Over-the-counter fat burners promise to help you lose weight. However, the effectiveness of the preparations has not been proven. On the contrary: Some ingredients can even be harmful to health.
They promise the fast way to a beach figure: over-the-counter “fat burners” are said to melt the pounds by stimulating the body’s own fat burning and metabolism. However, there is no scientific evidence that supplements boost fat burning. Since a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice in January 2022, manufacturers are no longer allowed to sell or advertise food supplements under the name fat burner.
What are the risks of fat burners?
Manufacturers have to prove the effectiveness of their fat burners in studies in order to be able to call them such. Since they are no longer allowed to call the products fat burners, many manufacturers sell the products under other names such as Turbo Burner or Night Burn – mainly on the Internet. Many of the ingredients primarily affect the cardiovascular system and can cause dangerous side effects. High blood pressure, insomnia, heart palpitations, or liver damage are possible risks. This also applies to purely plant-based products.
What ingredients do Fat Loss Pills contain?
Dietary supplements sold as fat burners have different compositions. Many of the substances contained have not been adequately investigated, some are not approved for use in food – including food supplements. There is a particular risk if the substances are not declared on the packaging or if the dosage is incorrect. Particular care should be taken with products that are ordered online from insecure sources or from abroad.
- Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is obtained from the Indian spice plant Garcinia Cambogia. This is said to be able to inhibit an enzyme in the fat metabolism, which means that no new fat is formed. Garcinia cambogia is recommended in Ayurvedic medicine to stimulate digestion. However, there is no scientific evidence that the fruit or the extract obtained from it has any effect on human fat burning. However, the side effects are extensively documented: Even small doses can lead to nausea and gastrointestinal complaints – and reduce the effectiveness of diabetes and asthma medication as well as blood clotting. In the medical literature, experts repeatedly report cases in which Garcinia Cambogia has led to severe liver failure in dosages such as those used in weight loss supplements. In animal experiments, high doses of HCA extracts caused damage to the testicles of the test animals.
- Undaria pinnatifida is a brown alga native to southern Asia. In Japanese cuisine, it is known as wakame. In fat burner preparations, it is often included in combination with other herbal ingredients. Wakame algae provide a lot of iodine, which is particularly harmful to people who suffer from thyroid dysfunction. A high dose of iodine produces too many thyroid hormones, which can lead to a derailment of the metabolism and cardiac arrhythmias.
- Caffeine or caffeine-containing ingredients such as guarana, green tea, or coffee extract are contained in numerous fat burner products. So far, it has not been sufficiently proven by scientifically independent studies on humans that they have an effect on fat burning. If the dose is too high, the substances can lead to tachycardia, muscle tremors, and increased irritability.
- Synephrine occurs naturally in bitter oranges (also known as bitter oranges or Citrus Aurantium). It is often found in fat burners together with caffeine or caffeine-containing ingredients such as guarana, green tea, or coffee extract. Both substances have an effect on the cardiovascular system and can mutually reinforce each other’s effects. The result can be an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Since high doses are not classified as safe by the Federal Office for Risk Assessment (BfR), no more than 6.7 mg of synephrine per day should generally be taken with a dietary supplement. In many products, however, this amount is significantly exceeded.
- In some preparations, extracts from the plant Tribulus Terrestris (earth prickly nut) are used. Tribulus Terrestris supplements are said to boost testosterone production in men and increase muscle mass. There are only a few studies on humans and these provide little evidence of a benefit.
- Tribulus Terrestris, carnitine, and piperine from pepper extracts can also be found in fat burners. However, according to the BfR, adults should not take in more than 2 milligrams of isolated piperine per day via dietary supplements.
Semaglutide and liraglutide can help with morbid obesity
There are preparations that can be used to lose up to 15 percent of your weight in three to six months: slimming injections with the active ingredient semaglutide or liraglutide, actually diabetes medication, can help morbidly overweight people lose weight. But even these drugs do not burn body fat, but increase the feeling of satiety and ensure that the stomach empties more slowly.
The injections are currently only prescribed as part of obesity therapy and are not paid for by statutory health insurance companies. If those affected do not do nutritional and exercise therapy at the same time, they will gain weight again after stopping the injections. Side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, nausea and vomiting can also occur. That is why ten percent of those affected break off the therapy prematurely.
Better to avoid over-the-counter fat burners
Being able to lose weight effortlessly without giving up, as the manufacturers of fat burners or fat-loss pills promise, sounds tempting – but there is a lack of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of the preparations. That is why doctors recommend avoiding fat burners, especially products from unsafe sources on the Internet.
Good strategies for losing weight are more helpful than dubious pills: eat in a controlled and varied manner, exercise regularly and train muscle groups in a targeted manner.
Individual nutritional advice can also help. If you are severely overweight, obesity outpatient clinics are a suitable place to go.