Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

If you’ve been following my blog and social media comments, then you’ve probably noticed that more and more of my clients have been taking advantage of thermogenic supplements.

I was initially very skeptical of these weight loss products, and in most cases, I still am.

See, there are so many products out there that promise to burn fat while people sit on the couch eating junk food all day.

However, I have managed to come up with a list of ingredients with my dietitian Susan that have some scientifically proven effects on your metabolism.

What Do Thermogenic Fat Burners Do?

Thermogenic fat burners may boost your metabolism by slightly increasing your core body temperature. This is a natural process that the body regularly triggers, but there are certain things you could add to your diet to experience a healthy boost.

Before you get concerned that you may feel like a fever is developing, the amount of temperature increase will be practically unnoticeable.

However, your metabolism still needs to supply the energy for the increased heat, which results in some additional calories burned.

Want to know what might trigger these effects?

 

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What Does It Contain?

Thermogenic supplements usually contain natural ingredients that have very precise effects on human metabolism.

By analyzing dozens of clinical trials, I have been able to identify the following list of ingredients that you may want to consider.

Caffeine

Caffeine

This may come as a surprise to many people, but that morning pitstop at Starbucks may be helping you burn a few extra calories through the effects of caffeine.

There have been countless studies done on the way different amounts of caffeine may influence your appetite and metabolism.

This includes a very comprehensive study that found a link between physical activity and caffeine intake, leading to an increase in thermogenesis [1].

I know what you’re thinking now. Sure, all you need to do is drink more coffee and watch the pounds fall off. Unfortunately, caffeine doesn’t provide that kind of magic, but it’s still suitable to support a weight loss diet.

The problem is that once your body is exposed to too much caffeine, it may become less effective. And it could cause insomnia and jitters.

More on the side effects later.

Green Tea

Green Tea Leaf

Many people who want to lose weight take green tea due to its antioxidant effects.

While this is one of the more effective benefits that it provides, there is also the thermogenic impact that should be considered.

For a long time, it was thought that it’s mainly the caffeine in green tea that may be boosting your metabolism.

But one study, in particular, was able to measure things a bit more precisely [2].

What it found was that the increased level of fat burning is higher than what would be expected from just the caffeine content.

The conclusion was that green tea in the form of a drink or extract might help to boost how much fat you could burn on a day to day basis.

 

Capsaicin

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is an extract from different types of peppers like chili peppers and black pepper.

It’s what gives peppers the burning and spicy sensation, but it has been shown to have a lot more benefits.

For the average person looking to lose a few extra pounds, it may also help with appetite suppression.

Even in relatively small quantities, it has been shown to reduce hunger cravings.

One study found that there was a measurable increase in fat loss over a 4-week period [3]. This is achieved through increased thermogenesis and was specifically tested on obese patients.

This is especially interesting for anyone going through extended times of fasting, where it could help with some extra motivation.

The good thing is that most supplements that contain capsaicin come in capsule form, so you don’t end up with a shake that may leave a burning sensation in your mouth.

Coleus Forskohlii

Coleus Forskohlii

This extract from the coleus plant has been used in India for hundreds of years to treat various types of health issues.

I wasn’t able to find any studies that confirmed this, but it is believed to help with breathing issues like asthma.

More importantly, the health food industry has been promoting it for several years now, and it is found in quite a few weight loss supplements.

Personally, I always thought it was the thermogenic effects that were most interesting.

However, it turns out that forskohlii may have been linked to the production of certain enzymes that help transform fatty acids [4].

What does this mean?

Ultimately, studies have shown that by burning away fatty acids, there is a lower chance of muscle mass reduction, which may be of particular interest to many performance athletes.

Rauwolfia Vomitoria

Rauwolfia Vomitoria

This was completely new to me, but ever since I’ve researched it, I have started noticing it on quite a few different diet products.

The name itself does tend to put you off a bit, but there is some interesting research behind its use.

The plant is predominantly found in Africa, where it has mainly been used to treat pain and mental health issues.

There are some ongoing studies at the moment for its use in mental health, but the more interesting results were around trials for weight loss [5].

If you want to use this in raw form to add to smoothies, you may need to check in a few different health food stores. My experience has been that it’s difficult to find, but some supplements have it.

Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia Fruit Extract

This Asian fruit has been quite popular in the weight loss world, but I have to admit that I’m not entirely fond of the flavor.

I’ve tried it raw, pickled, and as a drink, and personally, it’s just not something I’d convince myself of.

However, there have been several trials that have looked at the impact of an extract over different time periods.

I had heard from a few people that it might help with extending fasting periods, so I went and looked for some supporting evidence.

One study, in particular, found that healthy adults responded well from a curbed appetite point of view [6]. I haven’t tried this with the raw ingredient, but as an extract in some fat burning supplements, I did find that there may be some positive impact on dealing with hunger.

According to Kahan's research, there are very few severe side effects of Garcinia Cambogia (he only found a few examples of diarrhea, brain fog, and, in rare cases, liver damage). And according to the NCCIH, Garcinia Cambogia is pretty safe for short-term use (12 weeks or fewer).

 

- Claire Gillespie, health writer

Yohimbine

Yohimbine

If you look up this bark from the yohimbine tree, then you might be surprised that it has been prmarily used as an aphrodisiac.

You never know, your weight management tactics may have some other added bonuses.

Let’s stay on topic, though.

I have seen yohimbine in several different supplements with the claim that it may help to lose weight by burning off some extra fat.

As it turns out, my dietitian was able to point me to a study that may have confirmed that it could work well for performance athletes [7].

For anyone that may need some help with a cutting phase of training, this could be one ingredient that may help with getting you to your goals. It doesn’t replace the right diet and hard work but could be that little competitive edge you need.

 

Synephrine

Synephrine

If you read my blog posts on a regular basis, then you know that I’m all about motivating people to put in the hard work.

You cannot achieve sustained fat loss without eating right and doing plenty of physical activity.

But I like it when my dietitian surprises me with studies that show that my clients could get a bit more out of their time and effort through a natural supplement.

Synephrine has been extensively studied, and one study, in particular, found a direct link to higher fat oxidation during training [8].

Now, with all this information about exotic ingredients, there are still a few questions to answer.

Let’s start with these.

How Should it Be Used?

Healthy and Happy People

Thermogenic supplements should be used as part of a healthy and balanced diet supported by plenty of physical activity. It’s also important to set your expectations straight.

These are not magic pills that help you drop a few pounds without making changes to your lifestyle. If you see something labeled like that, then make sure you stay away as far as possible.

Most of the fat burning supplements that I recommend come in capsules and are designed to be taken several times a day. This spreads out the intake in a way that may help to achieve the longest-lasting effects.

What I have found most interesting with my clients is that they all report how motivating those extra few calories burned are. At a time when you might be struggling to see all the possible results, this could be a simple solution that may keep you from giving up too soon.

Side effects of Thermogenic Supplements

skin allergy, stomach pain, insomia

Even when you take thermogenic supplements with completely natural ingredients, there are still a few rare but potential side effects.

The first and most common reason people have negative reactions is down to some sort of allergy or intolerance. Unfortunately, this may happen with any of the above-listed items, which is why I always give this advice.

If the substances are new to you, then start by taking a small dose for a few days. If you notice things like stomach issues, bloating, or skin irritations, then you may need to consider some other options.

The other problem you may encounter is insomnia or the jitters from caffeine. If you know that you’re sensitive to stimulants like caffeine, then make sure you either avoid products with it altogether or be careful when you take them.

Always avoid taking it late in the evening, or around the same time as having a cup of coffee.

Do Thermogenic Fat Burners Really Work?

In my opinion and experience as a fitness instructor, I believe that thermogenic supplements may be helpful in achieving certain weight loss. However, you shouldn’t be looking to buy them in the belief that you don’t need to adapt your lifestyle as well.

If you want to find out more about some of the specific fat burners that I have researched and tested, then head over to my dedicated page for these supplements.

Thermogenic Fat Burners You Might Like:


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2333832
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/0801101
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426284/#sec4title
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319370.php#how-does-forskolin-work-in-weight-loss
  5. https://www.science.gov/topicpages/r/rauwolfia+vomitoria+foilage
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12349913
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17214405
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4972152/

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