Around 60% of Americans report wanting to lose weight and feel better, so they might look to supplements in trying to achieve that goal. Different types of supplements fall into the larger category of weight loss products, and one such type are thermogenic supplements. These are also referred to as fat burners.

Below, we detail what you should know about fat burner supplements.

What Are Thermogenic Supplements?

A thermogenic supplement might contain a variety of different ingredients that are intended to improve fat burning and your metabolism naturally. These supplements might help reduce the fat absorbed in your gut too.

Thermogenic is a term that means heat-producing. If your body is burning calories, it will generate more heat. Therefore, a supplement that would boost your metabolism or fat-burning capabilities is called thermogenic.

Some of these supplements will have a single ingredient, while others have a combination.

Types Of Fat-Burning Supplements

Some of the particular types of supplements that can be described as fat burners include:

  • Caffeine – This stimulant is found in many plants and increases adrenaline levels. Adrenaline is a hormone that stimulates fat cells to release fatty acids into your bloodstream. Once the fatty acids are released, they can be used for energy by your cells. The stimulant can also boost metabolism and reduce appetite, but these effects are relatively small. You could, in theory, burn around 15 extra calories in a day by taking 150 mg of caffeine.
  • EGCGGreen tea contains compounds with thermogenic effects, one of which is EGCG and the other is caffeine. Research shows green tea supplements with caffeine can increase fat burning by 16% for 24 hours after use. EGCG can have other benefits besides fat-burning, and it’s a powerful substance in natural health.
  • Capsaicin – This is the molecule found in chili peppers that makes them spicy, and as is the case with caffeine, capsaicin stimulates adrenaline to be released. This adrenaline release speeds up your metabolism, so your body can burn more fat and calories. Capsaicin may also help you eat fewer calories by reducing your appetite.
  • Garcinia cambogia – This tropical fruit-derived extract is frequently included in weight loss supplements. It contains something called hydroxycitric acid or HCA, and HCA can block the activity of an enzyme called ATP citrate lyase, which is involved in forming body fat.
  • Yohimbine – This chemical comes from the bark of a tree native to Africa, and it can boost the activity of hormones, including adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine, which might, in theory, help with boosting your metabolism of fat.
  • Bitter Orange – Bigger orange contains something called synephrine, a natural stimulant, and its structure is similar to ephedrine. It may improve calorie burning and metabolism, helping people lose weight over time.

More often than people supplementing with one thermogenic ingredient are scenarios where they use thermogenic blends.


It’s important to be careful with thermogenic supplements because, as is true with other supplements, they aren’t regulated and may have side effects and risks.

Some side effects that tend to be reported most often with fat-burning thermogenic supplements include nausea, abdominal pain, headache, and constipation. These supplements can also slightly raise blood pressure.

If a supplement has 400 mg or more of caffeine, there can be side effects like anxiety, dizziness, heart palpitations, and headache.

In severe cases, thermogenic supplements may be associated with more severe effects like inflammation of the intestinal tract. There are reported scenarios where these supplements in high doses have caused liver damage and even liver failure.

According to the FDA, supplements don’t require approval in the U.S. However, if a supplement is unsafe, the FDA can still ask for it to be taken off the market. The FDA can also take action if a company makes false claims about its products or claims that aren’t supported.

The companies that make supplements are responsible for the safety of each product, and they’re required to ensure accurate labeling and that the products are free of contaminants.

As a consumer, you do need to do your research and understand that just because something is marketed as being natural doesn’t mean that it’s automatically safe. To learn more about supplements and ingredients in these products, you can look at the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements website and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health site.

How Do People Use Fat Burners?

Using a fat burner alone will not likely help you lose significant weight. You will have to take other steps to facilitate weight loss, such as resistance training several times a week, cardio, and getting enough sleep. You need to eat nutrient-dense foods and understand what your roadblocks to losing weight might be.

If you’re not eating the right foods or not challenging yourself in your workouts, you will hit plateaus in your weight loss.

A thermogenic supplement might give you a boost if you are dealing with a plateau, but it will not be a miracle. In one study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a thermogenic fat burner supplement increased the resting metabolic rate of healthy subjects. In simple terms, this means that you might burn more calories throughout the day, even when you aren’t being physically active.

Finally, the higher your energy expenditure, the leaner you might get over time. These supplements can also suppress your appetite, so you eat fewer calories than what you’re burning. Another way they can help is by increasing your energy so you can go harder in your workouts.

You do need to talk to a healthcare provider before trying a fat burner if you have any underlying issues. You also have to make sure you’re choosing products only from a reputable brand and that you’re taking them exactly as instructed.


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