After you’ve calculated your TDEE, picked up your workout program and dialed in your meal plan, the next step in the journey to lose body fat is looking into which supplements can help you achieve optimal results.
One quick online search will likely leave you overwhelmed with options and stuck with more questions than answers. How does each of these supplements stack up? Which one is the best choice for your goals? And most importantly, how can you put these supplements to use in your program?
Before you simply reach for the latest over-hyped exotic ingredient in the hopes of revving your engine to burn more fat, pause and strategize your approach! When it comes to burning fat, the simplest choices are often the best.
Each of these three main types of supplements can help you to reduce body fat, but they all do it in different ways. And if you’re on the quest to lean out, they could be solid allies to have in your corner!
Enhanced metabolism? Appetite control? Soaring energy levels? If all that sounds good to you, a conventional fat burner is probably what you’re after.
Fat burners a.k.a Thermogenics make it easier for your body to burn more calories, and they make sticking with your diet easier by combating the negative side effects of a reduced-calorie diet.
Many fat burners contain ingredients such as cayenne, caffeine, or green-tea extract to help stimulate metabolic rate. By ingesting these ingredients, you can in essence boost your total calorie burn, even if the effect is very subtle.
However, since weight loss comes down to how many calories you expend versus how many you take in, anything that helps shift the burn side of the equation higher helps you in your efforts to lose weight.
Likewise, other ingredients in the fat-burner formulations, such as acetyl l-carnitine and (again) green tea, can help your body better utilize fat as fuel. This makes it easier for your body to burn off the fat you’re working so hard to lose.
As for the second effect of fat burners, it’s normal to feel some fatigue while dieting. By reducing calories to shift the “calories in versus calories burned” equation in your favor, your body literally has less fuel to run on, leave you feeling the effects of running on fumes.
This is precisely why so many fat burners include energy-boosting compounds to stimulate your nervous system and give your energy levels a bump. A stimulant-based fat burner gives you a good dose of caffeine for that extra kick you need.
Don’t want caffeine? No problem. There are also non-stimulant fat burners that provide a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants to generate naturally higher energy levels without the side effects of stimulants.
Keep in mind any stimulant-based fat burners should be cycled on and off, not taken for months at a time. This ensures your body does not adapt to the effects of the stimulants and you keep seeing the results you want without having to increase past the recommended dose.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Another great ingredient to consider if your goal is to reduce body fat and maintain lean muscle mass is branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAA supplements are particular amino acids that can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, preventing muscle catabolism from occurring.
When on a reduced-calorie diet, you’re naturally in a catabolic state, which can lead to unwanted muscle loss. Decreased muscle mass can mean a slower metabolism, which in turn can halt fat loss. It can also mean you simply feel awful in your workouts. Remember: Muscle is your friend, even when weight loss is your goal!
In a well-regarded 2009 study, lifters who took BCAAs for eight weeks burned through nearly twice as much body fat as those simply taking whey protein without extra BCAAs. Another study, looking at competitive wrestlers who were both training hard and calorically restricted, found that BCAAs helped them burn far more fat—particularly in the waist—than wrestlers taking a placebo. Most people find using BCAAs on a low carb or reduced-calorie diet helps offset some of the fatigue and hunger from periods of reduced calorie intake.
By preventing catabolism and providing an extra source of energy without adding calories, BCAAs are a great addition to your fat-burning supplement stack.
Whey Protein Isolate
No performance nutrition plan is complete without a protein, and when you’re looking to lose fat, you can’t beat whey protein isolate.
Isolate is the highest quality, leanest type of whey protein available. Most whey isolates contain zero carbohydrates and zero dietary fats, so all you’re getting is 100 percent pure protein—exactly what you need to keep calories low and muscle-retention high.
Whey isolate is the most easily and rapidly-digested form of supplemental protein, so those amino acids in your post-workout protein shake will hit your muscle tissues almost immediately. Research also shows whey protein powder can help enhance total-body fat loss while sparing lean muscle tissue. Researchers believe the rich leucine content of whey protein may be at the center of lean-muscle retention while on a reduced-calorie diet.
The same study also showed evidence that consumption of dairy products—such as whey—may help augment the total amount of fat lost from the abdominal region, thus consuming whey protein as part of your weight-loss plan may get you closer to your goal of sleek, firm abs.
If you are wondering about how much protein you should take for your body weight, use our Macro calculator.
Can you hear your body talk? Presumably not—but if you could, it would probably tell you that working out takes a lot out of you, including the loss of vitamins that you need to sustain your health. Unfortunately, research indicates that many who train hard while desperately trying to maintain a specific body weight are often vitamin-deficient. Multivitamins should help remedy that loss. Start your day off with this supplement and be sure to take only the recommended amount.
Last but by no means the least is Omega-3. If you haven’t heard of omega-3 before… you should have! Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid we get from nuts, seeds and certain types of fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel!
In omega-3 we have two essential fatty acids DHA and EPA- notice the word “essential”- this means we must consume these fatty acids through the diet to live and function because our bodies cannot produce them! In the UK it’s advised we consume at least one portion of fatty fish a week- but like many recommendations… this rarely happens.
Omega-3 is has been shown in various studies to have major health benefits including reducing the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. If your exercising the demand for fatty acids is already increased, but supplementing with long chain omega-3 fatty acids can also contribute to weight loss.
For example, it was investigated whether appetite could be affected by omega-3 fatty acids when included in a calorie restricted diet. Over 8 weeks, a positive relation between omega-3 and fullness was observed and it was concluded that omega-3 intake can help modulate appetite and may be used for purposes of weight maintenance.
So to help aid your weight loss supplementing with omega-3 capsules once- three times a day can not only act to give you healthy skin, hair and joints but will also help regulate your appetite, whilst aiding your metabolism in burning that fat!
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