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What Are Fat Burners?

What Are They and How Do They Work to Burn Fat?

If you’re new to the weight loss world, there are probably a lot of terms thrown around that you don’t fully understand. For example, you know you want to “burn fat,” but what does that actually entail? And what does it mean when an extract or a diet pill describes itself as a “fat burner?”

Before you go shopping for a weight loss supplement, it’s a good idea to improve your understanding of exactly what you need to do to burn fat. This way, you won’t be taken in by impressive verbiage and over-confident advertising.

Here’s a quick rundown of how fat burning works, some natural extracts that facilitate the process, and how to choose a diet pill that uses them correctly.

The Fat-Burning Process

The phrase “fat burning” is really a catchy moniker for the process of expending calories for energy. When you expend more calories than you consume, the body breaks down fat and fat is “burned.”

Believe it or not, you expend calories all the time — even when you’re in couch potato mode. However, because the body draws from readily available calories, most of the time you’re expending the calories you consumed throughout the day. To deplete this supply and start burning fat for energy, you need to expend a lot of calories every day.

You also need to consume fewer calories, to allow the body to turn to fat sources quicker. If you don’t, the excess calories you consume will be stored as fat.

Because expending enough calories to burn fat can be difficult, many people choose to use natural fat burners like herbal extracts to jumpstart the metabolism and trigger “fat burning.”

Most natural fat burners are stimulants, which means they stimulate the central nervous system to create heat and increase metabolic rate. A faster metabolism means your body is expending more calories both at rest and during exercise. This improves your ability to lose weight.

Natural Fat Burners

So what are these natural fat burners? I’ll highlight a few of the most common and effective fat burners available. Be sure to pay attention to potential side effects before you decide which are right for you.

Caffeine: Arguably the most popular fat burner, caffeine is an inexpensive extract with a pretty good track record of effectiveness. A mild central nervous system stimulant, caffeine burns fat by increasing metabolic rate. In a 1994 study, women taking caffeine saw their metabolic rate increase and consequently, their BMI decrease[1]. This doesn’t mean you can lose weight by drinking coffee or soda, however. You need to find a caffeine extract like caffeine anhydrous.

Chili Pepper: This is a natural fat burner you can find in the grocery store or use as a seasoning. Chili pepper contains the compound capsaicin, which is a stimulant associated with both weight loss and weight maintenance[2]. For the most part, it operates without side effects.

Raspberry Ketone: Raspberry ketone is another stimulant that works without causing too many side effects. This chemical in red raspberries stimulates fat burning by increasing metabolism and affecting the hormone adiponectin. These effects were demonstrated in a 2004 study involving mice[3].

Yohimbe: Another powerful stimulant, yohimbe mimics caffeine’s effects with more potency. In a 1991 study, it was found trigger measurable weight loss in overweight women[4]. However, it carries severe side effects that make its use concerning. Yohimbe’s effect on the central nervous system sometimes causes heart attack and stroke, for example. If you choose to use yohimbe, make sure you don’t have an existing heart condition and that you use a dose less than 100 mg. You should also avoid pairing it with caffeine or other stimulants.

Coleus Forskohlii: The roots of the coleus forskohlii plant contain forskolin, a natural stimulant and fat burner that doesn’t carry the same level of side effects as yohimbe and caffeine. In a 2005 study, forskolin decreased body fat percentage and fat mass by a significant amount[5].

Conjugated Linoleic Acid: There are also natural fat burners that don’t affect the central nervous system. The most popular of these is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA decreases body fat while also preserving muscle. Unfortunately, most weight loss with CLA is modest[6]. Some studies even report no CLA benefits.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of other natural fat burners that work just as well. Just be sure to find scientific studies that demonstrate their effectiveness and research potential side effects so you know what you’re getting into.

Fat-Burning Diet Pills

Choosing from these natural fat burners like you would salad toppings from a buffet isn’t the best approach to weight loss. Many of these fat burners only work in certain amounts, and others are more effective when taken in conjunctions with other extracts.

To solve these uncertainties, many people choose to use diet pills described as “fat burners.” These diet pills are—at least in theory—manufactured by people who understand the science behind fat burning and use natural fat burners in the best way possible to help dieters lose weight.

Nevertheless, be sure to do your own research to see if the ingredients are effective, safe, and included in their recommended amounts. This can save you a lot of heartache later.

Remember, many diet pills are effective, so don’t dismiss them all as ineffective bait for gullible dieters.

Keeping all of this information in mind, you should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and find an effective diet pill to support your weight loss program.


    • [1] Costill, D.L., G.P. Dalsky, and W.J. Fink. 1978. Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports: Vol. 10, Issue 3.
    • [2] Manuela, P.G., M. Lejeune, M. Eva, R. Kovacs, and S. Margriet. 2003. Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight loss maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition: Vol. 90, 651-659.
    • [3] Morimoto, C., Y. Satoh, M. Hara, S. Inoue, and T. Tsujita. 2005. Anti-obese action of raspberry ketone. Life Sciences: Vol. 77, Issue 2.
    • [4] Kuehne, Martin and Randy Muth. 1991. Total syntheses of yohimbe alkaloid, with stereoselection for the normal, allo, and 3-epiallo series, based on annelations of 4-methoxy-1,2-dihydropyridones. Journal of Organic Chemistry: Vol. 56, Issue 8.
    • [5] Godard, M.P., B.A. Johnson, and S.R. Richmond. 2005. Body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with forskolin consumption in overweight and obese men. Obesity Research: Vol. 13, Issue 8.
    • [6] Blankson, Henrietta, Jacob Stakkestad, Hans Fagertun, Erlin Thom, Jan Wadsetin, and Ola Gudmundsen. 2000. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. The Journal of Nutrition: Vol. 143, Issue 2.

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