Sliced. Ripped. Shredded. No matter what you call it, you know it when you see it. Achieving such conditioning, however, takes not only a ton of work, but also a ton of knowledge. That's where we come in, mapping out which supplements can best help you get into your best-ever shape. The following list reveals our top 10 supplemental fat burners, representing the best ingredients on the market today. The ratings are based on clinical research, anecdotal reports, and availability.
You should remember, though, that despite the fact that these ingredients are ranked, there isn't a huge difference in effectiveness between the ones that made the list. You can't go wrong with any of these 10. For example, the first on the list, green tea extract, is not exponentially more effective than the fourth one, carnitine. What you'll come to realize is that, to get the desired results, your best bet is to combine several of these ingredients (i.e., green tea extract, carnitine and some others).
With that said, start reading. You've got bodyfat to burn.
#1 GREEN TEA EXTRACTIt is almost impossible to find a fat-burner product that doesn't include green tea extract, but there's a great reason why. Research studies confirm that green tea extract can significantly aid fat loss.
HOW IT WORKS Green tea contains compounds called catechins, which include epigallocatechin gallate. EGCG is the main catechin responsible for the thermogenic (fat burning) effect of green tea. Although green tea also contains caffeine, which was originally hypothesized to be the mechanism for green tea's ability to enhance fat loss, its major thermogenic effect comes from the action of EGCG in inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter involved in regulating metabolic rate and fat burning.
DOSAGE Although drinking green tea is smart, you should still supplement with about 500-1,000 milligrams of green tea extract standardized for EGCG; take it three times daily before meals. Research shows that the body absorbs catechins from the extract better than from the tea.
#2 CAFFEINEAgain, it's close to impossible to find a fat burner on the market today that doesn't supply some form of caffeine, whether it is caffeine anhydrous, guarana, di-caffeine malate or caffeine from green tea extract. HOW IT WORKS The major mechanisms by which caffeine aids fat loss are by binding to fat cells and enhancing the removal of fat, and by inhibiting its storage in the fat cells. Caffeine also works to increase the burning of fat during exercise and can help increase muscle strength when taken one hour before workouts.
DOSAGE Go with 100-300 mg of caffeine in the morning and an hour before training.
#3 FORSKOLINThis supplement is clinically proven to both prompt fat loss and boost testosterone levels in men. Forskolin is the active compound in the herb Coleus forskohlii, which is a member of the mint family.
HOW IT WORKS It enhances fat loss by activating the enzyme adenylate cyclase (which is also involved in testosterone production), leading to a cascade of events, including activation of the hormone-sensitive lipoprotein lipase, which allows fat stored in fat cells to be broken down for use as fuel. A recent study from the University of Kansas (Lawrence) found that overweight men taking forskolin for 12 weeks lost considerably more bodyfat and had higher levels of testosterone than a group taking a placebo.
DOSAGE Boost both fat loss and testosterone levels by taking 20-50 mg of forskolin two or three times daily before meals.
#4 CARNITINELike forskolin, carnitine has been shown clinically to boost fat burning and bolster testosterone.
HOW IT WORKS Carnitine is vital for burning fat, as it aids the transport of fats into the machinery of the cells, where it is burned for fuel. Research shows it improves fat loss during exercise and during low-carb dieting. In addition, carnitine enhances muscle recovery following intense lifting, plus it increases the number of testosterone receptors in muscle cells, which aids muscle growth. DOSAGE Take 1-3 grams of carnitine in the form of L-carnitine, acetyl- L-carnitine, or L-carnitine L-tartrate with breakfast, pre- and postworkout meals and the evening meal.
#5 SYNEPHRINESynephrine is the active ingredient in the plant Citrus aurantium, also referred to as bitter orange. HOW IT WORKS Its structure is chemically similar to ephedrine, but it boosts the metabolism without elevating heart rate or blood pressure, which is why we rate it so highly. Synephrine works by stimulating specific receptors on fat cells that increase the breakdown and release of fat, raising metabolic rate and blunting appetite. DOSAGE Take 200-600 mg of C. aurantium standardized for 5-20 mg of synephrine, two or three times per day before meals.
#6 YOHIMBINEYohimbine, the active ingredient found in the African Pausinystalia yohimbe tree, is often referred to simply as yohimbe. A fairly recent clinical study showed that it was effective in reducing bodyfat in athletes in just three weeks (without a change in diet).
HOW IT WORKS Yohimbine inhibits the alpha receptors found on fat cells (adipocytes) that work to limit the amount of fat leaving those cells and to enhance the amount of fat that gets stored in those cells. By antagonizing the alpha receptors, yohimbine allows the fat cells to more easily release their stores of fatty acids to be burned for energy and makes it more difficult for them to store fat. Yohimbine also helps to keep norepinephrine levels maximized by its effect on the alpha receptors, especially when yohimbine is taken with other supplements that boost norepinephrine release. In addition, yohimbine decreases alpha receptor activity on blood vessels, which results in blood vessel dilation similar to that caused by nitric oxide.
DOSAGE Take 2-10 mg three times a day, with one of those doses being about 30 minutes before workouts.