Many people would like to lose weight. Whether we want to trim down for a certain pair of jeans, or we have a serious weight issue, a lot of us would like to drop a few pounds, and we’d like to lose that weight in fat.
We looked past the taglines and fake news and tried to find some data to support whether fat-burning pills and supplements actually help people lose weight. We found conflicting evidence from similar authorities, and so we decided to break the answer up into three parts. The simple answer is that fat burners may actually work. The following three segments will hopefully clarify that caveat.
Certain Ingredients Have Been Proven
We wanted to keep this article short, so we narrowed down the scope to four of the most common ingredients in fat burning pills: caffeine; fiber; green tea extract; and capsaicin.
For each of the ingredients (studies linked at the bottom of this segment) we found studies published through the National Institutes of Health that support fat and weight loss. It is important to note that everyone’s body is different, and there were certainly people in these studies who saw no weight loss benefit.
In each case, the results were different. And some of the conclusions state quite clearly that more research needs to be done in order to determine exactly how the ingredients are working. But the evidence is in. All four of these ingredients has been shown to help reduce weight and fat.
We should note that none of these ingredients make you lose weight. They work in concert with your other bodily functions to help you lose weight.
Aggregate Studies Do Not Support Supplement Products
Sometimes the more data we have the clearer the picture becomes. For instance, if you only watch a baseball player for one at-bat, and they hit a homerun, your data says that player only hits homeruns. But if you watch that player for a full 162 game season your data may return that they only hit a homerun once.
We found a meta-analysis, which is basically a study of a lot of different studies all together. You can read it here. The results are that people who used dietary supplements for weight loss did not lose as much weight as people who dieted and exercised. They even found that there may be evidence that diet and exercise are more effective without dietary supplements. But we didn’t find enough data to make that claim.
What we can say is that this study, taken together with the effectiveness of supplement ingredients, is that the aggregate is not predictive, only reflective. What that means is that this study can only say what has happened with people taking supplements in the past. It cannot tell us what will happen when you use a supplement for weight loss.
Proven Strategies and How Supplements May Help
Medical studies have long ago concluded that diet and exercise work. No one likes to eat less, or eat healthier. And very few people like starting an exercise routine. We may get to a place where we really do enjoy our workouts, and we may eventually like our new diets. But starting either one out can be arduous. We can’t ignore the fact, however, that both diet and exercise are effective.
One of the problems with diet and exercise, though, is that the effects are long term. We won’t see results from our workouts this week for a while. And we won’t see the results at all if we only workout and diet this week and don’t continue on for the weeks that follow.
That’s where fat burner pills can help. The studies we found for key ingredients supports the idea that in the short term, fat burners can give us a jolt of energy to help get us motivated for a workout, or can help us feel more full so we avoid needless snacks between meals.
All of that is good news. It means that a fat burner we’ve been intrigued by may indeed be a good help to us. But it also means that we need to put in our side of the work. The data says that pills alone don’t work, and the meta-analysis says it never has. But they can help.
Based on our research, there is encouraging research going on for specific ingredients found in common fat burners. Specifically, in our narrow scope, we found good evidence for caffeine, fiber, capsaicin, and green tea extract. We did not find good evidence to support fat burners as a category, though.
This means that when choosing a fat-burner, you should research the specific ingredients. Because there isn’t any funding for studying supplements individually, it can be difficult finding proof that Pill X works. But you may be able to find research supporting the key ingredients in Pill X.
Some fat burners do actually work. And all of them may work. The key is what specific ingredients the fat burners use, and whether we diet and exercise accordingly.
For further consumer protection information, consider the following resources: Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss: Fact Sheet for Consumers from the National Institutes of Health; and the General Information and Resources for Dietary Supplements from the US Dept. of Agriculture.