When it comes to losing fat, following a healthy diet, consuming a calorie deficit, and regularly working out are the main approaches that people use.
But if you want to maximize your results then you may want a supplement that can help you achieve your goals. We’re all guilty of looking for that magic pill because getting lean and cutting is hard work!
Fat burners are one of those supplements people turn to to help.
In general, fat burners work by raising a person’s metabolic rate, also known as their metabolism. Your metabolic rate determines how many calories you will use in a day, so by speeding it up you’ll burn more calories, leading to weight loss over time.
Fat burners can also work by suppressing your appetite, meaning you won’t consume as many calories in a day. Some fat burners can also change the way your body absorbs or metabolizes fat so there are definitely real and researched benefits to a fat burner.
If you want to see the best results from fat burners a key thing to consider is timing, namely when you take it.
In this article, I’ve explained when is the best time to take fat burners, whether you should take them before or after working out and eating, and whether you should take them before going to sleep.
Also, check out this video which explains how fat burners work:
Table of Contents
When is the Best Time to Take Fat Burners?
The best time to take a fat burner is when you wake up in the morning. This is because when you sleep your metabolism slows down, so it’s slowest when you first wake up. As fat burners are designed to speed up your metabolism it’s best to take them in the morning to get your metabolism going again.
When it comes to taking a fat burner, the ‘right’ time is individually specific.
The right time will be what fits into your routine best and what is most effective for you. With this being said though when comparing different times, taking a fat burner in the morning has many advantages particularly when it comes to kick-starting people’s metabolic rates.
To expand on this, a metabolic rate determines the number of calories a person burns in a day.
Everyone’s metabolic rate is slightly different. But, in general, men have a higher metabolic rate than women, meaning that they need more calories. Younger adults and people that exercise a lot also tend to have higher metabolic rates.
Fat burners work in different ways, but most work by speeding up a person’s metabolic rate, essentially making the body burn more calories each day. Typically this is done through high doses of stimulants, such as caffeine.
Stimulants have been shown to increase people’s metabolic rates which can lead to weight loss. One study showed that consuming caffeine increased the amount of fat burning in lean people by 29%.
During sleep your metabolism naturally slows down as you aren’t as active anymore, so you won’t be burning as many calories. Metabolism actually slows around 15% when you’re asleep.
As a result, when you first wake up after a night’s sleep your metabolism is at its slowest.
Taking a fat burner when your metabolism is at its slowest will help to get it going, kick-starting it into working at a higher rate and allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day.
This is why you’ll often see people combine a fat burner in the morning with fasted cardio.
Taking a fat burner in the morning also means that the high dose of stimulants will have been metabolized in the evening. As I’ll explain later, this is really important for ensuring a good night’s sleep.
Do You Take Fat Burners Before or After a Workout?
You should take fat burners before, not after, working out. As many fat burners contain stimulants they can act as a pre-workout and help you to work out more intensely and for longer. By taking it before a workout then you can maximize the number of calories you burn, maximizing fat loss as a result.
A key question when it comes to fat burners is whether they should be taken before or after a workout. Although some people may prefer to take them before a workout, my advice would be to take fat burners before a workout.
See also – Can you take fat burners without exercising
This is because fat burners often (though not always) contain high doses of stimulants. Stimulants have many effects, but one of their main ones is that they provide a huge boost in energy.
You may have experienced this effect after drinking a cup of coffee, an energy drink, or after taking a pre-workout supplement.
As well as providing a big boost in energy, stimulants can also improve mental focus and help to increase people’s stamina. As a result, they can help people to do a more intense workout and help them to work out for longer.
Working out more intensely and for longer is going to result in more calories being burned during your workout which is going to maximize weight loss as a result.
In contrast, taking your fat burner after working out isn’t going to give you these same benefits.
In the last section, I explained the benefits of taking a fat burner first thing after you wake up in the morning as this will kick start your metabolism.
Stimulants usually take around 30 to 45 minutes to be metabolized, so this would be an ideal time to work out if you want to feel the full effects during exercise.
If you aren’t going to be working out until later on in the day, another option is to split your doses. This way you can take a dose in the morning to kick start your metabolism, and then take another before working out to get the full effects.
However, you should follow the recommended doses and timings that are suggested by the product’s label. Fat burners can cause serious side effects, especially if they’re not taken properly, so always check the instructions.
Should You Take Fat Burners Before or After Eating?
Whether to take a fat burner before or after a meal is debated. On the one hand, taking a fat burner before eating may help it to be absorbed more quickly. On the other, taking a fat burner without food may increase the risk of side effects such as nausea and stomach upset.
Related – When should you take CLA
To expand on this further, whether to take a fat burner before or after you’ve eaten is debated and there are pros and cons to both.
On the one hand, taking a fat burner before eating may help it to be absorbed faster. This is because the stomach is empty, which means that the fat burner can be immediately broken down and absorbed into your system.
This means that the fat burner can start working straight away, without waiting for your body to digest other food.
This is especially important if you’re taking your fat burner first thing in the morning. As I explained in the last section, your metabolism is slowest when you wake up.
Taking a fat burner in the morning before you’ve eaten therefore allows it to kick start your metabolism, which could mean better results throughout the day.
Also, some fat burners can help to suppress people’s appetites. When people’s appetites are suppressed, they consume fewer calories. Lower calorie consumption translates into greater fat loss. So taking a fat burner before eating may help people to stop overeating throughout the day.
On the other hand, probably one of the main, if not the main, reason people don’t take fat burners without food is because of the side effects.
Some of the ingredients in fat burners can cause side effects. These include gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, to name just a few.
Some people find that taking a fat burner with food, or just after eating, can help to reduce these side effects. This is because the stomach is full, which may act as a buffer against some of the impact.
If you’re unsure about whether or not to take your fat burner with food then I’d recommend checking out the guidance on the product. If it says to take it with food then it’s best to follow these directions.
Can I Take a Fat Burner on an Empty Stomach?
Taking a fat burner on an empty stomach may help it to be metabolized faster. However, some people find that taking a fat burner on an empty stomach increases the likelihood of side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Are Fat Burners Good Before Bed?
You shouldn’t take a fat burner in the evening or before going to bed. This is because many fat burners contain high doses of stimulants. As stimulants can make it harder to fall asleep and to stay asleep they shouldn’t be taken in the evening or before going to bed.
As I’ve mentioned already, fat burners often contain stimulants. The dose of these stimulants is usually high.
For example, the average cup of coffee contains around 45 mg of caffeine. In comparison, one fat burner can contain a dose of 150-200 mg of caffeine, if not more.
Stimulants provide a big boost in energy. They also increase alertness and attention. As a result, stimulants have been shown to cause sleep disturbance. This can include struggling to fall asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and even insomnia.
So, stimulants can greatly disrupt your body clock. In fact, one study found that consuming caffeine 6 hours before sleep reduced total sleep time by an hour.
Whilst this may not seem like a lot, it is significant when you think about the critical role that sleep has in ensuring people’s overall health.
Getting enough sleep and getting good quality sleep is hugely important for both physical and mental health, as well as general well-being.
Sleep is also important for fat loss. Multiple studies have linked not getting enough, quality sleep to weight gain. Although the mechanisms behind this aren’t clear, it’s thought that not sleeping properly can contribute to higher calorie consumption and weight gain.
Therefore, fat burners containing stimulants shouldn’t be taken in the evening or before bed, as they have a negative impact on sleep.
Fat burners that don’t contain stimulants (also referred to as non-stimulant fat burners or stimulant-free fat burners may not have the same negative impact on sleep. However, it depends on the ingredients they contain.
Green tea extract, for example, is a common ingredient in stimulant-free fat burners. Whilst green tea extract may not have as big of an impact on sleep as high levels of caffeine, it can still have an impact, particularly in people who are sensitive to stimulants.
The bottom line then is if you want to have a good night’s sleep, it’s best to take your fat burner earlier on in the day. This gives your body time to metabolize the stimulant, essentially using it and getting it out of your system, before going to sleep.
Oftentimes, when you take a supplement can be just as important as what you take. Timing supplement consumption can either lead to optimal effects or the opposite could be true and you impact other areas of your training such as sleep, recovery, or overstimulation.
Therefore, timing a fat burner can be just as important as the ingredients it contains.
The best time to take a fat burner is usually first thing in the morning during a fasted state or around the peri-workout window (pre-workout or post-workout). These two times are when your body will be most sensitive to the ingredients in a fat burner and you’ll see the best response.
Alternatively, try to avoid taking fat burners late in the evening. Most fat burners will have some form of stimulant like caffeine and this will negatively impact sleep and recovery.
With poor sleep, you may struggle to lose weight due to the hormonal impact and raised cortisol levels that occur with a poor night’s sleep.
Trying to build muscle and lose body fat? Check out our guide on whether or not you can take fat burners when bulking.