People who are trying to lose weight (fat) often fall prey to slick marketing campaigns from supplement companies.  They love promoting “fat burner supplements” that claim to help you with your fitness goals.  But the truth of the matter is that many of these “fat loss pills” are absolutely worthless.  Here are a few things you should keep in mind in order to avoid these cams.

Diet is the Key

The first thing you need to remember is that there is no pill that will cause you to lose weight without dieting.  This is simply impossible because the only way to lose fat is to eat fewer calories than you are using.  Products that claim to offer weight loss without any emphasis on calories or diet are nothing but false advertising.

Caffeine Helps

Most of the “fat burners” you see have an active ingredient that is effective: caffeine. This central nervous system stimulant has a few properties that directly or indirectly assist with weight loss.  Caffeine does help lipolysis, the breakdown of fat cells into usable energy.  It also helps to blunt appetite, which could help you consume fewer calories.  Last but not least, this stimulant also helps to fight pain and fatigue when you are training.  More energy means you can burn more calories while exercising.

The efficacy of caffeine has been researched and proven without question.  But why would you pay hundreds of dollars for a supplement with this ingredient?  You can easily buy generic caffeine tablets at any drug store and pretty much get the same effect.

Portrait of woman giving high five to her coach at gym

Niacin or “Flushing” Agents

Some fat burners contain a vitamin called niacin.  This component, when taken in large doses, will actually cause a flushing and reddening of the skin, possibly accompanied by sweating.  As you can imagine this would give someone the illusion that they are burning calories.  But niacin actually temporarily halts the breakdown of body fat.  This would not necessarily prevent fat loss in the long run, but that’s not the point.  In other words, niacin does nothing to actually help you lose weight.  It is simply added to some supplements to make you believe something is happening.  And like caffeine, niacin is not really expensive–it is something that’s just added to make you think the pill is working.

Proprietary Blends

It’s very common for supplement companies to list a “proprietary blend” on their label.  But the problem here is that you really have no idea of exactly how much of any particular ingredient is in the “blend.”  The term is a legal loophole companies use to keep from telling you exactly what’s in a pill you are taking.  They will often list several ingredients that make it sound like you are getting a valuable product.  Those on the inside of this business call this “label decoration.”  It’s just another way they waste your money and convince you that you are consuming a worthwhile product.

Any Exceptions?

Is there anything that really works?  There is a formula called the ECA stack that bodybuilders have used for decades.  It is a powerful appetite suppressant and CNS stimulant.  But you have to use this with caution because not everyone can tolerate it.   It can even be dangerous if you take it while training in a hot climate or environment.