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You've heard of fat burners, those pills that can make fat melt off your body like ice cream on a hot summer day, right? Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but even the best fat burners aren't magic. They're just supplements. That means that even though they're designed with ingredients that can really give you an extra boost to help burn fat, they can't replace a solid diet and exercise plan.
One of the reasons your metabolism isn't burning away fat as efficiently as you'd like? Look to your magnesium levels. This essential micronutrient is required for the body to produce and store energy, and also helps boost lipolysis (a process by which your body releases fat from its stores to use as energy)—yet 75 percent of Americans do not get their RDA of this important metabolism-boosting mineral. Just a half cup of pumpkin seeds provides nearly 100 percent of your daily magnesium needs.
Are the weight loss claims about these ingredients necessarily true? It seems to depend on the type of thermogenic fat burners in question, the active ingredients that are used in the products, dosages taken and an individual person’s response. Active ingredients that are commonly used in thermogenic supplements vary by brand but usually contain a mix of stimulants, herbs and acids. Testimonials, along with findings from certain studies, suggest that thermogenics do seem to work for some — however in some cases their ingredients can also be dangerous or totally ineffective.
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These supplements also make it harder for your body to absorb more fat from the foods you eat. In addition, they can also make it easier for you to stick to your diet and keep your caloric intake low to prevent additional weight gain. All in all, they are designed to help you lose weight and decrease the amount of body fat you have by increasing your metabolism.
So, what is a fat burner? As explained in the journal Obesity Reviews, the term "fat burner" is used to describe "nutrition supplements that are claimed to acutely increase fat metabolism or energy expenditure, impair fat absorption, increase weight loss, increase fat oxidation during exercise, or somehow cause long-term adaptations that promote fat metabolism." However, that's a wide range of functions, and in pill form especially, it can mean a lot of things! So, let's dig a little deeper.
Aging men – As our bodies age, our metabolism slows down and our testosterone levels start dropping. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just the way it works! If you’ve noticed that you’re putting on weight and you haven’t changed your diet or exercise habits, it may be that your metabolism is slowing down. If so, adding a fat burner or testosterone booster can potentially help you get back on track and stay in shape!
The main ingredient in most fat burners is caffeine, which helps you lose weight by increasing your metabolism and helping the body use fat for fuel. It also helps provide energy for exercise and other calorie-burning activities. In the body, caffeine increases the breakdown of fatty acids that reside in adipose tissue—also known as belly fat. Once the fatty acids are broken down, they enter the bloodstream and can be burned up by our bodies to create energy.
High-Fiber Foods: These include things like chia seeds, flaxseeds or fresh veggies and berries. Because fiber is not able to be digested once consumed, plus it absorbs so much of its own weight in water, these foods help slow your body’s digestion of glucose (sugar), keep you feeling full and beat cravings. Many foods high in fiber are also very nutritionally dense, meaning you get more bang for your nutritional buck.
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This brilliantly orange root is a powerful fat fighter. According to a 2009 study by the USDA, mice whose diets were supplemented with turmeric experienced reduced weight gain and body fat levels even when their food intake was not changed. Experts believe the power of this spice comes from the active ingredient curcumin: Studies, including one published in the journal Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, have found that curcumin is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory options out there. Because it's more difficult for your body to lose weight when you're fighting off inflammation, adding anti-inflammatory turmeric will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Talk about the ultimate in fat burning foods!
Known as "forbidden rice" because only emperors were allowed to eat it, black rice may be the cheapest source of antioxidants around. According to the American Chemical Society, black rice has more antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries, with more satiating fiber, more vitamin E, and less sugar. More antioxidants mean less inflammation, which means less fat storage for you.
Bad breath is but a small price to pay for reaching your body goals, right? According to a recent Japanese study, when rats were put on a high-fat diet, the animals that were also given a garlic compound gained less weight than their peers. Experts attribute the fat-fighting benefits to a powerful compound in garlic called allicin. (It also happens to be the same compound that gives garlic its pungent taste and smell.)
If you're not up for crunching numbers every day, you can take a more generalized approach. “For some people, it’s knowing, ‘Typically I eat a whole sandwich,’” says Gagliardi. “Now, I’m going to eat half a sandwich at lunch and save the other half for my dinner and cut my calories in half." To get started, consider these 25 ways to cut 500 calories a day.
Caffeine: Studies show possible modest effects on body weight or decreased weight gain over time when consuming caffeine. Caffeine is usually OK in small to moderate amounts for most people but can also cause side effects like heart palpitations and restlessness. There’s no sound evidence that caffeine alone will help you lose weight, and the cons of taking too much caffeine definitely seem to outweigh the pros.
Say cheese! Adding some extra calcium and vitamin D to your diet could be the best way to get the flat stomach you've been dreaming about. Over just 12 months, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville found that obese female study subjects who upped their calcium intake shed 11 pounds of body fat without other major dietary modifications. To keep your calcium choices healthy, try mixing it up between dairy sources, calcium-rich leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
Surprised? Although olive oil contains fat, it actually contains a type of healthy fat that has been found to decrease levels of fat-storing inflammation. According to a review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, a polyphenol only found in unrefined extra virgin olive oil—oleocanthal—reduces inflammation in a similar way that ibuprofen does: it prevents the production of two pro-inflammatory enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2.
Whether you're adding it to your smoothie or having it as the perfect post-workout recovery fuel, Greek yogurt will help you build muscle. This creamy snack is brimming with muscle-building protein—about 20 grams in a 7-ounce cup. It has the one-two punch of vitamin D and calcium, which turn off cortisol, a stress hormone that causes the body to hang on to belly fat. Don't believe us? Take it from the researchers at the University of Tennessee who found that people who ate 18 ounces of Greek yogurt a day lost 22 percent more weight and 81 percent more belly fat than those who didn't.
L‐carnitine: This stimulant-free amino acid has been physique athletes' secret weapon for decades. Taken once or twice daily with food, it can also help your body convert stored body fat into energy, leaving you leaner and more defined. It does this by breaking up fatty acids so the body can use them for fuel. As Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., explains in "Your Expert Guide to L-Carnitine," it has also been shown in studies to support recovery from workouts, reduce muscle damage, and even reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.
While few would suggest you start hitting up the tanning beds for better health, getting some natural sunlight can help you get rid of belly fat in a matter of weeks. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that vitamin D-deficient overweight women between 50 and 75 who upped their intake of the so-called sunshine vitamin shed more weight and body fat than those who didn't. To practice safe sun, make sure you're limiting yourself to 15 sunscreen-free minutes per day.