When most people think of fat loss supplements, they think of high stimulant fat-burners. While these can be incorporated into a program with great success, they are only effective for a few weeks. After just 3-4 days on a stimulant-ridden fat burner, your body begins to adapt to the caffeine and other stimulants and counteract their effects. By the third of forth week of taking them, their effects have been all but nullified. When taken for a few weeks at a time with at least as much time off as you were on, these type of products have great results, however.
Obtaining and maintaining a low body fat % over the long term is done by creating an environment in your body that encourages it to use fat (both dietary and stored) for energy, maintaining a high basal metabolic rate, and avoiding any opportunity the body has to deposit fat stores. While this is primarily done as a function of our diets, there are a few supplements we can take that promote this type of environment. Since none of the below supplements have any stimulants or drugs, they simply make slight alterations to body processes and, when taken long term, can make a huge impact on our body fat % with all other variables being equal. Below are the top five stimulant-free fat-burning supplements that should be incorporated into everyone’s program. Whether cutting for a contest or bulking for more muscle, the below are all about promoting the proper usage of energy and directing resources to building and maintaining muscle and away from storing fat:
1) L-Carnitine – L-Carnitine is a master at redirecting fats for use as energy as opposed to being stored in the body. A 2012 study showed that L-Carnitine supplementation “significantly” increased energy expenditure on a restricted diet, particularly at rest. It also showed that fat oxidation (fat burning) was increased from 14% to 62%. In addition to this, L-Carnitine has also been shown to reduce fatigue and decrease appetite, all good news for getting and staying lean. DOSAGE: For a 200lb male, take 1000-1500mg three times per day as an aggressive and effective dose. Smaller women should do 750-1000mg three times per day.
2) Fish Oil/ Omega 3’s –Fish Oil is THE most ubiquitous supplement for overall health and it does so much more than assist in fat loss that is needs an article of its own. Fish Oil is something everyone, regardless of age or sex, should be taking. The Omega-3’s in fish oil can’t be stored as body fat and calling them simply “fats” is a misnomer. For many of the same reasons it promotes overall health, it also promotes fat loss. Fish Oil greatly reduces inflammation in the body, which is one of the promoters of stress and fat storage, and an overall unhealthy body. It is fish oils clinically proven ability to reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) that is responsible for its ability to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass much more than had you not been taking it. Fish Oil will also improve insulin sensitivity and in turn your ability to lose fat and maintain a lean physique.
DOSAGE: For a 200lb male, 3-4000mg morning and night (or more). Women should take 2-3000mg morning and night.
3) Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – CLA inhibits a particular enzyme around fat cells that is programmed to grab onto circulating fat and store it for later. By inhibiting this enzyme, we are much less apt to store any fats we eat. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial from a 2012 study demonstrated that, all other things being identical, a group receiving 1.7g of CLA twice daily had a measurable decrease in bodyweight, BMI and body fat %.
DOSAGE: For a 200lb male, 2-3000mg twice per day. Women should take 1-2000mg twice per day.
4) R – Alpha Lipoic ACID (R-ALA) – R-ALA is an extremely powerful anti-oxidant that performs a few tasks very well that aid in fat reduction and maintenance of a low body fat %. R-ALA speeds the removal of glucose from the blood, making it less likely to be stored as body fat. It is also a potent insulin mimicker. Most of all, R-ALA is very good at channeling the macronutrients we eat for use as energy and not for stored fat. This has the side benefit of increased energy and performance as well. A 2015 study demonstrated that the addition of R-ALA to the diet significantly increased fat loss over a 10 week period. It also showed a greatly improved fat and glucose usage.
DOSAGE: For a 200lb male, take 150-300mg before meals containing carbs or fat. Women should take 150mg in the same way.
5) ZMA (Zinc/Magnesium/Vitamin B6) – ZMA enhances the immune system and also is clinically proven to increase both free testosterone and IGF-1 levels, two hormones that are very conducive to improved body composition. Not only this, but ZMA has been shows to improve thyroid function and in turn improve metabolism. The minerals in ZMA are also highly susceptible to depletion through intense weight training, so replenishing these is a must.
DOSAGE: Although product concentrations may vary, for a 200lb male, take the equivalent of 30mg zinc, 450mg magnesium and 11 mg vitamin B6. For a female, take 20mg, 300mg, and 7 mg respectively at night before bed.