Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 15, 2021

Let's face it, the entire industry around weight loss supplements is full of dodgy snake oil, but that doesn't mean you should discredit all of them.

Two of the products we mainly see clients have success with are fat burners and fat binders.

And to help you figure out which type might have the better ingredient profile, we've put together this guide with the help of our resident trainers and nutritionists.

Let's start with a few definitions.

What Does A Fat Burner Do?

A bottle of Fat burner supplement

A fat burner is a supplement that uses natural ingredients to trigger your metabolism into processing more fat.

Thermogenesis is the main reaction that these fat burners aim for, and this is a completely natural process.

What it means is that your body slightly increases its core temperature, and it achieves this by making your metabolism source more energy in fat storage.

Different fat burners rely on a mix of stimulating and non-stimulating ingredients, but they generally work on this metabolism principle.

Side effects are generally considered to be very limited, which is why fat burners have become favored diet supplements.

Fat burners we recommend trying:

What Does A Fat Binder Do?

A bottle of Fat binder supplement

Fat binders, on the other hand, work by triggering processes in your digestive system.

These supplements aim to trap fat in your stomach and limit how much your body absorbs and processes.

It's almost like dietary fiber, which passes through your digestive tract without being absorbed or broken down.

From a diet perspective, fat binders impact your macros and calorie intake while having a limited impact on what you actually eat.

It's important to note that fat binders won't do anything for your stored body fat.

3 Main Differences

We've broken this section down into three areas to give you a better picture of the difference between fat burners and fat binders.

1. Benefits

woman measuring her stomach with a measuring tape

Let's start with fat binders.

As already mentioned, they work in your stomach and attach to fat molecules in your digestive system.

And because fat has a high calorie-density (9 calories per 1 gram of fat), you end up reducing how many calories your body processes.

Fat burners, on the other hand, work by boosting your metabolism and tricking it into burning off stored fat, and increasing your energy levels.

Both can contribute to weight loss efforts, but it's important to know that a fat binder doesn't help you reduce all those existing love handles.

Also Read:

2. Side Effects

man with his bloated stomach showing

Starting with fat binders again, some of the side effects people have reported include:

  • Bloating,
  • Cramping,
  • Gas, and
  • Diarrhea.

Speaking of the diarrhea issue, we've covered the topic on our blog: Can Fat Burners Cause Diarrhea?

Certainly not something you want to experience in the middle of an exercise routine.

When it comes to fat burners, you have to be careful to look out for stimulants.

While ingredients like caffeine may work wonders to burn off extra energy [1], they might increase your chances of high blood pressure and keep you awake at night.

"Caffeine appears to increase energy use even when you're at rest. It stimulates thermogenesis — one way your body generates heat and energy from digesting food."  - Katherine Zeratsky, Registered Dietician.

3. Supplement Form

The majority of fat binders and fat burners that we have tested come as a capsule.

You usually take a few of them each day and spread out the dose throughout the day so that your body has a continuous effect from them.

You'll find a few that come as a powder that you mix with water or a smoothie, but we find the capsules tend to be a lot more convenient.

FAQs

Do fat burners actually burn fat?

Yes, some fat burners actually burn fat. They do this by triggering your metabolism to boost certain thermogenic processes.

At the same time, fat burners aren't an option to try and lose a ton of weight while sitting on the couch eating junk food. It's just a small boost when combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan.

Other good fat burners: Best Fat Burning Supplements without Stimulants

Is Chitosan a Fat Binder?

Yes, Chitosan is a fat binder that claims to help in combination with a weight loss diet.

Fat binders like this bind to fat cells to reduce their absorption and force them through your stomach, just like what happens to fiber.

Fat Burner vs Fat Binder: Which Is Better?

There is no magic pill to deal with stubborn belly fat.

But there are some pills that might make your weight loss efforts just a little bit easier.

Our experience has been that fat burners and fat binders complement each other.

The binders may help you reduce weight gain, while the burners may actively help to reduce the fat cells in our bodies.

Just keep in mind that there are people who are sensitive to stimulants and that they might cause stomach upset.


References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/caffeine/faq-20058459

About the author

  • Thanks for this article! But Isaac, if you’re going to pick between noom vs weight watchers, what would you choose for your own lifestyle? What app is better for weight loss?

    • Hi Lisa! I will choose Noom because of its better calorie tracking and coaching features. It’s also easy to use and cost effective. This app is focused to help you in your weight loss journey!

  • I was a member of another program for a few years and got down to my goal weight. But things suddenly changed. They started changing their program too many times until it confused the hell out of me. One day I decided not to stay a member. They missed the mark when they decided that certain foods would be zero points even though they are not; a zero point orange actually must have a point, right? But the zero points makes you think it will have no impact on your goal. Nevertheless, with this words from Isaac. I was totally convinced that my decision before was correct. I will now switch to this app and start rebuilding myself. Thanks you, Isaac!

  • A subscription model app to help lose weight seems ridiculous and a great way to bleed people dry who are unable to take responsibility for what they put in their mouths. While tracking and awareness provided by this app can help, an app won’t do squat if you are not committed to changing your behavior. Lack of long term/permanent behavior changes cannot be fixed by an app, but it will provide the failed weight loss person with something other than themselves to blame for failure. I’ve been there. I’ve had and maintained very significant weight loss for 25 years so I do have some idea what I am talking about. But I definitely agree with Isaac on this one. I will want you guys to try the mobile app out. Let us know what you have experienced with these programs

  • I like the flexibility of phone and computer accessibilities of the two programs. The previous program I had mainly because of the group meetings, leader encouragement and member interaction with ideas. To be honest, I love using this new program on their mobile app for tracking. My main dislike of the previous program is not knowing my total daily intake of food contents at a glance. A point that this program emphasizes doesn’t educate me. So I sort of left it and joined this new program with their mobile app. Slowly losing, so for me it’s working. Will keep you updated Isaac.

  • Thank you so much Isaac for taking the time to compare these two programs which everyone is debating on. In my experience, I have been a member of one of the two programs for several years. I did great and lost a lot of weight, but then they changed the program without asking if you were interested in changing to a different version of the plan which kinda sucks. I have not had very good luck staying on the new version of the program. Now I have gained weight on a vacation. I have thought about giving this other program with the mobile app a try, but I am so glad that I read the information that you have posted before subscribing to it. I only have a flip phone, and have no desire to have a smart phone… But due to your thoughts, I am willing to buy a smart phone just for this mobile app. Thank you so much for outlining how this mobile app works!

  • Thanks for sharing your well-thought-out assessment and comparison of the two programs. I tried the mobile app program. But I found the app-only aspect to be a big negative. While I was excited to try something new and was encouraged by the concept of a coach, I wasn’t able to successfully navigate the app on the small screen of my phone. I quit after three days when my frustration level regarding the technology aspect just overwhelmed me. I would have been more interested had they offered a format I could have used on my laptop with a larger screen. I am 63 years old. Perhaps, I do not fit the mobile app profile of happy app users as it is difficult for me for my age. Nonetheless, thanks again for your great comparison, Sir Robertson. Hoping to find the program that best fits me.

  • I started signing up for the mobile app in summer of 2019 and lost the a handful of weight. I struggled for years to get rid of but with patience. I found the app very smart at helping to uncover the reasons and triggers that drive mindless eating. But you won’t reach that understanding in a week. I was motivated to take the time to lose the weight slowly and did so in about three months. The daily interactive discussions are well-written, clever and engaging and as you get further into the app, require more thought and participation to find out what makes you tick when it comes to food. You start out stating clear goals about what you want to change in your relationship to food. I have also had epiphanies about other aspects of my life that have been borne of these daily discussions. Aside from this app, I had another program I ever had success with losing my extra kilos. However, I think this mobile app is even smarter and more effective compared to the other program I had. As a matter of fact, it also turns out to be cheaper than the other capitalist program. After years of going in and out of that expensive program, I found the meetings stale and mostly a gab session of people sharing tips about the latest pre-packaged products sold by the program and how many points they were. On the other hand, this mobile app focused me on adding much more green food into my already healthy food plan. I am a huge fan of this mobile app. Thanks Isaac. I totally agree with you on this one!

  • I was a chronic participant of the older program, and I lose and gain. I join and quit. I can’t stick with the program because they change annually. They say they change, but it’s relearning over and over. They were inconsistent which made me inconsistent in return. For good, I stopped all at once and rested for a while. Then, I decided to try the new mobile app after finding out your overview about it. I fell in love with it. I totally loved it. I loved the daily tools – they were whimsical and kept my attention. Also, the coaches were great and the group I was assigned to were from all walks of life. This was daily, so it did keep me more on track. I was able to convince my wife and we will be nerds together for this app.

  • Hi, thanks for your insight Isaac. I joined the program for over 25 years and though it did work I always went back to eating again and gained weight. Thus the 25 years wasted!! My daughter has lost over 50+ pounds while using the mobile app and she loves it. As jealous of her, I am trying it now and love it as well. I feel it really teaches you better choices in food and their system really works. Change your way of thinking about food really makes a huge difference. This is what I learned after joining the mobile app.