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  • Writer's pictureSam Jones

The Truth About Fat Burning Supplements

In the process of trying to look shredded, some athletes may turn to fat burners as a “quick” way of getting lean with little effort. As you might’ve guessed by the title, this isn't the case, and here’s why.

The basis of fat burner supplements is to stimulate the use of the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). When the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) are high, our body naturally releases fats into the bloodstream for energy. These hormones are released during stress and exercise and also suppress our appetite temporarily.

The premise of most “fat burning” supplements is that they contain stimulants (e.g caffeine) that trigger the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. This release of hormones then releases fatty acids into the bloodstream. However, just because these fatty acids are released does not mean that the fats are burned. When we release these hormones naturally it’s because we need the energy and use it right away. When this process is created artificially, we have no reason to use these fats, meaning the majority of time these fats are just sent back to storage to be used at a later date. When we don’t use these fats and they get sent back into storage, it can leave us feeling less energetic than we started, and can also make us hungrier (which if you’re trying to shed fat doesn’t help).

Caffeine has been known to be beneficial for athletic performance. Combining a small dose of caffeine (e.g a cup of coffee) with exercise can not only increase performance but also enable fat loss. Combining caffeine with exercise where these fatty acids can be used is beneficial, however fat burners are not recommended.

On a side note, fat burners contain many substances on the banned substances list. Everyone, but especially athletes should always consult with a medical professional before taking any sort of supplement.


Berardi, J. M. (2012). Precision nutrition. Toronto: Precision Nutrition, Inc.

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