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Fat Loss

These supplements are used to reduce body fat mass and may act through a variety of mechanisms, but most are ineffective, insufficiently researched, or likely to be harmful.

Our evidence-based analysis on fat loss features 217 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by .
Reviewed by
Examine.com Team
Last Updated:
NOTE: We are updating our coronavirus (COVID-19) page with evidence as it comes in.

Summary of Fat Loss

The goal of any alleged fat loss compound is to increase the rate of fat loss. This can be achieved by increasing the overall metabolic rate, reducing the absorption of macronutrients during digestion, reducing the amount people eat, or increasing the rate at which fatty acids are released from fat cells. Some newer fat-burning compounds may also work via uncoupling, which is the process of creating heat from fatty acids inside a cell.

Most supplements sold for fat loss are either ineffective, insufficiently researched, or likely to be harmful. Stimulants can damage the cardiovascular system and cause sleep disturbances in high doses; increase the rate at which fatty acids are released from fat cells, which can worsen insulin sensitivity; and block the absorption of fats and carbohydrates, which can lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. There may be some supplements that have meaningful effects with little downside, but this category of supplements should be used only with the utmost caution and scrutiny.

If you are looking for a list of supplements to take to help with fat loss, we recommend you look at our fat loss supplement stack page.

Are you looking for supplements to help you lose fat?

If you want unbiased and expert guidance — based on scientific research — then you need our Supplement Guides.

Each guide breaks down what’s beneficial, what dosage is right for you, when to take each supplement, and more. They also cover any potential side effects, interactions, and more.

Our guides help you make sure you don’t get overwhelmed or duped by misinformation.

I want information backed by research »

Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Fat Loss

Stepping up weight loss: Can walking help dieters shed fat?
Walking doesn't do much for fat loss on its own. But there's reason to suspect it could boost the benefits of a caloric deficit.
Be the tortoise or the hare: it doesn’t matter for fat loss
Interval training and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can affect the body in different ways. But do these differences extend to fat loss?
A compound from beer may help fat loss
A recent study shows that a compound in beer may help with fat loss.
Measuring body fat percentage: It's an accuracy thing
Comparing DEXA versus Bod Pod for people with different BMI.
How important is sleep?
Sleep is incredibly important, and can be considered crucial alongside diet and exercise. Proper sleep habits help sustain many biological processes, and bad sleep can cause these processes to be suboptimal or even malfunction.
How to minimize fat gain during the holidays
Holiday season is when most people gain weight (and then struggle to take it off). Overfeeding on protein could be your solution in helping minimize the fat gain.
Is diet soda bad for you?
Research suggests that diet soda is unlikely to be detrimental to metabolic health or body composition. Further controlled trial evidence is needed to explore other possible detriments.
Does high-protein intake help when dieting?
We analyze a study which suggests that a higher protein-intake while dieting can help you lose more fat.
What should you eat for weight loss?
When it comes to figuring out what to eat for weight loss, the most important factor is eating less. When you consume less calories than you spend you will lose weight and the diet that helps you lose weight best will be the one that allows you to consume less calories without causing much distress or lethargy. The key is to pick a diet that you can adhere to.
Can one binge make you fat?
While regular overeating leads to fat gain, a lot of the weight you gain from just one binge will simply be water, especially if your starting glycogen stores are low and your food rich in carbs.
How to minimize fat gain when you binge
Most of the weight we gain in a year is gained over the holidays. One feast isn’t a problem; it’s the accumulation of feasts and treats that pack on the pounds. This article reviews two methods of minimizing the fat gained from binging: dietary awareness and food choice.
How does protein affect weight loss?
When the goal is to intentionally lose weight, eating more protein can help both reduce body fat and maintain lean mass. The amount of protein tends to be more imporant than the source.
How do I get a six-pack?
You eat less food to reduce body fat. There will be abdominal muscles under the fat, and adding some muscle to this area (resistance training) can make them appear more aesthetic; fat loss is the main predictor, however
Does eating fat make you fat?
If you ingest more calories than you burn, it may be worse for your waist if those calories come from fat. If you ingest fewer calories than you burn, however, it doesn’t seem to matter much whether those calories come mostly from fat or mostly from carbs.
Will carbs make me fat?
They can if you eat more calories than you should be eating, which is definitely a concern as carbohydrates are disconnected from the sensation of fullness in some people (preceding overeating). Inherently though, carbs do not cause more fat gain than the caloric load suggests
Does diet soda inhibit fat loss?
It does not inhibit fat loss at all, and may actually suppress appetite that could help fat loss (although it does not induce fat loss per se either). Diet soda, in regards to body fat, is a carbonated inert beverage
Does Garcinia Cambogia help with weight loss?
Garcinia Cambogia does not appear to help with weight loss in humans despite its popularity, and this is due to a profound difference in how it affects rats and humans.
Does eating at night make it more likely to gain weight?
While the evidence is mixed, depending on who was studied and what the diets were, there does not seem to be a major inherent weight-gain effect when eating late at night. Individual results may vary, and other factors such as circadian rhythms should be considered as well.
How do I stay out of "starvation mode?"
Marasmus is a disease of caloric restriction, but you most likely don't have it. Your metabolic rate can definitely slow down during weight loss, but it will never slow to the point where it causes you to gain weight; in this sense, starvation mode is a myth.
Can hypothyroidism lead to fat gain?
Yes, a less active thyroid will reduce metabolic rate and can cause some weight gain. It is not a lot of weight gain though, and a subactive thyroid is not an excuse for obesity (if hypothyroidic, please see a doctor for medication; it burns fat)
How do I lose fat around my belly?
I have lost significant weight and now have loose skin. How can I tighten up my skin?
Will lifting weights convert my fat into muscle?

Things to Note

Also Known As

fat burning, fat burner, fat burners

Caution Notice

Although not applicable to all, many fat burners increase levels of adrenaline in the body and should be approached with caution for those suffering from cardiac ailments or high blood pressure.

Many fat-burners are also neurologically active, and caution should be taken when one also uses neurologically active compounds like anti-depressants, be they prescription medication or supplemental.

Are you looking for supplements to help you lose fat?

If you want unbiased and expert guidance — based on scientific research — then you need our Supplement Guides.

Each guide breaks down what’s beneficial, what dosage is right for you, when to take each supplement, and more. They also cover any potential side effects, interactions, and more.

Our guides help you make sure you don’t get overwhelmed or duped by misinformation.

I want information backed by research »
Click here to see all 217 references.