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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 323 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
Last Updated:

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.

🔎 Want unbiased information on what supplements to take for losing 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.

Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Fat Loss

How are carbohydrates converted into fat deposits?
Carbohydrates increase insulin and reduce fat burning to a degree, but creating fat directly from carbohydrates is an inefficient process in the body.
Will lifting weights convert my fat into muscle?
Lifting weights can increase muscle mass and induce fat loss, but these are two separate processes.
Does daily weighing help you lose weight?
Weighing yourself daily may lead to greater weight loss than doing so infrequently or not at all, but everyone reponds differently.
Can you lose weight by turning down the heater?
When you lower your core body temperature, you can increase the number of calories you burn, but it may also lead you to eat more.
Is my “slow metabolism” stalling my weight loss?
The number of calories you burn is based on your resting metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, and physical activity.
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 aspartame increase appetite?
Do I need to cycle ephedrine?
Surprisingly, ephedrine does not appear to need cycling for the fat burning aspect of it (it may for neurological stimulation and appetite suppression). If using an ECA stack, however, the caffeine may need to be cycled
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.
Does vinegar increase metabolism?
One study noted weight loss with vinegar, and apparently it worked; well conducted study as well for the most part. No clue why vinegar induced weight loss in this study (which was regained after the study ended), but there is some evidence for it
How does protein affect weight loss?
To lose more fat and retain more muscle on a weight-loss diet, protein quantity matters more than protein quality.
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.
How do I calculate my metabolism?
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.
Is it better to do aerobic exercise fasted?
Fasted cardio uses more fatty acids while exercising, but over the long term has negligible fat loss benefits. Fasted vs fed has little effect on performance except when nearing maximal effort.
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 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
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 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)
Can you be Healthy and Obese?
Not optimally healthy when morbidly obese, but health parameters could be improved (to a degree) independent of weight loss with further benefits inducing weight loss
Can food have negative calories?
‘Negative calorie’ foods (foods that have fewer calories than your body expends to digest them) likely don't exist. However, food typically thought of as ‘negative calorie’ are often low in total calories and high in fiber and water content — so their regular consumption may aid in weight loss.
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.
Are bodybuilding diets healthy?
Bodybuilding diets typically include lots of protein, strict limits on ultraprocessed food, and bulking and cutting cycles. Many of the characteristics of bodybuilding diets are healthful, but not all of them.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?

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.

🔎 Want unbiased information on what supplements to take for losing 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.

Click here to see all 323 references.