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Stack It, Scorch It: How To Build The Perfect Fat Burner

Searching for the perfect fat-loss cocktail? Look no further. Home-brew your stack to cut down before summer!

The spring thaw is underway. How do I know? Because the annual onslaught of people asking me one question has begun: "What's a good fat burner?" This tells me that summer's right around the corner.

Fat-Burning ingredients work in chemical onjection to release, burn, round-up, and destroy fat cells.
"Fat-Burning ingredients work in chemical conjunction to release, burn, round-up, and destroy fat cells."

My first response to this question is always that a solid training and nutrition plan are the first and most important line of defense. But yes, certain supplements can certainly help with your fat-loss efforts. In this article, I will break down the most effective fat-burning ingredients by their major mode of action. It is true that many of these ingredients work through a number of mechanisms. However, I will focus on the one mechanism that has been confirmed with numerous studies.

Of course, you can simply look for commercial fat burner products that already use a number of these ingredients, if that's easiest for you. Some good commercial fat burners that use some of these ingredients include BPI Roxy Lean, Dymatize Dyma-Burn Extreme, MuscleTech Hydroxycut, Nutrex Lipo 6 Black, and Bodybuilding.com INCINER-8, to name a few.

Personally, I prefer to buy my ingredients by themselves and stack them together. It may cost more on the front end, but by gaining the ability to dial in the precise dosage to maximize fat-burning, I feel like I often save money in the long term. If you go with a commercial fat burner, use this article to gain a better idea of what you're taking and why. Otherwise, consider stacking with at least one ingredient from each of these five categories.

1
Fat Releasers

The body fat that you hold under your skin is stored in fat cells, or adipocytes. To lose body fat, aim to make these fat cells as small as possible. To do that you basically need to push the fat cells to empty out the fat they're already holding. There are several ingredients that do this, but these two classics have the most science behind them.

Caffeine
When you think of caffeine, you probably think of the buzz you get. Maybe you think that the stimulant effect is what's ramping up calorie-burning. While caffeine does do that, the main benefit it offers for fat loss comes from its ability to free up fat from fat cells.

When you ingest caffeine, it binds to receptors on your fat cells. Normally the nucleotide adenosine binds to these receptors, and when it does, it puts a halt on fat release from the cells. With caffeine sitting on the receptors, adenosine can't attach, and fat release is maximized. This is particularly effective when taking caffeine before workouts, several studies have confirmed.

XXX
"The main benefit of caffeine comes from it's ability to free up fat from fat cells."

How to stack it: 200-400 mg of caffeine between meals 2-3 times per day, with one of those doses 30-60 minutes before workouts on training days.

Yohimbe
If you still think yohimbe is just a sex-aid supplement, it's time to put that notion to sleep. The extract from the bark of this West African tree, Pausinystalia yohimbe, contains the active compound yohimbine, which is now known primarily for its fat-burning effects. It aids fat loss by specifically increasing the amount of fat that gets released from your fat cells, much like caffeine does, but via a different mechanism. Taking both together can compound the effects on fat release.

Research shows that when taken before exercise, yohimbine may more than double the amount of fat released from fat cells. However, it's not for everyone. If you have any liver, kidney, or heart problems, are pregnant or breastfeeding, are prone to anxiety, or have a psychological disorder, steer clear of yohimbe.

How to stack it: Take enough yohimbe extract to provide 5-20 mg of yohimbine per dose 2-3 times per day, with one of those doses 30-60 minutes before workouts on training days.

2
Calorie Burners

Just because supplements like caffeine and yohimbe can help to free up more fat from your fat cells doesn't necessarily mean that that fat will be burned off for good. You also need to ramp up your calorie burn, requiring your body to use that freed up fat as a fuel source. These two ingredients will boost the number of calories your body burns, forcing that fat to be burned away for good.

Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract is a no-brainer supplement when it comes to fat burners. It aids fat loss by boosting the number of calories you burn each day, and that's saying nothing of the host of health and physique benefits it offers, such as enhanced joint and muscle recovery. It's also a powerful antioxidant.

The active ingredients in green tea responsible for fat-burning effect are catechins, and one catechin in particular called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This potent antioxidant inhibits an enzyme that normally breaks down the neurotransmitter and hormone norepinephrine, which speeds up processes in the body-such as calorie burning.

How to stack it: Take about 500-1000 mg of green tea extract-preferably one standardized for high EGCG content-2-3 times per day, with one of those doses 30-60 minutes before workouts on training days.

Capsaicin
This increasingly popular supplement is the natural plant chemical that gives spicy peppers their heat. It also increases the amount of calories your body burns, thanks to its ability to raise epinephrine levels.

One study from Japanese researchers found that consuming capsaicin with a meal raised calorie expenditure by more than 30 percent. A study from the University of Oklahoma likewise found that subjects who took a supplement containing both capsaicin and caffeine burned more calories during and after exercise than those who didn't.

How to stack it: Look for capsaicin or cayenne pepper supplements that list Scoville thermal units or heat units (HU), and take enough to supply 40,000-80,000 units. Take 30 minutes before meals 2-3 times per day, with one dose 30-60 min before workouts.

3
Fat Transporters

So now we've got all that excess, freed-up fat floating around. Unfortunately, sometimes an increase in caloric burn isn't enough to ensure that it all gets torched for good. The fat has to get to the tiny power plants, known as mitochondria, located in the body's cells where it will be burned up as fuel. But fat isn't allowed to pass into the mitochondria at will; it must be carried in. Fat transporters can help to maximize the amount of fat that gets in.

Carnitine
This amino-acid-like molecule is a critical component of the complex transporting system that brings fat into the mitochondria, where it is finally burned away for good. Several studies confirm that supplementing with carnitine increases the amount of fat that the body burns up.

How to stack it: Take 2-3 grams of carnitine in the form of L-carnitine, L-carnitine L-tartrate, or acetyl-L-carnitine, 2-3 times per day with meals. Take one dose with your pre-workout meal and another dose with your post-workout meal.

4
Fat Stoppers

Fat loss is a constant, ongoing battle of trying to consume more than you store. So while it's a good idea to use supplements that can free up more fat and burn it up, you should also consider using supplements that decrease the amount of fat your body stores.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
This is a naturally occurring group of healthy omega-6 fats. Numerous research studies confirm that CLA enhances fat loss while simultaneously boosting muscle growth and strength. The main way it works is by inhibiting the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL allows fat cells to take up fat from the bloodstream and store it as body fat. By inhibiting LPL, CLA prevents the body from storing fat and instead encourages it to burn fat.

How to stack it: Take 1-3 grams of CLA with breakfast, lunch, and with your last meal or shake at night.

5
Gene Activators

The more we learn about nutrition and nutritional supplements, the more we realize that nutrients can affect our genes in some profound and surprising ways. Fat burning is one such case.

Fish Oil
This source of essential omega-3 fats provides both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fats have recently been found to turn on genes the increase fat burning while turning off genes that decrease fat storage. That doesn't include the laundry list of other benefits these fats provide, such as enhanced brain function, improved mood, joint recovery, and even elevated muscle growth.

Omega-3 fats have recently been found to turn on genes that increase fat burning while turning off genes that decrease fat storage.
"Omega-3 fats have recently been found to turn on genes that increase fat burning while turning off genes that decrease fat storage."

How to stack it: Take 2-3 grams with meals two to three times per day with meals.

References
  1. Abidov, M., et al. The effects of Xanthigen in the weight management of obese premenopausal women with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and normal liver fat. Diabetes Obes Metab 12(1):72-81, 2010.
  2. Astrup, A, et al. Caffeine: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr 51: 759-767, 1990.
  3. Belza, A. and Jessen, A. B. Bioactive food stimulants of sympathetic activity: effect on 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 59, 733-741, 2005.
  4. Berlan, M., et al. Plasma catecholamine levels and lipid mobilization induced by yohimbine in obese and non-obese women. Int J Obes 15: 305-315, 1991.
  5. Costill, D. L., et al. Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports 1978; 10: 155-158.
  6. Donelly K., and McNaughton L. The effects of two levels of caffeine ingestion on excess postexercise oxygen consumption in untrained women. Eur J Appl Physiol 65: 459-463, 1992.
  7. Engels, H.J., et al. Influence of caffeine on metabolic and cardiovascular functions during sustained light intensity cycling and at rest. Int J Sport Nutr 9: 361-370, 1999.
  8. Farney, T. M. Hemodynamic and hematologic profile of healthy adults ingesting dietary supplements containing 1,3-dimethylamylamine and caffeine. Nutrition and Metabolic Insights 5:1-12, 2012.
  9. Flinn, S., et al. Caffeine ingestion prior to incremental cycling to exhaustion in recreational cyclists. Int J Sports Med 11: 188-193, 1990.
  10. Galitzky, J., et al. Alpha 2-antagonist compounds and lipid mobilization: evidence for a lipid mobilizing effect of oral yohimbine in healthy male volunteers. Eur J Clin Invest 18: 587-594, 1988.
  11. Koot, P and Deurenberg, P. Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption. Ann Nutr Metab 39: 135-142, 1995.
  12. Lim, K., et al. Dietary red pepper ingestion increases carbohydrate oxidation at rest and during exercise in runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29: 355-361, 1997.
  13. Ludy, M. J., et al. The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans. Chem Senses 37(2):103-21, 2012.
  14. Maeda, H., et al. Seaweed carotenoid, fucoxanthin, as a multi-functional nutrient. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 17 Suppl 1:196-9, 2008.
  15. Muller, D. M., et al. Effects of oral L-carnitine supplementation on in vivo long-chain fatty acid oxidation in healthy adults. Metabolism 51(11):1389-91, 2002.
  16. Ostojic, S. Yohimbine: Effects on body composition and exercise performance in elite soccer players. Institute of Sports Medicine, Sports academy, Deligradska 27/II, Belgrade 11000, Serbia & Montenegro.
  17. Powers S. K., and Dodd, S. Caffeine and endurance performance. Sports Med 2: 165-174, 1985.
  18. Ryan, E. D., et al. Cardiovascular function at rest, during low-intensity exercise, and recovery from exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(3):807-17, 2009.
  19. Whitehead, P. N. Impact of a dietary supplement containing 1,3-dimethylamylamine on blood pressure and blood borne markers of health: A 10-week intervention study. Nutrition and Metabolic Insights 5:33-39, 2012.
  20. Yoshioka, M, et al. Effects of red-pepper diet on the energy metabolism in men. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 41: 647-656, 1995.
  21. Wutzke, K. D. and Lorenz, H. The effect of L-carnitine on fat oxidation, protein turnover, and body composition in slightly overweight subjects. Metabolism 53(8):1002-6, 2002.

Related Articles

About The Author

Jim holds a doctorate in exercise physiology and has been the personal nutrition and health consultant for numerous celebrity clients...

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nickthegreek83

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nickthegreek83

What about fibre this can also be great to assist in digestion and the fat burning process. :)

Mar 11, 2013 7:30pm | report
 
21acejack

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21acejack

I agree. I try to shoot for 5-10grams but it is hard to get that amount with just plain oatmeal. Cutting calories makes you explore other options. I have never tried a fiber pill though. I would rather get it from food.

Mar 11, 2013 9:47pm | report
plmcute8402

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plmcute8402

you can get fiber powder on here

Mar 12, 2013 6:45am | report
travis132

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travis132

5-10 is hard??? Im getting like 25 without trying :P you need to check your diet..

Mar 13, 2013 7:44am | report
kickhopper

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kickhopper

yoo lemme tell you guys im getting a **** ton of fiber all bran buds by kelloggs its nasty as **** but u get a crap ton of fiber with 2/3rds of a cup

Mar 13, 2013 1:56pm | report
Butcher95

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Butcher95

Fibre only helps with keeping you fuller for longer because your body can't actually digest it and use the nutrients from it. The RDI for fibre is 25-30mg so if you are struggling to only get 5-10 you're way under and need to change your diet up other wise you will find that you are hungry more often.

Jun 4, 2013 5:20pm | report
Zachary533

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Zachary533

21ace you need to check your diet.

Jun 5, 2013 3:28pm | report
Shipgirl

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Shipgirl

Wow! I get about 40-sometimes 60 g of fiber a day... The Quest bars help a lot! I usually get it from Ezekiel bread and all the veggies I eat =]

Oct 6, 2013 2:53am | report
cssrss

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cssrss

Jim, what is your opinion on black pepper extract (Bioperine)? I have read research with supporting evidence for nutrient uptake, but not much in regards to thermogenesis...

Mar 11, 2013 8:33pm | report
 
21acejack

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21acejack

I've noticed changes when using the CLA only twice a day. I would take it three times a day but CLA doesn't cut into my budget too well.

Mar 11, 2013 9:44pm | report
 
jeremysandell

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jeremysandell

There's a sale on musclepharm's cla core. Buy two get one free, hell of a deal. 3 month supply for $41 after shipping!

Mar 13, 2013 10:49pm | report
lucia316

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lucia316

CLA doesn't actually do anything unless you're morbidly obese. So cut it completely. Fat loss is about diet and not supplements.

Mar 14, 2013 2:38pm | report
chivbrah

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chivbrah

well supplements do help but you're going to be unable to maintain any weight loss if your diet is unsuitable

May 29, 2013 12:32pm | report
braindeadnyc

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braindeadnyc

I have also seen a difference in adding CLA to my supplement regimen. Since doing so with exercise and quality eating I have lots 9 lbs in 3 weeks.

Jun 5, 2013 11:39am | report
bhap

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bhap

What brand of CLA are you using? I've tried a couple and the only one I actually saw a difference with was Natrol's.

Aug 20, 2013 11:25pm | report
RobberRob

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RobberRob

Should I be taking and stacking these while trying to add lean mass?

Mar 11, 2013 9:56pm | report
 
tommyyyy

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tommyyyy

I don't think its an effective way of using them. While you are trying to add lean mass you are trying to grow, and by taking fat burners etc, you will be burning into your caloric excess. So overall, I personally wouldn't but they may be effective at fat control if if you feel like your putting on too much fat. Just my two cents

Mar 12, 2013 1:55am | report
Homix

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Homix

I learned a lot from Jim, from Kris and from many others. And that's what I do throughout the year. While I'm bulking I try to minimize as much as I can the fat gaining. For that I take some pre-made thermos like Hyper Shred by BSN.
If you want, you can take all ingredients separated as shown above. It might be better (or not), although it's not easy to take so many pills as you also need your Glutamine, Creatine, Whey, Casein, Eggs (or Albumin powder), Multi-Vitamin and maybe a Pre-Workout booster and a Amino Complex for recovery. If you choose for Animal Pak as a performance multi-vitamin... MAN that is going to pill A LOT of pills to take.

In short, I believe in Kris and in experience. It works for him, for me and might work for you as well. You should give it a try.

Mar 12, 2013 4:37am | report
RobberRob

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RobberRob

Thanks for the replies, I have been taking a few of those for the past few months while trying to cut down body fat a bit, but not much luck. I think I will stop taking them for a month or so, and see if I start adding too much body fat.

Mar 12, 2013 7:49pm | report
mikspower

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mikspower

Is this correct about the fish oils? --> These omega-3 fats have recently been found to turn on genes the increase fat burning while "turning off genes that decrease fat storage."

Mar 11, 2013 10:04pm | report
 
Shifisu

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Shifisu

Yes it is correct. I read a study report on it not too long ago. Don't have the link on hand though.

Mar 13, 2013 3:03am | report
DamnDano

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DamnDano

I was thinking the same thing about the wording they use... turning OFF genes that decrease fat storage. That has to be a typo.

Mar 14, 2013 6:01pm | report
mikspower

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mikspower

Is this correct about the fish oils? --> These omega-3 fats have recently been found to turn on genes the increase fat burning while "turning off genes that decrease fat storage."

Mar 11, 2013 10:09pm | report
 
liuzhoudragon

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liuzhoudragon

the yohimbine dosage seems wildy unclear. 5-20 mg, 2-3 times a day?

so 5 mg X 2 times = 10mg daily
so is 20mg x 3times = 60 mg daily

pretty big swing there (500%)

Mar 12, 2013 12:15am | report
 
cottonblossoms6

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cottonblossoms6

Was thinking the same thing

Sep 15, 2013 8:00pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 129 Comments

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