Fat Burners 101: Do Fat Burners Work?

Author: Greatest Physiques

January 4th 2021


You’re here because you’ve heard about fat burners and want to know if they’re legitimate.

A high-quality fat burner could help control your dieting cravings and even improve how your body burns fat. Low-quality alternatives on the other hand, well, the only thing they’ll burn is the cash in your wallet. That’s why it’s important to learn the ins-and-outs of fat burners, and what to look for when buying them.

What are fat burners?

Fat burners are interesting, because they don’t always only do what their name suggests. Some increase your resting metabolism via thermogenesis, others however might improve satiety so you can control portion sizes. Occasionally, you’ll find a product that offers mental support for dieters too.

Fat burners are not magic pills that will make you lose 20 lb. in a single week. Instead, they’re dietary aids to boost realistic progress. Natural fat burners can improve results and keep you on track to weight loss success.

Like we said, results won’t be dramatic – users should be realistic and honest with their expectations. But fat burners could stop you reaching for the cookies at work, raise your metabolism, and help your body unlock fuel from fat cells better.

We only recommend taking natural fat burners. Synthetic, lab created chemicals are rarely safe and many are illegal. Losing body fat should be a steady, natural process and no quick fix bodes well for your health. Stick to the slow and steady approach for lasting results.

How do fat burners work?

Essentially, what fat burners do is help your body burn more fat. They don’t all follow the same avenue to get there, but their methods can be pretty similar. Taking them can either reduce hunger, increase energy, improve fat breakdown, boost metabolism, or provide mental stress relief.

Most products pick a few of these methods and roll with them. Occasionally, you might find a product that incorporates all five.

Most fat burners come in capsule form. You’re usually directed to swallow these before food or exercise. Again, this depends on the avenue of attack these products are taking on fat cells.

The kind you take before food probably has more of an appetite suppressing edge. On the other hand, those taken before exercise might improve fat burning during activity.

For fat burners to work you need to be in a calorie deficit. There’s no way to beat the biology -scientists say you must eat fewer calories than you expend to burn fat[1]. Supplement or no supplement, if your calorie count is over, you won’t burn body fat. We recommend trying a small drop of 10-20% below your usual maintenance kcals.

Should I take a fat burner?

Fat Burner for Losing Weight

So, should you take a fat burner? The straight answer is it depends. A fat burner could benefit you if you’re the type of person to stick to the plan. If you’re willing to be consistent with your diet then yes, a fat burner could help. If you want to eat whatever you like and whatever we’re having for dessert, a fat burner won’t help.

Secondly, think about your goals. If you’d like to increase the effectiveness of your workouts and your energy levels during them, a fat burner could help. Struggle with cravings most days? A fat burner could lend a hand here also.

We’d suggest looking at what a fat burner can offer and aligning it to your goals. Not everybody needs to take a fat burners, but they can help certain people.

You shouldn’t take a fat burner if you are or think you are pregnant. The same stands for people with medical conditions, unless a supplement is marked as safe by your doctor. If you have a medical condition and would like to use a fat burner, have a health practitioner check that exact product and go on their guidance.

Best fat-burning ingredients

It’s a tired old cliché to say not all supplements are created equal. Yet, when you stop to think about it, it’s still true. Research dictates that some ingredients are better than others, especially when it comes to burning fat. Below are a list of the best fat burning ingredients you should look out for:

1. Glucomannan

Glucomannan - Fat Burner

Glucomannan – aka konjac root – is a soluble fiber farmed in South East Asia. It’s one of the most popular weight loss aids on the planet, thanks to its ability to suppress appetite. Some experts even see it as the future for preventing obesity.

However, most studies have seen the best results when taken before meals, which is worth noting[2][3].

As a soluble fiber, glucomannan is incredibly gifted at absorbing water. Once inside the stomach it swells into a thick gel, which delays stomach emptying. This also helps you to feel fuller for longer, improving satiety and stopping incoming hunger pangs for dieters.

2. Cayenne pepper

Cayenne Pepper - Fat Burner

Depending on whether you like spicy food, the thought of taking cayenne pepper could make you sweat. Yet, it’s the potent compound capsaicin that gives this ingredient it’s fiery kick that benefits fat burning. Capsaicin is a thermogenic chemical, meaning it increases your metabolism[4][5].

Suppressing appetite is another of cayenne pepper’s superpowers. One study from 2014 saw that when people ate red peppers during each meal, their satiety improved, and they didn’t feel as many intense cravings[6]. Another study showed how people who don’t enjoy hot food actually lost more weight by taking tasteless cayenne pepper capsules[7].

3. Caffeine


Caffeine is the most psychoactive substance on the planet. Yet, besides from jolting you awake in the morning, caffeine can also improve weight loss. It triggers the release of neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, which in turn increases metabolism and fat oxidation[8][9][10]. Fat oxidation is the process of breaking down fat cells for fuel.

Energy is another benefit provided by caffeine[11][12]. It may help to override low-cal dieting drowsiness and allow you to maintain activity levels to aid weight loss. Some fat burners also include caffeine to improve exercise performance for increased calorie burn[13][14].

4. Green tea

Green tea

Green tea is one of nature’s true powerhouses. Inside are many health and wellness promoting compounds called catechins[15]. It also holds a small amount of caffeine, which we’ve already seen can offer weight loss a helping hand.

Epigallocatechin – aka EGCG – is green tea’s most primary catechin for weight loss. Research suggests it works to stop certain enzymes from breaking down fat burning hormones – including those triggered by caffeine ingestion[16][17][18][19][20]. As a result, the fat burning hormones become more abundant and have a better effect.

L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes calm, focus and fat burning, is also present in green tea. This compound is said to smooth caffeinated jitters, helping users improve focus, rather than darting alertness[21].

5. Omega-3

Omega 3

Omega-3s aren’t the most obvious fat burner choice. Yet, although they’re famous for promoting skin, heart, and brain health, they might also aid weight loss.

Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may or may not help suppress hunger. One reported that when a study group took 1.3 g of omega-3s every day, they felt more satisfied after eating[22]. However, during another study, those who took 5 g of omega-3 rich fish oil tended to be hungrier[23]!

The main difference between the two groups was that the satisfied subjects were following a calorie-controlled weight loss diet. Interestingly, some research shows that omega-3 rich fish oil may help obese people feel fuller, whereas non-obese people feel hungrier[24]. As you can see, it’s only possible to say omega-3s may help weight loss, not that they will.

6. White kidney bean

White kidney bean

White kidney bean – aka alpha-amylase inhibitor isoform 1 – is a carbohydrate blocker that’s recently become a popular fat burner ingredient. It’s believed to restrict the digestion of starches, leaving them either undigested or only partially digested[25][26]. This process should mean their calories aren’t absorbed, and if they are, only a limited amount gets through.

Interestingly, white kidney bean seems to offer benefits for people who aren’t on a strict weight loss diet[27]. Its actions can bring about similar results to cutting calories; because technically, it should help prevent some of the caloric energy you eat being absorbed. So, some new fat burners are using white kidney bean to limit dietary slips throwing off their user’s weight loss progress.

Types of fat burners

Earlier we spoke about how fat burners are available in different types. After all, weight loss is an individual process, and it’s important to choose a product that fits your needs. Manufacturer’s are wise to this and design their supplements to suit specific needs. Below we’ll explain four of the most popular fat burner types and their benefits.

1. Appetite suppressants

Dieting relies on one thing alone for success – maintaining a calorie deficit. Scientists say that it doesn’t really matter what foods you choose, when it’s all said and done, calories are king. If you don’t eat fewer calories than you burn over a period, you will not lose body fat weight[28].

Talking about it on paper makes dieting sound simple and easy. Yet, anybody who has cut calories in the past knows how hard it can be to control hunger. Your body knows you’re restricting incoming energy and your mind will fight to reverse your hard work.

Appetite suppressants are added into fat burners to control this hunger.

As a result, you should experience less cravings and find it easier to portion control. People who have a hard time saying no and sneak extra snacks may benefit from this type of product.

2. Thermogenic

A thermogenic fat burner is a product that raises your core temperature. Naturally, your body doesn’t like to stray from homeostasis – aka normality – and works hard to bring your temperature back down.

This process like all others in your body requires energy, which your metabolism provides by unlocking fuel from food or body fat.

If you’re in the calorie deficit described above, the fuel to cool you down can be unlocked from body fat.

Many thermogenic ingredients also improve fat oxidation, otherwise known as turning fat into fuel. They’re great for people who want a product that helps get the most out of their hard work.

3. Stim free

Stim free fat burners are the less obvious choice for supplement buyers. Yet, they’re ideal for anybody sensitive to stimulants – especially caffeine. But, why would a fat burner use stimulants in the first place?

Stimulants are great for helping people overcome perceived fatigue from dieting. Ingredients such as caffeine can make users feel more alert, ready to take on tasks at work or hit the gym. Caffeine alone has also been shown to improve exercise performance and fat burning, which is another reason why it’s so popular.

Fat burners that don’t contain stimulants tend to draw upon alternative energy sources.

These might be serotonin enhancers to improve mood, or B vitamins to support metabolism. The takeaway from all this is that if you’re sensitive to stimulants, you should still be able to use fat burners.

4. Carb blockers

A few years ago, fat burners relied heavily on caffeine and cayenne to do the trick. Newer formulas, however, look to embrace a wider scope of ingredients; with carb blockers becoming increasing popular recently.

Carb blockers are exactly what you’d expect – ingredients that inhibit carbohydrate digestion.

This process can naturally restrict the number of calories absorbed from starchy food, which studies have shown can aid the weight loss process[29].

White kidney bean is nature’s only known carb blocker, and is the type used in modern fat burners. This ingredient is an ideal addition for people who occasionally slip on their diet and/or sometimes have to choose an option without counting calories.


You’re naturally going to have a lot of questions when researching a new supplement. So, here are the most frequently asked questions about fat burners answered for you.

Do fat burners work?

Whether a fat burner works depends entirely on its ingredients. You should be able to find relevant studies to support whatever is inside on the manufacturer’s website. Otherwise, a quick Google will help clear things up for yourself. If the studies back up the product claims, it should work.

But remember you must be in a calorie deficit to burn body fat. No supplement can outmaneuver science, no matter what it claims.

For your fat burner to work its best, make sure to eat fewer calories over a week than you expend.

Are fat burners safe?

Natural fat burning supplements are typically safe. However, there are some lower-quality and synthetic products that are not. Sticking to all-natural fat burners that are well-researched, tested, and free from proprietary blends is encouraged. These products should be safe.

Can I take fat burners on an empty stomach?

Yes, you can take fat burners on an empty stomach. It is usually advised that you take them before a meal or exercise though.

Do nighttime fat burners work?

The effectiveness of a nighttime fat burner depends entirely on its ingredients. Check your choice against recent research and see if its ingredient match expectations.

How long do fat burners stay in your system?

Most fat burners will only stay in your system for one to three days. After one day their effectiveness will probably have worn off, which is why you should take them consistently.

Can fat burners cause depression?

Taking an all-natural fat burner should not cause depression. However, large doses of caffeine may trigger jitteriness, stress, and anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, try a smaller test portion of your product to test your reaction.

The bottom line

Exercise Burning More Calories-min

Fat burners are dietary aids designed to take you one step closer to your weight loss goal. They’re there to help, rather than takeover, which is why they’re best used to accentuate your hard work. Fat burners aren’t a magic pill, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t improve your results.

You’ll find various forms of fat burners, with many newer products rolling different kinds into one. Some may help control hunger and improve fat burners, while another could offer mental support to relieve the stress of dieting.

It’s now quite common to find products with four or five fat loss methods, which is great news for users. We’d recommend trying a multi-method supplement for all-round support.

When choosing a fat burner, it’s important to look for all-natural, well-researched products. Seek expert opinions online and check customer testimonials to hear first-hand accounts. If in doubt, stick to reputable brands with the highest customer satisfaction and check their research.

The best brands are keen to show dieters exactly why their product is the best. You can also check out our best fat burner’s review page to see who is currently leading the market. Rest assured that every product we review is natural, reputable, and well-researched too.


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