A fat burner does two things; 1. it works on the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that regulates appetite; 2. it causes the release of brain chemicals that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism. As a result, the body burns extra calories as it prepares to take ‘flight’
Until 2004, fat burning pills usually contained ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin as their active ingredients. After the FDA banned the use of ephedrine in diet pills, some manufacturers began using herbal ephedra or Ma huang. Other manufacturers used Citrus aurantium (CA) and green tea extract (GTE). Here is a list of the more popular fat burning pills.
Remember that diet supplements are NOT approved or regulated by the FDA. Please consult your doctor before beginning use of any weight loss diet pills.
Ephedrasil’s main ingredient is the caffeine found green tea extract. It also contains CA, Ginkgo biloba and Siberian Ginseng. CA (Bitter Orange) comes from manadarin orange peels, seville orange juice, and certain types of potatoes. One of its primary active ingredients, synephrine, acts similar to ephedrine in the body. Scientists have said that weight-loss products combining synephrine, caffeine and other substances can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Most health professionals agree that the risks of synephrine far outweigh any potential weight loss benefits.
GTE is ephedra-free. Recent studies have found that it may play a role in stimulating thermogenesis (fat burning) and increasing calorie expenditure. GTE contains catechins, which increase norepinephrine levels in the brain and prepare the body for “fight or flight.” In high doses, GTE and caffeine may result in heart palpitations, insomnia, and other negative effects. Ripped Fuel is another product containing CA, GTE, and Guarana (caffeine). Like Smartburn, there are insufficient amounts of any key ingredient to make it an effective diet pill. The manufacturer suggests dieting and exercise to help the product do its job.
Smartburn is marketed as a female fat burner. It contains hoodia, HCA, theanine (the amino acid found in green tea) and many other herbs. Some of its ingredients do have a slight effect on weight loss, but there are insufficient amounts of any key ingredient to make Smartburn an effective diet pill. Slim Quick and Zalestrim are also marketed as female fat burners. Slim Quick is nearly half caffeine and half Brazilian herbs. Each dose is the equivalent of two cups of coffee. Slim Quick works at first by increasing your metabolic rate and making you burn more calories. Soon, however, your metabolic rate falls below normal and you may end up with an addiction to caffeine. Zalestrim claims that it will help you lose weight, get a bigger bust line and increase your sexual libido. This product may NOT produce the results the manufacturers claim.
Hydroxycut is manufactured by MuscleTech. It contains gymnema sylvestre extract, garcinia camboqia (fruit and rind) extract, and green tea extract, which are supposed to burn fat to produce weight loss. There have been no clinical trials to prove this. In fact, while the product did produce some weight loss, it increased the amount of body fat. In 2009, the FDA issued a warning about Hydroxycut’s effects which included liver damage and rhabdomyolysis and possible death. The company withdraw the supplements, reformulated them and put them back on the market.
Lipo-6 uses liquid capsules for superior absorption. It contains a variety of herbs, including Synephrine HCL, Yohimbine HCL and Caffeine Anhydrous (200mg). Scientists have recommended against Synephrine because it has been shown to raise blood pressure and is not suitable for patients with a history of blood pressure or cardiac problems. Yohimbe interacts with SSRI or MAOI anti-depressants. Since 1997, yohimbe is has been on the list of unsafe herbs by the FDA. Caffeine is included in Lipo 6 to stimulate the release of epinephrine (adrenaline). The three ingredients together make a dangerous product. People who have tried Lipo-6 for weight loss have reported mixed results. It works for some, but others have suffered from the product’s unpleasant side effects, including palpitations and anxiety.
In all, it is risky to use diet pills. You should speak to a dietitian or doctor before trying out diet supplements as they may interfere with your current prescription drug medications.
Barke, Sheri. 2005. Fat Burners. Nutrition Coach. URL: