“Fat Burners” (aka thermogenics) come in all shapes and sizes. Super HD. Oxy Elite Pro. Lipo 6. Hydroxycut. Etc.
Do they work? Are they dangerous? What are my thoughts on thermogenics?
Well, first off, I never used them during Round 1, 2 or 3. It’s not that I thought they were dangerous or harmful – it’s just that I was already spending my supplement budget on other things that I felt were helping me more than a thermogenic fat burner would. But then when I got the P90X2 call midway through my bulking round 4 (when my body fat was higher than it had been in months), I decided to use a thermogenic as I set out to cut body fat in less than a month for the filming.
I used one of the most popular thermogenics, Oxy Elite Pro (by USP labs, the same folks who make Jack3d). I haven’t used a thermogenic again since then, and that was over a year ago that I used OEP in prep for the P90X2 filming, so I’m hardly an expert. But I can share what I experienced and what I learned from using it.
As a side note, OEP may be discontinued or hard to find due to the DMAA that is in it (the same compound that is in the Jack3d product and other pre-workouts that was recently banned). So OEP may either be taken off the shelves or reformulated since the time I used it last year.
Anyways, the concept is that a fat burner / thermogenic will keep your resting metabolism higher, thus causing you to burn more calories during the day than you would without the thermogenic.
Thermogenics have all sorts of different ingredients, but the most common is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which will definitely give your resting heart rate a bump and cause you to burn more calories. There are also lots of other ingredients (herbs and other items) depending on the thermogenic, which each manufacturer will claim makes their thermogenic better than the rest at boosting metabolism.
But the bottom line is that anything that revs up your heart rate WILL cause you to burn more calories, and thus will make it an effective “fat burner”.
One other aspect of most thermogenics is that they contain ingredients that suppress your appetite, which will cause you to feel less hungry and thus eat less. This increases the caloric deficit and can aid in fat loss.
With all of that said, what’s my conclusion about thermogenics? Do they work? Yes, I’d say they do. Are they magic pills that make fat melt away? No! They are definitely not. But will they help some. I say yes.
When I was taking Oxy Elite Pro, I did notice that my appetite was reduced a bit, which is nice if you are trying to cut back on your cravings or on your sensation of hunger. This makes it easier to do that. I didn’t notice a big change in resting heart rate though, or in a feeling of being warm (as some report with thermogenics). So I wouldn’t call it very potent in that regard.
I still believe the best way to boost resting metabolism is some great High Intensity Interval Training in the morning! That will, without a doubt, melt fat all day! See my article on the BENEFITS OF INTERVAL TRAINING for more details on that.
Do I plan on using thermogenics as a regular part of my supplement strategy? No. I don’t. Again, it comes down to weighing the costs vs. the benefits of my supplements, and I would rather use my supplement budget on things like Shakeology, whey protein, recovery drink, and creatine. But that’s not to say that thermogenics are a waste of money. I think they really do work, but again, don’t expect them to be a little magic fat melting pill! Because they aren’t.
I hope this helps answer some of the most common questions about thermogenics and fat burners. Feel free to ask if you have more questions though! And keep melting fat by BRINGING IT and EATING RIGHT!!
David, most fat burners are heavy on the stimulants. Check your labels. Many say not to combine with any other forms of caffeine.
i took jack3d before and didnt cycle off and felt it start to fade but then i used assault (2 months later) and felt nothing i didnt feel a energy boost or anything. Any other recommended pre's?
Brandon - Definitely cycle. You have probably built up a tolerance to the stimulants. I am using BB's Energy and Endurance now. It is very safe and doesn't contain any artificial flavors or colors. http://teamripped.com/supplements/e-e-pre-workout
I remember the old Ephedra days. That stuff was nuts. I used to use fat burners, but didn't dial everything else in and got subpar results. I think they can help in a pinch, but I am not a fan of them. In my opinion, which is like Wayne's, your money and effort are better spent elsewhere.
@JR, I brought green tea into my diet instead of coffee about 6 months ago, although I didnt know until now of its thermogenic properties. I drink a lot of it but even in a recent two week break (due to the hot weather which had me back on the water) I didnt feel any energy difference. One thing to watch out for is that it stains your teeth (well the plaque) so brush regularly! @Coach, I absolutely miss milk, it has been harder to give up than beer or chocolate! My protein shakes taste much worse with water. The only milk I have now is 200ml on my cereal in the mornings :(
Great article coach....I was just about to ask about fat burners....so I'm at that point where I want to get 'serious' about nutrition (not like I haven't), question is for weighing food: is it supposed to be done once its cooked or before? This is mainly for lean meats.
Hey Victor, if you are using MyFitnessPal then when you search the database it will often specify if something is raw or cooked. Then measure your meats accordingly. If the entry is for raw chicken, weight it out before you cook. If it is for broiled round steak, broil it then weigh your portion. Labels on raw unprocessed meats list the nutritional info for that item raw. So in those cases, weigh and then cook.
Great article Coach Wayne, I have a question somewhat unrelated but I haven't seen another article talk about it yet. The sugars in dairy products, fruits, etc give me energy for workouts but I'm not sure how much of these sugars is ok. I'm on the fat shredder diet
Hey Kyle, Try to avoid as much added sugar as possible. Now if you are tracking with MyFitnessPal, or something similar, those carbs (from the sugar) will get calculated into your daily totals. So if the milk, fruit, etc fits into your 30% carbs, then go for it. I just tend to avoid drinking calories. I don't think you miss the milk when you go off of it and use those calories for something else. BRING IT!
Nathan, I did 3 weeks Foundation, right into Strength for 6 weeks, followed by a Recovery week, then 3 weeks of PAP. You can check out the calender here: http://teamripped.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/P90X2-Round-1-diff-ab-days-Sheet1.pdf
My experience with these supplements gives me the perception that they are dangerous. Anyone who wants to take any of these, I would plead that they be cautious.
Doc, Great post as always. What about green tea? Do you feel it's a great alternative to other thermogenics? I'm also on 5HTP with Valerian, it's a mood booster with an appetite suppressant. Although I'm on the lower tier of caloric deficiency for my workout, as you said 1900 is low enough. I find it helps kill a lot of the cravings and has even helped me get through the day without feeling hungry. At one point, I think I calculated eating between 1500-1600 calories because the pills killed my hunger and I even skipped through a few snacks. Should I stop taking it and get back up to 1900 calories a day? Or if the scale is going the direction that I want on such low nutrition and a demanding program and I don't feel sick, lethargic and fatigued am I okay to continue it? I just don't want to hurt myself in any direction, thank you sir. : )
Hey JR, if you are still able to bring it good on your workouts, that's fine. The lower limit is 1500 so don't go any lower than that. I don't use green tea myself, but it's perfectly fine, good for you, has lots of reported health benefits, and if you like it, go for it. I am not a tea drinker so I just stick to water myself.
Right, I had misunderstood what you were saying. You got the call for p90x2 as you were doing your bulking diet. So, you stopped bulking and used the fat burner for X2 training, correct? Got it now. I thought something was off but that was just me. LOL
Coach, great post. Those supplements you mentioned have already been banned in Canada, due to the compound 1 3 dimethylamylamine. Research shows that this substance causes the body to not only burn the excess fat, but also the healthy fats around our vital organs (such as heart and liver).
Yep, you are talking about the DMAA Mike! Thanks for the extra info! I talked about that a month or so ago, as it's in a lot of the pre-workouts like Jack3d. They are all pulled in the US now as well.
Ok, I am currently doing a bulking stage and I have put on a little fat... not much. But, you would definitely recommend it even on the bulking stage as well as the fat shredder stage? Also, I tried the hulk juice yesterday (my own version) and it wasn't bad. Had a lot of energy during Church!
No Jordan, it's silly to be on a bulking diet and use a fat burner. They are diametrically opposed. If you want to cut fat, you shouldn't be on a bulking diet. A fat burner would go with a cutting diet.
Wayne, During your bulking stage what time of day did you take your fat burner? Before workout, in the morning and was it on empty stomach, etc? I had used one when I was doing my rounds of p90X before X2. Steve Edwards actually recommended it on his blog and it's called Jet Fuel. Just wanting to know if there is a good strategy to taking it as far as timing and cycling on and off it.
Hey Jordan, when I took OEP, I followed the directions on the bottle (it tells you what time of day and how to take it). I only used it for a total of about 3 -4 weeks, so cycling it never came into play, but the thermogenic will also have cycling recommendations (how long you can take it before cycling off).