Losing weight, specifically losing fat, is a common worry for people. Though diet and exercise are the best approaches, people have often looked for supplements that can help them with this process.
One supplement that may help to reduce body fat is a fat burner.
Generally, fat burners work by increasing a person’s metabolic rate (also referred to as their metabolism).
As this metabolic rate increases, your body uses more energy which leads to fat loss over time. Fat burners can also work to suppress appetite and change how much fat your body absorbs.
The ingredients that fat burners contain vary and you may have heard of ‘stimulant fat burners’ and ‘non-stimulant fat burners’. When it comes to fat burners a hot debate is whether those containing stimulants or those that are non-stimulant based are best.
Here, I’ve broken down this debate and explained the pros and cons of stimulant vs non-stimulant fat burners so that you can decide which is the best type of fat burner to use.
Also, check out this video which explains all about fat burners and how they work:
Table of Contents
What is the Difference Between a Stimulant and Non-Stimulant Fat Burner?
The difference between a stimulant and a non-stimulant fat burner is the ingredients they contain. Stimulant fat burners contain stimulants such as caffeine, often in high doses. In contrast, non-stimulant fat burners do not contain any stimulants.
Before I explain the pros and cons of stimulant and non-stimulant fat burners, it’s important to understand the fundamental difference between them.
The key difference between the two is whether or not they contain a stimulant. A stimulant is an ingredient that increases activity in the central nervous system and the body.
So, stimulant fat burners contain a kind of stimulant. Usually, it will be caffeine or something similar, and they usually have high doses of these ingredients.
For example, the average cup of coffee will contain about 40mg of caffeine. In fat burners, you can see doses of 150mg-200mg of caffeine. Considering the recommended upper limit of caffeine intake for adults is about 400mg per day, fat burners contain a lot!
The reason stimulants are common in fat burners is because they have been shown to increase people’s metabolic rates.
A person’s metabolic rate is essentially how many calories they will burn a day. Increasing this metabolic rate means more calories will be burned, leading to weight loss.
This is also called a ‘thermogenic’ effect. As the body generates more heat it burns more calories. Therefore, supplements that boost your metabolism, such as caffeine, are described as thermogenic.
Stimulants are also common as they can help to suppress appetite. Again, this can help people to lose weight as it reduces the hunger they experience and the amount that they would want to eat leading to lower calorie consumption.
In comparison, non-stimulant fat burners do not contain any stimulants. Instead, they contain other ‘natural’ ingredients that can help to burn fat.
The exact ingredients will vary depending on what product you’re using. But a common one is green tea extract.
Green tea extract can help people to lose weight. Although green tea contains caffeine, it contains a much lower dose than a cup of coffee, so it can help to boost your metabolism in a more gradual way.
Green tea extract also contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another substance that can help to boost your metabolism.
What Does Stimulant Free Fat Burner Mean?
A stimulant-free fat burner is a type of fat burner that does not contain any kind of stimulant, such as caffeine, as an ingredient. These types of fat burners are also referred to as ‘non-stimulant fat burners’ so the two essentially mean the same thing.
Stimulant Vs Non-Stimulant Fat Burners: Compared
Stimulant and non-stimulant fat burners come with different pros and cons.
Ultimately, which one is best will come down to which offers the best results. It also depends on which one works best for you as an individual. If you’re already an anxious or energetic person, it may be best to avoid the caffeine-loaded stimulant option of fat burners!
Below I’ve explained some of the main pros and cons of each so that you can decide which is best for you.
Pros of Stimulant Fat Burners
To begin, let’s look at the pros of stimulant fat burners.
Firstly, the main advantage is that they contain stimulants, and stimulants like caffeine help to increase fat burning. As I’ve explained above, they do this by boosting your metabolism which causes more calories to be burned.
Secondly, caffeine can suppress your appetite. When people think about fat burners they might not think about appetite suppression. But, if you experience high levels of hunger and cravings and continue to consume an excess of calories, then you’ll struggle to lose weight.
As caffeine can suppress appetite, it can have a positive impact on weight loss by helping people to reduce their food (and therefore calorie) intake. So, if you’re someone who experiences a lot of hunger and cravings, caffeine might help.
Thirdly, as stimulants affect the central nervous system they’ve been shown to increase mental stamina and focus. This can help people to focus on their weight loss.
It can also help people to get through tough workouts and give them extra energy to exercise, which is going to lead to further weight loss.
To summarize, the pros of stimulant-based fat burners are:
- Stimulants help burn fat by increasing your metabolic rate
- Stimulants fat burners containing caffeine can suppress appetite meaning you consume fewer calories each day
- Stimulants increase mental focus and help distract you from cravings
Cons of Stimulant Fat Burners
Although stimulants have benefits, they also come with potential side effects. As stimulant fat burners can contain high levels of these stimulants, it’s important to be aware of these side effects.
Some of the main side effects of stimulants include shaking, heart palpitations, anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems.
To expand on this some more, stimulants can cause shaking. If you’ve ever drank coffee or an energy drink, then you may have experienced a jittery feeling and shaking in your hands. This is caused by stimulants, as they affect the nervous system.
Stimulants can also affect your heart. Common side effects of caffeine, for example, include increased heart rate and heart palpitations. It can also increase your blood pressure. As a result, stimulants aren’t suitable or safe for everyone to take, especially in high doses.
As well as these side effects, stimulant fat burners aren’t suitable long-term.
This is because of tolerance. Essentially, your body becomes used to the ingredients over time. Whilst this kind of tolerance can happen with other ingredients, it’s usually the stimulant that your body becomes used to.
You’ll also see this happen with other types of stimulant supplements. It’s incredibly common for people to build a tolerance to pre-workout as an example.
This tolerance builds up over time with repeated use. So after a few weeks of regularly consuming caffeine, you might feel like it has little to no effect. Therefore, if you’re looking for a longer-term supplement, stimulant fat burners aren’t suitable.
With this being said though, it’s possible to reduce this tolerance through cycling fat burners, which I’ll go on to explain soon.
To summarize, the cons of stimulant fat burners are:
- Increased risk of side effects like anxiety, jitters, and nausea
- Increased heart rate can lead to palpitations and increased blood pressure
- It’s easy to build a tolerance to the stimulant ingredients meaning the fat burners will be less effective over time
Pros of Stimulant-Free Fat Burners
In contrast to stimulant fat burners, plenty of fat burners are stimulant-free.
A big concern with stimulant-free fat burners is that they don’t work. However, just because they don’t contain a stimulant doesn’t mean stimulant-free fat burners don’t have any effect.
Although it will depend on the ingredients, many stimulant-free fat burners contain ingredients shown to help with weight loss. Therefore, they should be as effective as stimulant fat burners.
As stimulant-free fat burners don’t contain a stimulant, a big advantage is that they don’t cause the side effects associated with stimulants such as shaking, heart palpitations, and gastrointestinal issues (although this does depend on the ingredients they contain).
If you’re concerned about the side effects associated with stimulants, then stimulant-free fat burners may be the better option!
There are also plenty of people (such as those with high blood pressure or other health conditions) who shouldn’t take stimulants. These stimulant-free options, therefore, offer a better alternative.
Another benefit to stimulant-free fat burners is that you don’t have to worry about becoming tolerant to a stimulant. As a result, stimulant-free fat burners may be more suitable and effective long-term than stimulant fat burners.
To summarize, the pros of stimulant-free fat burners are:
- Fewer side effects
- Just as effective as fat burners containing stimulants
- You won’t become tolerant to the ingredients making it a sustainable long-term supplement
Cons of Stimulant-Free Fat Burners
Whilst stimulant-free fat burners offer many advantages, they also have their downsides.
Stimulant fat burners, as I mentioned, can help with mental focus. Unfortunately, stimulant-free fat burners may not offer this same effect as it’s the stimulant that has this impact.
So if that boost in mental focus and stamina is something you’re looking for then stimulant-free fat burners aren’t suitable.
In terms of appetite suppression, the effect of stimulant-free fat burners might vary. Again, as it’s the stimulant that has this effect, not having it within the fat burner is going to have an impact.
Other ingredients may be included within stimulant-free fat burners to cause appetite suppression though, so it’s something to look out for on the label.
Stimulant-free fat burners can also cause side effects. These vary depending on the ingredients and the dosage of those ingredients, so it will depend on what product you’re buying.
Green tea extract, for example, can cause irritability and sleeping problems. Although they’re less likely to occur with green tea extract than in other caffeinated drinks, it’s still good to be aware of.
Cycling Fat Burners
When talking about stimulant or non-stimulant fat burners you might think you have to pick one and stick with it. However, another option is to cycle these products.
This would involve taking a stimulant fat burner for a few weeks, then cycling to a stimulant-free fat burner for a couple of weeks.
Taking these different types of fat burners in cycles means that you don’t become tolerant to the stimulant within the stimulant fat burner as you’re taking a break from them every few weeks.
Cycling between stimulant and non-stimulant fat burners then may offer a good alternative if you’re struggling to decide between the two!
Fat burners aren’t magic pills that will cause fat loss results and they shouldn’t be used instead of a good diet and exercise. But if you’re looking for a supplement to help, then fat burners may help with fat loss.
When it comes to stimulant vs non-stimulant fat burners each offers its own pros and cons.
Stimulant fat burners can cause fat loss by boosting your metabolism. They can also cause appetite suppression, which promotes weight loss through lower calorie consumption.
As stimulants affect the central nervous system, they can also increase mental focus and stamina, which is particularly beneficial during tough workouts and may lead to bigger gains.
However, stimulants come with potential side effects, especially in higher doses. These include heart palpitations, shaking, and insomnia. They’re also unsuitable long-term as your body becomes tolerant to the stimulant, meaning it becomes less effective.
In comparison, stimulant-free fat burners can be effective in promoting fat loss. They also don’t cause side effects associated with high amounts of stimulants, such as insomnia, which makes them suitable for those who can’t, or don’t want, to take stimulants.
As they’re stimulant-free they can also be taken for a longer time period without causing tolerance.
However, stimulant-free fat burners also have their downsides.
They don’t necessarily have the same effect on mental focus or appetite suppression and, depending on their ingredients, they may cause side effects like irritability and sleeping problems.
Deciding between these two options will therefore depend on your personal preference towards these different pros and cons.
If you’re struggling to decide you may also want to consider cycling between the two!