Fat Burner Pills: Do they Work or Are they a Scam?
You’re browsing your favourite online protein store and you see something under the “products you may be interested in” heading: fat burner pills.
”So I can just pop some of these and the fat will just melt away from my body?”
This happens to all of us at some point on the road to pursuing a leaner and more muscular physique.
I’ve been sold the fat burner dream
I took fat burner pills for a while. I’ve been able to lose fat very successfully (at a very rapid rate too).
However, this did not happen when I took fat burner pills! This happened due to a conscious effort to create a calorie deficit by eating less food.
I do not recommend you take fat burners. Read on for why:
What are fat burner pills and do they even work?
Fat burner pills as basically what they sound like. They’re a pill you take (3 times a day according to the label!) and they will supposedly help you to lose fat.
But do Fat Burner Pills Work?
Nope, not even a little bit.
What, that’s it?
Alright then, I’ll elaborate.
Fat burner pills are a scam, a complete waste of money, are evil, and will do absolutely nothing to help your weight loss.
I actually think they do more to prevent weight loss than aid it.
Fat burners don’t directly make people gain weight but they prevent people from seeing the light and losing fat. They promote behaviours that cause weight gain.
They reinforce the message that it matters less about what you eat or how you train, and that there’s a “magic bullet” or pill that will basically give you a shortcut to results while doing less work.
This is of course completely wrong.
Fat loss only happens when you’re in a calorie deficit. Fat burner pills don’t affect your calorie balance at all – except maybe to make your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) higher by making you fidget more because of all the caffeine. This is only a tiny amount probably only equivalent to one tiny piece (not one bar) of chocolate.
So don’t go thinking “oh if I take those fat burner pills 3 times a day, I’ll be able to eat cake and pizza and I’ll still lose weight, or at least not gain weight…”
This is exactly what I mean about fat burner pills causing weight gain by reinforcing the wrong message. People use them as an excuse to eat stupidly and not worry about their calories.
People don’t even know that simply eating fewer calories than their maintenance is the ONLY way to lose fat. They may have heard it, but don’t want to believe it. Fat loss pills sound a lot easier!
Sadly, keeping people from losing weight isn’t the worst crime we can lay at the door of fat burners…
Unfortunately, some people thought fat burners were the magic bullet they were crying out for. The answer to their prayers. In these sad examples, fat burners turned out to be a bullet, but not a magic one.
Many people ignore, or don’t read, the instructions and take more of the fat burning pills than recommended, thinking this will speed up results. This can have very severe consequences including renal failure and death.
- Mother of four dies taking fat burning pills.
- 21 year old student “burns up inside” after taking fat burning pills bought on internet.
- Fat burning pills cause death of boxer
There are many more examples. These are just the first three I found in about 3 minutes of searching. I am sure I could have made a list longer than this blog post, but I got too angry doing the research.
Let’s Look at what’s In One
So what’s in a fat burner pill?
Generally, the majority of fat burner pills will be harmless if you take them as directed on the label (so don’t overdose) and they’re bought from a reputable company – not off of some random person on ebay.
The one I’m looking at here is called “Thermopro”. This is the one I took, back when I knew less than I do now. I bought it from a reputable UK based company that sells a variety of both useful and useless supplements. I still shop with them for the useful stuff (basically just protein and occasionally a multivitamin and omega 3 tablets).
Ingredients of a fat burner:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B5
- L Tyrosine
- Caffeine (450mg)
- N-Acetyl L-Carnitine
- Bitter Orange Peel
- White Kidney Bean Extract
- Green Tea Extract
- Guarana Extract
- Green Coffee Extract
- Cayenne Powder
- Black Pepper Extract
You most likely WILL feel something if you take this. That’s because it’s got 450mg of caffeine in it! The average cup of coffee has about 90mg! Would you drink 5 coffees at once? Of course that’s going to have an impact on your gym performance. It might also keep you awake all night and make your heart work overtime.
Such a large dose of caffeine DOES have an impact on workout performance, however, it does NOT make you lose fat.
Once again, only a calorie deficit makes you lose fat.
All of that caffeine is going to make you more active.
You’ll be twitching all night and rushing backwards and forwards at home getting all kinds of stuff done! You might burn an extra 100 calories! If you currently eat at maintenance, then you’ll now be in a deficit of 100 calories per day.
At that rate, you will take roughly one year to lose 10 pounds of fat. Pretty slow progress (remember this is only IF you were eating at maintenance already, and IF the fat burner does result in an extra 100 calories being burned through NEAT – quite doubtful.)
You know what else can get you MORE than 100 calories towards a calorie deficit?
Not eating one bar of chocolate.
Or just eating smaller meals.
By just tracking the foods you eat and making an effort to bring down the calories, you can easily save a lot more than 100 calories per day and EASILY lose 10 pounds in 10 or even 5 weeks (depending on where you’re starting from).
This pill is basically just a pre-workout
With the amount of caffeine in this pill, it’s basically just a pre-workout supplement mixed with a hefty dose of placebo.
Pretty much all of the ingredients on there are doing absolutely nothing. Green coffee extract? Cayenne Power? Guarana and pepper extract? Do you really think this stuff is going to cause fat to drop off you vs. the actually tried, tested and verified method of just reducing what you eat?
The first few times I took these, I had noticeably good workouts. Maybe part of it was placebo, but I’m pretty sure 450mg of caffeine had something to do with it too.
I felt like a beast, able to power through double the amount of sets! It was amazing… for a few weeks.
Eventually I adapted to the tablets and they no longer had the same effect on me. I basically started to RELY on them just to have workouts of the same intensity that I’d been having before I began taking them!
You can see how this could be a slippery slope… You start looking for the next pre-workout, the next supplement, the next magic pill that is going to get you back on the gains train.
I got myself off it pretty sharpish. It was crap for a while, feeling very tired in the gym and having less energy to complete my workouts.
Eventually I got over what I guess was basically a caffeine addiction, and I haven’t looked back since.
Don’t bother with fat burners, they’re not necessary! If we all stop buying them they will no longer be produced.
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