When it’s time to drop a few pounds or lose a little belly fat, many people seek the help of fat burners to stimulate their metabolism and lipolysis and to suppress appetite. Most of us have a favorite supplement (or two) for this task, and we encourage you to stick with what works. However, we’d like to point out a handful of products that can help you get lean even though they aren’t marketed as such. Here are four undercover fat burners and the science behind their body-shredding mojo.
There’s a high likelihood that you’re already using a whey protein supplement for muscle building, but did you know that whey also helps you get lean and stay lean?
The Secret: Whey protein significantly boosts your muscle-building capacity and spares lean muscle while dieting, resulting in an elevated metabolic rate and increased fat metabolism. In a clinical trial published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, subjects who took whey protein while undergoing a reduced-calorie diet retained twice as much lean mass and burned off nearly twice as much fat mass as the control group (with the same diet). In addition, drinking a pre-meal whey protein shake has been shown to stimulate hormones that control satiety — the feeling of fullness after a meal — and regulate blood sugar levels after eating.
Dosage: Mix 10 to 20 grams of whey protein isolate or a whey protein blend with 8 ounces of water and drink it 20 to 30 minutes before breakfast and dinner.
Creatine monohydrate has been the king of strength- and muscle-building supps for decades. In terms of fat loss, increased muscle mass means an elevated metabolic rate. Some people think taking creatine while dieting hinders fat loss, but they’re just wrong.
The Secret: In an article published in Metabolism, it was reported that subjects who took creatine (for 28 days) and didn’t work out had an approximately 3 percent increase in resting metabolic rate. Even more impressive, when subjects took creatine while completing a resistance-training program, their metabolic rate went up by almost 6 percent. While you might be taking creatine for size and strength, when you combine it with training and diet, you can greatly magnify its fat-burning benefits.
Dosage: Although creatine monohydrate dosing is bodyweight- and tolerance-dependent, a good starting point is to first complete a loading phase of 5 grams four to six times per day for a week. After the loading week, take 5 grams 30 minutes before and immediately after training. On rest days, take 5 grams with breakfast and 5 grams later in the day.
Branched-chain amino acids consist of the essential aminos leucine, isoleucine and valine. They’re considered essential because the body cannot produce them, so they must be consumed in your diet. In the supplement world, BCAAs are most commonly used to promote an anabolic/anti-catabolic environment in muscle.
The Secret: Of the BCAAs, the key player in anabolic response is leucine. However, research shows that it’s best to take branched-chain amino acids in a 2:1:1 ratio where leucine takes the lead over isoleucine and valine.
As mentioned above, increases in anabolism eventually result in increased metabolism and fat loss. Besides providing an anabolic kick, leucine supplementation may make dieting more tolerable. It has been reported that the amount of leucine in a meal plays an important role in leptin production and sensitivity. Leptin is a hormone that’s secreted by fat cells (and other cells in the body) in response to food ingestion and acts as a potent appetite suppressant. BCAAs also provide the liver with substrates to produce glucose (a process called gluconeogenesis) to regulate blood sugar, which helps keep sugar cravings at bay and increases dieting success.
Dosage: The BCAA product you choose should have at least twice as much leucine as the other aminos. Take 5 to 10 grams of BCAAs upon waking, 30 minutes preworkout, immediately postworkout and between meals to regulate hunger throughout the day.
Is there anything this stuff doesn’t do? The omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish have been shown to reduce inflammation, boost cardiovascular health, increase the efficiency of the heart during exercise, maintain healthy blood lipid profiles and, more recently, increase fat metabolism and lean mass gain.
The Secret: Fish oil directly improves body composition by promoting anabolism, increasing fat utilization and lowering the catabolic stress hormone cortisol. It also significantly improves exercise efficiency and ratings of perceived exertion, which means fish oil can help you work out harder and longer without feeling as tired.
Dosage: To reap all the health and exercise benefits of fish oil, take 1 to 3 grams of high-DHA and -EPA fish oil with breakfast, lunch and dinner.