Fat burners are supplements that essentially contain certain herbs and chemicals that either increase energy, stimulate metabolism, and/or suppress appetite. There are hundreds of fat burners to choose from, all with the claim they'll help you lose weight. 

Everyday we are exposed to commercials on TV, or ads in magazines, or hear celebrities endorse what helped them lose weight, or the hard body at the gym saying what fat burner they use. With the advantage this day and age of so many options of fat burners everybody could find the right product to help them attain their weight-loss goals.

One thing about fat burning supplements that is often missed, however, is the key word: supplement. Fat burners are not the magic pill that literally "burn off fat", but they supplement burning off fat.

"Supplement" is defined as—something added to complete something, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole. Notice that supplement does not mean replace. Often people take fat burning supplements believing that will replace the need for exercise, a disciplined diet, or other necessary life style changes needed to lose fat. If it sounds too good to be true, it always is.

Fat burners could provide huge benefits to supplement the correct lifestyle, so here are 5 ways NOT to use fat burners, and why.

1. DO NOT Exceed Recommended Serving

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate and approve products like fat burners before they go on the market. Rather, the FDA only steps in if a health risk is found once they are already in the market. In other words, every fat burning supplement starts off legal, and only gets banned when people abuse it (thanks baseball players!).

Every manufacturer wants their product to be the best product so they could sell as much as possible. They are a business after all. So if you just use common sense there must be a good reason why they put a limitation on how much a serving is, and why they explicitly write "DO NOT EXCEED RECOMMENDED SERVING" on the package.

Fat burners usually contain various ingredients in various proportions and excessive intake of certain ingredients can cause problems.

2. DO NOT Take Fat Burners Forever

Your body needs a break from any substance you take, even if they're made from natural ingredients. This is because your body always wants to maintain a natural balance, or "homeostasis"—the tendency to maintain internal stability in response to any situation or stimulating disturbing its normal condition.

When you first stimulate your body, it feels it and responds accordingly. But if taken long enough, gradually your body gets accustom to the change so the stimulant is no longer effective.

Adding to this is your body can respond by slowing down your natural metabolic process to compenstate.[1] As a result, if you abruptly stop using the stimulant, your metabolism is slower and you'll gain weight as you it returns to normal metabolic rate.

Fat burners were never designed or intended to be a regular part of a diet. They're intended to help reach a goal. Whether that be to prepare for a competition, to lose the baby fat, to look good for an upcoming vacation, to recover from a very chocolaty Valentines Day, to jump start your new years goal, or any other specific goal.

Once a weight loss goal is attained, lifestyle is the only way to keep it maintained.

3. DO NOT Expect The Same Effects As Another Person's Experience

No two fat burners are the same. There are a multiple of ways to mix of ingredients in various fat burners to cause a different affect. In addition to this, no two metabolisms are the same. Each person stores fat and burns it differently.

You need to find which product works best for you. Your friend may have gotten great results from a certain product, but when you try that same product approach with an objective mind set. If you experience the same effects, great! If you don't, do not continue to use that same product hoping that eventually you'll attain what your friend did. Try something else, you've got a lot to choose from.

4. DO NOT Take An Appetite Suppressant Then Put Temptation In Front Of You

When you already struggle with restricting certain foods, exposing yourself to your weakness is too strong of a force for any supplement to overpower. An appetite suppressant can really help you control cravings and feelings of imaginary hunger.

Appetite comes from many hormones and neurotransmitter.[2] These can be stimulated by many factors, including emotions, smells, sights, and atmosphere. If you're taking an appetite suppressant it's probably because you already have trouble controlling your appetite, obviously.

Taking temptation out of your life is the first step for you weight loss goals, supplemented by the appetite suppressant. Going to Chinese buffets, baking cookies, filling your cabinets with chips and crackers, and other temptation will never let the appetite suppressant do it's job.

Get those evils out of sight, and let the fat burning supplement get it out of your mind.

5. DO NOT Expect To Counter Act An Eating Offense With Fat Burners

Everyone knows calories in versus calories out determines whether we gain, maintain, or lose weight. Knowing that fat burners cause a thermogenic affect, which raises calorie expenditure, sometimes people think they could take fat burners to counteract the consequences when they eat fried chicken, French fries, brownies, or (my personal kryptonite) ice cream. Unfortunately it's not that easy.

It is correct that most of the fat burners on the market are thermogenic. Thermogenics refers to creating heat to increase metabolism, therefore reducing fat.[3]

Thermogenic products usually raise the body's temperature by no more than one degree. However, this slight increase in thermogenics is made manifest during exercise, burning off more calories during exercise and on top of that giving you a more energized workout.

So if you eat that donut at the office, you'll still have to get to the gym to work it off.

What Worked For Me

I've had great success using fat burning supplements, but not until after a couple of mistakes myself. I never grew up in sports or in a health conscious family, and unfortunately when I started working out I wasn't familiar with the very informative articles from Bodybuilding.com to educate me about the how's, what's, why's, and when's of supplementing fat loss.

My First Mistake

When I was 16 a friend of mine got a flyer on her windshield from Herbal Life claiming it's all natural herbs that make you lose as much fat as you'd like without stepping foot into the gym. Being the optimistic and trusting kids that we were (i.e., naive and disillusioned) we thought we struck oil and made an appointment to see the lady immediately!

Despite the fact that were only 16, and didn't tell our parents we were doing this, and we were a normal weight but we just wanted to look like Victoria's Secret models, she still told us the story that all we had to do was give her a lot of our hard earned money and drink this disgusting tea and pop a few bad smelling pills and we'll have the body of our dreams.

Well, that didn't happen and her excuse was it's because we were "teens", and we should try it again in a few years. But we didn't believe that because we thought nothing will change in a few years because we were already mature grown-ups.

My Second Mistake

A few years later when I finally did become a mature grown-up I joined a gym. It was a bodybuilders gym, so when I started I was impressed by all the lean and muscular physiques. I noticed that while these lean muscular physiques were walking out of the gym they were drinking protein shakes or eating a protein bar.

So because of my embarrassingly non-existent knowledge of nutrition back then, I assumed that the protein shakes and bar they were eating were actually something like fat burning shakes and bars. How else could they be so lean?

So I bought a bunch of powders and bars, choosing them by their flavors, names, and lowest price rather than by their nutrition facts. I started adding them into my normal diet of chicken nuggets and fish sticks.

The thick and creamy shakes did taste delicious, but pretty soon my pants started getting a bit snug on me. I didn't know whether I should be happy because I obviously must have been gaining lots of muscle since I'm working out and now my pants don't fit any more, or if I should be concerned because this muscle looked a bit smooth and jiggled when I moved.

Luckily I'd been going to the gym long enough that a lady bodybuilder that I'd always notice and wish I looked like came up to me and said she'd noticed I've become a regular and have really been working hard. I thanked her and expressed my concern that I've been gaining muscle so fast but I still don't look like her.

She asked how my diet was, and very quickly I learned protein shakes and protein bars are not fat burners, and I learned a lot about nutrition in general.

I Finally got It

After much education about cardio, and weight lifting, and diet, and goals, and finding bodybuilding web sites, and subscribing to muscle magazines, I finally got it.

By that time I had my diet and exercise program down so good, I didn't feel a need for supplementing. I even entered my first figure competition with no help at all from fat burners. Unfortunately I got 5th place (which was out of only 6 competitors) and the judges said I really needed to gain a lot of muscle everywhere.

So my coach, Shondra Haywood, gave me a great off-season diet to help me build that muscle. That meant I needed to gain more fat during the off-season as well.

So a year later when it came time to start cutting for my second competition I used Lean System 7 in addition to my diet and extra cardio. It was popular at the time so I tried it and felt an energy boost so I stuck with it. Everything went great and I got 3rd out of seven girls in my class!

To diet for my last show though, I wanted to experiment and see if something different would work better for me. From the local bodybuilding shows here in Colorado I had many samples to try.

I found that iSatori Energize before my evening cardio. The Lipodrene in the evening helped me because not only did it promote thermogenisis, it allegedly "slows the absorption of serotonin, which stabilizes food cravings and suppresses appetite."

This helped me a lot in the evening because at work I was busy working and was able to keep myself from eating all the junk at the office, mostly because everyone in the office knew I was dieting and I my pride kept me from taking the chocolate on their desk or partaking in all the celebration goodies. But then after work the world was my oyster and I believe the Lipodrene helped me avoid stopping from ordering some Chinese take-out.

All the hard work from a disciplined and controlled diet and a good exercise program, with the help of fat burner supplement helped me finally earn a 1st place in my class!

For my next competition I'm going to try Ventilean. Dr. Ryan highly recommends it and I will test it out to see if it will be another good option to help me reach my goals.


With the benefit of today's technology and advantage of past research we have hundreds of products to aid us in our fat loss goal. It would be a disadvantage not to take advantage of the assistance from fat burning supplements.

Although there will never be an option to eliminate proper diet, and regular exercise, and permanent lifestyle change, supplementing with fat burners correctly will greatly assist in achieving the physic you are aspiring for!

  1. www.burnthefat.com, 3-22-08
  2. www.goskalic-cms.org, 3-22-08
  3. www.bodyandfitness.com, 3-22-08

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