Who among us has not tried to burn off the excess fat that has accumulated over the last few months? Before discussing the possibilities that nature offers us in this respect, we must start from the premise that there are excellent thermogenic supplements based on certain natural elements that can help our body burn fat more effectively and lose weight.
However, these substances only make sense if they are combined with a specific diet (preferably designed by a professional in the field) and constant physical activity, which is the best tool for burning excess calories. A thermogenic supplement taken “on its own”, without the fundamental support of exercise and diet, will not produce tangible results.
How Do You Burn Excess Fat?
By “fat burning” we mean both the number of calories consumed during physical activity and the metabolic effect of this activity in increasing the basal metabolic rate. This effect is achieved by increasing energy expenditure, which requires further destruction of stored fat to produce energy.
How Does Natural Thermogen Work?
Fat-burning supplements are composed of natural elements that cause an increase in body temperature, which promotes greater consumption of fat by the body. By modifying the body’s ability to produce heat in favour of an increase in metabolism, these supplements act on the burning of fat, accelerating the processes of “release” from storage in fat reserves. In this sense, there are several substances in nature that promote these activities, such as
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid),
- Green coffee
- green tea,
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
CLA does not increase metabolism, so it is not a “pure” thermogenic agent per se. Basically, it works by increasing the efficiency of nutrient (fat and carbohydrate) utilisation and by promoting the transport of fat accumulated in fat stores for energy use, thus reducing their storage capacity.
Caffeine is absorbed from the gut and acts on the nervous system, cardiovascular system and adipose tissue. At the nervous level, caffeine acts on an area of the hypothalamus that regulates body temperature (direct thermogenic action). A modest increase in caffeine intake, particularly during periods of stress, helps the body to burn more fat.
It acts on the adrenal glands, both directly and through the central nervous system, where it stimulates the release of catecholamines which, in addition to increasing physical and mental performance, increase the availability of fat as fuel.
Compared to the much better known black coffee, green coffee is much less acidic. In fact, the pH of green coffee is about 5, compared to 3 to 3.5 for roasted coffee, so it is less irritating to the stomach lining. Green coffee is able to promote the use of fatty acids for energy in the presence of chlorogenic acid. This valuable substance helps to reduce the absorption of dietary fats and to eliminate those already present in the body. It is also able to stimulate adiponectin, which promotes fat burning.
As part of a controlled diet, chlorogenic acid prevents the intestinal mucosa from absorbing a certain proportion of the sugars in the diet. The result is a reduction in blood glucose levels, preventing spikes that could lead to metabolic changes, the formation of abdominal fat and, in susceptible individuals, diabetes.
The ‘fat-burning’ properties of green tea were highlighted in a 2005 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that people who drank tea enriched with green tea extract lost more weight than those who drank regular tea. Although black tea and green tea come from the same plant, green tea leaves undergo a different fermentation process and are not oxidized before being steamed and dried, preserving the polyphenol and catechin content.
These nutrients not only have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but also support the body’s thermogenic process through a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has the ability to accelerate weight loss. Combined with green tea’s natural caffeine content, EGCG stimulates the central nervous system and converts fat into ‘energy’ to be burned.
The weight loss results achieved with green tea are due to several factors. From induced thermogenesis, to appetite reduction, to tea’s ability to regulate excess triglycerides and help stabilize blood sugar levels. But that is not all! This substance also inhibits the action of enzymes involved in the breakdown of fats (lipases) in the intestine, thereby reducing absorption.
Capsaicin (Chilli Pepper)
This is an alkaloid characteristic of the Capsicum plant, or chilli pepper. Capsaicin stimulates metabolism as a result of beta-adrenergic activity, which is thought to be secondary to the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. In addition to stimulating receptors on the tongue, it also acts on receptors in brown adipose tissue (BAT), which is responsible for the release of fat as heat. The release of catecholamines from the adrenal glands is ultimately linked to the activation of the TRPV1 receptor by capsaicin. Activation of this receptor has been shown to cause lipolysis in fat cells, which helps the cells release fat into the bloodstream for easier use as an energy source.
By binding to these receptors, capsaicin therefore encourages the BAT to release energy as heat (thermogenesis) rather than storing it as fat. Chilli helps prevent hunger and increases satiety by reducing the activity of ghrelin (a hormone produced by endocrine cells in the pancreas, stomach and certain neurons in the hypothalamus), which stimulates the appetite signal. . Caution: People who are particularly sensitive to capsaicin may experience heartburn after taking capsaicin.
ACL is an amino acid produced by the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine and is found mainly in meat and dairy products. Compared to known L-carnitine, ACL is more easily absorbed in the intestine and, being fat soluble, it is easily transported from the bloodstream to all tissues where it acts. Carnitine promotes energy levels by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells where they can be burned and used as fuel by the body.
Although many people take carnitine to speed up fat burning and thereby lose weight, the benefits of carnitine include many other functions such as improving brain function, regulating blood sugar, preventing muscle damage and increasing endurance in sport. Acetylcarnitine also acts on the nervous system, both central and peripheral, due to hypoxia, premature ageing, alcohol-related neurological problems and nerve compression. Acetylcarnitine has been shown to be much more effective than the simple free form of carnitine due to its high bioavailability; it only becomes ACL during intense physical activity. Carnitine also enhances the action of insulin in muscle cells and can help maintain blood sugar balance, as well as helping to restore glycogen during intense and/or prolonged physical activity.
People with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, metabolic disorders, psychiatric disorders or those taking chronic medication should not use fat burning supplements without prior consultation with a doctor. It is also not recommended if you are pregnant.