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What Are The Top Natural Supplements To Support Fat Metabolism?

I get a lot of questions on the topic of OPC supplements and fat loss. Most are very specific asking me my opinion on whether or not a certain product will work.

When it comes to over-the-counter fat burners my answer is typically always the same…it’s really hard to tell if product “X” will work for you but I’d probably save your money.

A lot of these products have ingredients with little or no clinical research proving their effectiveness on lipolysis (fat burning). Make no mistakes, there’s a lot of garbage out there. This is a multi-billion dollar industry and we’d be foolish to think all manufacturers are selling products based on sound research and science.

I’ll be straight up with you. Things have really changed in the over-the-counter fat loss supplement industry since ephedra was banned back in 2004. Prior to the ban of ephedra, fat burners we’re selling at all-time high levels.

Did the pre-ephedra ban fat burners really work?

Well it depends on who you ask as that’s a highly debated and controversial subject. I don’t want to get bogged down in that discussion in this post, but there’s little question that the explosion of “ephedrine-free” weight loss products was undoubtedly more a function of market pressure than proven science.

People were hooked on fat burners and supplement manufacturers were eager to maintain profits. They’ve responded by coming up with new and clever ways to position their products as having ingredients being equivalent or even superior to the old ephedra based stacks. But in my opinion it’s mostly been marketing based propaganda.

Do any of the new fat burners really work?

To be completely honest it’s hard to say. I’m definitely skeptical but I try to keep an open mind as research is always evolving. At the end of the day I don’t believe that a lean body comes from a pill anyways.

I tend to take a more holistic and natural approach to fat loss and believe weight loss aids can be found without going into the lab.

For the purpose of this discussion I want to talk about more natural supplements that have been shown to play a role in fat metabolism in some way. Let me be perfectly clear however, there’s nothing I’m about to talk about that I think is a magic bullet.

I’m not recommending you run out and buy every vitamin, herb, or supplement on this list either. Look at it more as being items worth considering in lieu of over-the-counter fat burners. Of course you always want to talk with your doctor as even natural products can cause problems when combined with certain medications.

Every single supplement I’ll mention is still an open case as far a research is concerned. Just because something showed a benefit on fat metabolism in research doesn’t mean supplementing with it is going to produce a positive result.

What I will say is this…anything taken in excess is a very, very, bad idea. Experimenting in moderate dosages in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise is one thing. Pounding down a bunch of pills in hopes of a quick-fix is something entirely different.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that a lean body is a body in balance. It’s a body where hormonal levels are in balance, the digestive system functions the way it’s supposed to, adequate sleep and recovery occurs, proper nutrients are consumed, and the list goes on.

In no particular order and for what it’s worth, here you go…

My top supplements worth noting for their potential impact on fat metabolism.


L-Carnitine is an amino acid that assists with transporting fatty acids across mitochondrial membranes in the cells facilitating their oxidation and subsequent energy production. In simpler terms, it helps bring fats into the cells where it can be burned for energy.

In addition, it also helps transport out toxic compounds from the cells preventing accumulation. Dietary sources of carnitine include meat and dairy products. While deficiencies are rarely found, the jury is out on the impact of supplementation in overweight individuals who combine with exercise. Without exercise though it’s pretty clear supplementation would certainly be worthless.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha Lipoic Acid helps activate enzymes which are critical to energy production. It helps break down amino acid chains for protein synthesis and has been shown to be a strong antioxidant for the cells.

Perhaps most striking is ALA’s ability to increase glucose storage in muscle tissue and not body fat. This shows promise for individuals with high blood sugar concentrations and insulin resistance. Due to its prominent antioxidant properties and potential ability to improve insulin sensitivity this supplement is definitely worth investigating further, but once again the jury is still out.


L-Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a key role in immune function and digestive health. While again this is not a magic bullet supplement it’s worth looking at in the big picture with weight loss.

If the digestive or circulatory system needs additional L-Glutamine it may rob muscle tissue for it if not available in the bloodstream. Indirectly this can pose an issue as muscle catabolism always limits fat burning.

I bring this up because high intensity fitness training (or long-duration exercise) can drop normal L-Glutamine levels in the blood by as much as 50%. This is one of the reasons why marathon runners often get a common cold after a race. L-Glutamine levels go down and the immune system becomes compromised.

There’s been some research linking L-Glutamine to increases in HGH following high-intensity exercise but the impact is likely small. However, for the purpose of supporting muscle recovery/rebuilding and immune system support I’m a fan of L-Glutamine supplementation after high intensity workouts.


We tend to think of calcium as an essential mineral for bone density and health but it also plays a role in fat metabolism. Granted it’s not a thermogenic but it plays a role in fat loss none-the-less.

Recent research has revealed that calcium acts to regulate calcitrol, a hormone that triggers fat metabolism. While the overall research is still unclear it’s definitely worth noting that individuals who consume more calcium tend to see better results with weight loss.

Calcium plays an essential role in the liver with assisting in fat metabolism so deficiency could certainly be a concern for individuals who consume little to no dairy.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I’ve long been a proponent of supplementing your diet with omega-3′s. My preference is with fish oil but I won’t split hairs if you do krill oil or flaxseed oil. The benefits of increased omega-3 fatty acids in the diet are numerous for overall health.

It’s the ONE supplement that I promote everyone should be taking.

We simply don’t get enough omega-3’s in our diet, period. From a fat loss perspective this is the one supplement that I believe holds the MOST promise. If there’s anything that comes close to a magic bullet this would be it.

I say that loosely though as without exercise and a clean diet it won’t do much to swing the door on weight loss. The reason I hold omega-3’s with such promise is due to its ability to reduce inflammation in the body.

In the past you may have heard me talk about the role inflammation has on weight gain and a degeneration of health in general. Make no mistakes about it; inflammation is at the root of the problem. Due to omega-3’s high anti-inflammatory properties, ability to stabilize blood sugar levels, antioxidant properties, and benefit on immune system health, this supplement ranks at the top of weight loss aids in my book. Learn how it works at

Green Tea

I’m sure you’ve long heard the benefits of green tea from a health standpoint, but recent research shows promise on the fat loss front. Green tea like most teas contain large amounts of polyphenols, which are plant based substances that have been shown to have antioxidant properties.

However, green tea is particular high in a type of polyphenols called “catechins.” This substance has also been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Once again this catches my attention because you know how big I am on reducing inflammation for weight loss.

Obviously green tea also contains natural caffeine which has been proven as a thermogenic and fat loss catalyst. While again not a miracle drink to lose pounds effortlessly, consuming several cups of green tea per day (the natural kind, not the stuff in a bottle at the convenience store) could prove helpful in assisting you with weight loss.


Alright, this one will certainly be debatable but I can’t ignore the possible benefits in assisting with lipolysis. In case you didn’t know guarana is a natural form of caffeine. The seed of the guarana shrub found in South America contains more than twice the caffeine of coffee beans.

What makes guarana different on the caffeine side is it stays in the blood stream longer and has a slower release. This puts it in a whole different category than synthetic caffeine found in most convenience store energy shots or drinks.

Natural caffeine is NOT used in the body the same way synthetic caffeine is. Don’t buy into the hype that a product assists with fat loss just because you get a rush or energy or the jitters. Natural caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system.

In short, it directs the adrenals to produce catecholamines which triggers fat metabolism. Excessive use can have a counter-productive effect but moderate dosages used in conjunction with exercise can be effective. Use with caution though as it will increase heart rate and respiration which could pose an issue with individuals who have cardiovascular health concerns.

High Quality Multi-Vitamin & Mineral Supplement

While this may cross the line of “natural” supplementation in some people’s eyes it’s worth discussing. Granted I’m not a huge fan of synthetic vitamins but there’s merit in a high quality multi that can support a healthy diet.

If I thought I could optimize vitamin and mineral consumption from whole foods alone I’d do it. But the reality is this is very tough to do. Soil depletion, modern agricultural techniques, and other factors have made this very difficult for the average individual.

If you could eat exclusively from your own farm with organic meat and produce it might be another story. The bottom line is a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula can indirectly assist with weight loss by supporting cellular health and function.

Once again quality is everything and you can’t go cheap here. Anyone who thinks they can meet their needs with a drugstore multi-formula like Centrum needs to think again. Here’s a hint…if you don’t have fat and water soluble vitamins separated don’t buy it. You simply can’t put everything into one pill.

My preferred brand of choice is Advocare as their MNS systems are some of the highest quality and most researched products you can buy.

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Bottom Line…

To recap my position I really do believe there’s nothing in a bottle that’s going to be a complete or stand- alone solution for weight loss. If I were to choose between the latest and greatest over-the-counter fat burner and experimenting with natural alternatives I’d always take the second option.

Once again an open mind is critical but I have to believe it’s not necessary to go to a lab to find synergistic aids that can support weight loss. Exercise, a clean diet, and adequate rest and recovery will continue to be the most important three factors.

From there it’s all about filling in the gaps and using supplementation to help set the conditions right in the body to release stored fat. For what it’s worth that’s my two cents.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston fitness trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides personal fitness programs with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. Sign up for a FREE, no-obligations consultation today.

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Category: Supplements.