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What To Know Before Taking A Metabolism Booster Or Fat Burner Product

I received an email this morning from a client asking my opinion about a particular weight loss supplement and it hit me that I should do a post on this subject.

I probably get more product related questions about fat burners and weight loss products than any other supplements. No surprises there, but it occurred to me that few people are talking about some important concerns.

In full disclosure, this won’t be an article bashing all fat burners or projecting every product in a negative manner. Do some products help enhance fat loss, you betcha, and there’s rationale on why that I’ll explain to you.

But on the flip side, you’ve got to do your homework, not only on the product safety and effectiveness, but also on whether or not you’re currently in a position to benefit from it.

More after the jump…

The first item we should discuss is the product safety and effectiveness. Of course this is a primary concern of up most importance. Unfortunately, in most cases I don’t have much to go off of when providing a position on a particular product.

Do you really know what you’re getting in a product?

The reality is for the majority of products I’m asked about there’s simply no credible research to be found supporting or negating product safety, purity, and effectiveness. Sure, some companies will trot out a few research studies, but they’re mostly self-funded research studies where they paid some lab to test the products for them.

To say there may be conflict of interest here is an understatement. After all, just follow the money trial and it’s pretty easy to become suspicious. There are some products however that have independent research studies or peer reviewed studies conducted in university settings.

These have far more likelihood of showing credible findings since the outcome has less influence on who subsidized the funding for the study. Let’s just say the more peer-reviewed, non-subsidized studies from the manufacturer, the better.

Granted, these aren’t always easy to find, but they’re out there. This is one of the reasons I’m such an advocate for the Advocare product line of nutritional supplements. There’s more credible research on their products that just about anything I’ve found.

Several of their products have been endorsed by Dr. Oz and other well known health experts. I believe the reason is they’re looking at credible information backing up product purity, safety, and effectiveness.

A lot of the time, high quality products like Advocare will cost a little more but it’s because of the investments made in research, quality control, and manufacturing processes.

Just know that the FDA doesn’t regulate nutritional supplements (including weight loss products) on the front end. They only get involved when there are reported cases of problems. That’s when you’ll see a company fined or a product line banned. But make no mistakes, it’s the wild west out there, and anything goes.

Any fly-by-night company can open up shop and start selling a product with questionable ingredients and little regulation. Sadly, a lot of these companies will stuff their pockets from sales and then just file for bankruptcy once the fines and lawsuits start rolling in. Shut it down and start over a again with a new product and new company name.

Just know that a lot of times you’re simply rolling the dice when taking a metabolism booster or fat burner. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor or someone knowledgeable in these products instead of just relying on product reviews.

Where do the endorsements come from, what weight do they carry, etc? Bottom line, do some homework.

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How do most fat burners work?

If you look at the ingredients of most fat burners and metabolism boosters, you’ll find glaring similarities. Sure some of the ingredients may vary, but the primary compounds are herbal ingredients used to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system.

They’re all basically doing the same thing, stimulating the adrenal glands and looking to increase metabolic rate and thermogenesis through triggers in the sympathetic nervous system.

Can this be effective? Sure, under the right conditions you may very well see an increase in fat loss. On the other hand, you may not see much of a difference at all, or even perhaps make conditions worse for long-term weight loss.

Let me explain…

This is the part I don’t see many people talking about. The majority of metabolism boosters and fat burners are all working off the same pathways, we’ve got that. They’re stimulating the adrenal glands directly or indirectly to enhance fat loss.

But is this always a good idea? Certainly not!

A lot of individuals are arriving at a point where they’re looking for a weight loss solution following a period of time where the body has gotten out of balance. It’s often not just as simple as having a poor diet and not exercising.

There are factors here with chronic stress, inflammation, poor digestive function and nutrient assimilation, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, insulin sensitivity issues, and the list could go on.

Objective “numero uno” should ALWAYS be to get the body back in balance.

In essence, you’ve got to get healthy first. This means not only cleaning up the diet and exercising regularly, but it also includes adequate sleep, stress management, and improvements in other lifestyle factors.

Weight loss should come as a result of the body being put back in balance and will happen naturally this way. Sure it’s going to require a commitment to healthy eating and exercising, but it goes deeper than that.

Staying overly stressed, not getting enough sleep, refusing to give up soft drinks, etc, will all throw a monkey wrench into weight loss success.

The enticement is to jump start things fast and see immediate results. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you have to be careful in the means in which you do it.

The use of heavy adrenal stimulants, diuretics, or other aggressive compounds promoting fast weight loss could come back to haunt you.

Let me put it this way…

If you’re overweight and just starting a weight loss program with a body that’s out of balance on several levels, you want to avoid the use of strong fat burners or metabolism boosters.

The reason is simple. You may likely have some degree of adrenal fatigue or weakness caused by chronic stress from inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

Your adrenal glands and other hormonal glands in the body are compromised in some way. Giving your adrenal glands a big jolt when they’re already weakened is a bad idea.

Likewise the organs, primarily the liver, is probably burdened with removing metabolic toxins and waste by-products. We want to be supporting the rejuvenation, healing, and cleansing of the liver, not bogging it down with more compounds to process.

Is this starting to click?

It’s not that metabolism boosters and fat burners can’t be effective, they can, but the stronger versions are much more conducive when the body is already in balance. And even then you’ve got to be careful.

It’s not that some stimulants can’t be included in a product used to promote the restoring of your metabolism, but it’s the type and amounts which are used.

The Advocare MNS product line is a perfect example. This is the only metabolic restoration product that I recommend to my personal training clients in the beginning of a weight loss program.

I’m confident in the safety, purity, and effectiveness, but equally important is the product works on multiple levels to improve not only metabolic function but also digestive function and cellular support.

In short, it’s not an aggressive fat burner or metabolism booster, but rather a pretty balanced product with a broad base of ingredients to support cellular function.

Click here to learn more.

One thing I want to point out is if you look at the Advocare MNS ingredients, you’ll see the amounts of herbal compounds like gurana extract (caffeine) clearly listed out. It’s not a guessing game like you have with a lot of products.

Once again, it’s not that herbal compounds used to stimulate metabolism are necessarily bad, it’s the amount which are being used. If a product doesn’t clearly list out “how much” of something or hides behind the guise of “proprietary ingredients,” I’d look elsewhere.

You want to know exactly what you’re ingesting and how much of this stuff you’re taking.

In small amounts most of these herbs aren’t much of a concern (unless you’re on medications or have health concerns, once again talk to your doctor), but in large amounts they can pose problems.

Here’s a short list of ingredients you may find in fat burners or metabolism boosters

- Guarana Seed Extract
- Garcinia Cambogia
- Caffeine Anydrous
- Green Tea Leaf Extract
- White Willow Bark
- Synephrine
- L-Theanine
- Theobromine
- Yohimbe Bark Extract
- Siberian Ginseng Extract

Also you’ll want to look for herbal ingredients that serve as diuretics in many of these products, find in this link the benefits of Garcinia Cambogia. Once again I’m not a fan of the diuretics.

- Bladderwrack Leaf Powder
- Dandelion Root
- Buchu Leaf Extract
- Parsley Leaf Powder

Common pitfall with taking fat burners and metabolism boosters

Something else that I think it’s important we discuss. Let’s assume for discussion purposes that your healthy enough to benefit from a metabolism “enhancement” through stimulatory herbal compounds.

You start one of these products and see some decent results. The normal inclination is to continue taking the product or perhaps even increase the dosage. Both of which have a negative boomerang effect.

Remember, these products work via a specific pathway in the body, acting up specific cell receptors and hormonal functions. A little bit of stimulation may produce a beneficial response, but do it for too long, or with too much stimulation, and cell receptor affinity crashes and hormonal balances get out of whack.

All fat burners and metabolism boosters (if they’re used), should be cycled for optimal results. In other words, don’t try taking them for weeks or months on end. And for heaven’s sake don’t try massively increasing the dosages when you hit a plateau.

A few weeks on and a few weeks off will provide the best results. The longer you take one of these products without getting off, the less effective it will be.

Also it’s important to note that if you’re taking ANY product that works via adrenal stimulation, to discontinue consumption of caffeinated products (coffee, tea, soft-drinks, etc) or keep in very small amounts.

The last thing you want to be doing is over-stimulating the adrenal glands with excess caffeine. If you’re feeling jittery or having trouble sleeping at night that’s a pretty good sign you’re over-stimulated.

An increase in energy is to be expected and there may even be a few days when first taking a product that you may feel a little jittery. This should subside though to a large degree as your body adjusts. Some people simply don’t do well with caffeine and other stimulatory compounds period, and if this poses a problem don’t do it.

You don’t NEED stimulatory compounds to be successful with weight loss. Listen to your body at all times. For individuals that can tolerate caffeine for example, this is a very effective compound at increasing metabolic rate and thermogenesis, especially prior to a workout.

I can’t deny that fact, but you’ve got to look at your individual situation to determine whether or not you’re ready for it.

There’s so much to be said on this subject but I need to begin wrapping this up. I’ll look to continue in a future post.

Just know there are decent products like the Advocare MNS which can help restore metabolic function without over-stimulating the adrenals. I’ve seen it be effective numerous times which is why I do recommend to my clients.

However, there are cases where I suspect or know of more advanced adrenal fatigue where I wouldn’t recommend the product. It all goes back to the individual needs.

The primary objective is always restoring health and cellular function. Sometimes nutritional supplements can hinder that process. Weight loss (at least lasting weight loss) happens in a healthy body which is in balance.

You can play metabolic tricks and use quick-fixes to see instant gratification, but be wary of possible negative consequences. There’s simply no way to create a short-cut to health.

No pill or product will ever create health on its own. If it compliments the restoration of health and balance, then great I’m all for it, but if it compromises this process I’m out.

Just know that most of us have sympathetic nervous systems which are already jacked up as it is. As a society we’re over-stimulated with caffeine and sugar as it is. Our bodies are trying hard to compensate with natural protective mechanisms, but we’re often fighting against these processes.

Dumping more stimulants into the system is seldom the best pathway to take for rejuvenation.

Get your rest, manage stress, clean up your diet, and keep hitting the gym. This may take you a little longer to get to your ideal body weight, but you’ll be much healthier and have a greater likelihood of keeping the weight off if you go this route.

Just be smart with what you use for supplementing to achieve this goal as everything should be supporting the big picture, not providing a quick-fix.

Tis my two cents for now. As always feel free to leave any comments or questions.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. He specializes in helping people achieve a body transformation with burst training exercise and whole food nutrition. You can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal fitness programs and start experiencing the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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Category: Supplements.