Alex Eriksson, Founder of Anabolic Health
So you’ve been working hard to develop your physique. You’ve been doing all sorts of routines and performing all the right exercises but still not seeing the results you want. You even increased the intensity of your workout to a new max yet the scale don’t seem to budge. You seem to have hit the proverbial plateau. A lot of people face this predicament and it’s understandable that it can get disheartening.
If you’re one of these people and you want to get rid of that stubborn, unsightly flab and hasten the weight loss process, you can choose to get help from fat burner supplements.
There are many different ones out there, but which one should you choose? More importantly, will your choice work for your particular body and needs?
The Stimulants vs Non-Stimulant-based Debate
There are two types of fat-burners available on the market. There are stimulant-based and the non-stimulant-based supplements for faster fat burning.
Stimulant-based fat burners incorporate caffeine or other stimulants in the mix. Caffeine increases fat loss in most cases but too high amounts come with side effects. Stimulants increase the levels of stress hormones and neuro-chemicals called catecholamines which can bring on heart palpitations and general restlessness and anxiety as common side effects.
Effective stim-based fat burners often have ephedrine in their mix. Ephedrine is one of the most effective fat-burning stimulants in the history of sports supplements. However, the side effects are quite scary and wide-ranging. Dizziness, jitteriness, sleeplessness, nausea and loss of appetite are among the most common. In extreme cases and doses, ephedrine can even cause death.
Side effects of stim-based supplements can take immediate effect after your workout. You would feel restless and lethargic. This tells you your body is not adapting well to the supplement.
Non-stimulant based fat burners shy away from caffeine and derivative compound. They contain other ingredients which do not produce the harmful side effects that comes from stimulants. They rather often work via hormonal means and does not stress vital organs. They may seem to work slower unlike the stim-based counterparts, but they are healthier alternatives which help you burn fat fast without the harmful effects.
Other Cons against Stim-Based Supplements
Here are some other reasons why you should not choose stimulant based fat burners:
- Rapid Potency Decline – You develop a tolerance to compounds such as caffeine in your system and the effects wear off much faster. Eventually you need to take more and more to get the same effect. This is a bad idea as it also further increases the side effects.
- Sleep Pattern Disruption – Any fitness enthusiast points to sleep as an important aspect of exercise recovery. Ingesting stimulant-based fat burners in the late afternoon can result in sleep disruption and possible insomnia. Your body needs sleep to recover from the strains of your workout. Disrupting your sleep pattern is counter-productive to your goals. Besides, who doesn’t get grumpy from lack of sleep?
- Intolerance – Supplements elicit varied responses for different individuals. Their effects are not generic. Other ingredients in stim-based supplements may react with your system as well. They may react negatively to your pre-existing health conditions and potentially make them worse, especially cardiovascular and blood flow issues.
- Safety Risk – Most stimulants carry a doctor’s warning. Taking excess stimulant-based supplements may damage your heart and raise your blood pressure. This poses a risk for many individuals.
Every individual has genetic mutations which manifest when we ingest drugs. For example, catecholamines elevate when we ingest stimulant-based supplements. They are unpredictable and may affect the ability of the COMT enzyme to break them down. This results in jitteriness, nausea, palpitations and anxiety or panic attacks for individuals genetically prone.
Non-Stimulant Based Fat-burning Supplements
Look for these ingredients when you buy your fat-burning supplements. They do not some with the harmful side effects of stim-based pills:
Derived from an amino acid, carnitine includes L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine compounds. Carnitine is important for energy production. It transfers fatty acids to the mitochondria to be burned and released as energy.
Where do you get carnitine? Carnitine is present in meat, fish, poultry and milk. An average individual does not need to ingest excessive amounts of carnitine. The kidneys and liver produce enough carnitine from lysine and methionine.
Still, taking carnitine supplements will help you burn fat faster. Supplementing with carnitine products such as drinks and pills helps increase your fat-burning rate, eventually leading to a better physique as you shed the unwanted pounds.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
CLA is a derivative of linoleic acid. It’s found in beef and milk although in small amounts. Grass-fed animal products contain more. It increases fat loss but with little to no side effects as those created by stimulants. It suppresses your appetite leading to a lower caloric intake. It increases your metabolic rate and lowers triglycerides and cholesterol. It helps to enhance muscle mass and lowers insulin tolerance. CLA also reduces food-allergies and enhances the immune system.
Made from safflower or sunflower oil, supplemental CLA also prevents storage and accumulation of fat in the body. A less common source but probably an easier to incorporate for most people is through the grass-fed butter found in many low-carb coffee creamer products.
Found in sesame seeds, oats and flax, sesamin is a lignin compound. It increases activity of liver enzymes involved in fat metabolism. This helps reduce fat storage and increases fat usage. It also has mild estrogen-inhibiting effects. Blocking estrogen increases fat oxidation and reduces stored fat faster.
This is one of the surprising inclusions in the list, but seaweeds are indeed rich in alginate which suppresses digestion of fat. This leads to less fat absorption and obesity risk.
They are also good sources of siphonaxathin. This inhibits development of fat cells and stops fat storage in tissues.
Seaweeds are good sources of carotenoids and fucoidan. Carotenoids have antioxidant properties that improve the immune system. Fucoidan is effective against obesity as it stimulates fat breakdown. It increases metabolic rate to help in burning more calories.
Fucoidan is also an excellent source of iodine which regulates the thyroid. The thyroid affects metabolic rate and fat burning. An increase in the supply of iodine can regulate the thyroid to affect better weight loss.
Low carbohydrate diets assist in weight loss. They make the body breakdown fat more efficiently, reducing the stores. This also produces ketone bodies from fat breakdown, which is an alternative energy source other than glucose.
Ketone bodies signal the brain that you achieved a ketosis-state. Using ketones to fuel your weight loss results can increase endurance and provide higher fat burning capabilities. It also leads to lower heart rate and oxygen consumption.
You should use exogenous ketone supplements in partnership with intermittent fasting as this will kick-start a state of ketosis. Ideally you should also consume lower glycemic index foods to attain best results.
The Verdict is out
Stimulant-based fat-burning supplements work. They can quickly boost your strength and endurance but usually only for short bursts. They could also have several negative side effects. You risk your health with extended excess use. Especially if you’re sensitive to stimulants, you would be better off avoiding them from now on.
Non-stimulant based fat-burners incorporate natural elements to stimulate hormonal regulation and metabolism. They allow your body to burn more fat from its stores, resulting in better weight loss. In the long run, it is the better choice to take non-stim supplements.