract, yohimbe, etc. are the supplements that have the greatest amount of research to support their validity. 5-HTPS, MCTs, dietary fiber, theanine, and synephrine are secondary supplements that may work in some situations.
SUMMARY OF THERMOGENICS BACKED BY RESEARCH
Whey protein, caffeine, green tea extract, yohimbe, etc. are the thermogenics that have the greatest amount of research to support their validity.
5-HTPS, MCTs, dietary fiber, theanine, and synephrine are secondary thermogenics that may work in some situations.
TYPES OF ADIPOSE TISSUE
With the new year in progress, one of the most common goals is to lose weight. One of the most common misconceptions is that exercise is more important than diet to lose weight. Surveys of college students indicate that 30-90% consider exercise more important than diet for weight loss. (Malinauskas et al., 2006; Wharton et al., 2008)
Exercise is great for health, but realistic expectations should be considered. Well-established studies suggest that exercise alone is not likely to cause weight loss. (Pacy et al., 1986).
Weight Loss and Supplements
Many people on their weight loss journey look to natural ingredients and weight loss supplements (i.e., thermogenics) to reduce food cravings and burn stubborn fat. Still, this article will go thru the list of fat burner supplements/thermogenics and their research efficacy for fat loss.
Women are more likely to use thermogenics than men. In one polish survey, 84% of the respondents used energy drinks, and 60% used supplements as thermogenics. (Schlegel-Zawadzka & Barteczko, 2009)
Before examining the research on individual thermogenic supplements and their effect on body composition, let’s look at how to get rid of adipocytes (i.e., fat cells). There are three types of fat cells: white adipose tissue (i.e., the majority of our fat cells), brown adipose tissue (i.e., serves as a source of body heat), and beige adipose tissue.
Brown adipose tissue is activated by cold exposure and certain drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are actively looking for drugs to increase BAT and beige adipose tissue because they contribute to increased calorie burning and weight loss. (Whittle et al., 2013)
GETTING COLD TO LOSE FAT
City billboards display numerous ads for treatments that claim to reduce stomach fat using machines, including cooling devices like CoolSculpting. Instead of destroying fat cells, devices for Cryotherapy and cold exposure directly target the tissue to boost calorie burn through cold-induced thermogenesis. (Loap & Lathe, 2018) A 2015 literature review determined the safety and effectiveness of cryolipolysis for localized fat reduction. (Ingargiola et al., 2015) Researchers have shown that ice baths and cold water immersion can decrease body fat levels. (Espeland et al., 2022)
HOW TO SHRINK FAT CELLS
Most people think of fat cells like a piece of butter on a hot pan; you are melting fat when you exercise. Fat cells, unfortunately, don’t magically burn off; fat cell shrink, or they can expand. (Turcotte, 2000) We don’t lose fat cells; we empty our fat cells.
Fat cells are more like a balloon. The fat cell stays right where it is (i.e., arm, legs, stomach), but when on a calorie-restricted diet and exercise program, fat is liberated from the fat cell, and the fat cell becomes smaller. Thus, shrinking fat cells is how people look leaner and why it is hard to see muscle definition with high body fat.
FAT BURNERS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Dietary supplements or thermogenics are advocated to “melt fat” or “burn fat” are commonly marketed to aid in weight loss. The best fat burner for men and women commonly has ingredients suggested to increase fat metabolism, burn more calories, and increase energy. Fat burners commonly called thermogenics contain caffeine, black pepper extract, green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, carnitine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and chromium.
Thermogenicscan be divided into four categories: energy enhancers, protein and amino acids, adrenergic enhancers, and lean mass enhancers. (El-Zayat et al., 2019) Thermogenic supplements stimulate weight loss through several molecular mechanisms, mainly boosting metabolism and suppressing appetite.
Primary thermogenics (best safety-efficacy profile) should be the first-choice supplements.
Whey protein and Casein supplements.
The benefits of having adequate protein for increasing lean muscle mass and fat loss are backed by numerous research studies. (Leidy et al., 2015; Moon & Koh, 2020; Te Morenga & Mann, 2012)
Protein supplements such as whey protein have been shown to increase calories burned by increasing metabolic rate. Protein has a greater thermic effect of food (i.e., the amount of energy expended during digestion which increases overall calories burned). Whey protein has also been shown to increase several appetite-reducing hormones such as GLP-1, Ghrelin, etc. (Mollahosseini et al., 2017; Rigamonti et al., 2019)
People looking for weight loss should get at least .6-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Protein intake should be evenly distributed throughout the day, with 20-40 grams per meal. (Jäger et al., 2017)
Caffeine is a stimulant and thermogenic. Iu can increase heat production and fat mobilization. A 2019 review of the literature found that caffeine intake was associated with weight loss and body fat reduction. (Tabrizi et al., 2019)
Green Tea Extract (ECGC) is associated with modulations of fat metabolism and consequent weight loss. Many companies will refer to green tea as a natural thermogenic. Studies have found that green tea extract has been found to enhance fat metabolism and fat loss. (Lin et al., 2020; Rondanelli et al., 2021)
Yohimbe is an alpha-2-receptor antagonist (a2-blocker), which causes an increase in the body’s noradrenaline production (i.e., fight or flight response). A previous study showed that in a group of football players who used yohimbine, there was no improvement in performance; however, a slight effect of this compound on the reduction of adipose tissue was demonstrated. (Ostojic, 2006) Side effects are associated with yohimbe, such as increased
Secondary supplements (Maybe be helpful) may provide fat loss benefits. These should not be first-choice supplements.
5-HTP is a supplement shown to raise serotonin, help with mood, and reduce cravings. A 2020 study found that 100 mg of 5-HTP led to significant reductions in body fat, but not lean body mass, total body water, and % body fat. (Evans et al., 2022)
Dietary Fiber is necessary for health and wellness. Fiber has been suggested to reduce appetite. A 2022 study found that not all fibers are the same. The study found that different fibers had different effects on blood lipids. A variety of fibers should be included in the diet for optimal health. (Vuksan et al., 2011)
MCT is a class of fatty acids that are metabolized faster than regular fatty acids. MCTs are commonly found in coconut oil but can also be found in palm oil and dairy products. A 2021 review of the literature found that MCTs can reduce food intake, but the mechanism is unclear because MCTs do not decrease appetite or hormones related to appetite. (Maher & Clegg, 2021)
Synephrine is the most commonly used species in dietary supplements is C. aurantium. Synephrine is a close structural analog of ephedrine. It is often used in combination with caffeine in most fat burners. Studies have shown that acute synephrine results in enhanced fat mobilization. (Gutiérrez-Hellín & Del Coso, 2016)
A 2012 review of the literature found that synephrine was associated with increased metabolic rate and burned calories with a modest decrease in weight loss. (Stohs et al., 2012)
Theanine is often included in fat burners, not because it directly stimulates fat loss but because it reduces the stimulating effects of caffeine, resulting in a calming effect. (Dodd et al., 2015; Hidese et al., 2019)
Promising supplements have less evidence for their effects. These ingredients include guarana and yerba mate.
Unproven supplements (no research to support claims of fat loss).
Berberine, Coleus forskohlii, green coffee extract, fucoxanthin, raspberry ketones, hoodia gordonii, garcinia cambogia
There are risks associated with thermogenics. A 2021 review of the literature found that pre-workouts, thermogenics, brain boosters, and hormone boosters have the highest risk of containing harmful substances; some have been associated with life-threatening consequences. (Jędrejko et al., 2021) Furthermore, a 2021 review of the literature examining fat burners found limited evidence for using thermogenics in overweight individuals. (Clark & Welch, 2021)
Any supplement should be at the very top of the pyramid, whereas diet and exercise will be the foundation of fat loss. Plenty of studies show that diet and exercise alone can reduce body fat, whereas fat burners may contribute to fat loss. Always check with a qualified medical professional before deciding to take any thermogenic.
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