What do you think one annoying thing about our generation is?
For me I think it’s the lack of respect and general politeness. No, this isn’t mean to say that I think EVERYONE my age is disrespectful and has no manners but it is a trend I see more and more and it’s…annoying.
The other day for instance, I held the door open for this guy walking behind me (maybe the same age or slightly older then me). Well, not only did he basically schmooze his way through the door, but he didn’t say a word and didn’t even grab the door!
Like no worries bud, I’m just here to hold the door for you and make sure your Royal Highness behind gets through the door unscathed.
Sorry rant over. That’s just one huge pet peeve of mine.
Anyways, onto the main topic which is…
This weeks topic is something I’m not sure many people would dabble with but if you are like me and watch da ‘Tube, you have probably heard quite a lot of people in prep use them.
I honestly see no use in them. Waste of money in my opinion and here is why I say that. Let me break it down mmmmkay?
What are they supposed to do?
Quoted from a paper done by Jeukendrup and Randell (2011):
The term ‘fat burner’ is used to describe nutrition supplements that are claimed to acutely increase fat metabolism or energy expenditure, impair fat absorption, increase weight loss, increase fat oxidation during exercise, or somehow cause long-term adaptations that promote fat metabolism.
Basically, many are advertised to “melt” the fat from the body. Need a quick fix get rid of that stubborn fat? Take a fat burner.
Who takes them?
Often, as I mentioned, you tend to see them a lot in bodybuilding competition preps. In fact, out of the list of supplements that bodybuilders tend to use, during a cutting phase (weight/fat loss phase) fat burners were found to be up to 20% of the total money spent on supplements and females were much more likely to have them in their ‘stack’ (Brill and Keane, 1994). In fact, it was found that up to 66% of females (vs. 45% of males) were using them during a cut in a study done by Brill and Keane (1994). Although this study was older, I would be quite shocked if the numbers went down. Instead, it wouldn’t surprise me if the numbers went up as that push for the leanest physique possible has not reduced in any way.
So if they are taken mostly by those in prep, why write out it for the public?
Well because we are very influenced by who we watch. Also, image is becoming more and more of a health hazard these days and it seems that this drive for thinness leads to many ‘everyday’ individuals taking extreme measures to try to gain an edge.
I want to debunk the notion that fat burners will lead you to achieving your leanest self and also show you that they can actually be harmful.
So now that I have basically said that they are crap…let me present you with some more research because I can’t just be all talk right?
Jeukendrup and Randell (2011)
They did a review on some of the common fat burners on the market and here’s what they had to say:
~Caffeine: Has been shown to increase fat oxidation, resting metabolic rate and thermogenesis in studies. Although this has been found, they noted that the effects of this substance alone may not be potent enough to cause any major increase in weight loss. Instead, it appears that weight loss may only occur if other stimulants were added to the mix (they noted a study introducing ephedrine to the caffeine group).
This caffeine-ephedrine mix is something I have seen used before, please do not. They are both stimulants and can stress the heart.
~L-Carnitine: This is something that your body makes naturally and helps to shuttle fatty acids to where they need to go to be oxidized (or broken down). The thought is that if you take more, you will burn more fat. This has not been supported in research. The muscles do not increase in their concentration after taking a supplemental form and therefore have no increased effect on oxidation rates.
~Green Tea Extract: Hello Dr. Oz….Anywho studies are very mixed here. If there are increases in the oxidation rates, they may be confounded with other things likes caffiene intake. Also, another issue with studying the effects of green tea extract is the active ingredient concentrations may vary and that may also have an effect. Specially mentioned was the interest in the levels of EGCG, or a specific type of catechin polyphenol. Studies found that when levels of this particular active ingredient were higher, oxidation rates at rest were higher. The issue is the amounts were quite large in most of these studies and they are not sure if caffeine was needed or not to show this effect.
~CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): This appears to be a new favourite on the market. It is an isomer of the Omega-6 family of fatty acids and is said to have an increased effect on lipolysis, fatty acid oxidation, decrease lipogenesis, etc. Animal studies have shown promise but it is really not the same story in humans. Of the few studies that have been done on humans, the best is a modest change in body composition (specifically this study listed 0.05kg loss/week and is that really only from the CLA?), so really, is it worth your money?
Bondi (2009) took a look into athletes and had a few things to say about the supplement industry…
~Athletes who need to lose weight may want to use fat burners to expedite the weight loss. The majority of these products are useless; however, some may be harmful, such as ephedra, which is a central nervous system stimulant.
~Caffeine was not found to be a thermogenic and green tea extracts are often compounds of both phytonutrients (EGCG) + caffeine and still their effectiveness is extremely limited.
You said they were possibly harmful?
Krishna (2011) –> described a case of liver failure in a young women with no liver issues previously due to severe hepatotoxicity, with a particular focus on Usnic acid. Many feel that more ‘natural’ products can’t cause harm, but they can in fact show some adverse consequences if taken irresponsibly or mixed with other supplements. Green tea extracts have even shown adverse liver effects in when in capsule forms.
Bonci (2009) –> Listed the potential harmful effects of too much caffeine including more mild ones like irritability, jitters, etc to more severe such as tachycardia, tremors, and so forth.
So, what do you think? Some of these things may have some limiting effects long term, but most are so understudied that we have no idea what they do. From the studies we do have, they don’t show much (and are the things involved?) and if they did the doses are high. The other issue is that higher doses can cause toxicity issues and unfortunately I see these types of products as things that would be abused by people.
My take. Don’t waste you money, and quite frankly, avoid.