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Fat Loss: Do Fat Burning Supplements Actually Work? 12 Fat Loss Ingredients To Look Out For

Fat Loss: Do Fat Burning Supplements Actually Work? 12 Fat Loss Ingredients To Look Out For

Quick Summary

  • All fat loss ingredients aren't created equal, and the purpose of this article is to give you the low-down on some of the most common fat-burning compounds, what they are, how they work, and some guidance on optimal dose ranges.
  • Green Coffee Extract derives its benefits from a particular compound known as Chlorogenic Acid, which has been shown to assist in reducing body weight (Thom, 2007) and lowering blood pressure through vascular support (Watanabe et al.
  • A fairly well-known compound and a powerful stimulant with a list a mile long that highlights its use in improving strength, endurance, focus and of course, its fat-burning capacity.

When it comes to Fat loss supplements, the marketing is absolutely saturated, and it can be hard to understand and decipher what works and what doesn’t.

Honestly, when it comes to Australian supplements, most do include some pretty good fat-burning ingredients, but it’s always good to know why, how and what to look out for.

All fat loss ingredients aren’t created equal, and the purpose of this article is to give you the low-down on some of the most common fat-burning compounds, what they are, how they work, and some guidance on optimal dose ranges.

Let’s jump straight in shall we?

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

Possibly one of the most common ingredients added to fat loss supplements, and although the research is mixed, shows some strong additional benefits in depression, muscular endurance and supporting energy production.

What is ALCAR?
ALCAR is best known in the body for its ability to shuttle long-chain fatty acids (fats) into the mitochondria for use as energy.

How does ALCAR Help burn fat?
It’s thought that supplementation with ALCAR will help the body utilise fat more effectively, although research shows this tends to only be most beneficial when paired with exercise (Karanth & Jeevaratnam, 2010).

That being said, there is also strong evidence for ALCAR’s ability to lower inflammation and support blood glucose levels, which could further assist in weight loss, energy and even depression (Ruggenenti et al., 2009).

Optimal dose range to look out for
When looking for ALCAR in supplements, a daily intake of 630-2,500mg is recommended to get the most benefits.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Switch Nutrition Acetyl L-Carnitine 100g

Green Tea Extract

Green Tea itself has been shown to have positive effects on every aspect of health, including various cardioprotective, anti-diabetic, liver protective benefits, and of course, some fairly solid evidence of its potent fat-burning potential.

What is Green Tea Extract?
Green Tea Extract in this scenario refers to water-soluble polyphenols (known as catechins) found in green tea, which are thought to exert most of the therapeutic benefits when consumed.

How does Green Tea help burn fat?
The fat-burning benefits of green tea are measured by the Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) content, and it’s thought that this compound helps to upregulate fat-burning pathways (Hursel et al., 2011), although it’s heavily dose-dependent.

Some studies also suggest that for EGCG to be effective, some level of trace caffeine must be present (Hursel et al., 2009).

EGCG may also help with insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and blood flow, which could create additional downstream effects in terms of weight loss.

Optimal dose range to look out for
When looking for Green Tea in supplements, you want to make sure it lists the EGCG/catechin content around 400-500mg daily. Trace caffeine may also be required so trend carefully on “zero caffeine” formulas.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
UM Sports HEAT Thermogenic Energy Formula

Green Coffee Extract

Green Coffee Extract is added to many supplements and is derived from Green Coffee Beans. On top of its fat-burning properties, it’s also commonly used for its ability to support and protect cardiovascular health.

What is Green Coffee Extract?
Green Coffee Extract derives its benefits from a particular compound known as Chlorogenic Acid, which has been shown to assist in reducing body weight (Thom, 2007) and lowering blood pressure through vascular support (Watanabe et al., 2006).

How does Green Coffee Extract help burn fat?
Although studies are a little unclear, it’s speculated that Chlorogenic acid assists in fat loss through supporting glucose metabolism and fatty acid oxidation (burning) in the liver.

It’s also best to note that its effects were most potent in overweight subjects, and lean individuals have not been studied extensively enough.

Optimal dose range to look out for
Optimal doses of Green Coffee Extract are dose-dependent based on the chlorogenic acid content. A supplement with approximately 20% chlorogenic acid requires a daily intake of 600-1,500mg, and up to 50% can be as low as 240-600mg daily.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Maple Life Sciences Green Coffee Bean Extract 55% Chlorogenic Acid

Caffeine

A fairly well-known compound and a powerful stimulant with a list a mile long that highlights its use in improving strength, endurance, focus and of course, its fat-burning capacity.

What is Caffeine?
Natural sources of caffeine from coffee beans, but it’s also commonly synthesised in a lab with identical benefits. Habitual caffeine leads to tolerance, which may blunt its effects.

High caffeine intake may lead to chronically high cortisol, and some evidence may suggest excess cortisol to be counterintuitive to weight and fat loss (Thau & Sandeep Sharma, 2019).

How does Caffeine help burn fat?
Caffeine promotes fat loss through its ability to increase metabolic rate, although there appears to be a rate of diminishing returns due to habitual intake and tolerance. 

Caffeine is best used in acute supplementation and should not be relied on for long-term weight loss (Westerterp-Plantenga et al., 2005). 

Optimal dose range to look out for
If you are new to caffeinated fat loss supplements, 100mg or half dose’s should be used to assess tolerance. Most efficacious fat-burning supplements sit at around 100-200mg per recommended daily intake.

Despite dose, many benefits have a rate of diminishing returns due to caffeine tolerance.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
UM Sports HEAT Thermogenic Energy Formula

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a herbal compound found in chilli peppers that is commonly added to many fat loss supplements due to its potent ability to burn fat.

What is Capsaicin?
Capsaicin is a molecule found in chilli peppers and uses its thermogenic effects to burn body fat (Shin & Moritani, 2007), lower inflammation and may even assist in preventing cancer, although evidence is slightly dated (Jang et al., 1989).

How does Capsaicin help burn fat?
Capsaicin induces heat production via the stimulation of neurons, this is otherwise described in simpler terms as thermogenesis (Shin & Moritani, 2007). It also appears to reduce the accumulation of triglycerides in fat cells even at low dose concentrations (Zhang et al., 2007).

Optimal dose range to look out for
Although the dose varies for this one, most studies list between 2 – 6 mg capsaicin daily.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Bulk Supplements Cayenne Extract Powder (Capsaicin Extract) 100g

Coleus forskohlii

Coleus is a herb used in traditional medicine and is a fairly common ingredient added to fat loss supplements due to its unique ability to burn fat.

What is Coleus forskohlii?
Coleus derives historically from Ayurvedic medicine and contains an active ingredient known as forskolin.

Forskolin, although measured for its fat loss potential, also may increase testosterone (Godard et al., 2005) and help protect against cancer (Agarwal & Parks, 1983), although more research is required on this one.

How does Coleus forskohlii help burn fat?
Through the active ingredient forskolin, Coleus is able to increase levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) in the body, with higher levels associated with increased fat loss (Costford et al., 2010).

Forskolin also appears to work synergetically with other fat-burning compounds, meaning it may improve the fat loss potential of other ingredients.

Optimal dose range to look out for
500mg daily is recommended in supplements that contain 10% forskolin. 

Product recommendation with this ingredient
UM Sports HEAT Thermogenic Energy Formula

Hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB)

HMB is a common ingredient added to sports recovery supplements, but interestingly, it also has some downstream effects when it comes to weight loss and fat reduction.

Learn more about HMB here.

What is HMB?
HMB is a metabolite of an amino acid leucine, one of three branched-chain amino acids. Although HMB’s primary use is its ability to prevent muscle breakdown, some of these effects ripple into fat loss.

How does HMB help burn fat?
The fat loss potential of HMB is based on its ability to recover faster and promote more lean mass (Thomson et al., 2009). When this happens, we shift the ratio of muscle to body fat, which results in fat reduction.

Optimal dose range to look out for
The optimal dose of HMB based on muscular recovery and growth is 3,000mg daily.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
UM Sports Resurrect 1kg

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA has been used as a fat-burning ingredient for quite some time due to mechanisms on a receptor involved in fat reduction and glucose metabolism.

What is CLA?
The term CLA refers to a group of fatty acids that have the ability to induce fat loss. More studies may be required as some results appear to be unreliable or contradicting, although mechanisms seem promising.

How does CLA help burn fat?
Isomers found in CLA bind and activate a receptor known as Peroxisome Proliferator activated Receptor alpha (PPARa). When these receptors are activated, studies have shown a reduction in lipids in the liver, and a reduction in overall body fat (Watras et al., 2007).

Optimal dose range to look out for
The optimal dose range for CLA is between 3,200mg-6,400mg daily, taken with meals.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Body Ripped CLA 100g

Choline

Choline is most known for its cognitive boosting and liver health properties, although its liver supporting benefits may show promising when it comes to reducing fatty acid buildup.

Learn more about Choline here.

What is Green Tea Extract?
Choline is an essential nutrient found in beef liver, eggs and soybean, and is vital for healthy brain function, lipid transport and metabolism.

How does Choline help burn fat?
The fat loss benefits of choline come purely from its essential actions in transporting and assisting the metabolism of fat in the liver (Zhu et al., 2014).

When our liver functions optimally, our overall metabolism does too, and this allows us to process things like glucose, fat and toxins far easier, leading to an easier weight loss journey.

Optimal dose range to look out for
Doses typically found in supplements range from 250mg-500mg daily.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Nature’s Way Choline 100 Tablets

Inositol

Inositol is used commonly as a dietary supplement to support female fertility but has also been used for restoring insulin resistance, which may assist in fat loss.

What is Inositol?
Also referred to as Myo-inositol, this compound shares a similar structure to glucose and has shown to be effective in treating insulin resistance (Genazzani et al., 2012).

Restoring insulin resistance helps the body overall to process glucose, which alone can promote weight loss, and inadvertently, fat loss.

How does Inositol burn fat?
Inositol appears to accelerate fat loss through its ability to restore insulin function in insulin-resistant individuals. Studies on inositol are primarily done on women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and one common characteristic of this disease state is insulin resistance (Caputo et al., 2020).

This means that Inositol may only be effective in individuals who are insulin-resistant or have type-2 diabetes. 

Optimal dose range to look out for
The optimal dose range is 2,000-3,000mg based on studies in women with PCOS.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Life Extension Inositol 360 Caps

Chromium

Chromium is one of many essential minerals and helps to regulate glucose metabolism and ensure healthy insulin function.

What is Chromium?
Chromium is a trace mineral found in food, and its core function is to regulate insulin in the body, which may restore insulin sensitivity and promote weight loss in overweight individuals (Onakpoya et al., 2013).

How does Chromium help burn fat?
Similar to inositol, chromium has shown to have a modest reduction in weight loss in overweight adults due to its ability to restore insulin function (Tian et al., 2013).

This means again like inositol, chromium may be best used in already overweight individuals, and could theoretically be less effective in leaner adults if the goal is fat loss.

Optimal dose range to look out for
The optimal dose is 1,000 mcg taken twice daily.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Herbs of Gold Chromium MAX 120 Capsules

Garcinia Extract (Hydroxycitric Acid)

Garcinia has been added to fat loss and weight control supplements due to its ability to improve glucose and fatty acid metabolism (Sripradha, 2015).

What is Garcinia Extract?
Also known as Garcinia Cambogia (Malabar Tamarind), which is a fruit used traditionally in foods, although its source of Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA) is thought to also assist in weight loss.

How does Garcinia help burn fat?
Garcinia is thought to inhibit the synthesis and undesirable deposition of fat due to the HCA component.

HCA inhibits an enzyme involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, and it’s thought that mediating this pathway could assist in fat loss (Hayamizu et al., 2003).

It’s best to note that some recent more comprehensive studies state that HCA may only be an effective strategy short-term (Onakpoya et al., 2011).

Optimal dose range to look out for
The optimal dose including bioactive forms of HCA is 500mg three times daily prior to a meal.

Product recommendation with this ingredient
Life Extension Garcinia HCA 90 Capsules

Summary

Fat loss supplements are a big industry, and it can often be easy to get lost in the noise of all the fancy ingredients touted to burn fat fast.

I hope this article has given you better insight and direction on ingredients that may work best for your situation, and select the supplement better suited to you.

Clarity is here to help, so please use the resources we offer, and if you have any questions, do reach out.

References

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