Fat Burners Do Not Work. Here’s Why

Sep 02, 2019
Ashley Lawrie

Author: Riley Pearce
Social Media Director

There is one supplement that is a bit risky to speak about as personal trainers, but to make it perfectly clear why you don’t need fat burners, we’ve decided to bring it up. These supplements claim to increase your metabolism, block fat production, and all kinds of other crazy claims that make us believe that they will get us shredded – just by taking a simple pill. 

The reality is, these supplements can actually be potentially dangerous. They are not regulated and therefore companies can put whatever they please in there, make outrageous claims, and sell it to you for a ridiculous price.

The unfortunate thing is that the companies that offer these supplements know full-well that everyone gets to a point in their fitness journey where they just want the quick fix. So they see something labelled as fat burner and think that this will be the magic pill that melts away those last few pounds, and you can finally take a break from eating well and exercising regularly.

Sorry to say, but there are more negative side effects of fat burners, and not enough evidence of them actually helping people lose weight that we are back to square one in terms of finding the “magic pill” for weight loss.

Fat burner claims are nothing without their ingredients. Each ingredient is masterfully selected to create a super combination of fat burning ingredients. To give you an idea of the types of ingredients and their efficacy, we will be looking at a fat burner supplement from one of the top companies. We will leave them nameless to avoid any issues, but if you go into a supplement store, this is likely one of the first fat burners you will see.

Green Coffee Blend (Green Coffee Extract): Research on overweight and obese individuals consuming green coffee bean extract show weak to limited results for weight loss. Taking it can be beneficial to your health, but not in terms of losing weight.

Caffeine Anhydrous (Caffeine): This is the form of caffeine without water, and is likely used in this supplement to enable better mixing with the other ingredients. Research also shows weak evidence for caffeine’s ability to increase fat oxidation, but some studies do support that. Fat oxidation is the breaking down of fats and using them for energy. 

Many fat burners will claim that they improve mental focus, and this is something that caffeine has been reported to do so it inhibits our fatigue centers of the brain and keeps us awake.

Coleus Extract: More commonly used in ayurvedic medicine, this is an extract from the herb Coleus Forskohlii. There is not enough research on this herb to confirm any of the claims associated with it. The little research that has been one also reports that there is very weak evidence supporting its ability to promote weight loss.

Blue Skullcap Extract: Or Scutelleria Lateriflora, is an herb commonly used in chinese medicine and is reported to have nootropic effects. This could also contribute to the super focus that fat burners claim to cause.

Yohimbe Extract: This is a fat burning compound that sees its best effects during a fasted state. It will inhibit fat production, but that inhibiting process is inhibited by consuming food (most of these supplements advise you to take it shortly before/after eating). It is also linked with anxiety and could interact dangerously with other pharmaceuticals.

Ophiopogon Extract: This is another compound that is typically found in chinese medicine to apparently help with the flow of bodily fluids. In the case of fat burners it may be included to help with the blood flow as the heart begins to beat faster.

Guayusa: Last on the list is this strange ingredient that is actually just another form of caffeine. Commonly brewed in the amazon as a tea, it has less caffeine than a regular coffee but more than a cup of green tea. 

So maybe the logic is that if you combine all of these weak weight loss compounds and herbs that you will get a strong weight loss supplement? 

What you end up getting is a potentially dangerous supplement that really isn’t recommended for anyone. With so many forms of caffeine in one supplement the risk for stressing out the cardiovascular system is much higher. 

One of the side effects of high doses of caffeine include anxiety and panic attacks. You also cannot be sure that the source of all of these herbs is legitimate, and therefore safe for consumption. 

Your best bet if you want to lose weight is to make a plan, find the resources you need to help you lose weight (diet books, personal trainer, supportive friend group, apps), and really commit. Spending your money on an overpriced supplement that basically mashes together a handful of potentially thermogenic compounds is simply not a good investment. Add in the fact that it could create heart problems and anxiety, and it becomes perfectly clear that fat burners do not work. 


Risks Associated with Fat Burners: A toxicological perspective

Fat Burners: Nutrition Supplements that increase fat metabolism

Nutritional Outlook: Guayusa


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