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This has to be one of the most contentious blogs that I will ever write for a number of reasons. I think it’s worth going over those reasons because anyone who reads this might well assume that it’s simply here to sell the latest fat burner to hit the market. I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking exactly that because before I wrote this blog I did a search in Google to see what type of information is out there right now. I’ll be honest and say that if you search for “top 10 weight loss or fat burning supplements” or “10 best weight loss supplements” you will end up with the first two pages full of people trying to sell the latest fad weight loss supplement or fat burners. I didn’t find one useful piece of information that would benefit anyone wanting to understand what really works, in what dose and how long it would take to see an effect. Perhaps more worryingly, there is absolutely no information with regard to the safety of these various so called fat loss supplements.
This top 10 weight loss and fat loss supplement blog is a straightforward guide, however it’s not really 10, it’s actually 8 because I don’t know of 10 fat loss supplements that can really be put in a top 10 table. I know of 8. Anyway I will explain to you which are the best and which are the worst. Where possible, I’ll back this up with the significant placebo controlled published research. Please don’t expect a super detailed explanation of each ingredient, this blog is here to provide you with the quick facts, for many supplement companies I’m afraid the truth will hurt, I’m not here to make friends!
I’ll start with the top fat loss and weight loss supplements that based on scientific fact alone, are worthwhile.
First of all what is it? In very simple terms L-Carnitine is an amino acid which is used by your body to transport fat into your mitochondria to be burnt as energy. The theory for fat loss and energy is straightforward, increase carnitine levels in your body and you’ll increase the amount of fat you burn for energy. This has been scientifically proven but the doses needed are significant, studies show that you need to take a minimum of 1,500mg – 3,000mg of L-Carnitine a day, usually in the form of L-Carnitine Tartrate. Its role is not limited to fat loss in the scientific community though, it has been shown to increase endurance in athletes in doses of 3 grams and above. What I like most about L-Carnitine and the reason it is rated number one is that it has a number of other additional benefits which related to bone health, fertility, heart health and more. The only issue is that so many supplements fail to deliver a dose that actually does something.
Carnitine minimum real world dose per day; 1500mg +
#2 Green Tea
Green Tea is quite possibly the most popular weight loss supplement in the world today, it’s good value, proven to work and offers a wide range of health benefits. I’m guessing most of you know what Green Tea is but some are probably wondering what the real doses are that have been used in the scientific studies that everyone keeps talking about on TV and in newspapers. The dose used in one of the more prominent studies provided is around 580mg of catechins (the active components relating to Green Tea’s weight loss) which equates to approximately 900mg of Green Tea extract per day. It’s a significant amount which if you were to replicate by drinking Green Tea would mean around 6 cups a day or more. As per carnitine, Green Tea also has its own additional list of health benefits that literally seems to cover everything.
Green Tea extract minimum real world dose per day; 600mg +
I’m guessing many will be wondering why on earth choline is so high up on this list. Sometimes the simplest of supplements are often overlooked because they either sound boring or aren’t fashionable, people often fail to look at existing research. I’m not sure if other supplement companies are lazy or just lack the basic knowledge to make use of existing nutrients. So why is choline so high up the list and why also 5 stars? Choline is an essential nutrient, often associated with B Vitamins, which is used in the body in a number of physiological processes ranging from nervous system function, transportation of fatty acids, liver health, methylation and more. So what’s so great about Choline for fat loss? Well there was a study published last year, one of a number of positive studies relating to choline, which showed that 2 grams of choline per day reduced body fat faster than placebo whilst reducing leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone in your body that is associated with satiety. The more leptin you have in your body the more you want to eat, so ideally you want to try and use nutritional strategies that lower leptin, choline supplementation appears to be one such strategy. The compelling aspect of this particular study was the fact that the subjects were athletes with already quite low body fat levels. Since choline is safe and not the most expensive supplement to use I hope you now start to realise why I rate choline so highly.
Choline minimum real world dose per day; 1000mg +
Lower down the list than I would like but this is only the result of supplement companies over using the world’s favourite addiction. Its cheap and highly effective and its actually difficult to find a fat burner without caffeine these days. Looking at some of the latest research it confirms caffeine can and I quote “Exercise and Caffeine resulted in significantly greater energy expenditure and fat oxidation compared with Exercise alone.” The addition of Green Tea to caffeine is proven to be synergistic, so if you do use caffeine it makes sense to use it with Green Tea.
Caffeine minimum real world dose per dose; 150mg +
#5 CLA – Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Conjugated Linoleic Acid hit the weight loss scene in a big way because it was one of the first all natural supplements that appeared to be both effective and safe, that was back in the year 2000 or so. Since then it has become more and more popular. However there are two very important criteria that I feel are an absolute necessity if you are to use CLA. First is that you only use branded patented material from either Clarinol® or Tonalin®, given its quality and safely characteristics. CLA is inherently difficult to manufacture because CLA can oxidise and go rancid unless a precise manufacturing process is adopted. Second use a research proven dose or don’t bother, you need 3.2 grams. If you take 3.2 grams a day you can expect the same conclusion as scientists did after reviewing 18 published scientific studies and I quote “Conclusion: Given at a dose of 3.2 g/d, CLA produces a modest loss in body fat in humans”
CLA minimum real world dose per day; 3.2g +
#6 Chillies / capsaicin
Capsaicin has become increasingly popular since 2010 as a thermogenic supplement. The theory behind capsaicin is that it boosts thermogenesis in the body leading to an increase in fatty acid oxidation (fat burning). A number of studies have tried to prove this and in some cases they have and in others they have not, it would appear that the strength of the product is very important, as is the dose. The optimal dose appears to be 2mg + of capsaicin per day. One study that used such a dose, which was placebo controlled, showed that by consuming 2mg a day there was a significant increase in fatty acids in the subjects blood. Thus if you were to exercise or had a calorie deficit the fatty acids would be burned off for energy. There also appears to be a mild effect on decreasing appetite when its taken before meals. Capsaicin gets 4 stars (just) because it scientifically proven to increase fatty acids that can be burnt off, its safe and widely available. You can even try eating some chillies with each meal because this too has been studied and been proven to work especially when combined with MCTs (coconut oil).
Capsaicin minimum real world dose per day; 2mg +
#7 Dairy Calcium / Micellar Casein
Few people realise the significant benefits of consuming dairy calcium. Calcium is a rate limiting factor with regard to the ability of cells in your body to burn fat for energy. Studies show that when you ingest more calcium your cells burn more fat. It has also been scientifically proven that dairy calcium does this job best because it has absorbed more efficiently than just about any other form of calcium. Micellar Casein just happens to provide dairy calcium in significant amounts whilst also being a protein that makes you feel full, in my opinion it is the best protein available in the world for dieters. If you are going to buy a Diet Protein or Diet Whey product I suggest you look for one that includes milk protein/micellar casein as one of the main ingredients.
Dairy Calcium minimum real world dose per day; 1000mg +
#8 Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha Lipoic acid is highly underrated in my opinion. It’s not a thermogenic supplement and won’t give you a 6 pack overnight! Its effects are subtle but the effects are scientifically proven time and time again. It works when you eat. Normally after eating a meal carbs in your body will release insulin and the sugar increased during digestion is carried to your liver and muscle cells and stored as glycogen. Once full the sugar ends up being stored in your fat cells. That’s a very simple explanation but you get the idea. If you consume Alpha Lipoic Acid with a meal then more of that sugar can be stored in your muscle cells because Alpha Lipoic Acid increases the activity of GLUT-4 transporters (doors if you like for transporting sugar into cells) on the surface of muscle tissue. The effect is quite significant and a scientific study showed that it can increase the uptake into muscle cells by up to 60%. As a result you end up storing less carbohydrates as fat from each meal. In theory you end up losing fat. Actually this not theory it’s fact. In one study, a healthy obese subject lost significantly more weight using Alpha Lipoic Acid than the placebo. The dose used in most of these studies is between 300mg/600mg per day usually split into 3 doses each before a meal.
Alpha Lipoic Acid minimum real world dose per day; 300mg+
Now for the fat loss supplements that we would recommend you avoid
#1 Green Coffee
I can hear thousands of people screaming at their phones, tablets and PC’s right now saying that Green Coffee is scientifically proven and it’s been on the television and… and.. and.. Well a few years ago when I saw the first real study showing very dramatic fat loss from Green Coffee where other studies failed, I simply did not believe the study, it was too good to be true. One study out of the blue set alarm bells ringing and at Reflex I made sure that it would not find its way into any of our products. Well it just so happens that the study was too good to be true. It was fake and as a result hundreds of supplement companies have been caught out. Some probably don’t even realise and some probably don’t care, either way they are still quite happy to sell it to you. Below is a link to the study in question and another link with the news revealing the fake.
#2 Citrus Aurantium
Often referred to as the replacement to Ehpedra or Ephedrine. There are a number of reasons why I think this complete nonsense. The first and most significant issue is that nearly every study related to its effectiveness was done so with a multi ingredient formula. How can you tell what is working? Why did the researchers decide to use multiple ingredients? My guess is that they know the results were not going to be that great. Second and biggest issue in the U.K at least is that it’s illegal to use Citrus Aurantium extract. So even if a study did show that 25mg of Synephrine (active component of Citrus Aurantium), taken a few times a day resulted in fat loss, it would be illegal to sell unless it was licenced by the MHRA. As a result most supplement companies simply add Citrus Aurantium (it is actually just and orange peel powder), which is perfectly legal. There is no research to suggest this will do anything.
#3 Raspberry Ketones
Works in a petri dish as far as I know and I’ve yet to see a single study of any real significance to back up the ridiculous claims made for it. It’s been used in millions of raspberry flavoured foods as a flavouring for decades. In the EU some of the ketones proven do something in a petri dish are classed as a novel foods and cannot be used in supplements unless it’s the exact ketone authorised for use as a flavouring which happens to be very expensive and I’m not sure that one is proven to do anything other than make your protein shake taste fruity! So it’s expensive it doesn’t really work outside of a test tube and you can’t use the real thing in supplements in the EU. The products that do now use Raspberry Ketone are simply Raspberry extracts with absolutely no evidence whatsoever. A complete waste of time and money in my opinion.
Concluding then. I’m sure loads of supplement companies will be fuming about some of the things I’ve pointed out, I’ve simply explained the facts as they stand and if in future things change I’ll come back to this blog and edit it. But somehow I think it’s unlikely. Weight loss supplements are big business for some companies and everyone always wants to have the next best thing rather than taking advantage of existing scientifically proven supplements. None of these supplements are a shortcut to a carefully planned diet and training regime, but they certainly help. I hope in some way everyone has found this blog to be useful, my next blog is all about our history, until then choose wisely.