What are the Pros & Cons of Fat Burners? (What to Expect)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: June 21, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

Fat-burning supplements can provide a rapid boost in metabolism and energy for weight loss, but caution is necessary due to potential side effects and dependency.

As a fitness coach, I advise using these supplements cautiously, along with a balanced diet and regular exercise, and always consulting with a healthcare professional before adding them to my clients’ routines.

To guide you in choosing suitable fat burners, our expert team has conducted an in-depth review of thousands of diet pills, highlighting their significant pros and cons in this article.

Quick Summary

  • Fat burners can aid in achieving weight loss goals, but caution is crucial due to potential adverse effects.
  • The FDA warns about risks, including Ephedrine in fat burners causing adverse reactions.
  • A review of 20 studies indicates capsaicin may burn up to 50 daily calories for sedentary individuals.
  • Drawing from experience, incorporating high-quality fat burners into a balanced diet and consistent workout routine has proven to be both safe and effective in enhancing weight loss.

4 Fat Burner Pros

1. They Can Help Manage Food Cravings

woman pushing away a plate of sweets

Before buying fat-burning supplements, consider their potential benefits for weight loss, including natural fat burners like green tea extract.

Unhealthy nutritional choices and cravings often result from factors like low blood sugar levels, hormonal imbalances, stress, and negative emotions, potentially leading to health risks [1] [2].

To tackle cravings, many fat burners include appetite suppressants like protein powder or soluble fiber additives.

Research from the National Institute of Health indicates substances enhance satiety, slow glucose absorption, and reduce hunger hormones, helping you skip snacks and manage caloric intake [3] [4] [5].

Common ingredients in these pills include Glucomannan, Coleus Forskohlii, Chromium, Beta-Glucans, Garcinia Cambogia, and similar.

2. They Can Speed Up Weight Loss

man using a measuring tape on his bare stomach

Fat-burning supplements with thermogenic ingredients like Caffeine, Green Tea Extract, or Yohimbine can accelerate fat loss by enhancing metabolism, preventing fat accumulation, and increasing energy expenditure during exercise [6].

Numerous studies suggest Caffeine can boost metabolism by 3-11% , supporting weight loss . Green Tea, containing Catechin, induces thermogenesis and enhances metabolism when combined with caffeine [7] [8] [9].

Yohimbine, from Pausinystalia Yohimbe, blocks alpha-2 adrenergic receptors, allowing adrenaline to burn fat for energy [10].

However, the fat-burning effects of other compounds like L-Carnitine, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, forskolin, kelp, fucoxanthin, etc., are controversial with questionable safety [11].

Overall, thermogenic fat-burning supplements may help you lose weight faster if combined with a balanced calorie-restricted diet and regular physical activity.

3. They Can Help Increase Your Energy Levels

happy man in a sweater showing off his biceps

Fat-burning pills include stimulant ingredients for an energy boost similar to that of energy drinks like guarana or coffee.

Some compounds enhance blood flow, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to muscles during workouts, supporting the oxidation of fatty acids crucial for fat loss.

By triggering the utilization of stored fatty acids, these ingredients increase cellular energy production from glucose and fat (ATP).

Taking a fat burner with Caffeine, Green Tea, and similar stimulants before workouts provides an extra energy kick, enhancing endurance in the gym and burning more calories during exercise [12].

However, the challenge lies in controlling the energy from potent stimulants, which can lead to jitters, restlessness, anxiety, and other possible side effects if your body doesn’t adapt. These substances provide a quick boost but may result in a subsequent crash.

4. They Improve Your Mental Alertness and Focus

young female meditating in peace

Adopting a calorie-restricted diet and regular, demanding workouts can lead to sluggishness, fatigue, mood swings, and irritability.

Staying motivated to go to the gym becomes challenging when visible results are absent in weeks.

To support individuals in their weight loss journey, some companies include stimulative nootropic ingredients in their fat burners. These aim to enhance mental focus, alertness, vigor, memory, and motivation, WebMD reports [13].

This approach empowers individuals to adhere to their diet and exercise plan, facilitating the process of melting away body fat even when motivation is lacking.

4 Fat Burner Cons

1. Choosing a Fat Burner is Challenging

man frustrated over bottle of pills in front of him

When choosing a fat burner, note that claims about aiding weight loss vary in effectiveness, particularly regarding carb and fat metabolism.

The market has hundreds of fat burners with varying prices, all boasting about their unique formulas and promising quick weight loss and health benefits.

Avoid manufacturers promising overnight wonders, as the weight loss supplement market is saturated with fraud.

This saturation is due to the lack of FDA regulation for dietary supplements and their ingredients , allowing manufacturers to include almost anything, including suspicious chemicals, in their products, leading to additional cons [14].

2. Some Fat Burners May Be Ineffective

woman upset with her thumbs down holding a sachet of pills

Many hope fat burners will effortlessly burn fat as they sleep, without changing bad dietary habits or daily activities, but this expectation is unrealistic.

A review of 20 studies indicates that capsaicin which can be found in most fat burners can burn no more than 50 calories daily for sedentary individuals, much less than the 150 calories in a soda can [15].

Some fat-burning blends include protein powder with its own calorie content, potentially offsetting the supplement's calorie-burning effects without changing your habits.

“The only natural way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in.”

- James P. Smith, M.D.

Despite claims of potent, scientifically-backed compounds for rapid fat loss, closer inspection often reveals a disclaimer: “These statements are not approved by the FDA,” creating uncertainty about the products' effectiveness.

Also Read: Are Fat Burners Dangerous

3. Certain Ingredients Can Be Addictive

woman hiding while taking pills

Some fat-burning supplements contain addictive ingredients like stimulant medications and psychotropic drugs.

Jayson Hunter, registered dietitian and founder of JayLab Pro, adds that stimulant-based formulas, popular for their perceived effectiveness in increasing body temperature or energy, are generally safe, but sensitive individuals may experience side effects.

Additionally, long-term, high-dose consumption poses health risks and can lead to a weight loss plateau. To address these concerns, many opt for stimulant-free natural fat burners.

However, even herbal fat burners can be risky, especially for those with health issues like high blood pressure, insomnia, or anxiety, as they may trigger severe reactions [16] [17].

4. Some Components Can Be Harmful

man holding his forehead in pain

The FDA warns consumers about potential risks in supplements using various mechanisms to stimulate metabolism, reduce appetite, and burn fat.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that ephedrine, a common addictive chemical in fat burners, may cause adverse reactions like dry mouth, headaches, an irregular heart rate, and seizures [18].

Among various other ingredients like Citrus aurantium and synephrine, caffeine, a common fat burner ingredient, can lead to mild to dangerous side effects due to the potential for accidental overdose [19].

Related article: What are the Most Powerful Fat-Burning Fruits?

FAQs

Is It Healthy To Take Fat Burners?

Taking fat burners is healthy when accompanied by a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise. Choosing a high-quality supplement enhances effectiveness and safety, contributing to overall well-being. Additionally, it improves health-promoting activities such as workouts and sports.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Fat Burners?

When you stop taking fat burners, you may experience a reduced calorie burning or thermogenesis during exercise and rest. This may lead to lower energy levels for workouts and an increased risk of regaining any lost weight.

Final Thoughts

While diet supplements are generally safe in small doses, manufacturers often fail to list all ingredients and their exact amounts on labels. Additionally, FDA approval isn't required before over-the-counter supplements hit the shelves.

This lack of transparency poses risks, especially for those allergic, oversensitive, pregnant, or not entirely healthy.

Since the supplement market is unregulated, it’s advisable to be extra precautious when choosing the best product for yourself. Check out our list of quality fat burners for men and women:

Before starting any fat burners or similar dietary supplements, ensure to read product reviews, consult with other users, talk to your physician, and thoroughly compare all your options, considering each pro and con carefully.

 

 


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3319142/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27775488/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258944/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19369431/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257631/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21951331/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2912010/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30335479/
  9. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15438620600987106
  10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938410000703
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30401639/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7486839/
  13. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/features/nootropics-smart-drugs-overview
  14. https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22634197/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3076034/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20442348/
  18. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/ephedrine-intravenous-route/side-effects/drg-20406071
  19. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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