Fat burners are a supplement designed to maximize fat loss. When it comes to fat burners, there are two main types: stimulant and non-stimulant, also known as ‘stimulant-free’.
Stimulant fat burners contain stimulants which are ingredients that speed up the messages traveling between the body and the brain. The most common type is caffeine, and it’s usually found in high doses in fat burners.
Stimulants are used in fat burners because they have been shown to enhance fat burning – one study found that caffeine increased fat burning in lean people by as much as 29%! They do this by speeding up people’s metabolism, leading to more calories being burned, and through appetite suppression, leading to fewer calories being consumed.
However, stimulants come with downsides, including shaking, increased anxiety, and heart palpitations, to name just a few. They’re also not suitable long-term, as I’ll go on to explain.
As a result, many people have looked for non-stimulant alternatives for fat burners. However, a common concern is do non-stimulant fat burners work without potent (and proven) fat-burning ingredients?
In this article, I’ve explained whether non-stimulant fat burners work, the mechanisms behind them, and the benefits of taking them in comparison to stimulant fat burners.
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Do Non-Stimulant Fat Burners Work?
Whether or not non-stimulant fat burners work is debated. Non-stimulant fat burners contain ingredients, such as green tea extract and cayenne pepper, which are believed to increase fat loss. However, evidence around whether or not they work is limited and inconclusive.
Before expanding on this it’s important to clarify that when it comes to fat burners – both stimulant and non-stimulant versions – the evidence of them working is mixed.
Some people think they work and there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest that they do, however, others say that they don’t have a significant effect.
Check out this video on fat burners and how they work for a bit more context:
As a result, it’s important to be realistic with the results you expect to see from these supplements. Ultimately, they aren’t a magic pill, and they aren’t a substitute for a healthy diet, calorie deficit, and regular exercise.
With this being said, non-stimulant fat burners do contain ingredients that are believed to increase and maximize weight loss.
Green Tea Extract, for example, is common in non-stimulant fat burners. It may increase the number of calories your body burns, similarly to stimulants, leading to weight loss.
However, the results of green tea extract on weight loss are modest so don’t expect huge differences. As I said, fat burners aren’t magic pills!
Another common ingredient in non-stimulant fat burners is cayenne pepper. As cayenne pepper is spicy, it’s believed to increase the number of calories you burn.
The bottom line then is whilst the evidence is mixed, non-stimulant fat burners do contain ingredients that can promote fat loss, they just won’t work alone though. A calorie deficit and overall energy deficit are required to lose body fat, supplements only assist with the process.
How Do Non-Stimulant Fat Burners Work?
Non-stimulant fat burners contain ingredients that are supposed to increase fat burning through an increased metabolic rate and the thermogenic effect. The ingredients, and dosage of these ingredients, varies by product but some popular ones include green tea extract and cayenne pepper.
To expand on this more, non-stimulant fat burners work in different ways depending on what ingredients they contain and the dose of these ingredients.
As I mentioned earlier, some popular ingredients in non-stimulant fat burners include green tea extract and cayenne pepper.
Whilst green tea extract isn’t a stimulant, it works similarly to one. It helps to burn fat through ‘thermogenesis’, which is the process through which your body burns calories in order to digest food and create heat.
Green tea extract contains catechins and low amounts of caffeine, both of which can regulate hormones increasing thermogenesis.
In comparison, cayenne pepper is believed to increase the number of calories you burn because it’s spicy. Spicy food causes the body’s temperature to increase.
As this happens, your body tries to cool down, a process that leads to more calories being burned through this energy transfer process.
To be honest, the effects of these are marginal in the grand scheme of weight loss. The most important factors are still a caloric deficit and a high level of energy expenditure through weight training, cardio, or a combination of the two.
Related – Can you skip cardio with weight training
Benefits Of Taking A Non-Stimulant Fat Burner
The main benefit associated with taking a non-stimulant fat burner, as opposed to a stimulant fat burner, is that you don’t experience the side effects associated with high doses of stimulants such as jittering and shaking, heart palpitations, as well as sleep disturbance, to name just a few.
The key benefit to a non-stimulant fat burner then is that there isn’t the same risk of side effects that comes with high levels of stimulants found in stimulant fat burners.
Stimulants can cause a range of side effects, including increased anxiety, shaking, and sleep disturbances. They can also affect your heart and cause potentially serious side effects such as heart palpitations and increased blood pressure.
This risk is increased with higher doses of stimulants, which are frequently found in fat burners.
As well as the decreased risk of side effects associated with stimulants, non-stimulant fat burners may also be more suitable long term.
One of the downsides of stimulants is that over time people become tolerant, or desensitized, to them.
See also – Can you build a tolerance to pre-workout
Essentially, when you repeatedly expose yourself to stimulants, their effect wears off over time and they become less effective. This essentially means you’d need to keep increasing the dose to feel the same effects which are incredibly dangerous and not recommended!
You may have experienced this with drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee – the first time you drink one it has a huge impact, and you really feel the boost in energy it provides.
If you keep drinking it though, over time that effect becomes smaller and smaller until you might not feel it at all.
As non-stimulant fat burners don’t contain stimulants, you don’t need to worry about becoming tolerant to them over time. Therefore, they might be more suitable if you want to take a fat burner for a longer period of time.
As well as being more suitable long-term, another potential benefit of non-stimulant fat burners is that they can provide a more gradual release of energy that you would experience throughout the day.
Stimulants provide a huge boost in energy, but they are quickly metabolized by the body. This means that you experience a big spike in energy, that quickly decreases.
In contrast, many of the ingredients within non-stimulant fat burners are felt gradually. This means that you don’t get that sharp spike and then fall in energy levels. Instead, you experience a more steady impact that can last for longer.
A lot of health and fitness supplements are questioned over whether or not they are actually effective. While fat burners in general are often ridiculed as being a waste of money because there is no such thing as a magic weight loss pill – which they often seem to be classed as.
Therefore, when you look at non-stimulant fat burners, people will scrutinize them even more! But, do non-stimulant fat burners actually work?
Non-stimulant fat burners have ingredients that can promote or support weight loss, however, the effectiveness of this supplement does not have much research to support its effectiveness. The benefit you get from this supplement would be marginal and is not a replacement for a calorie deficit.
If you’re still undecided about the effectiveness of non-stimulant fat burners, you might want to check out our comparison piece on stimulant vs non-stimulant fat burners where we cover the pros/cons of both and let you know which is best if you really want to lose body fat.