Burning fat requires both a restrictive diet, as well as the use of appropriate supplements. The trick is to go for slow, steady fat loss. There is currently a whole range of fat-burning formulas on the market – from single ingredient ones to complex stacks. Some contain safe components that have been checked by scientific studies, but there are also a lot of others, the use of which involves potential health risks. In this article I will explain fat burning processes and tell you which products you could successfully use and which you should avoid.
Fat burning - introduction
Before we consider the use of appropriate fat burners, it would be worth looking at the principles of nutrition, as these form the basis of this process. Most people recommend a diet with reduced carbohydrates and increased protein intake. This sounds reasonable, because the first component in the diet stimulates insulin secretion by the pancreas. Its low concentrations are related to the improved transport of nutrients to the muscles and reduced tendency to accumulate energy in the form of stored fat. Thus, a low-carbohydrate diet helps you to keep a slim figure, and increased protein intake protects against muscle mass catabolism and helps to maintain satiety with the reduced carbohydrates in each meal. There are also nutrition models that almost completely eliminate carbohydrates. These include protein-fat diets such as Atkins, Dr. Lutz, Ellis and Kwaśniewski. As a result of prolonged minimisation of insulin secretion, the antagonist hormone, glucagon, is released. This not only increases blood sugar, using glycogen breakdown from the liver, but also affects the maintenance of lipolysis, which I will explain in just a moment. Not without reason is it said that a diet is 70% of your weight-loss success, and exercise is 30%. It’s hard to achieve a ‘six-pack’ when – even working-out like crazy – we continue to eat white bread, sugar, fruit juice and potatoes.
A carbohydrate-rich diet, especially made of simple sugars – sucrose (edible sugar), lactose (milk sugar), glucose and fructose (fruit sugars) – contributes to adipose tissue reserves. Triglycerides, stored in adipose tissue are the main form of energy storage in humans. Adipocytes (fat cells) function to continuously synthesize, store and distribute triacylglycerols, and so our diet plays a key role here. We should focus on meals slowly releasing energy in order to not activate the mechanism depositing it as body fat.
While disintegration of the latter, controls the activation of hormone sensitive lipase. The entire fat burning process can be simplified down to a few changes. Adipose tissue lipase are activated by treating cells with several key hormones: adrenaline and noradrenaline, secreted by the adrenal glands, glucagon released from the pancreas and adrenocorticotropic hormone released by the pituitary gland. These hormones in adipocytes activate adenylate cyclase, via 7TM receptors. Increasing the concentration of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) stimulates the protein kinase A, which activates lipase by phosphorylation. In this way, adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones, glucagon and adrenocorticotropin induce lipolysis, while insulin inhibits it. Now you can see why people who are familiar with the fat burning process in adipose tissue talk of the need to minimize its release during the day. The released fatty acids are not soluble in blood plasma, and therefore bind to albumin, which is used as a carrier. In this way, the free fatty acids are an available source of energy for other tissues. But in order to provide energy to function, they must be broken down in the mitochondria in a process called beta-oxidation.
Lipolytic and thermogenic fat burning – what’s the difference?
Fat burners, as the name suggests, reduce the fat stored in our body. However, as we said in the previous paragraph, it could be concluded that if you don’t follow a low-calorie diet, fat burners will not help at all. Perhaps they will increase the metabolic rate, which will allow us to eat porridge with our favourite additions, without dire consequences for your waistline, but with this diet you will not burn your stored fat. Fat burners can be divided into the lipolytic and thermogenic substances. But what do these terms mean?
Lipolysis is the process of burning fat cells. Thanks to the afore-mentioned adrenal hormones, receptors contained in the fat cells’ membranes stimulate them to produce intensive energy transformations in the body. This leads to the burning of fat and energy releases, which is necessary to live, and creates the thermal energy needed to maintain a constant body temperature.
Thermogenesis refers to all of the metabolic processes that help maintain a constant body temperature. In short, thermogenesis is the side-effect of burning high energy substances, allowing heating of the body and maintenance of its correct constant, and in some cases slightly elevated, temperature. This thermal energy can be produced by breaking down compounds contained in food or stored as fat under caloric deficit conditions. Regardless of the amount of calories consumed, these substances intensify lipid changes – the release of fat from fat cells and their burning with the release of thermal energy. Therefore, by taking on calories beyond our body’s needs, our weight doesn’t change. Thermogenesis is controlled by a number of substances also responsible for the breakdown of stored fat. Most of these hormone-types substances require a common intracellular cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate). This is worth remembering, because a high cAMP level means rapid and long-lasting breakdown of adipose tissue. This means that thermogenesis-increase supplements will also require substances raising cAMP levels, and these are norepinephrine hormone stimulating substances. Below, we compare the 10 best and 10 worst ingredients for fat burning.
The ingredients in this group are safe to use, are high quality and approved for use by health and safety standards. Nature provides the most fat-reducing substances. The spices that we use, and sometimes the drinks, contain certain amounts of active ingredients to help sculpt your body. Have a look and see how many you use every day.
Caffeine – A purine alkaloid included in the group of so-called methylxanthines, occurring naturally in plants (Coffea arabica, Camellia sinensis, Campinas cupana, Ilex paraguariensis) and acting as a natural pesticide with a toxic effect on insects. The peculiar smell and taste also frighten herbivores. Caffeine in the human body blocks the adenosine receptors, fighting fatigue and allowing for intensified activity. It has a beneficial effect on oxygen metabolism, increases physical work capacity (strength and endurance) and accelerates regeneration after working out. In sports supplementation, caffeine is used to stimulate the nervous system. It shows thermogenic potential and, in combination with other substances (such as polyphenols, occurring in coffee beans, cocoa beans, tea leaves and yerba mate), can effectively participate in body fat reduction. Interestingly, caffeine more effectively increases tired then rested muscles’ efficiency. When consumed in small and medium quantities, it also improves thinking processes, concentration and perception. It is an ingredient of many stimulating supplements, for example, creatine stacks, nitric oxide boosters, drinks as well as fat burning components. It is also available as a monopreparation.
Capsaicin – An organic compound found in chilli fruits, soothing pain and having thermogenic properties as a result of triggering epinephrine and norepinephrine release from the adrenal medulla. It provides for improved metabolic processes and fat burning. Use of capsaicin with casein-containing products is not recommended, as those products cause a delay in the change rate and discomfort in the upper abdomen. In sports supplementation, it is used in combination with caffeine, polyphenols from green tea, and in fat reduction and weight control programs. It is also used by people on weight loss plans with only average physical activity.
Raspberry ketones – These are phenolic compounds enhancing lipolysis found in raspberries, that give them their distinctive flavour and aroma. With this property, they reduce the risk of accumulating fat during high-calorie diets, regulate lipid levels in the blood and lower LDL cholesterol fraction values. In combination with caffeine, green tea and other thermogenics, theysupport the fat tissue reduction process in weight control programs.
L-carnitine – A vitamin-like substance, synthesised in the body from amino acids (lysine and methionine) and available in animal-origin food. It is a component of muscle tissue (including the heart) and nervous tissue. It participates in fat metabolism and affects the transport of long-chain fatty acids to cell mitochondria, facilitating their break-down and energy production. It is a powerful antioxidant improving aerobic fitness and accelerating recovery after intense exercise. Recommended for use by endurance athletes. In sports supplementation, carnitine monopreparations and multi-component products are available that have energising, slimming and endurance effects.
Green tea extract – A source of polyphenols, including catechins (such as EGCG – epigallocatechin gallate), showing high antioxidant capacity (protecting against oxidative stress effects) and slightly less lipolytic effect. It also affects testosterone metabolite (DHT) activity, which causes male pattern baldness, and problems associated with prostatic hypertrophy. Chinese tea is available in the form of monopreparates, slimming extracts and dietary supplements with antioxidant capacity: from vitamins and vitamin and mineral preparations, through fat burners, creatine stacks to a variety of agents regulating hormone levels.
CLA – An unsaturated fatty acid with an omega-6 group as a linoleic acid isomer. Foodstuff of animal origin (beef meat and high-fat dairy products). It is thought to have anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. It speeds up the metabolic rate, reduces the digestive enzymes’ activity and is used in slimming diets. Supplements containing CLA (or CLA monopreparates) are indicated for people with different levels of physical activity (from endurance sports to low physical activity), to reduce body fat and improve body weight.
Ginger rhizomes extract – For centuries, Ginger rhizomes extract has been used for digestive problems, or as a warming remedy to fight infections. Its active ingredients, chiefly gingerol, are powerful antioxidants having general thermogenic and topical anti-inflammatory effects. In practice, they are built similarly to capsaicin or piperine molecules, which are responsible for the spiciness in chilies and black peppers. Moreover, most importantly, gingerols stimulate energy production and inhibit the feeling of hunger, which is very helpful when keeping a restrictive diet.
Green coffee extract – A concentrated source of valuable polyphenols. Their quality in unroasted green coffee bean extract compares to compounds in green tea and grape seeds. They intensify the fat burning process and inhibit fat retention in the body. The main component of the extract is chlorogenic acid (ACG), which is an antioxidant that facilitates glucose absorption from the digestive system, influences body fat mass reduction and improves its composition and your overall silhouette. It is a component of many weight loss supplements and different formulations improving overall health.
Synephrine – An organic compound obtained on an industrial scale from a bitter orange fruit (Citrus aurantium), which is widely used in weight-loss processes among athletes, active people and those with sedentary lifestyles. It is a source of synephrine and octopamine, which in combination with caffeine and polyphenols contained in green tea affects lipolysis, by releasing fatty acids from adipocytes and, through increased energy expenditure, cause their burning in the mitochondria. Very popular, especially after ephedrine was de-legalised by the Word Anti-Doping Agency. Use of these preparations is contraindicated by hypertensive persons. In sports supplementation, it is present in slimming and sculpting body programmes as a component of thermogenics, creatine stacks and nitrogen boosters.
Cinnamon bark extract – A patented formulation containing an aqueous cinnamon extract that has a positive effect on insulin metabolism (in terms of glucose level reduction and its tolerance), and nutrients transport (such as amino acids, glucose, creatine) into muscle cells. Improves the lipid profile in the blood by balancing various cholesterol fractions. It has a thermogenic effect and is a component of advanced nutritional supplements for slimming diets, as well as creatine stacks and nitrogen boosters.