Fat burners have become very popular in today’s society, especially in America. It seems that everyone is looking for a “quick fix” to their problem…and that is why they, therefore, turn to those “awesome” fat burners where you can just pop a pill and “lose 30 pounds in 10 days!”
However, do these fat burners actually work? Do they actually provide any benefits? Do $40-$100 price tags justify their benefits? Here we will investigate some of claims that they make such as
-increased thermogenesis -decreased appetite -weight loss without exercising -increased energy
However, before I go into any more detail about fat burners, you must understand two important concepts:
Total Daily Energy Expenditure and The Law of Thermodynamics (don’t worry –they’re quite simple).
Everyone has a set number known as “Total Daily Energy Expenditure” or TDEE for short. Your TDEE is how many calories your body uses per day to keep itself going. Pretty much everyone’s TDEE is different, and it changes everyday depending upon how much work your body does that day or if you gained more muscle mass, etc... This number can be affected by such things as genetics, how much muscle mass you have, what you do during day, etc.
You can get a rough estimate of you TDEE at http://www.weight-loss-resources.com/calculators/dailycalories.html
Once you understand TDEE, there is another simple concept to understand. This concept is known as The First Law of Thermodynamics (don’t worry – our application of it is simple). This law states:
1. If you eat more calories than your TDEE, you gain weight (this weight can be muscle or fat or a number of other things, but that’s for another article)
2. If you eat less calories than your TDEE, you lose weight (once again, this can really be anything)
3. If you eat same amount of calories as your TDEE, your weight stays same
So, in order to lose fat, you must create some sort of calorie deficit between your TDEE and number of calories you eat. However, deficit cannot be too large – otherwise your body will go into starvation mode. For more information on this topic you can check out www.burn-the-fat-feed-the-muscle.com.
Back to fat burners.
Thermogenesis is essentially a fancy word for TDEE. Saying that a product will increase thermogenesis is like saying it will increase your TDEE – which would mean that you burn more calories per day. Many of products in these fat burner’s will increase your rate of calorie expenditure, but not by very much – results are minimal.
Here’s an example: A while back I saw an ad touting that their “green tea extract” increased thermogenesis by 4%. Sounds spiffy, eh? Now, let’s take a somewhat normal number for TDEE – 2000 calories/day. 4% of 2000 would be 80 calories per day. If a pound of fat is 3500 calories, this means that you could get rid of an extra pound of fat about every 44 days by taking this supplement!
This small deficit could be easily accomplished many other ways though. For instance, you could eat 10 less wheat thins for a day, or not add mayonnaise to your sandwich at lunch, or just replace soft drinks with water.
When trying to diet (actually, just achieve a calorie deficit), many times people complain that their appetite is holding them back – therefore companies that produce fat burners like to claim that their product “reduces appetite”.