weight-loss supplements

Do Fat Burning Supplements really work?

We know how the story goes, you spot an ad online, you consider it for a moment. What if this is the answer to your prayers. It appears to be a winning product with testimonials and great reviews, there’s even a doctor endorsing the product. All you do is click buy, then you open the container, pop a capsule in your mouth, sit back and wait for the results.

Most people love the idea of taking a pill, especially if they believe there’s a list of benefits as long as your arm. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it. A small cylindrical capsule with the power to speed up weight-loss, reduce body-fat and put an end to your weight-loss woes with little or no effort.

But does this really sound plausible? Is it not a bit too easy? Think back to when someone wise once told you ‘if it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably is’. This is one of those occasions, it’s a nice thought, but people don’t lose weight by taking pills. If only it were that simple.

You should abandon the notion that simply knocking back a few pills will give you the results you desire. Sorry, the truth is, there’s NO quick fix and there are NO miracle cures when it comes to losing weight. It’s a gradual process. The effort you put in now, however, will give you a greater sense of achievement when you reach your target weight.

Why you should avoid fat burning supplements

Fat burning products always sound impressive, but rarely deliver.

‘Supercharge your metabolism.’
‘Melt 8 pounds of fat in less than a week.’

Such impressive claims may be as tempting as an ice cream sundae with sprinkles. It may sound good, but products like this, rarely work as described. Their usefulness usually falls way short of the mark.

A product which claims to have powerful fat burning capabilities may have little to no power at all. If we take a look at some of the typical substances found inside one of these magic pills, we see fat burning powers ranging from poor to non-existent. Clearly, the benefits of the ingredients are vastly over-stated.

The majority of these products have 2 common characteristics:

1/ They’re expensive and
2/ They have little affect on weight reduction

Here are some common items found in weight-loss supplements:

Conjulated Leolinic Acid – CLA

This sometimes shows up in dieting products, thrown in on the cursory chance it may have a mild effect on your body’s ability to burn fat. It’s use is surprising given that most studies showed very little improvement in fat burning levels.

A reasonable dose taken every day for a whole year did not produce much of an effect. If you have noticed a change to your weight, don’t immediately assume the supplement you’re taking is working. It’s far more likely to be the result of improvements to diet and or exercise.

There is little evidence that CLA has any beneficial affect on the body. As such, i suggest you avoid it’s use until such a time when there’s more positive data.


Frequently used in fat-burning products, but also taken in isolation. If your putting your hopes on this candidate to get you over the finish line, you may want to think again. Research on it’s effectiveness to reduce body fat has been discouraging.

In a recent study, L-carnitine was found not to have contributed to weight-loss in female participants of a certain age. Looking at the data, it appears that most of us will not see any improvement in weight from taking this supplement. As it’s not effective, there’s really no point in taking it.


Weight-loss capsules have been known to include caffeine amongst their ingredients. There is a misguided belief that caffeine can improve metabolism. As mentioned in a previous article, caffeine consumption has little to no effect on the metabolic rate. Therefore it is not an effective ingredient when it comes to long-term weight loss.

Caffeine is a diuretic, you may get a small amount of weight loss due to water being removed via urine, but not body fat. If it is body-fat you want to lose, caffeine is not the answer. Too much caffeine can actually reduce some essential nutrients and may even increase your risk of osteoporosis.

Try to avoid herbal supplements which claim to enhance weight loss. Some contain high amounts of caffeine and may be harmful. Weight loss is best achieved by combining healthy diet with exercise.

Green Tea

Often included in the form of green tea extract. It contains catechin or to be precise epigallo-catechin gallate (ECGC) which is said to improve metabolism. Ignore the hype. ECGC’s effectiveness as a metabolism booster is practically non-existent.

Studies suggest green tea has little to no effect when it comes to managing weight. Even when consumed in large quantities, the benefits are pretty insignificant.

I’m all in favour of drinking green tea for the healthy anti-oxidants, but not for weight-loss. Enjoy a cup of green from time to time, but only if you like the taste.

Tip: Why not try, rooibos tea. Like green tea, it’s anti-oxidant rich, but has no caffeine.
Naturally healthy, but with a different flavour.

5 reasons to avoid this type of supplement

1/ High price – The supplements are usually pricey and you may be wasting your money.

2/ The affect is minimal – Fat burning capabilities are often exaggerated. Without significant changes to diet and activity levels, results may be disappointing.

3/ May be addictive – Product may contain substances which are addictive. Anti-depressants for example should only be prescribed by your doctor.

4/ May have side effects – Some ingredients may cause unwanted side affects.

5/ May not be safe – Some, but not all weight-reducing pills contain substances which have the potential to cause harm.

Be picky where you buy

Many fat burning supplements and products like it, contain the same or similar items. Most are harmless. They aren’t going to help you lose weight, but at least they won’t do any damage.

Some however, contain rather worrying ingredients like anti-depressants and caffeine. Items bought online are especially risky. They may contain substances which are addictive, have side effects or which have the potential to cause harm (if taken regularly or in large quantities).

If you are determined to go ahead and buy expensive pills which don’t work, at least be sensible. Make sure you buy them from a well known, reputable pharmacy.

Do not buy them online from a company you’ve never heard of. If the product was safe and reliable, it would be available in every pharmacy. If it worked, your doctor would probably prescribe it to you. Some companies profit from desperation and naïvety – don’t fall for it.

What you should do instead

The only real way to guarantee satisfactory results is to make modest changes to your diet and lifestyle. Improving what you eat and the amount of activity you do. Sounds incredibly simple on paper. In practise it can be much more difficult.

Our busy lives, the temptations which surround us, including the temptation to pick quick and convenient over healthy and fresh makes weight-loss a constant struggle. Learning to cook a small selection of healthy filling low-fat meals will help. Cooking from scratch needn’t be complicated. Preparing a nutritious lunch or dinner is never going to be as quick or easy as picking up the phone, but it doesn’t need to be difficult either.

Most people get off the train before they reach their destination. Don’t abandon the journey because it’s a long bumpy ride or because you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel. Stick with it. Success requires perseverance, determination and tenacity. Getting down to your perfect weight may not come easy, but if you keep going and stay focused, you’ll get there in the end. The key is consistency or being consistent.

Final thought

You may have considered a supplement to help you manage your weight. Resist the temptation.

They won’t help you get the results you desire. That’s because the ingredients found in most weight-loss products have little to no affect on weight-loss.

Studies have shown substances touted as having fat-burning capabilities are massively over exaggerated. The benefits of each individual substance range from poor to non-existent. The effects are so minuscule, they’re unlikely to make any meaningful contribution to your weight-loss efforts. They sound good, but they’re expensive, rarely deliver, and may even do you harm.

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