Fat Burners

Written by Beth Hrusch
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In recent years, fat burners have become a part of many people's weight loss regimens. Marketed as a natural way to supplement diet and exercise programs, these formulations are generally a combination of herbal and vitamin compounds. They, like any substance, affect each individual in different ways, and while many people report losing a satisfactory amount of weight while using them, others notice little or no difference. The reasons for this are as varied as each person's body chemistry.

The Chemistry Behind Fat Burners

There are many factors involved in weight loss. Just as one person may be able to stay slim while eating just about anything he wants while another gains weight by just looking at a potato chip, individual efforts to lose weight may have varied results. Two people on the same plan often get very different outcomes. Understanding how one's body will react to the substances found in many fat burners will give an indication of whether these supplements are likely to work.

And just what do fat burners consist of? By definition, this supplement is a formulation of herbal ingredients designed to increase energy, stimulate the metabolism, and suppress appetite. Research has found that certain herbs can have an effect on how the body burns fat. Other compounds, derived from both plant and marine sources, are also believed to stimulate the body's own natural fat burning processes. A main ingredient in some fat burners is ephedra. This herb is grown in Mongolia and China and acts as a natural amphetamine, stimulating the heart and central nervous system.

Another ingredient to look for is chitosan. This is a substance derived from the skeletons of marine animals such as crabs. It binds to fat-soluble vitamins, preventing the body from absorbing them. Pyruvate is a by-product of sugar metabolism. Studies have shown that it may increase metabolism by speeding up the processes that contribute to the function of all cells. HCA, which stands for hydroxycitrate, is another possible ingredient. It is derived from a tree grown in India. Some manufacturers claim that it suppresses appetite.

Other Ingredients and Their Effects

Traditional fat-burning herbs can also be a part of the formulation. These herbs are believed to promote thermogenesis, which is the creation of heat within the body. The increase of heat allows the body to burn fat faster. Guarana, a wild herb from South America, contains high levels of a caffeine-like substance that stimulates energy levels and curbs appetite. Citrus aurantium is a caffeine substitute derived from bitter orange. It stimulates beta-3 cell receptors, which in turn releases fat from body stores.

Other substances are often included in fat burner formulations to support these herbs in creating greater thermogenesis. Some popular formulas contain green tea extract, which is a powerful glucose regulator and antioxidant. Caffeine is, of course, a stimulant that affects the heart and nervous system and suppresses appetite. Willow bark has analgesic qualities, which is helpful to athletes who often work through muscle aches and pains.

Are Fat Burners Effective?

The idea behind fat burning formulations is to stimulate the body's own natural processes, helping it to shed fat more quickly by assisting in the release of fat from the cells. Each of the common ingredients have been tested in various studies, but there is still no agreement on which formulation is the safest and most effective. Ask a dozen health and fitness experts which ingredients they would recommend, and you are likely to get a dozen different answers. Understandably, this leads to confusion among consumers.

Most experts will agree, however, that fat burners should be used with caution. Those with hypertension or neurologic disorders, women who are pregnant and anyone with an irregular heartbeat should not use any product that contains ephedra. Likewise, other ingredients found in fat burners, while generally proven safe, may affect certain people adversely. As far as weight loss is concerned, individual results may vary. This is largely dependent upon one's level of diet and exercise.

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