The Fat-Burner category is one of the most over-crowded in the supplement industry. New products are rolled out daily that claim they’ll help you burn fat and lose weight but very few of them make good on these claims.
The truth is…
Most of them either contain ingredients that flat out don’t work or “would be” effective ingredients that are under-dosed (and therefore ineffective).
The Reason Most Fat Burners Don’t Work
“Why would any company intentional make ineffective products?” you might say “Surely ineffective products don’t succeed in the long run!”…but what you’re forgetting is that most owners of supplement companies are just trying to make a quick buck.
They don’t care if they their customers don’t buy the product again because all they need to do is get a million people to buy their outrageously over-priced nonsense one time each and they can cash out and go lay on a beach somewhere.
There are some companies that do things the right way, utilize effective ingredients at clinical doses, and have appropriately priced products.
You’ll find 10 of them on our Top 10 Fat-Burners list, but the absolute best fat-burner for you is going to be one that you create from scratch to meet your personal needs and preferences. So let’s get started!
To Stim, Or Not To Stim?
Whether or not to incorporate stimulants in your fat-burner is probably the most crucial decision you’ll make throughout the process.
While it is true that some fat-burners go way over the top with possibly dangerous stimulants, a few well-selected stimulants can make a huge difference in terms of how well it works.
There are some non-stimulant supplements that are effective fat-burners, but if you’re trying to burn as much fat as possible (most people are), you’re going to want to throw some stimulants in the mix.
Most stimulants that are psychoactive share a basic mechanism of action in that they raise levels of certain neurotransmitters such as Dopamine and Noradrenaline which burn fat. Anything that raises levels of these neurotransmitters will, at least to some degree, encourage fat-loss.
Not all stimulants work the same way, however. Some are more selective for some neurotransmitters than others, making them more or less effective for burning fat. Some have additional mechanisms by which they burn fat.
Ultimately, you’re goal should be to select an ideal mix of stimulants based on how each one actually works. You shouldn’t just toss a bunch of stimulants into your formula and hope for the best. Plenty of companies already do that and it’s surprising more people aren’t dropping dead!
Anyway, let’s discuss some stimulants that are actually worth considering for your fat-burner…
Caffeine triggers the release of a group of chemicals collectively referred to as Catecholamines. These are the same chemicals that make you more alert and give you that “in the zone” feeling so when you’re feeling that Caffeine buzz, your also going to be breaking down more fat through the process of Lipolysis.FIND IT HERE
On it’s own, Caffeine isn’t particularly useful as a fat-loss supplement because repeated use tends to result in tolerance build-up, but a little Caffeine makes for an excellent addition to any fat-burner because it can amplify the efficacy of other ingredients (such as those discussed below).
Synephrine is somewhat contraversial because it is compared to Ephedrine in terms of chemical structure and function. Like Ephedrine, Synephrine is a beta-receptor agonist meaning it can directly stimulate Lipolysis and increase the Metabolic Rate. While it is true that they share the same basic mechanism of action, Synephrine and Ephedrine are very different and the research indicates that Synephrine is remarkably well-tolerated by just about everyone.FIND IT HERE
Synephrine should ideally be dosed at 50mg/day and can be stacked with Naringin and Hesperidin for enhanced efficacy.
Yohimbine is a molecule which is naturally occuring in a variety of plants and happens to be a potent alpha-receptor antagonist, meaning it blocks the receptors that ordinary block lipolysis (fat-breakdown). This results in the ability to burn more fat during exercise than would generally be possible and research indicates Yohimbine can yield significant reductions in fat mass in as litte as two weeks.FIND IT HERE
Yohimbine should be dosed at 10-20mg/day, with 20mg being a true clinical dose. Unfortunately, some people are just not meant to take Yohimbine and experience horrible side effects including jitters, anxiety, etc. so start small and work your way up. Don’t start out with 10-20mg right away. Work your way up from 2.5-5mg and stop taking it if the side effects become too much.
You could also try Rauwolscine…
Rauwolscine, also known as Alpha-Yohimbine, is a slightly altered form of Yohimbine. The two molecules are almost exactly the same, but Rauwolscine is more potent by weight, requiring only a few milligrams to be effective. Anecdotal reports also suggest Rauwolscine is less causative of side effects such as jitters and anxiety.
Rauwolscine is effective at doses ranging from 1-3mg and you’ll quickly find that you don’t need anything more than that. Rauwolscine is extremely potent and, like Yohimbine, can lead to noticeable reductions in fat mass and improved body composition in just a couple weeks.
Hordenine is a mild Monoamine Oxidase inhibitor, meaning it blocks the enzymes responsible for breaking down Monoamines such as Noradrenaline and Dopamine (released by Caffeine). Human studies are non-existent, but Hordenine may amplify the effects of other stimulants such as Caffeine. This makes it worthwhile if you’re trying to maximize fat-burning.FIND IT HERE
Hordenine doesn’t have any established clinical dose but is generally found in doses of 50-100mg.
What About Theacrine?
Theacrine is a stimulant like Caffeine, but is more selective of Dopamine than Noradrenaline. You can use it if you want, and it may make you feel more energetic and focused, but there isn’t any evidence to suggest that it can burn fat better than Caffeine.
In fact, because it is more selective of Dopamine, it’s probably less effective than Caffeine as a fat-burner, but only studies will tell. For now, we’ll leave Theacrine in the “maybe” pile. Experiment with it if you must, but it’s not going to make your fat-burner much better at burning fat.
Non-Stimulant Fat Burning Ingredients
Most multi-ingredient fat-burners—even those that are more stimulant oriented—contain some non-stimulant ingredients as well. While it is true that there are some effective non-stimulant fat-burning ingredients you should incorporate into your fat-burner, most of the popular ingredients don’t work.
Unfortunately, we still operate in an industry (the supplement industry) where companies put out products first and ask questions later. All it takes is one or two studies in mice that indicate a particular supplement can help with fat-loss, and you’ll see a ton of companies use that ingredient in their products. It just has to do with the fact that there are so many companies competing in a relatively small arena, so everyone wants to jump on anything that can give them a temporary advantage.
The problem is that this compulsion to be the first-mover translates into a lot of over-hyped products that end up not making good on the claims attached to them. Examples of ingredients which showed initial efficacy, were hyped beyond belief, and then determined in actual human studies to not be particularly effective are:
- Raspberry Ketone
- Garcinia Cambogia
- Green Coffee Extract
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Even though these ingredients have all been scientifically proven to either not work well or not work at all, you’ll still see them in tons of multi-ingredient fat-burners. The companies that use these ingredients are usually either extremely powerful companies that will sell a million units of whatever they put out whether it works or not (like MuscleTech), or they just don’t really care about research and put those ingredients in their formulas based off the hype. This is just another reason why you should create your own fat-burner.
So let’s talk about some non-stimulant ingredients that actually do work…
Forskolin is a molecule found in Coleus Forskohlii which has actually been studied fairly extensively as a weight-loss agent. Multiple studies have confirmed that supplementation with 50mg/day can result in weight-loss over time. It works by increasing cAMP, a signaling molecule which initiates lipolysis.
In fact, Forskolin is so reliable at incrasing cAMP that it is used by scientists in experiments where a high cAMP environment is needed.FIND IT HERE
A true clinical dose of Forskolin is 50mg/day. Make sure that any Coleus Forskohlii supplement lists the standardization for Forskolin. Don’t trust supplements that don’t tell you how much of the active component is present.
Fucoxanthin is naturlly occuring molecule in brown seaweed which has been shown to induce weight-loss when supplemented for several weeks. It works by increasing the activity of Uncoupling Proteins in White Adipose Tissue, effectively increasing the Metabolic Rate.
It won’t instantly torch belly fat, but it is an effective longterm option and is quite safe.FIND IT HERE
Fucoxanthin is active at doses of 2-8mg/day. It takes time to accumulate in fat tissue so higher doses may cause more rapid accumulation.
Green Tea Extract
Green Tea Extract is found in a wide variety of weight-loss supplements these days. EGCG, the primary active component in Green Tea Extract is a Catechol-O-Methyltransferase inhibitor, meaning it blocks the enzyme responsible for the degradation of Catecholamines.
In this regard, it is synergistic with Caffeine and should only really be used as weight-loss supplement if Caffeine is also used. By itself, it’s not particularly effective but EGCG can increase the fat-burning effects of Caffeine.FIND IT HERE
There are a ton of brands that sell Green Tea Extract but it’s important to find one that is standardized for EGCG content. It doesn’t matter how much total Green Tea Extract there is, it’s the EGCG you want.
Ideally, you’ll want to consume 400-500mg of EGCG per day, but not all at the same time, as Green Tea Extract can cause nausea in high doses.
You can also obtain much higher amounts of EGCG from Matcha than ordinary Green Tea.
Support Ingredients To Consider
Once you’ve selected your primary active ingredients, you may want to consider tossing in some support ingredients. These are essentially ingredients that do not have any inherent weight-loss properties but may enhance the abilities of other ingredients and favorably impact the overall formula. There are of course an infinite number of additional ingredients you could include but we’ll just discuss a few of the most notable…
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that’s pretty plentiful in the average person’s diet (assuming you can enough protein) but, because it is a pre-precursor to Dopamine and Noradrenaline, it’s often supplemented for the purpose of maintaining adequate levels of these neurotransmitters. Research has established that Tyrosine does not directly increase Dopamine or Noradrenaline levels but appears to be useful for preserving them in instances where they would normally decline.
Stimulants such as Caffeine trigger the release of Catecholamines (including Dopamine and Noradrenaline) and therefore increase the need to produce more. By serving as a substrate for the production of Dopamine and Noradrenaline, Tyrosine may very well support the cognitive effects of these substances, even if it doesn’t impact cognitive function directly.FIND IT HERE
Tyrosine is almost always under-dosed when it appears in pre-workouts and fat-burner. You need atleast 2g of L-Tyrosine but should ideally shoot for 3-5g/day.
Theanine is a non-dietary amino acid found in Green Tea. Research has shown that it not only possesses anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties but also is able synergistically enhance the cognitive effects of Caffeine while reducing the liklihood of negative side effects such as jitters or anxiety.
Theanine does not have any inherent weight-loss implications, but it makes sense to include Theanine in any formula that also contains Caffeine.FIND IT HERE
The amount of Theanine you take depends more on the amount of Caffeine you take than anything. It may take some experimentation to find your ideal dose, but studies indicate Theanine is active at anywhere from 50-400mg.
Citicoline, also known as CDP Choline, is known as a “pro-drug” for Choline. It is one of the few highly bioavailable sources of Choline that can actually cross the blood-brain-barrier and be converted into Acetycholine. The other would be Alpha GPC.
Unlike many other not-so-bioavailable forms of Choline (like Choline Bitartrate), Citicoline has actually been shown to enhance cognitive function in healthy, normal individuals, so it doesn’t just apply to people with cognitive decline.
It makes sense to include Citicoline in any formula that seeks to boost cognitive function or preserve it in instances where it would normally decline (such as a calorie-restricted diet or fasted training).FIND IT HERE
Citicoline should ideally be dosed at 250-500mg/day. A higher dose isn’t necessarily better in this case, as 250mg has been shown to be just as effective for cognitive enhancement as 500mg.
The Bottom Line On Creating Your Own Fat-Burner
When it comes to formulating supplements, simplicity is a virtue. Too many supplements take the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach and end up just being too much.
In fact, if you combine every ingredient we discussed at an effective dose, you’ll probably just throw up. We covered a lot of ground in this article, but what you should really do is start simple.
Just pick a few ingredients, test them out, and make improvements where necessary.
You might find that it takes many itterations to get the winning formula. Good luck, and feel free to comment below with thoughts, questions, concerns, etc!