Despite what some manufacturers promote, there is no such thing as a miracle pill that will make you lose weight on its own. Yes, they advertise fat burners, but you can’t expect to take them and watch the body fat melt of you – unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.
When companies talk about fat burners, what they are describing is a product that either:
Although there’s no such thing as a ‘Fat loss pill’ the following supplements can be used to aid in the fat loss journey.
Caffeine is a substance that occurs naturally in more than 60 plants including:
Caffeine has been found to both increase metabolism and burn body fat.
A study by the Journal of Clinical nutrition  found that the consumption of caffeine increased metabolic rate in the 3hours after ingestion.
A second study found similar results and documents the consumption of caffeinated coffee to increase energy expenditure by 16% over a 1-2 hour period compared to the consumption of a decaffeinated coffee .
You got it, increased energy expenditure = more calories burned = helping to put yourself into a calorie deficit.
The same study conducted in 1980  found that fat oxidisation (essentially fat burning) increased during the last hour of the test in a group for the normal weight subjects.
Although caffeine has proven benefits, it’s important we don’t rely on it and have it too often. Over time we can become desensitized to it, meaning it will lose its effectiveness.
There’s no reason to invest in caffeine supplements, a good ole’ cup of coffee can do the trick!
Green tea extract is basically a concentrated form of the popular green tea that’s made from dried green tea leaves. It comes in either powder or capsule form.
It’s one of the most well documented fat loss supplements on the market. Whilst it does contain caffeine, it’s also full of antioxidants and plant compounds called catechins.
A catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is responsible for the majority of green teas fat burning effects.
This is due to its ability to inhibit an enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine. As a result of this enzyme being inhibited, the amount of norepinephrine increases which promotes fat oxidisation .
Reports have also shown that green tea extract intake is associated with increased weight loss due to diet-induced thermogenesis, which is generally attributed to the catechin epigallocatechin gallate . Diet-induced thermogenesis meaning the increase in metabolic rate that follows in ingestion of food .
Research has shown that combining green tea extract with caffeine produces the most desirable fat burning effects over a longer period .
L-carnitine is non-essential amino acid (meaning that it can be produced by the body). You can also get a certain amount from your diet with red meat such as beef and lamb being the best choices. It’s also present in fish poultry and milk .
L-carnitine transports the chains of fatty acids into the mitochondrial matrix, thus allowing the cells to break down fat and get energy from the stored fat reserves .
In addition, a 2011 study saw an 11% increase in performance over a 12-week period for those who supplemented on L-Carnitine compared to those who were given a placebo . During a calorie deficit its not uncommon for your numbers to drop on your lifts – after all, we’re not getting as much energy from our foods as we’re used to. Keeping performance high may help us progress with our lifts and keep gym motivation high.
Protein powder is a popular supplement when trying to pack on the muscle, but did you know it’s a great supplement for fat loss? Protein powder is great for both fat loss and muscle retention – exactly what we’re after.
A 2008 study analysed the effects of using a whey protein supplement during a calorie restricted diet of 500 calories below maintenance. After 12 weeks they found that both fat loss and the retention of lean body mass was increased for those who supplemented on whey protein compared to those who didn’t .
A meta-analysis (analysis of recent studies) arrived at the same conclusion, that the use of whey protein promoted lean body mass retention and fat mass loss .
Research suggests that the ingestion of protein keeps us fuller for longer compared to the ingestion of carbohydrates and fats . Being fuller for longer can aid towards a calorie deficit – the major component needed for fat loss.
Whey protein is also a great craving killer. During a calorie restricted diet, it’s not uncommon to fancy a sweet treat. Protein powders come in all sorts of flavours, from chocolate brownie to Sticky Toffee pudding – there’s now no need to consume hundreds of calories by eating the pudding when you can experience the same flavours from a protein shake!
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are one of the most popular sports supplements, marketed under the premise that they enhance muscular adaptations.
Muscle protein is made up of 20 amino acids, 9 of these being ‘Essential’ meaning they can’t be created by the body, and 11 being ‘Non’essential’ meaning they can be synthesised by the body.
Essentially amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
The three essential amino acids known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are leucine, isoleucine and valine.
It has been suggested that BCAAs, especially leucine, activates a pathway that directly stimulates muscle protein synthesis, which is a vital process for building and repairing muscle .
Your body is in a constant state of protein turnover, replacing old proteins with new ones. Muscle protein synthesis is the process of adding proteins and muscle protein breakdown is, as the name suggests, the breakdown of muscle proteins.
When the muscle protein synthesis is higher than the muscle protein breakdown, you will be in a positive protein balance thus you’ll be gaining muscle.
In contrast, if the muscle protein breakdown is higher than the muscle protein synthesis, you’ll be in a negative protein balance thus losing muscle mass.
A study in 2016 found that supplementing on BCAA supplementation in trained individuals performing resistance training while on a hypocaloric diet can maintain lean mass and preserve skeletal muscle performance while losing fat mass .
A separate study was conducted to see whether ingesting a BCAA supplement immediately after resistance training influenced muscle protein synthesis. The results show that consuming a 5g BCAA supplement increased muscle protein synthesis by 22% compared to those who didn’t have any supplementation .
Not only does a BCAA supplement increase muscle protein synthesis, but a recent study conducted in 2021 found that after consuming a BCAA supplement, fat oxidation increased (the process of breaking down fatty acids) .
BCAA’s can be found in protein rich food but can also be supplemented through powder or capsules to increase the levels in the body. The other six ‘Essential’ amino acids are also important and can be sourced by having a varied diet with a focus on high protein foods.
The goal when it comes to weight loss is normally maximising fat loss whilst minimising lean body mass loss. Fat loss isn’t easy, so if there’s supplements you can take that give you a helping hand then it’s definitely worth considering.
While taking supplements can aid in fat loss, it’s not the complete answer. A fat loss program, if nothing else, needs to be based around the fundamental aspect of losing fat – being in a calorie deficit.
The idea is simple. When you’re in a negative energy balance you’ll be losing weight, and when your in a positive energy balance you’ll be gaining weight.
Check out our popular article ‘How much should I be eating to cut body fat’ to get a comprehensive understanding of how much you need to be eating in order to shed those unwanted pounds.
Good luck in your fat loss journey!
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