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Are Fat Burners Natty? (Basics Explained)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Some of my fitness clients participate in competitions outside the gym and want to make sure whatever they put in their bodies isn’t going to get them banned.

Many of them use fat burners for cutting phases before they compete, but they often check in with me to ask if “fat burner XYZ” is natty.

So, I got together with our dietician to closely examine the most common ingredients in these supplements and whether sports federations allow them or not.

Read on to find out if fat burners meet the definition of natty.

Quick Summary

  • Fat burners, pre-workouts, and other supplements generally contain ingredients easily obtained through food, so most people consider them natty.
  • A small group of bodybuilders believes that no supplement is natural or “natty”.
  • Sport’s largest governing bodies do not ban fat-burning supplements.

Are All Fat Burners Natty?

Close up image of yellow supplements

Fat burners are natty because they are allowed in natural bodybuilding competitions.

However, there is a small percentage of bodybuilders who believe that taking any supplement is not natural.

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be natty.

What Is Natty?

Natty is a slang term used in bodybuilding to describe something or someone as natural, as in not using banned substances like anabolic steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Most people generally accept the previous statement as an accurate definition of natty, but as with anything, there are differing opinions.

Some people in the bodybuilding world say that to be natty, you must not use a fat burner, pre-workout, or any other supplement.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

Many supplements contain natural ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that people naturally get through their diets by eating fish, red meat, fruits, and vegetables.

So, is something unnatural (unnatty) if you can consume it through food? In my opinion, no.

Are Fat Burners Considered Steroids?

A man holding anabolic steroid shot and supplement pills

Fat burners are not steroids. In bodybuilding, when people refer to steroids, they are talking about anabolic steroids, the synthetic version of male testosterone.

Common anabolics include Dianabol, Anadrol, Winstrol, and Deca-Durabolin.

Unlike anabolic steroids, fat burners are not synthetic but a formula of all-natural ingredients to promote fat burning, usually by increasing energy, promoting thermogenesis, and boosting metabolism.

Common ingredients in these supplements to promote fat burning are:

“Green tea extract is simply concentrated green tea. It contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and caffeine, which can help you burn fat through thermogenesis.”

- Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN

Are Fat-burning Supplements Drugs?

Fat-burning supplements are generally not considered to be drugs, but others may view the definition found on the National Cancer Institute website as relevant to supplements [1].

Here it is:

Drug: Any substance (other than food) that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat, or relieve symptoms of a disease or abnormal condition.

Drugs can also affect how the brain and the rest of the system work and cause changes in mood, awareness, thoughts, feelings, or behavior.

Some types of drugs, such as opioids, may be abused or lead to addiction.

It boils down to the ingredients found in fat burners being easily obtained through diet, making the product natural and not a drug like narcotics or prescription medications.

Are Fat-burning Supplements Banned Substances?

Fat-burning supplements are not banned substances by some of the largest governing bodies in sports:

  • World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
  • International Olympic Committee (IOC)
  • NCAA
  • World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF)

Examples of Unnatty Bodybuilding Substances

Close up image of white supplement pills

Having established what is considered natty in bodybuilding, let’s take a brief look at some common substances in the bodybuilding world that are unnatty.

Growth Hormones

Hormones like HGH (Human Growth Hormone), insulin, and IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1) are  banned substances by sports governing bodies, including WNBF.

Commonly, users misuse growth hormones in tandem with steroids to build muscle and enhance athletic performance [2].

Hormone Precursors

Hormone precursors convert to other hormones in the body, including testosterone. A common one is Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) [3]. DHEA is available in synthetic form and is used to enhance athletic performance.

The WNBF bans hormone precursors.

Anabolic Steroids

When people think of banned substances, steroids are probably the first to come to mind. Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetic versions of testosterone.

When misused to enhance athletic performance, users take steroids at 10 to 100 times the amount prescribed for valid medical purposes [4]. Anabolic steroids are illegal without a prescription, and all sports organizations I know of ban them.

FAQs

Can You Take Fat-Burning Supplements Every Day?

You can take fat-burning supplements every day for a brief window of about four to six weeks. The manufacturers design these supplements for short-term use to boost fat-burning processes when needed.

Do Bodybuilders Take Fat Burners?

Many bodybuilders take fat burners because they contribute to weight loss and muscle definition. Fat burners are one of the most popular supplements among bodybuilders because they contain all-natural ingredients and can be used during competition.

So, Are Fat Burners Natural?

Most people in bodybuilding circles, myself included, would say that fat burners are natural and a great way to enhance your gym efforts when your body needs that little extra boost.

Here at Total Shape, we understand countless supplements flood the market, and the fat-burning niche is no different, which is why we do the research for you. After extensively testing numerous fat burners, we compiled a list of the best.

Check out these lists to find our #1 pick.


References:

  1. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/drug
  2. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/human-growth-hormone-hgh
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-dhea/art-20364199
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/anabolicsteroids.html
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