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When to use Fat Burner Supplements for Weight Loss

by Trevor Hiltbrand | Reviewed by Advisory Board

fat burner supplements

In the golden age of bodybuilding, professional bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts typically spent the winter months and offseason eating loads of calories, limiting their cardio, and lifting heavy weights, all for the purpose of putting on as much muscle as possible before cutting season, when they’d inevitably have to endure an aggressive fat loss phase before stepping on stage for a physique competition. Sure, fat burner supplements and strategic dieting helped these professional athletes lean out before a show, but the approach they took was in no way healthy.

Though some of the world’s most historic athletes have cycled through periods of eating large quantities of food followed by severe caloric restriction, it is not considered the healthiest practice among the fitness communities of today.

An interesting study cited in the Sport Journal outlines the danger of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) for athletes and the general population, and how better habits must be adopted to ensure optimal health for everyone competing in sports, as well as those simply interested in body composition improvement.

Instead of indulging in prolonged periods of binge eating and caloric surplus, physique-conscious people today prefer to stay lean for the better part of the year, only going off their diet here and there to enjoy some sweet treats and tasty meals during the holidays and weekends. Everyone needs to live a little bit, after all.

Unfortunately, staying lean year-round is easier said than done, especially when you have a strong appetite like most athletes and fitness-minded folks do. So what is the solution for staying lean and avoiding the dreaded extra weight gain that can easily come during the colder months? Here are a few rules that fit people live by to stay lean:

  1. Eat clean, whole foods 90% of the time, but follow a flexible diet approach (IIFYM)
  2. Do resistance training 4-6 times per week
  3. Perform at least 45 minutes of cardio each week
  4. Get adequate sleep each night and reduce stress
  5. Take a fat burner supplement as needed

Roadblocks to Fat Loss

how to lose fat

If you don’t put the right kind of food in your body, have intense workouts in the gym multiple times per week and supplement to burn fat, weight loss will be a very difficult feat for you to achieve. But even if you stay on point with your diet and exercise routine 90% of the time, losing weight can still be incredibly difficult, especially as your body fat percentage decreases over time.

The more weight you lose, the harder your body fights against you to maintain its current weight. At the end of the day, your body doesn’t care what you look like at the beach during the summer months--your body is concerned about one thing and one thing only:  survival.

There are other factors (outside of diet and exercise), that can inhibit a person’s ability to lose weight. As we get older and we put our bodies through a lot of physical, emotional and mental challenges, our physical and emotional stress levels rise, which can make it more difficult to lose weight.

Medical News Today recently wrote an article about a study conducted on the effects of stress on obesity and body fat percentage. The study found that people who suffer from chronic stress and anxiety can actually gain weight consistently over time. Of course, there are tactics that will help you avoid gaining an absurd amount of weight, but it requires discipline.

To counteract all of these roadblocks to weight loss, you need to remain on point with your diet and training (we can’t stress that enough), but you also need something that will help your body burn the most amount of fat possible.

How a Fat Burner Supplement Fits Into the Equation


If you think about the importance of various components of fat loss, this is what the breakdown might look like:

  • 70% diet
  • 20% exercise
  • 10% supplementation (fat burner supplements)

Taking fat burner supplements will certainly not allow you to melt off pounds and pounds of fat in a short period of time, but if you use it as a weapon against stubborn body fat, you can see positive results. Fat burners will (without a doubt), help enhance fat loss in people that already have a proper diet and exercise regimen in place. Fat burners may also increase your resting metabolic rate, which can lead to more energy expenditure and more weight loss over time.

A recent study cited in the US National Library of Medicine showed that taking a thermogenic fat burner supplements can increase resting metabolic rate in healthy subjects, which ultimately can lead to more energy expenditure and lead to favorable changes in overall body composition, which is what all of us are aiming for.

The study examined ten resistance-trained male participants. The participants underwent two testing sessions that were separated by a 24-hour period. For their initial visit, participants underwent a baseline resting metabolic rate test, a heart rate test and a blood pressure assessment after an overnight fast. Next, the participants ingested a thermogenic fat loss supplement (TFLS) or a placebo and repeated those same assessments at 60, 120 and 180-min post ingestion.

So what were the results?

The results showed that the fat burner supplements significantly increased the resting metabolic rate of the study participants at the 60, 120 and 180-min mark, post-ingestion. No changes were noted for the placebo group.

What does this mean?

It is a scientific fact that increasing your resting metabolic rate will lead to a greater expenditure of energy, and basic science also teaches us that the higher your energy output is, the more calories you’ll burn, and the leaner you’ll get over time. This is great news for anyone looking for an “edge” during a fat loss phase.

How do Fat Burner Supplements Work?

Fat burners can help promote fat loss in a variety of ways:  they can boost energy and curb your appetite so you take in less calories than you burn, and they can increase your body’s core temperature so you burn more calories through the day, even while you are at “rest”.

The primary goal of a fat burning supplement is to promote lipolysis (the breakdown of fat for use as energy), especially during exercise. Lipolysis helps the body breakdown lipids and involves hydrolysis of triglycerides into glycerol and free fatty acids.

When Should You Use a Fat Burner Supplement?

fat burning workouts

The truth is anyone can use a fat burner supplement (as long as you check with your medical provider), but you will see the most success if you have everything else in place for your weight loss plan. If you have your nutrition and training dialed in, using a fat burner can be a great way to help you lose those last few pounds of fat that you are desperate to get rid of.  

It’s very important to note that whatever fat burner you choose to supplement with, it is not a silver bullet for weight loss. Unfortunately, some people think that just taking a fat burner grants them the freedom to eat whatever they want (burgers, cheese fries, milk shakes, cookies, candy, etc.) and still burn fat. Let us squash that myth right now. If you do those things you absolutely will not burn fat.

The truth is there is no “magic” solution to weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you need to commit to pushing through hard workouts, eating a balanced diet of healthy and nutritious foods, and sometimes saying no to food that you normally wouldn’t turn away. If you can stick with your commitment for more than just a few days or weeks, over time you will see results. If you can add a high quality fat burner to that, you may well be on your way to leaning out and getting the body you’ve always hoped for.

Trevor Hiltbrand
Trevor Hiltbrand


Trevor Hiltbrand is one of the owners/co-founders of Transparent Labs and head of content creation. He got his start with supplement research back in 2013 when he began researching cognitive enhancement. With the help of the Transparent Labs Expert Panel and Advisory Board, we aim to bring our evidence based nutrition and exercise research to the world.

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