On our website, we've got a wide variety of weight loss products. These "fat burners" help to raise your metabolism and energy levels. Under the right circumstances, this results in a lower fat percentage and a better physique. Here we'll discuss some of the common ingredients and give some advice to speed up the weight loss through proper dietary choices and the right type of physical exercise.
When we started our business, the first product we sold were capsules containing Ephedra sinensis, a herb known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as Ma Huang. The main active component of this herb is ephedrine, an alkaloid that has some similarities to amphetamine, which is a very powerful stimulant. Like other stimulants, ephedrine suppresses the appetite and increases one's metabolism. Many products, marketed as weight loss products and energizers, contained a combination of ephedrine, aspirin and caffeine, generally from natural sources (white willow bark contains salicylic acid, whereas green tea, kolanut, coffee beans and guarana are common sources of caffeine). Because of their strong effects, these products were very popular. Side effects were common, however, as many people reported experiencing hyperactivity and heart palpitations.
Eventually, Ephedra was banned, forcing suppliers to look for alternatives. For a short while Yohimbe (previously a popular aphrodisiac) seemed promising, but because of similar side-effects that herb was also banned.
This fruit, also known as bitter orange, contains synephrine, another stimulant and appetite suppressing compound. Synephrine is included in many "ephedra-free" fat burners, though its effectiveness and safety are widely debated. Some countries have now also banned synephrine.
The weight loss products that are available nowadays (2011) have fewer side-effects and depend much more on a high dose of caffeine and related xanthines. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and thus resembles the effects of Ephedra to some extent, although it generally doesn't give heart palpitations. Of course, when the dose is sufficiently high, negative side-effects such as dizziness, trembling, restlessness and insomnia may still occur.
As already mentioned, common sources of caffeine are tea, coffee beans, kolanut, yerba mate, chocolate and guarana (see image to the right). Some of these are available separately in our energy herbs shop. Some supplements also contain synthetic caffeine, making a much higher dosage possible. A cup of coffee contains between 80 to 120 mg of caffeine. Some weight loss products contain 100 to 200 mg of caffeine per capsule.
Another common ingredient is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), derived from the Garcinia cambogia plant. HCA reduces carbohydrate metabolism, which would theoretically result in weight loss. However, so far this effect has not been proven in any clinical studies.
Chromium has no stimulant effects but is a nutrient that's essential for healthy blood sugar levels. It doesn't really reduce one's appetite but diminishes the 'craving' for sweet foods and snacks. Common dosages range between 50 and 200 micrograms per day.
Kelp refers to various brown seaweeds, the most common of which is Fucus vesiculosus. It contains iodine, a nutrient that's essential for healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. The thyroid regulates various important metabolic processes. When it lacks sufficient iodine, this may result in weight gain. A daily dose of 150 micrograms of iodine is generally enough. It should be noted that in some countries iodine is also added to bread and/or table salt. People who live near the coast and regularly eat fish will ingest more iodine than people who don't.
Dietary fibre is very important for health in general but also plays a vital role in the prevention of weight gain. The lack of fibre in most modern foods (not just fast food) may be the most important factor in today's "epidemic" of obesity. Fibres cannot be digested by the body, thus slowing down the absorption of other nutrients. Because the absorption of sugars (carbohydrates) is also slowed down, the body will not store the excess energy in the fat cells. For this reason, there's a big difference between eating a piece of fruit and drinking a glass of fruit juice. The rapidly absorbed fruit juice will result in a temporary excess of energy, which the body will store in the form of lipids, i.e. fat. When eating a piece of fruit, the fibres will slow down the absorption of the sugars, giving a more gradual and sustained level of energy, generally without any of it being converted into fat.
A popular fibre is derived from psyllium seed husks, because it has the capacity to absorb a lot of water, causing it to swell, which helps prevent constipation.
It's because of its high fibre content that it's recommended to eat a salad with every meal and to regularly eat pieces of cucumber, tomato and so on.
If you are currently overweight, it is very likely that the foods you eat contain too little fibre and too many carbohydrates. Rather than eating less, you should eat differently. If you want to lose weight, don't eat spaghetti, macaroni, pizza, couscous, white bread and similar products. Also be careful with rice, potatoes, corn and similar foods that contain more carbs than protein. Of course, small quantities are OK, just be aware that too much of these foods will make you fat. Also try to avoid fruit juices, energy drinks, sports drinks and alcoholic beverages. Better drink lots of water, and every now and then some milk or a soy drink.
Many people focus all their attention on avoiding sweets and snacks, but completely ignore the sugars present in the above-mentioned foods.
Choose the right type of fats
Dietary fats can be divided into the saturated fats and the unsaturated fats. The unsaturated fats are healthier, but can't handle heat very well. Therefore cooking is best done with saturated fats. Most saturated fats are of animal origin (butter and so on), but coconut oil is an excellent alternative, even for deep frying.
Olive oil is reasonably stable. It can be used for cooking, although it does burn when temperatures reach 200 degrees Celsius.
All the other vegetable oils are way too sensitive for cooking. Use sunflower oil and similar oils on salads and the like, but not to cook or bake anything. Heating them will produce trans-fatty acids, which are harmful to your health and well being.
Contrary to the old paradigm, dietary fat is not the main reason why people are overweight. The excessive use of carbs and the lack of dietary fibre are much more important factors. Indeed, fats help reduce the appetite between meals. So forget about all those "low-fat" products. They won't help much.
Some claim exercise is of crucial importance if you want to lose weight, but this idea is also being questioned by many modern researchers. Imagine you eat a Mars. It contains about 500 calories. To burn off these calories, you'd have to run for half an hour or more. Of course, this would help a bit, but it's not very efficient. Better to cut the carbs, i.e. not eat that Mars in the first place!
Another thing to keep in mind is that your body will always first utilize the sources of energy that are readily available. Therefore when you go running, your body will first burn the sugars circulating in your bloodstream and the glycogen stored in your liver and muscles. Only when these energy sources are exhausted will your body switch to burning fat. So when you go to the gym next time, first do some weight lifting (to burn that glucose and glycogen) and when you're done (half an hour later?) do your cardio exercises. You'll start burning fat much more quickly that way.
Weightlifting is important for everyone, not just guys that want to get buffed. Remember this: the more muscle you have, the higher your daily metabolism will be, even when you take a day off. A higher daily metabolism means your body will use more energy.
Remember that fat is not burned locally, but throughout your body. In other words: when you do stomach exercises, your body will not necessarily burn the fat on your tummy. Stomach exercises should be done for one purpose only: to strengthen the belly muscles, to lay down the foundation of a six-pack. To burn fat (wherever it may be stored in your body), the best muscles to engage are those of the legs: they are the biggest bundles of muscle fibre and use up the most energy. Therefore walking, running, cycling, dancing (!) and so on are the best exercises to burn fat.
Putting it all together
The quickest (and most lasting) results are achieved when you combine several approaches at once. So reduce your intake of carbs, increase the intake of fibre, choose the proper types of fat, exercise in a smart way, and support the whole process by taking a strong fat burner, which helps to reduce the appetite and craving for sweets.