The Science Behind Fat Burning Drinks

It's no secret that most Americans are overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 73.6% of people in the United States aged 20 or older are overweight or obese. Yet, at the same time, our society is obsessed with diet culture, constantly looking for new fad diets as a "quick fix" to overeating and lack of exercise.

Key takeaways:
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    Combining fat burners with a proper diet and exercise is essential for weight loss.
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    Energy boosters increase metabolism and improve energy for workouts.
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    Some diets and cleanses are safe and effective — others are just a trend. To promote healthy weight loss, it's important to understand the underlying factors.

In the United States alone, we spend more than $2 billion on weight loss annually, yet we're still failing. While some of this goes to healthier options like gym memberships, it also goes to supplements like fat burners in drinks. But do these really work? If they do, what are the benefits?

Do fat burners actually "burn" fat?

The most triggering question every health guru has been wondering about is whether fat burners practically burn fat, or is it just a trend. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that just taking fat burners itself will not have any fat-burning effect on your body. Instead, fat burners are made up of different components which work together to help aid in weight loss — but are most effective when combined with a proper diet and exercise.

Increasing metabolism with thermogenesis and lipolysis

One of the most significant ways fat burners work is by increasing the metabolism. Thermogenesis is a metabolic process that continuously works to burn calories to produce body heat. Therefore, because it causes you to burn calories throughout the day constantly, it helps to promote weight loss. Lipolysis, on the other hand, works more specifically with fat. It allows our bodies to break down fat through enzymes and water (hydrolysis). This process occurs in our fatty tissues that cushion our bodies and vital organs. They can also help break down stored triglycerides into two main components-glycerol and fatty acids.

Energy boosters

Fat burners are appealing for their apparent intention — to burn fat. However, they also have several other benefits that play a role in fat loss. Popular ingredients often found in fat burners include Garcinia cambogia, green tea, and other caffeine products. These ingredients are all energy boosters that increase metabolism and boost energy for workouts, resulting in burning more daily calories.

Curbing your appetite

Supplements can also be beneficial as appetite suppressants for those struggling with dieting and portion control. The International Sports Sciences Association states, “When you aren’t fighting food cravings, it’s easier to make healthier choices. It’s also easier to limit portion sizes.” While this doesn’t help burn fat directly, it can still help decrease weight over time.

Do fat-burning drinks work?

There is a never-ending list of options to choose from when it comes to fad diets, cleanses, and detoxes. Some are more successful in burning fat, leading to weight loss. Others are just hype — often a trend or celebrity-proclaimed diet that is unsubstantiated, thus unsafe to practice.

The Master Cleanse, for example, has been promoted as a cleanser for toxins and a fat burner but is very unsafe. This concoction combines water, cayenne pepper, pure maple syrup, and lemon juice to promote weight loss. However, this is all you consume — for at least 10 days. So while the individual ingredients are healthy, this is the perfect example of why it’s crucial to look at the overall picture before committing to a ‘fat-burning’ drink.

Shot of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been massively trending over the last several years for its wide variety of health benefits, including decreasing blood sugar levels, improving cholesterol, and promoting weight loss (an excellent fat burner).

Researchers conducted a 2009 study of 175 people to learn the correlation between apple cider vinegar and weight loss. Participants consumed 0, 1, or 2 tablespoons of vinegar each day. After the three-month study, they concluded that those who consumed vinegar experienced an average weight loss of between 2-4 pounds and had lower triglyceride levels than those who drank no vinegar.

Ginger lemon water

Combining fresh ginger and lemon juice is one of the healthiest beverages for building immunity while simultaneously battling pain and weight loss. In addition, this elixir suppresses appetite and reduces insulin resistance, reducing the overall amount of fat in our bodies.

A study showed that ginger consumption significantly decreased glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, free fatty acids, low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). At the same time, it raised high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the serum of rats with diabetes or fed with a high-fat diet.

Green tea and green tea extracts

Many health drinks include green tea or green tea extracts, which contain catechins (natural antioxidants that prevent cell damage). This plays a significant role in weight loss, specifically fat loss — especially belly fat.

A study of 126 obese subjects placed participants into two groups: one received green tea beverages without catechins (placebo), and the other received a low or high content of catechins with a galloyl moiety. Participants consumed 500mL of green tea at mealtimes for 12 weeks (during the meal with the highest fat content). After 12 weeks, results showed that the low- and high-dose control groups had significant reductions in visceral and subcutaneous fat areas compared to the control group. Catechins can also be found in Kombucha, making it another excellent choice for fat burning.

Whey protein drinks

Whey protein isn’t just for bulking up and staying full longer. It is also highly beneficial in helping to increase fat loss while simultaneously preserving lean muscle mass. Those who lift weights particularly like to go with whey protein as they’re trying to gain muscle while burning fat. Whey also contains leucine, an amino acid that plays a vital role in muscle protein synthesis. So while it helps build muscle, it aids in burning calories and stimulates fat burning. Leucine can be found in several products, including milk and spirulina.

Other drinks that promote fat burn

While most fat-burning drinks (homemade or store-bought) are of high quality and nutritious, it’s always a good idea to double-check the label for high sugar levels or unwanted ingredients, including artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Combining fat-burning drinks with a healthy diet and moderate exercise can result in substantial fat (and weight) loss while maintaining healthy, lean muscle mass. Most fat-burning beverages are safe to consume in moderation, but always pair them with a nutritious diet and talk to your doctor to ensure they won’t interfere with any medications.

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