Will fat burners really help you take your weight-loss results up a notch? Can you see better success with a fat burner than without?
The short answer is yes. However, no fat burner is going to do all the work for you, and if you go in with unrealistic expectations, you're bound to be disappointed.
Fat burners can help, but it's up to you to make them an effective supplement in your weight-loss program. Go in with the right hopes, and your experience with fat burners will be positive.
But it's not just enough to take a fat burner—you need to learn how to take it properly.
Here are a few tips to get as many benefits from your fat burner as possible so you can see better fat-loss results!
1. Train Smarter
If you're taking a fat burner, you're probably in—or trying to get into—a caloric deficit, meaning your body burns more calories than it takes in. The only problem with this approach is that prolonged calorie restriction—aka dieting to lose weight—can wreak havoc on your metabolism.
"Add more HIIT workouts or shorten rest times," suggests Capurso, whose 30 Days Out Extreme Cut Trainer has helped thousands lose weight fast. "Don't automatically go for the traditional bro splits, but consider full-body days, and keep things moving."
2. Adjust Meals to Your Type of Fat Burner
Not every fat burner is the same, and each fat burner out there should be used in a specific manner. Certain fat burners work better on an empty stomach, while others don't work as well in the presence of certain macronutrients. This is why adjusting your meals accordingly is crucial to maximize your fat-burning results.
Yohimbine, for example, is an ingredient found in many fat burners. Studies have shown that when yohimbine is consumed on an empty stomach only about 22-30 percent is absorbed, and as low as 7 percent in some subjects.[1,2] In another study, the best responders to yohimbine were those with the slowest rates of gastric emptying, which further supports you should consume yohimbine with a meal, not on an empty stomach.
If your fat burner contains yohimbine, take it with a meal, preferably one with fat, as this could further delay movement of food through the stomach and therefore improve your body's absorption.
And remember: there is no substitute for healthy eating.
"If you're adding a fat burner to your daily stack, always keep in mind making healthy choices with meals is still a vital component to achieving your best results," says Cellucor-sponsored athlete Jen Jewell. "A fat burner is not a magic pill to help erase a weekend of cheat meals!"
3. Time Your Fat Burner Correctly
Timing is crucial to ensure that you are getting the most out of your fat burner. For example, if you take a fat burner to help reduce appetite, your first dose should be prior to your first meal of the day.
Since many fat burners contain energy-enhancing ingredients, you can also take your fat burner about 15-30 minutes prior to exercise to cash in on the energy-boosting benefits and help you get more out of your workout.
Keep in mind, though, that if you are also using a pre-workout supplement, you'll want to space them out, not take them at the same time. Both pre-workouts and fat-burners often contain relatively large doses of caffeine and other stimulants. Alternately, you can take a non-stimulant fat-burner when you know you're going to be taking a pre-workout.
Most fat burners recommend multiple doses throughout the day, so if you work out early in the morning, you can use your second dose to curb midafternoon cravings and to give you an energy boost as you power through the end of your workday.
Using your fat burner on non-workout days? Use it as an energy booster and appetite suppressor, timing your doses accordingly and spacing them out every 5-7 hours. Remember, dosing recommendations for each fat burner can vary, so read the label carefully beforehand so you clearly understand the recommended dosage of each product.
4. Monitor Your Sleep
Missing out on sleep can have serious detrimental effects on your fat-burning goals. Even partial sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease the number of calories burned in response to exercise, and prolonged sleep deprivation has been shown to amplify this effect.
You may even think taking a fat burner will help make up for your body's reduced calorie-burning abilities caused by inadequate sleep habits. But instead of trying to use your fat burner for damage control, why not chase even better results by consistently getting a solid eight hours of sleep in the first place?
Adequate sleep improves your natural metabolic rate, allowing your fat burner to be a helpful addition to your weight-loss program rather than a necessary compensation for bad habits. Getting enough sleep every night will also help you feel better each day, helping you stay motivated, train harder, and stick to your fat-burning plan.
Most people feel the stimulant effects of caffeine for approximately six hours after consumption, so as a general rule, do not consume your fat burner within six hours of bedtime, although just to be safe eight hours is often recommended. If you are more sensitive to caffeine, or need to rise early the next morning, be sure to plan your evening dose accordingly!
5. Stay Hydrated
Never overlook the importance of drinking enough water to enhance your fat-burning benefits. Water is essential for life and optimum health, and without enough of it your energy, strength, and metabolism suffers.
When your body isn't well-hydrated, your performance in the gym suffers substantially. When you're stocked up, you'll be able to do more work, and better work, leading to more calories burned and greater fat-loss results.
Simply drinking water alone may improve your body's ability to manage what is known as "metabolic flexibility," or the ability to switch between using carbs for fuel or fat stores. Consuming water when blood sugar and insulin levels are low—for example, at least 4-6 hours after a meal—increases fat oxidation, according to research.
Also, when water is consumed in place of high-calorie beverages, the total calories consumed per day—not surprisingly—decreases. This may seem obvious, but given how many people still drink piles of "hidden calories" in the form of soda, juice, or alcoholic beverages, it's always worth repeating!
- Le Corre, P., Dollo, G., Chevanne, F., & Le Verge, R. (1999). Biopharmaceutics and metabolism of yohimbine in humans. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 9(1), 79-84.
- Guthrie, S. K., Hariharan, M., & Grunhaus, L. J. (1990). Yohimbine bioavailability in humans. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 39(4), 409-411.
- Bharucha, A. E., Skaar, T., Andrews, C. N., Camilleri, M., Philips, S., Seide, B., ... & Zinsmeister, A. R. (2008). Relationship of cytochrome P450 pharmacogenetics to the effects of yohimbine on gastrointestinal transit and catecholamines in healthy subjects. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 20(8), 891-899.
- DePorter, D. P., Coborn, J. E., & Teske, J. A. (2017). Partial Sleep Deprivation Reduces the Efficacy of Orexin‐A to Stimulate Physical Activity and Energy Expenditure. Obesity.
- Judelson, D. A., Maresh, C. M., Anderson, J. M., Armstrong, L. E., Casa, D. J., Kraemer, W. J., & Volek, J. S. (2007). Hydration and muscular performance. Sports Medicine, 37(10), 907-921.
- Stookey, J. J. (2016). Negative, null and beneficial effects of drinking water on energy intake, energy expenditure, fat oxidation and weight change in randomized trials: a qualitative review. Nutrients, 8(1), 19.