How Do Fat Burners Work?

how do fat burners workFat gets such a bad rap. No one wants it to stick around long and no one wants more fat. People do just about everything to kick fat to the curb. The big trend to eliminate fat right now is fat burners. You’ve seen the advertisements…

“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days with (such-and-such fat burner)!”

Obviously, these claims are exaggerated. And even if they were true, such extreme weight loss would be unsafe. What’s not exaggerated is this fact: some fat burners do work for many people.

It’s natural to be skeptical. Actually, you should be skeptical. Not all fat burners are safe and many don’t work. So, let’s answer the question: how do fat burners work? Once you understand this, finding fat burners that work is easy.

Metabolism and Thermogenesis: Turn On the Heat!

Fat probably gets more flack than it deserves. After all, it fills several important roles in your body. Fat insulates the body and protects organs. When your body needs energy, the processes of metabolism and thermogenesis create more by burning fat. So, how do fat burners work? They stimulate metabolism and thermogenesis.


After you eat, enzymes break food down into basic nutrients. The nutrients are then transported to cells and metabolized for energy. A fast metabolism burns through food quickly and then starts burning body fat.

The key to losing fat is a fast metabolism. There are many ways to increase metabolism naturally. One way is using fat burners with metabolism-boosting ingredients.


Unless you’re a cold-blooded creature, your body engages in thermogenesis. This heat-generating process happens in two ways:

1. You shiver and the friction creates warmth
2. Chemical reactions burn fat to generate heat

Chemical reactions can be triggered by exercise, eating, and thermogenics. Thermogenics are substances included in fat burners that increase thermogenesis. See more in the next section.

The Best Fat-Burning Ingredients

Not every ingredient burns fat just because advertisers say it does. Only proven ingredients boost metabolism and trigger thermogenesis. Here are the four best ingredients:

Caffeine – stimulates thermogenesis and enhances fat loss. It is the best thermogenic available. Studies show 100-400 grams of caffeine a day is a safe, effective dosage[1]

Green tea – increases thermogenesis. Although green tea naturally contains caffeine, this ingredient doesn’t get all the credit for burning fat. Together, catechins (antioxidants) and caffeine increase thermogenesis more than they do separately. Drink 4 cups of tea or take 25 mg of green tea extract daily.[1]

Green coffee bean extract – contains caffeine and chlorogenic acid. Caffeine promotes thermogenesis and chlorogenic acid boosts fat metabolism. The recommended dosage is 700-1050 mg a day.[3]

Synephrine – increases metabolism through thermogenesis. A safe, effective dosage is 50 mg each day.[4]

These ingredients are all legal stimulants.

Are You Sensitive to Stimulants?

Stimulants burn fat very well. Unfortunately, not everyone can use stimulants safely. Some people experience side effects after drinking soda with 50 mg of caffeine. The good news is stimulant-free fat burners do exist. The bad news is they’re a lot harder to find.

Here are a few non-stimulant, fat-burning ingredients to be on the lookout for:

africanmango4Irvingia Gabonensis – also known as African Mango. In one study, it burned fat and reduced body weight by boosting metabolism. Study participants took 300 mg daily.[5]

Black pepper extract – slows fat cell production and increases metabolic rate.[6]

Cinnamon and amino acids (e.g. BCAAs and lysine) are also used in non-stimulant fat burners. Some research shows they burn fat, but most studies do not involve humans.

Will You Get “Burned” by Side Effects?

A typical fat burner contains around 400-500 mg of stimulants (about 4-6 cups of coffee). According to the Mayo Clinic, 400 mg or less is safe, but still may cause side effects. It really depends on your individual sensitivity.

A few fat burners go so far as to include 600-800 mg! Sensitive or not, you have a good chance of experiencing severe side effects with such a huge dosage. It’s best to start with a low stimulant dosage and assess your tolerance. Then, work your way up to 400-500 mg, but no more.

These are the most common stimulant side effects. They may range from mild to severe:

• Headaches
• Jitteriness
• Nausea
• Rapid heartbeat
• High blood pressure
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Irritability

Other Fat Burner Benefits

When you use a fat burner, you may get more than you bargained for. Don’t worry! Unlike the side effects we just talked about, these are effects you actually want. Here they are:

• Increased energy
• Suppressed appetite
• Reduced water weight

Caffeine is proven to boost energy. So any ingredient containing caffeine is going to give you more energy. However, energy is also a byproduct of metabolism. So any metabolism-boosting ingredient will increase your energy levels, too.

Research shows caffeine, green tea, synephrine, and irvingia gabonensis reduce hunger and increase satiety.

Because caffeine is a diuretic, it strips your body of excess water. If you’re carrying too much water weight, this is a nice benefit. But be careful! You’ll become dehydrated if you don’t drink 8-10 glasses of water every day.

Finding Fat Burners That Work

Have extra fat hanging around? Effective fat burners can help you shed it faster. The trick is finding effective fat burners. As you are searching, the first question to ask is: how do fat burners work?

Well, fat burners are supposed to boost metabolism and stimulate thermogenesis. But these results only happen when proven ingredients are used in proven dosages. So, find safe, effective ingredients and dosages and you’ll find fat burners that work.


[1] Astrup, A, S Toubro, et al. “Caffeine: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 51.5 (1990): 759-767.

[2] Dulloo, Abdul, Claudette Duret, et al. “Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 70.6 (1999)

[3] Vinson, Joe, Bryan Burnham, and Mysore Nagendran. “Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects.” Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity. 5. (2012): 21-27.

[4] Stohs, Sidney, Harry Preuss, et al. “Effects of p-Synephrine alone and in combination with selected bioflavonoids on resting metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate and self-reported mood changes.” International Journal of Medical Sciences. 8.4 (2011): 295-201.

[5] Ngondi, Judith, Blanche Etoundi, et al. “IGOB131, a novel seed extract of the West African plant Irvingia Gabonensis, significantly reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight individuals in a randomized double-blind placebo controlled investigation.” Lipids in Health and Disease. 8.7 (2009).

[6] Park, UH, HS Jeong, et al. “Piperine, a component of black pepper, inhibits adipogenesis by antagonizing PPARγ activity in 3T3-L1 cells.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 60.15 (2012): 3853-60.

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