Stimulant containing fat burners are one of the most effective but most misused supplements in bodybuilding and fitness. Use them correctly, and you will most assuredly drop considerably more body fat than you would without them. Use them incorrectly, and you will end up feeling jittery, losing muscle, and possibly ending up with long term damage to your endocrine system and metabolism. Fat burners are unique supplements in that they are one of the few that actually contain drugs. Caffeine, synephrine, hordenine, yohimbine, and geranamine are all common in fat burners, often all combined in one product. As such, they must be used in a strict and controlled manner to get the benefits. Take too much or take them too long and you’ll do more harm than good.
The short-term thermogenic effectiveness of most popular fat burners cannot be disputed. The long-term effectiveness of them is in dispute, primarily because the body is able to adapt to them quickly. Over the short term they increase metabolism and push the nervous system to be more active. This speeds up body functions such as heart rate and breath rate, which then causes an increase in calories burned. The first days or weeks of introducing a fat burner into the body are when they are most effective. As time passes, the body, being thrown out of homeostasis by the foreign substance (the fat burner) makes adjustments to metabolic processes and other body functions to compensate and restore itself as best it can to homeostasis and its natural metabolic rate. What you are left with after enough time is a metabolism that is functioning approximately the same as it was before taking any fat burners, even though they are ever-present in your system. This is the amazing adaptability of the human body and is seen with any drug we take and is usually referred to as tolerance.
So how are fat burners used for best results? There are hundreds of them on the market, all a little bit different, but follow the guidelines below for all stimulant containing fat burners and you are assured the best results.
Start at a low dose – Pending you are not already taking stimulant containing products or lots of caffeine, your body will have a very good response to just a small amount of stimulants. Start at a low dose (even if that means opening the capsule to take a half dose) and start there. It is best with these products to take as little as possible to get effectiveness without the side-effects and, more importantly, burning your system out too quick.
Slowly increase dose – After a few days, your body will become accustomed to the fat burner in the system and effects will be minimized, this usually occurs usually after about 7-10 days. After this time period, bump the dose up by about 25-50%. This will be enough to re-stimulate your system but not too much to cause ill effects or overload. Do this again after another 7-10 days again.
Regulate total stimulant intake – Most people don’t use just fat burners but also drink coffee, energy drinks, take pre-workout products and a multitude of other products with similar properties to fat burners. It’s best to minimize or completely avoid their use during a fat burner regimen. If they are used, be sure to keep total caffeine and combined stimulant intake to fit your daily target for that 7-10 day period.
Spread use throughout the day, discontinue in evening- Caffeine has about a 4-6 hour half-life, synephrine about 1-2 hours, yohimbine less than one hour, and the others are in the same time frame. For this reason, it is important to take small increments every two hours or so instead of one or two doses per day. Further, discontinue use after 4:00-6:00 pm. Stopping at this time serves two purposes. 1) It clears the stimulants from your system to allow for optimal sleep (equally as important for fat loss) and 2) it allows time for the central nervous system to recover which is stressed by fat burners.
Discontinue use and taper off after 6-8 weeks – After about 6-8 weeks, effectiveness will begin to wane and longer term use can result in damage to your metabolism and higher doses will also jeopardize your central nervous system. It is best to taper off at this point. Take about half dose for 3-4 days, then half again for 3-4 more days. Then take at least another 6-8 weeks off completely to reset the system.
Used correctly, fat burners are a huge asset for cut diets and contest preparation. They increase fat loss and give you more energy on a restricted diet. They do have big drawbacks if used incorrectly though. It is important to keep in mind that there is no magic pill and that fat burners are effective but don’t work miracles. Be realistic about what they can do and don’t fall into the trap of thinking more is better, as in this case, more is usually worse.