UNDERSTANDING FAT BURNERS: PART 1 – THERMOGENICS, LIPOTROPICS AND THYROID REGULATORS

by Team NCNR | June 07, 2016 Views :

Wedding season. Beach season. Pool party. Reunions. 
What do all of these have in common? Yes, you guessed it –you want to look the best you can when you attend any of these. And if you want to look better, you’ve got to lose all of that extra fat. So, you should just stop reading right now and buy seven dozen fat burners, right? 
Well, not quite. 
For one, fat burners are NOT magic pills. Sadly, the packaging doesn’t unwrap itself to release tiny magical elves which steal away all of your fat overnight. Firstly let's get the term clear- they are not fat burners but fat loss aids. These fat loss aids contain ingredients that are either herbal extracts or synthetic derivatives of compounds present in these herbs that improve your body’s ability to burn fat, increase the utilization of stored fat for energy or prevent further fat accumulation.

There are many ingredients which have extensive research backing their efficacy, while some others still need further examination to prove that they work.

Thermogenic fat burners work by increasing your metabolic rate. Excess fat is an ideal fuel for feeding the demands of an elevated metabolism. Some of the clinically proven and effective thermogenics are Caffeine, Cayenne, Yohimbine, Guarana, Green Tea Extract and Synepherine.

If you’ve got a sound diet and a great exercise plan in place, fat loss aids can give you the slight edge you need to achieve your ideal body. But before you spend your hard-earned money on one of these supplements, let’s take a look at the different kinds of fat loss aids on the market and examine how they work.

Thermogenics 
Thermogenesis means increasing the production of heat. Thermogenic fat burners work by increasing your metabolic rate. Excess fat is an ideal fuel for feeding the demands of an elevated metabolism. Benefits of this include increased energy levels, which in turn lead to better workouts, a more active lifestyle, an increase in calorie expenditure and fat burning. 
Thermogenic fat burners are stimulants that affect metabolism and hence their use warrants careful evaluation of health and physical conditions. They should be avoided by anyone with a heart condition as they increase heart rate. They should also be avoided by anyone who is being treated for high blood pressure, thyroid or psychiatric disease. High-risk groups like pregnant and lactating women are also advised to avoid thermogenic fat burners. 
Some of the common concerns with use of thermogenic fat burners is the inability to relax, or feelings of restlessness and inability to sleep especially when consumed late in evening. This is because stimulants in these supplements can increase certain receptors in the brain that encourage the body to stay alert and active. However these effects are temporary and lessen in intensity once the stimulants are flushed out of system. Thermogenic fat burners are best advised for individuals who exercise regularly and follow a dietary regimen. The trick is to not take a thermogenic fat burner any time after 5pm to avoid any sleep disturbances.
Let’s look at some of the common ingredients that are known to stimulate thermogenesis.

a. Caffeine
Caffeine is a potent stimulator that acts on the Central Nervous System (CNS). As a stimulant it increases the metabolic rate through its effects on the neurotransmitter systems to release Catecholamines (a group of neurotransmitters) leading to greater utilization of stored fat for energy. 
b. Cayenne 
A chili pepper extract, Cayenne consists of Capsaicin, a capsicinoid that promotes the generation of heat in body. Cayenne has been used extensively in Chinese medicine to also treat pain, digestion and heart ailments. Cayenne extract are used in many fat burner formulas either in its original form or in a patented formula. 
c. Yohimbine 
Yohimbine is an alkaloid found in bark of an African native tree called Yohimbe and is known to help in losing the “stubborn fat”. Yohimbine is an alpha 2 adrenergic receptor antagonist. These receptors are concentrated around abdominal and thigh areas therefore resulting in fat loss specifically from these areas. 
d. Guarana 
Guarana is a Brazilian plant whose seeds have been found to contain higher caffeine content than coffee beans. Guarana seeds contain 4-6% caffeine, whereas coffee beans contain about 1-2.5% caffeine. The higher caffeine content aids in fat loss owing to its stimulatory effect resulting in lipolysis and increase in BMR (basal metabolic rate). 
e. Green Tea Extract 
This extract derived from green tea leaves, has a high content of catechin compounds. Epigallo catechin Gallate (EGCG) is one of the catechins that has shown to aid in weight loss by causing an increase in basal metabolic rate. Apart from the catechins, the caffeine content in Green tea stimulates the CNS resulting in better mental focus and energy thus improving exercise performance.
f. Synephrine 
A compound present in the peel of bitter orange fruit, its structure is similar to Ephedrine but is less potent. Synephrine causes stimulation of adrenergic receptors resulting in increased lipolysis (breakdown of fat) and an increased basal metabolic rate which produces weight loss over an extended period of time. A 2011 study showed that 50 mg p-synephrine (30% p-synephrine as Advantra Z) increased resting metabolic rate with no effect on heart rate or blood pressure in humans.

Lipotropics
Lipotropics are non-stimulant based formulations. They work mainly by increasing the breakdown of fat which are then utilized as fuel for energy. They prevent accumulation of fat in the liver by increasing mobilization of fat. Lipotropics are a good choice for individuals to combine with a thermogenic fat burner to offer an all-round fat loss support. 
a. Conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA) 
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is derived from the fatty acid known as linoleic acid. It is present mainly in dairy products and the meat of ruminant animals. Benefits of CLA supplementation include decreased lipogenesis and increased energy expenditure as well as improved lipolysis, fat oxidation and lower insulin resistance, all of which promote effective fat loss. 
Animal studies conducted for CLA supplementation have shown that CLA promotes dramatic and relatively rapid weight loss. More importantly, the animals lost body fat while increasing their lean muscle mass. 
b. L- Carnitine 
L- Carnitine works by increasing the utilization of fat as a source of energy by helping in the transport of fatty acids into cell mitochondria. Muscles have stores of carnitine and supplementation has been shown to have positive effects on body composition in individuals with low endogenous carnitine levels. 
c. Choline 
Choline is a water-soluble essential nutrient and lipotropic agent often grouped with the B-family of vitamins. It ensures mobilization of fat out of the liver and back into circulation to be used for fuel.

Thyroid regulators
Thyroid hormones play a vital role in the regulation of the body’s metabolism. Less than optimum thyroid hormone production causes a drop in the body’s metabolism, thus increasing the chances of fat accumulation. Thyroid regulators are fat loss aids that work on balancing the natural production of thyroid hormones. They boost the body’s calorie burning capacity through balanced hormone levels and force it to use fat as a source of energy.

a. Guggulsterone
Guggulsterones are the bioactive compounds (alkaloids) found in the sap of a tree called Guggul which grows in India. These compounds have been found to have strong thyroid stimulating properties that result in enhanced T3 (triiodothyronine) hormone levels and T3:T4 ratio, consequently leading to fat loss through increased metabolic rates and fat utilization.

Lipotropics are non-stimulant based formulations. They work by either increasing fat breakdown, or promoting fat utilization, or preventing further fat accumulation. CLA, L-Carnitine and Choline are some of the popular lipotropics. Thyroid regulators balance the natural production of thyroid hormones. They boost the body’s calorie burning capacity through balanced thyroid hormone levels and force it to use fat as a source of energy.

b. Forskolin
Coleus forskohlii is a herb belonging to the mint family. The roots of this plant contain a compound called Forskolin. Coleus forskohlii works in two pathways to give you fat loss. One is by stimulating the production of cyclic AMP (cAMP). An increased level of cAMP causes an increased release of the enzyme hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) that promotes fat oxidation. The other pathway involves stimulation of Thyroid gland to release of thyroid hormones which help in utilization of stored fat and calories.

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There you go, now that we have covered the main fat loss aids, it should be easy for you to choose the one which fits your needs. But remember, whichever fat loss aid you choose, it won’t be effective if you just pop a pill and turn into a sloth on your couch. A proper diet and exercise program is still the key to achieving fat loss.


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