Fat Loss Supplements

Fat Loss Supplements: The Truth

Ben Craughwell | 19th July 2016

You’ve tried a fat loss supplement before, haven’t you? Nothing to be ashamed of – we’ve all done it. Caffeine, fat burners, raspberry ketones. Almost everyone I know has either taken a fat loss supplement in the past or has at least considered it. There are a plethora of different fat loss supplements available including pills, drugs, shakes and natural remedies, which tend to fall into three categories: 
  • Those that reduce your appetite 
  • Those that reduce the absorption of dietary fats 
  • Those that increase calorie expenditure. 
Many fat loss supplements are a complete waste of money – and that’s being generous, as certain one’s can actually be quite harmful. That being said, it can be beneficial to team certain supplements with a fat loss training and nutrition plan, just to give you that extra 5%. 
While it would be easy to write an article entitled “why fat loss supplements don’t work”, I’d like to delve a little deeper and not tar all supplements with the same brush. You are in charge of your own body and should always research supplements before you buy, so here we review 8 Popular Fat Loss Supplements currently on the market.  

#1 Caffeine

Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world, found in coffee, dark chocolate and green tea. It’s well known to boost the metabolism, and there’s a reason why many take it when trying to reduce their body fat percentage. It is also quite often added to other fat loss supplements. Here at Optimum Performance Personal Training Stillorgan, we love black coffee as a pre-workout to give workouts and fat loss a boost.

How Does It Work?

Caffeine kickstarts the process of lipolysis, which is when your body releases free fatty acids into the bloodstream. Certain studies have illustrated that caffeine can boost your metabolism by 3-11%, and increase fat burning by up to 29%.

Would We Buy?

Absolutely! Even if drinking coffee pre-workout gives you a boost and improves your session by 10%, it’s worth it in the long run. Unfortunately, tolerance to caffeine can build up quite quickly, reducing its effectiveness, so you do need to be careful. But yes, we would buy it as it does contribute to fat loss!

#2 Raspberry Ketones

I’m sure you’ve heard of this fat loss supplement; they tend to be heavily advertised in pharmacies. Raspberry ketone is, obviously, a substance found in raspberries. It is the synthetic (man-made) version of raspberry ketones that are used as fat loss supplements.

How Does It Work?

It has been demonstrated in isolated fat cells in rats that raspberry ketones increase the breakdown of fat and increase levels of a hormone called adiponectin – which is related to fat loss. However, no studies have been conducted on humans.

Would We Buy?

The answer here is more than likely a no. The rat study used massive doses of raspberry ketones, more than a human would consume. Based on the fact that there have also been no human trials, we can safely say for now that this supplement is probably not the best investment.

#3 Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract is a very common ingredient in many fat loss supplements, the reason being that the main antioxidant in it (EGCG) has been shown to aid fat burning. Many people who don’t particularly like black coffee may find that green tea extract or a cup of green tea is a great alternative.

How Does It Work?

Based on numerous studies, green tea extract is said to increase the activity of norepinephrine, a hormone that aids calorie expenditure. It has been shown that green tea extract can increase fat burning and cause fat loss, especially in the belly area.

Would We Buy?

Yes, we would! I recommend drinking green tea prior to a training session for anyone who isn’t a big fan of black coffee. Just like coffee, it will give you an energy boost to perform better during a session, alongside it’s proven metabolism-increasing effect.

#4 CLA

Green tea extract is a very common ingredient in many fat loss supplements, the reason being that the main antioxidant in it (EGCG) has been shown to aid fat burning. Many people who don’t particularly like black coffee may find that green tea extract or a cup of green tea is a great alternative.

How Does It Work?

Based on numerous studies, green tea extract is said to increase the activity of norepinephrine, a hormone that aids calorie expenditure. It has been shown that green tea extract can increase fat burning and cause fat loss, especially in the belly area.

Would We Buy?

Yes, we would! I recommend drinking green tea prior to a training session for anyone who isn’t a big fan of black coffee. Just like coffee, it will give you an energy boost to perform better during a session, alongside it’s proven metabolism-increasing effect.

#5 Forskolin

Ever heard of this fat loss supplement? You’ve probably seen it lurking on the shelves of your local pharmacy. It’s a plant extract from the mint family, marketed as a fat loss supplement.

How Does It Work?

Forskolin is thought to raise levels of something inside cells called cAMP, which may stimulate fat burning, but honestly there isn’t enough research to say for sure that this is what it does. I found two conflicting studies; one showed that forskolin reduced body fat and increased muscle mass in obese men (while having no effect on body weight) and the other study in 23 overweight women found no effects.

Would We Buy?

Based on the lack of concrete data, we would not buy this supplement. Due to the lack of research, there are no documented side effects. There probably aren’t many side effects from a plant-based supplement such as this, but I wouldn’t want to take the chance, particularly as the fat loss benefit is questionable at best.

#6 Meratrim

Meratrim, is a relatively new fat loss supplement. It’s more regulated as you can only purchase it with a prescription, but that doesn’t lend much in terms of credibility to be honest. Meratrim is a combination of two plant extracts that may change the metabolism of fat cells.

How Does It Work?

Meratrim is said to make it harder for fat cells to multiply, while also decreasing the amount of fat that they absorb from the bloodstream. As far as I can tell, only one study has been conducted on Meratrim. 100 obese people were placed on a strict diet, with either Meratrim or a placebo pill. While the Meratrim group saw good levels of fat loss, this study was industry sponsored, and so there was bias involved.

Would We Buy?

You have to be careful with industry sponsored studies, as they can basically say what they want if financial gain is involved. In this case, we wouldn’t recommend buying this fat loss supplement as it’s relatively new on the market AND had a conflict of interest in the study.

#7 Garcinia Camboga

Garcinia cambogia – a small green fruit – became popular around the globe after being featured on the Dr. Oz show in 2012 (which should give this fat loss supplement a big red warning flag already). The skin of the fruit contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is the active ingredient marketed as a diet pill. We see this in every pharmacy and supermarket around.

How Does It Work?

Animal studies show that Garcinia cambogia can inhibit a fat-producing enzyme in the body and also increase levels of serotonin. This has the potential to help reduce food cravings.

Would We Buy?

Probably not, seeing as a study with 130 people compared garcinia against a placebo pill, and found that there was no difference in weight or body fat percentage between the two groups after a period of time.

#8 Hydroxycut

Hydroxycut has been available as a fat loss supplement for more than a decade, and is currently one of the most popular in the world. There are several different types of this supplement, but the one you will probably have heard of is Hydroxycut. Their website seems to have about 100 different forms of this product – ones for men, for women, for this type of diet, with that amount of caffeine etc. – which is totally uneccessary.

How Does It Work?

It claims to aid fat loss due to a combination of caffeine and a few plant extracts. So it’s basically a cup of coffee with some fruit. One study showed that it resulted in 9.5 kg of weight loss over a 3 month period, but that was the one and only study conducted in a 10 year period so it’s not fact.

Would We Buy?

We wouldn’t waste our money. Having looked at the ingredients, it is quite literally caffeine with another 20 irrelevant extracts in it. Paying €30 for 30 days worth isn’t too bad, but you could pay €5 for the same amount of coffee, with the same effects.

And The Winners Are…

The clear winners here are plain old caffeine and green tea. Unsurprisingly they’re also the cheapest and most natural of every fat loss supplement on the list. Anything other than these are a waste of money.
Always keep in mind that none of these supplements really do much on their own. They may give your metabolism a bit of a boost, but a proper nutrition and training protocol will get you the fat loss results you desire quicker and more effectively than any of the fat loss supplements we’ve talked about.