Fat burners are a supplement designed to help people lose weight. Like the name suggests, the idea is that they help people to burn fat.
Fat burners aren’t a miracle weight loss solution and there’s mixed evidence around whether fat burners actually work. But there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest that they can deliver results.
In recent years fat burners have grown in popularity amongst gym goers and bodybuilders looking to lose body fat, particularly when cutting.
Cutting is a dietary approach that’s often used to lose, or cut, body fat whilst retaining muscle. Often, people will cut after they’ve spent time bulking up through gaining muscle and weight.
But, we’re often asked do you really need fat burners when cutting?
Here I’ve explained how fat burners work, whether they’re necessary for cutting, and if they can help you to get ripped.
What Are Fat Burners?
When people think about losing weight they may just think about the amount of calories they consume through foods and drinks, and the amount they burn through exercise.
But fat burners may be able to help people lose weight in other ways…
Fat burners are a supplement that has been designed to help people to lose weight. They come in different forms and the ingredients and ways in which they work vary.
Some work by boosting your metabolism through the use of stimulants like caffeine.
Your metabolism is essentially how many calories your body burns each day. It varies from person to person and will change over the course of a person’s lifetime.
As caffeine is a stimulant, it has been shown to speed up people’s metabolisms. As a result, people can burn more calories leading to weight loss.
Some studies have found caffeine can increase people’s resting metabolic rate by 3-11%.
Caffeine can also suppress people’s appetites. This means that they’re less likely to consume as many calories which can also help aid weight loss.
Some fat burners also contain ingredients like cayenne pepper.
Cayenne pepper can help with weight loss. It does this by raising a person’s body temperature, in the same way that other spicy foods do.
As your body temperature increases, your body works to cool itself down and this process burns calories. This process of burning more calories leads to greater weight loss results.
Green tea extract also contains catechins which help to regulate hormones associated with thermogenesis.
Thermogenesis is essentially how the body burns calories when digesting food and generating heat, so it plays an important role in how many calories a person burns each day.
If you want to know more then quickly check out this video on fat burners:
Essentially, fat burners contain a range of ingredients that try to kickstart the process of fat loss in a number of ways – mainly through boosting metabolism or raising body temperature.
Are Fat Burners Necessary for Cutting?
Fat burners may help to maximize results, and deliver faster results, when cutting. However, it’s not necessary to use them when cutting. You can still achieve the results that you want from cutting by consuming a calorie deficit and regularly exercising.
This is so simple but it’s just as true for an elite level bodybuilder preparing for a bodybuilding competition as it is for the average person just trying to get a beach body before a holiday.
Supplements in any form will only help to provide 1-5% of the end result and 5% is me being very generous (because it depends on the supplement and a range of other factors).
To expand on this further, due to the popularity of fat burners you may think that you need to take them when cutting if you want to see results. But that’s not necessarily true.
Fat burners aren’t necessary when cutting.
Plenty of people don’t use fat burners when they’re cutting and still achieve great results!
This is because the most important thing when cutting is to consume a calorie deficit and to create an overall energy deficit. This means through exercise and diet you burn more calories than you consume.
When burning more calories, this needs to come from somewhere, so, if you can’t get it from food then your body will pull it from existing body fat stores.
“The human body is incredibly efficient and can’t be tricked, this is why fat burners are supplemental to the basic laws of thermodynamics”
That being said, fat burners could help to maximize your results and potentially deliver faster results when cutting because you can always do something more optimally and this is where supplements do help.
As I mentioned, fat burners can help to aid weight loss through different mechanisms than simply consuming a calorie deficit.
As a result, using fat burners may increase fat loss results when cutting.
However, using a fat burner when cutting isn’t without its downsides.
No Guarantee of Results
Firstly, the effectiveness of fat burners hasn’t been conclusively proven. So whilst they may help to boost weight loss, there are no guaranteed results.
This can be frustrating if you’re spending money on supplements that may not deliver the results that you want, expect, or in some cases need.
There are essential steps you need to have in place when cutting and that is ensuring you have an energy deficit. This is done through a calorie deficit, energy expended through exercise, or a combination of the two (needed to get to sub 10% body fat usually).
If these two components are not in place on a cut, then a fat burner will have close to zero noticeable effects.
May Not Improve Your Physique
Secondly, the idea with cutting is to lose fat, not muscle. Depending on how fat burners work, they may lead to weight loss, including muscle loss.
For example, if they boost people’s metabolisms then they will burn more calories.
Although some of these burned calories may be from fat stores, they may also be from muscle which would undermine the results you’d want to see from cutting.
This is especially the case if you’re not doing resistance training when cutting. To have the best possible physique following a cut, we always recommend a focus on resistance training and you really want to maintain strength to maintain muscle mass.
If you don’t give your body a reason to hold on to muscle mass, it will not hesitate to utilize muscle mass for energy.
We’ve covered this before discussing why you need to lift heavy on a cut and also the importance of progressive overload, even when cutting.
Human bodies don’t like extremes and a high portion of muscle mass means your body needs to work harder each day to maintain the muscle.
Potential Side Effects
Thirdly, fat burners come with potential side effects. High doses of caffeine, for example, can cause heart palpitations, insomnia, and digestive problems, amongst other side effects.
Overall then, whilst it’s possible that fat burners may help when cutting, these results aren’t guaranteed and you may also experience side effects when using them.
If you’re consuming a calorie deficit and exercising you should see results from cutting without needing to use fat burners.
Can Fat Burners Help Me Get Ripped?
As they work to increase fat loss, fat burners may help people to get ripped. However, the effectiveness of fat burners hasn’t been conclusively proven and they come with potential side effects which could undermine results.
When people talk about getting ripped they usually mean getting a very, very low body fat percentage which is usually under 10% body fat and closer to 8% to be truly ripped. .
As with losing weight during a cut, fat burners may be able to help with this. Fat burners can increase people’s metabolisms, suppress their appetites, and regulate thermogenesis leading to increased weight loss.
As a result, it’s possible that they can help people to get ripped. When trying to get to a more extreme level of body composition, this is where supplements will help give you the extra edge.
If you’re 20% body fat, you need to move and consume a calorie deficit, supplements won’t really help you at this point. If, however, you’re trying to get really ripped/shredded then this is where you need to add additional measures to help the process.
However, as I mentioned, the effects of fat burners aren’t conclusively proven and depending on the ingredients used, some might have no effect whatsoever.
So whilst it’s possible that fat burners could help you get ripped, there’s no guarantees for the results that you’ll see when using them.
To really see the benefit of a cut, it’s not the supplement you should focus on (like a fat burner) but the process and timeline.
If you’ve not set a timeline yet then check out our guide on how long you should be on a cut for to see where you should be.
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