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Fat Burners vs. Coffee:
What’s the Difference?

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 13, 2021

From waking you up in the morning in your favorite cup to being your favorite flavor of the dessert, coffee has established a reputation for having many uses.

What you might not know is that it can also be used as a fat loss stimulant. To find out just how effective it is for weight loss, we’ve spent hours researching what fitness experts and health professionals have to say.

Read on to find out how coffee matches up against fat burners.

2 Weight Loss Ingredients in Coffee

Coffee helps you burn fat as it contains lots of active ingredients that help with weight loss and shedding of calories.

These ingredients include caffeine and chlorogenic acid, with caffeine being the most significant fat loss component.

1. Caffeine

Coffee beans pouring out of a glass

Caffeine works by increasing your body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), stimulating your nervous system, and lowering your appetite.

Caffeine increases metabolic rate and makes you burn calories much faster than usual, resulting in quicker weight loss.

Additionally, caffeine consumption stimulates the nervous system to release hormones and neurotransmitters like epinephrine (aka adrenaline).

As caffeine provides high bursts of energy that can be directed into physical activities, people can take caffeine to exercise with less fatigue and greater efficiency.

Lastly, caffeine helps suppress your appetite and reduces the amount of food you eat.

This is one reason why coffee is such a great addition to any diet and exercise plan - by limiting the number of calories ingested, your body is forced to burn fat reserves for energy.

2. Chlorogenic Acid

A glass mug of coffee with coffee beans surrounding it

The second ingredient in coffee is chlorogenic acid, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and reduces blood glucose levels.

Chlorogenic acid also aids in combating medical conditions like dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypertension and regulating the body’s metabolism [1].

According to journal researchers, “chlorogenic acid has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, antidyslipidemia, antidiabetic, and antihypertensive properties, which can serve for the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome and associated disorders. The double role of chlorogenic acid [acts] as a nutraceutical and food additive [making] it an excellent candidate for the formulation of dietary supplements and functional foods.” - Jesus Santana-Galvez, Ph.D. in Biotechnology

How Do Fat Burners Work?

Falling supplements and scattering around

Fat burners work by directly targeting stored fats while increasing metabolism, fat expenditure and preventing additional fats from being deposited into your fat reserves.

Usually in the form of diet pills that promote fat loss, these products contain various bioactive components. They are designed to help you lose weight and achieve fitness goals in a shorter amount of time.

According to Mayo Clinic publications, using fat burners alongside a healthy diet and strict training program is the best way to cut weight with effectiveness and ensure health benefits [2].

Additionally, they come with a variety of active ingredients depending on the supplement manufacturer. The effects of these ingredients vary, with the most common effects inducing thermogenesis, lipolysis, and appetite suppression.

1. Thermogenesis

Compressing the stomach with measuring tape

Thermogenesis is the process in which the body generates heat. In order to do so, your body needs to burn calories.

Thermogenics are the fat burners that initiate this process by boosting the metabolism.  Thermogenic process increases the conversion of fats into heat energy, resulting in increased weight loss.

2. Lipolysis

Lipolysis is an enzyme-controlled process where stored fats are broken down into energy.

Under normal circumstances, glucose is the body’s preferred source of fuel. However, some fat burners work by preventing or limiting the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

As a result, this deficit forces the body to convert stored fats into energy, which is a great way to shred belly fat.

3. Appetite Suppression

Measuring the stomach size with a measuring tape

Some fat loss drugs work by suppressing food appetite. As overeating is one of the biggest reasons for weight gain, suppressing it is another weight loss strategy to consider.

Fat-burning supplements do this in two ways: they either suppress ghrelin, the hormone that controls appetite, or raise leptin, a hormone secreted from your fat cells, which are responsible for making you feel full.

Both methods help limit the amount of food ingested and prevent extra calories from entering your body.

After all, it’s one thing to resist eating a chocolate fudge sundae; and another to be so full you don’t even want it.

7 Weight Loss Ingredients in Fat Burners

The most common ingredients include caffeine, l carnitine, extract of the green tea, glucomannan, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), yohimbine, and forskolin.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant naturally found in beverages like coffee, tea, and cocoa products.

Caffeine has lots of beneficial effects; however, the body develops a tolerance for the effects of caffeine over time.

2. L Carnitine

A 3D sample of an L-carnitine supplement

L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in the bodies of mammals.

The purpose of L-Carnitine is to transport fatty acids to the mitochondria to facilitate oxidation.

When taken as a supplement, it enhances your metabolism and the fat breakdown process.

3. Green Tea Extract

Green tea leaves contain epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which stimulates the body to release neurotransmitters such as epinephrine and dopamine.

As a result, these neurotransmitters initiate the thermogenic process, which also aids in the fat-burning process.

4. Glucomannan

Konjac tree on a forest

Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber extracted from the roots of the elephant yam, better known as konjac.

This ingredient is used in traditional Japanese medicine to treat constipation and also functions as a food thickener.

It is effective in the absorption of carbohydrates and cholesterol, thereby aiding in weight loss.

5. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA is a poly-unsaturated fatty acid found in vegetable oils and dairy products.

CLA helps you lose weight by inhibiting fat production, enhancing the breaking down of stored fats, and reducing food intake by suppressing appetite.

6. Yohimbine

A yohimbine wood chips

Yohimbine is derived from the bark of the yohimbe tree. Its main purpose is to improve blood flow and circulation.

Besides being used to treat impotence in male patients, it is an effective fat-burning compound that increases fat metabolism.

Common side effects of yohimbine include an increased heart rate, sweating, and adrenaline rush.

7. Forskolin

Extracted from the root of the plant known as coleus forskohlii, this compound has been used in traditional herbal medicines for centuries.

It is a natural remedy for ailments such as obesity, cancer, asthma, sleep troubles, high blood pressure, and more.

In terms of how it does help you lose weight, this compound is an extreme appetite suppressor, improves energy levels, boosts metabolism, and works well with other dietary supplements like garcinia cambogia.

If you consider adding fat burners to supplement your workout routine, here are a few ones you should check out:

Fat Burners Pros & Cons

As with all stimulant fat burners, it comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here’s a list of the ones you’ll want to know about.

Pros
  • Fat burners effectively contribute to your weight loss journey and general body transformation. They complement the effort put into workouts and dieting, giving you accelerated weight loss results.
  • They provide a kick of extra energy due to increased metabolism. This energy allows people to be active and productive over long hours without wearing out.
  • They help the user maintain food discipline. With appetite suppression, you can adhere to strict diet plans and even overcome eating disorders.
  • Fat-burning additives help you get the most out of a vigorous training session for high performance athletes like soccer players and bodybuilders.
Cons
  • Some ingredients used in fat burners have side effects. These effects are generally mild but can be detrimental for people with underlying conditions.
  • Some burners can become addictive, making it difficult for users to quit even once they’ve achieved their fitness goals.
  • The supplement market is not regulated, allowing manufacturers to make claims and sell almost anything they want without a need for research or evidence.

Human Body Reaction to Fat Burners

A woman covering her body with a measuring tape

Different people experience different body reactions to fat burners.

After taking a fat burner product, the body will start to experience its effects almost immediately, with noticeable changes occurring around the 3rd week.

If it’s your first time taking these stimulants, start with small doses to minimize side effects as your body slowly builds up a tolerance.

Also Read: Best Stim-Free Fat Burners

Common Side Effects

Some common side effects of fat burner drugs are insomnia, mood swings, general behavior changes, and mild stomach upsets.

4 Natural Fat Burning Alternatives

Close up picture of raspberries

Don’t feel like taking risks with an unregulated fat burner? Here are several natural nutrition supplements you can use instead.

1. Synephrine

Synephrine is extracted from bitter orange and other citrus fruits.

Its benefits include increased energy and appetite control and works by activating lipolysis through your mitochondria cells.

Be warned, however, there are a number of negative effects to using Synephrine, which is considered a banned substance in many countries.

2. Capsaicin

Commonly found in hot peppers, capsaicin is a spicy compound responsible for their hot and spicy properties.

Capsaicin aids as a stimulant fat burner by producing an adrenergic response, also known as the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. As a result, your body resorts to burning fat to be used for energy expenditure.

3. Raspberry Ketones

Raspberry ketones are an aromatic compound extracted from red raspberries.

This compound inhibits the absorption of fats in the small intestines, which minimizes fatty deposits.

They also increase norepinephrine (aka stress hormones), enhancing the lipolysis process and stimulating calorie burn.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Found in fish, walnuts, and vegetable oils, omega-3 fatty acids are great for heart health and help people lose weight.

Omega-3 has a lot of benefits, such as getting rid of bad cholesterol and balancing food intake hormones.

FAQs

Is Coffee a Good Fat Burner?

Coffee is a good fat burner rich in active ingredients like caffeine and chlorogenic acid, stimulating the body into fat oxidation.

With time, however, the body develops tolerance towards the effects of coffee. As a result of this tolerance, coffee is not very efficient as a long-term fat burner.

Do Fat Burners Actually Burn Fat?

Fat burners do actually burn fat.

However, they are not a magic pill that you can just take to hit your fat loss goals.

Fat-loss drugs aid in the fat-burning process, but you’ll still have to do most of the work. When combined with a good workout plan and a healthy diet, you can expect positive results within no time.

What Type of Coffee Is Best For Fat Burning?

Plain black coffee is the best for burning fat.

This is because it has a very low-calorie count but an extremely high caffeine concentration. Instead of using cream or other additives, opt for low-fat milk or soy milk to reduce calories.

Are Fat Burners Safe?

Most of the ingredients found in fat burners are safe and come with mild side effects if any.

The safety of a fat burner depends on the supplement manufacturers that supply them. To ensure quality product development, opt to buy from a reputable brand.

Fat Burners vs. Coffee - The Final Verdict

Being comfortable and confident in your own body is the ultimate goal when it comes to weight loss.

While coffee can be used as a stimulant for weight loss, its effects are short-term and will wear off with prolonged use.

On the other hand, fat burners play a vital role in assisting your fat loss journey efforts.

While they are not a magic pill, finding a fat burner that works for you alongside a good exercise program and a healthy diet will help you accelerate your results.

Whether it's getting rid of extra flab or training for muscle growth, investing in high-quality fat burner supplements will minimize the risks involved.

Let us know what your favorite choice is when it comes to fat burners!


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6155416/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/basics/diet-pills-supplements-and-surgery/hlv-20049483

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