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Buyer Beware Of Fat Burners

  • By Vishwanthar on Nutrition

  • August 18, 2010

Earlier fat burners usually contained elements of ECA. ECA is an acronym of ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin. Ephedrine containing substances are now banned in US as many reports of heart attacks, strokes and even deaths were reported. Ephedrine is commonly used as stimulant and appetite suppressant; though the present day fat burners do not contain ephedrine they promise the pill to be as effective as the one containing ephedrine. One of the popular fat burning supplement claims it to have a proprietary blend of eight ingredients which work in seven different path ways for maximum fat loss. It suggests that the product increases resting metabolic rate, fat break down and thyroid function. It also aids in suppressing appetite and prolong the activity of neurotransmitters such as Epinephrine & Norepinephrine.

External aids to increase the metabolic rate, fat breakdown, and thyroid function and prolonging the activity of neurotransmitters can jeopardize the homeostasis (metabolic equilibrium actively maintained by several complex biological mechanisms that operate via the autonomic nervous system to offset disrupting changes) of the body. Homeostasis in this context simply means the natural state of the physiological functions of the body. Is it permissible to take mileage of these external aids? A discussion on the pitfalls we come across when we consume fat burners is necessary, and, on the other hand, it is imperative to discuss the role of neurotransmitters and thyroid hormones, for they are the primary factors involved in the fat burning process.


Neurotransmitters (Epinephrine & Norepinephrine) are chemicals which help in the transmission of signals. Epeniphrine is also known as adrenaline (stress hormone), and we already know that adrenaline is released during fight and flight response. In other words, adrenaline is released during emergency situations. For example, when you are chased by a dog, or when you have met with an accident. During these life threatening emergencies your body releases adrenaline to counter the situation. When your body encounters perilous situations, as mentioned above, your heart pumps harder, blood pressure shoots up, and airways in the lungs open up. All the preceding mentioned factors might help in loosing fat, for they might assist in turning on the metabolic rate. On the other hand, there lies overwhelming evidence that there is cumulative buildup of stress hormones. Cumulative build up of stress hormones occur when there is constant stress on the body. When fat burners are consumed, the body treats it to be in an emergency situation and stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released, as these fat burners act as stimulants to release these hormones. On the same note, when these stress hormones are not properly metabolized over time, excessive stress can lead to disorders of our autonomic nervous system causing headache, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure and disorders of our hormonal and immune systems (creating susceptibility to infection, chronic fatigue, and depression, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and allergies.

Thyroid hormones

In addition to the above information pertaining to fat loss we should know that thyroid activity is of primary significance to lose fat. What is the elemental step you would think off when you want to lose weight? Minimizing the calories you consume would be your forthright answer. On the contrary, the day you start consuming fewer calories thinking that reducing the calories would pave the path towards fat loss, the opposite would occur. It means, at any moment, when calories are restricted thyroid hormonal activity is impaired. It is whence your body starts feeding on muscle to compensate on the calorie restriction which in turn reduces the metabolic rate. Less muscle mass leads to lowered metabolic rate. Adding to the above woes, let us assume that you start supplementing with fat burners, your thyroid activity is then augmented, but the actual scenario is that endogenous production of thyroid hormone is reduced, for when external aids to increase thyroid activity is used endogenous production slacks down. On the one hand, you are reducing the calories to become thin, resulting in lowered thyroid activity, and on the other hand, you are consuming a fat burner which is helping in ameliorating the thyroid activity, which has already slackened, because of reduced calories.

Fat loss pills make you fatter.

What? Are you suggesting me that fat loss pills actually make me fatter? Can you explain? Yes my answer to the above query is a definite yes. Let me explain how these fat loss supplements work. When you start consuming fat burners it helps in losing a lot of fat. In addition, what is more interesting is that it helps to burn fat even if you don’t change your diet and exercise. Now, please ask the utmost important question you should know, and that is what happens after you stop taking the pill? You regain the fat which you had lost. Fat loss pills as we discussed above are chemicals which turns on the metabolic rate in various pathways: By increasing the thyroid hormonal activity, by suppressing the appetite, and by the release of neurotransmitters. So, when you stop taking the pill all the above mentioned activities come to a screeching halt resulting is consuming more food as appetite reaches its normal level, thyroid levels again come to their natural level and the release of unbridled neurotransmitters is stopped. All in all increased appetite and less thyroid activity would all lead to fat gain and the chances are you would have gained more fat than you would have lost when you had consumed the pill. From my personal experience I have also seen that I slept well when I stopped taking the pill as fat burners caused insomnia. Sleeping for more hours than what is required would also lead to weight gain.

Nevertheless, fat loss pills are sold like hot cakes. Men/women who join a gym looking for quick fix solutions inadvertently consume these pills, and trainers in the gyms cater to their needs and try to make money. I as a proponent of physical culture have never felt that culturing the body to be a very difficult task. Of course, it takes some time to build some muscle and burn fat, but it is no rocket science. You don’t have to do some fancy workout and consume some cutting edge technology supplement to build a good physique. What you need is discipline and persistence: Eating a well balanced diet, exercising regularly will lead to superior gains in culturing your physique. Treat your body respectfully and please don’t abuse it with unwanted matter.

PS: It has been more than a decade when I had supplemented with a fat burner prior to a competition thinking that I would lose fat soon and come on stage with a shredded midsection. Fat I did lose but I gained more fat than what I had lost. When I stopped taking them my appetite went up, my insomnia vanished, as I mentioned above, and I slept very well. All the above factors contributed in gaining more fat.

3 thoughts on “Buyer Beware Of Fat Burners

  1. hello sir…what u have suggested is very true…when we have decided to something its better to do it in a proper way though this way is a bit longer…but i am realy sure this will last longer…thank you sir

  2. Sir, I’m really in a dilemma. Reading so many views through various mediums is quite confusing. Today, I honestly feel that “we should all just concentrate on eating natural food prepared in a healthy way and sweating out in gym daily but moderately” ….Am I right?


    1. Yes, Venkatesh, I too found myself muddled when I read from so many avenues. I have been through that phase. Fortunately, I now choose books and articles, written on various websites, which are authentic. This happened after several years of trial and error. And yes you are correct when you tell that we should eat natural food, but balance it with protein and other required nutrients. And when it comes to exercise, “sweating moderately” doesn’t provide any concrete answers. You do sweat heavily when you are exercising appropriately. You have to exercise with the right intensity, and you are better off lifting heavy weights, of course with proper warm up and technique, than lifting some teeny weeny weights which doesn’t serve any purpose at all.

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