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Frequently Asked Questions About Fat Burners
Fat burners are supplements marketed as ways to lose stubborn fat. They may contain stimulants, appetite suppressants or other ingredients designed to help men lose weight faster.
“Fat burners are all composed of a variety of ingredients, so it’s difficult to make a blanket statement here, but generally they are marketed to help speed up metabolism and burn fat. Oftentimes these supplements contain caffeine and a variety of vitamins that may improve fat metabolism,” said Serena Poon, celebrity chef and nutritionist.
According to the experts we talked to, fat burners won’t lose the weight for you. They can complement other methods for losing weight — like a healthy diet and plenty of exercise — but taken on their own they won’t do much.
Poon shared “I would recommend working with a professional who can help you identify the root cause of your weight loss resistance. There are many reasons that you might not be losing weight with a diet and exercise plan.”
Poon also recommended making sure your specific weight loss program is in line with your needs. “For instance, one study shows that resistance training three times per week may help decrease abdominal fat and fat metabolism or maybe there are some sneaky ingredients in your diet that are hindering your weight loss efforts.”
“Look into your sleep, rest and recovery schedule. Sleep deprivation and chronic stress can be two reasons that you can’t lose stubborn weight. Get your vitamin levels checked to see if you are inadequate in any important nutrients. Vitamins B6, B12, C, D, E, and Folate are all proven to support a healthy metabolism, so you may want to start by looking into these nutrients and incorporate foods that are rich in these vitamins into your regimen,” said Poon.
She also added that “A hormone imbalance can also cause changes in your weight. Imbalanced hormones can be the result of a lack of sleep, stress, or an undiagnosed condition such as thyroid issues.”
Both Dr. Houman and Poon echoed the same sentiment when it comes to fat burners: they aren’t a quick fix and shouldn’t be treated as such.
“It really is beneficial to put the energy into understanding your body and its needs and developing nutrition, exercise and mindfulness programs accordingly. Fat burners cannot be a long term solution and in some instances can be very dangerous,” said Poon.
“For instance, there have been reports of fat burners causing liver damage (green tea extract, which is sometimes an ingredient in these supplements can also have deleterious effects on your liver).
You might be asking yourself if you should take fat burners after all of this information. I asked both health professionals we interviewed for this piece whether or not they recommend them to patients trying to lose weight. Dr. Houman does not, and recommends a healthy balance of diet and exercise instead.
“I generally don’t recommend them. If somebody wants to lose weight, I tell them that losing weight comes down to three things: eating a healthy diet, exercising or moving around at least 20 minutes every day and sleeping, getting at least 7 hours of sleep,” said Dr. Houman.
“If guys take these on their own it’s fine but I never recommend them for leaning out. Because there are other, better ways of doing that.”