There are very strong views in this industry when it comes to fat burners. Some people will swear by them and claim that they are the reason for dropping those extra few pounds on a cut whereas others simply claim that they are a waste of money and a marketing ploy.
Regardless of your opinion, the purpose of a fat burner (or thermogenic supplement) is as the name suggests, to burn fat.
This is typically done on a cut when calories are already low and you are looking to speed up the process however, many wonder whether you can take these to minimize fat gain on a bulk.
Can you take fat burners while bulking? No, you shouldn’t take fat burners while bulking. A fat burner’s sole purpose is to facilitate fat loss by suppressing appetite or speeding up your metabolism and both of these things will be counterproductive to consuming a calorie surplus while bulking in order to build muscle mass.
It might seem like a genius diet hack to take a fat burner while bulking in order to minimize fat gain whilst maximizing muscle growth however a fat burner is not a magic pill and will actually have a negative impact on your bulking goals.
In this article, we’ll look at what fat burners actually do and why it wouldn’t be an optimal idea to take this while bulking.
** The impact of a fat burner will be marginal when bulking, if you want a quick answer, don’t waste your money on a fat burner while bulking as it’s more likely to slow down your muscle building progress than it is to improve your body composition.
How Do Fat Burners Work
Fat burners are one of the most popular supplements on the market and it’s very easy to try and look to them to provide a quick fix for excess body fat.
A fat burner is a supplement that has a range of active ingredients, many of which you’ll find as standalone supplements. Common fat burner ingredients can include:
- Caffeine (most common)
- Green tea extract
- Carnitine (or L-carnitine)
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
- Yohimbine (a potent fat burning supplement that is illegal in some countries)
It’s worth noting that the ingredients you see listed on a fat burner bottle might not be all the ingredients (or even the right doses) as these supplements are not subject to FDA regulations.
Some of these ingredients might be surprising to see, especially green tea and caffeine, however, these active ingredients do contribute to the fat burning process but not in the way you might expect.
Fat burners work by utilizing these active ingredients to suppress appetite, speed up your metabolism, utilize current fat stores as a primary energy source and boost energy (in order to increase your energy expenditure and burn more calories).
I’ll be honest, I’m not a personal fan of fat burners and think they are a waste of money, caffeine alone can be a great fat burning substitute which is why it’s an active ingredient in most fat burners and yet you can get it at a fraction of the cost.
What I will say however is that some of the intended effects from these supplements do work and can be a stumbling block when it comes to bulking and building muscle.
Can You Take Fat Burners While Bulking
The stumbling block that I’ve just mentioned is the fact that a fat burner’s intended effect is to facilitate fat loss during a calorie deficit. This point is incredibly important to note because a bulk involves a caloric surplus and fat burners will make it very difficult to consume a calorie surplus.
A suppressed appetite will not only make it more difficult to consume more calories but increased thermogenesis will also facilitate the burning of calories and this double side effect of a fat burner means you shouldn’t take fat burners on a bulk.
Whilst you can take them and still progress on a bulk (I’m not saying a fat burner is so strong that it can stop you from consuming a calorie surplus) doing so will not only make it more difficult to consume a calorie surplus but it will also negate the effect of the fat burner.
A bulk and a fat burner have two completely separate intentions and therefore trying to utilize both simultaneously will likely result in both approaches failing.
Should You Take Fat Burners on Non Workout Days
One hack that many people try to use is taking the fat burner on non training days. Non training days are typically referring to weight training specifically and many will still do some form of cardio to maintain cardiovascular health.
On non workout days, calorie requirements are usually lower, especially through carbs and this is usually an approach taken to minimize fat gain. For this approach, however, a key requirement is still to hit at least your maintenance calorie requirements so that your weekly overall calorie intake is still a surplus to support muscle growth.
Taking fat burners on non training days won’t have any negative impacts but again it seems to be a waste (certainly in my opinion) of money and effort. A bulk should really be looked at in terms of a week by week timeframe rather than day by day. If you make drastic attempts to limit fat gain and even promote fat loss by taking fat burners on non training days then this will once again impact your progress towards successfully bulking.
You can bulk while keeping the calorie surplus relatively low on a day by day basis (100 – 300 calorie surplus per day) and this is typically known as clean or lean bulking and this is a far more sustainable way of minimizing excess fat gain without having to resort to fat burning supplements.
While taking a fat burner on a bulk might seem like an efficient way to build muscle whilst still keeping your body fat low, the reality is that you’ll slow down your muscle building progress as a result.
A fat burner will give you some very specific effects that are not aligned with your bulking goals. A reduced appetite and increased thermogenesis (metabolism) will make it harder to hit your daily calorie requirements, especially in the latter stages of a bulk.
Therefore, if you are bulking you should avoid anything that will hamper your ultimate goal of building muscle and size which means you should avoid fat burners when bulking for optimal progress.
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