What are thermogenic supplements?
The word “thermogenic” literally means heat-producing. When your body burns calories, it generates more heat, so supplements that boost metabolism or fat burning are considered thermogenic. Many different types of thermogenic supplements are available over the counter. Some contain just one ingredient, while others use a blend of metabolism-boosting compounds.
Manufacturers claim that these supplements will help you lose weight or burn more body fat. However, the veracity of this claim is hotly debated. Therefore, it’s time to investigate some of these thermogenic weight-loss ingredients and shed some light on this supplement category.
This post reviews the most popular thermogenic compounds that actually produce the desired effects.
Fat burning ingredients that actually work
Exercise and a healthy diet are still a must if you are going to see significant results.
The following list highlights the best and most promising supplements/ingredients based on clinical and peer reviewed studies. Each ingredient has been shown effective in burning fat individually, however, when combined, these ingredient may have enhanced fat burning outcomes.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: A compound chemically referred to as a trimethyl-xanthine. The benefits of caffeine are due to its chemical structure. Effective herbal caffeine sources include guarana and kola nut.
ACTIONS: Several studies have indicated that caffeine may accelerate fat loss and enhance muscle contraction and force production. Benefits also include an increase in focus and enhanced endurance.
RECOMMENDED DOSE: 100–300mg of pure caffeine in pill, powder, or fat-loss formula form forty-five minutes before exercise.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Capsaicin is the main constituent and is the compound responsible for the “hot” flavor. Capsaicin has been used for centuries to enhance digestion, relieve pain, and increase perspiration.
ACTIONS: Cayenne has been shown to increase thermogenesis (fat burning) by activating the sympathetic nervous system. Research also indicates that it may curb appetite and stabilize insulin levels, leading to less fat storage.
RECOMMENDED DOSE: 30 mg standardized for capsaicin, three times daily. May be taken with meals.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Evodiamine is a standardized alkaloid extract from the Evodia fruit.
ACTIONS: Evodiamine has promising evidence for fat loss and inhibiting fat gain due to enhanced food energy usage. There is also promise regarding appetite suppression.
RECOMMENDED DOSE: 40 mg standardized for 10 percent evodiamine, two times daily.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Its main components are polyphenols, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and some caffeine.
ACTIONS: A host of benefits, including increased thermogenesis and fat oxidation, healthy immune function, and improvement in overall health.
RECOMMENDED DOSE: 400–700 mg daily, in two divided doses. Look for standardized extract of at least 40 percent EGCG.
Citrus Aurantium (bitter orange, zhi shi)
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Active components include synephrine (calmer chemical cousin of ephedrine) as well as octopamine and tyramine.
ACTIONS: Synephrine shows promising results for fat loss. Although less stimulating than ephedrine, it shows similar effects on increasing metabolism.
RECOMMENDED DOSE: 20–40 mg of synephrine in divided daily doses. You should take one serving one hour prior to exercise.
Fat-burning supplements Vs Thermogenic
Fat-burning supplements aren’t necessarily all thermogenic. Some supplements with this label affect fat metabolism by limiting the amount of fat that gets absorbed rather than causing it to be burned more quickly.
How to take thermogenic supplements?
Always start with the minimum dosage to see how sensitive you might be to the ingredients. Taking too many can have negative effects, including high blood pressure. It’s also not uncommon for some bodybuilders to develop a tolerance to thermogenic ingredients over time. In that case you should cycle your usage. It’s common to take the supplement for three weeks and then go off of them for one week. Others cycle two weeks on and two weeks off.
Also, don’t forget to:
- Drink plenty of water. While you are taking thermogenic supplements, remember to drink more water than you normally do. Most thermogenics have a mild diuretic effect, meaning they cause you to lose more water.
- Avoid using thermogenic supplements before going to bed. Many thermogenic ingredients, particularly caffeine, increase your mental awareness and energy, which may prevent you from getting proper sleep. Consider taking them in the morning or afternoon.
Lasting weight loss comes from close attention to diet, exercise for prevention of weight gain, and (possibly) dietary supplements to provide an added measure of support to your diet and exercise efforts.
Important guidelines for losing weight
- Do so under a doctor’s supervision.
- Don’t overeat.
- Do not skip meals.
- Spread your calories over five to seven meals and snacks.
- Follow a nutritionally balanced, low-fat diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take your nutrition supplements.
- Maintain a healthy rate of weight loss—one to three pounds per week.
- Eliminate foods you are allergic to.
- Have fun. Eating less is not more work, but it can be less expensive!
Side effects of thermogenics
The side effects that are observed in users of thermogenics occur mainly because of the active ingredients of the supplements, and they may vary from one person to the other.
- Gastrointestinal problems – abdominal pain and diarrhea.
- Cardiac arrhythmia – irregular beating of the heart.
- Feeling restless for no apparent reason.
- Frequent mood swings.
- Anxiety. Stronger stimulants may generate a severe panic response
The idea behind thermogenic nutrients is to boost body metabolism so that you can naturally burn more calories. This category is booming since it seems like everyone is looking to shed some extra pounds and get lean abs.
However, understand that thermogenic supplements are not miracle pills. There are no magic bullet supplements (or drugs) that will “melt fat” or result in weight loss without changes in diet and exercise. It’s not exactly an exciting story, but it’s the truth. Supplements are, after all, meant to be used as supplements to a healthy lifestyle—not as stand-alone miracles, as they are often touted.
If you are working hard in the gym and staying consistent on your diet, then these products can actually help to increase the rate in which you lose fat. This is an incredibly good thing for those who want to lose belly fat, whether for aesthetic reasons or overall health benefits.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going, and the notion that the “secret” to rapid fat loss lies in this pill or that powder is completely and totally false.