What is your take on ‘fat burners’? Also, what are your thoughts on who should take them and for how long? Lastly, what is your take on the effects they have on metabolism once you stop taking them?
Thanks for the question, Lydia. I honestly don’t support the use of fat burners for my clients. Hey, I’m not a purist by any means. Nor am I innocent of using them myself in the past. In fact, in my early twenties while working at GNC while going to University I was guilty of taking my fair share of ECA stacks (ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin). And to be honest, it worked wonders. Not only did my heart rate race and core temperature increase when I trained, I actually burned a ton of calories and dropped some serious weight. Hindsight is twenty-twenty as they say, and in my case I found the gains to be very temporary. I started to feel the effects of the stack less and less, even though I tried the 3 on, 2 off cycle as recommended in many magazines at the time. Eventually I found the stack relatively useless and my workouts plateaued. I just couldn’t seem to emulate the ‘high’ and ‘buzz’ I would get from the various products that I tried. It wasn’t until I completely stopped all stimulants entirely and went on a detox for 3 weeks that I started to get back to what I would consider a normal response to caffeine or the like. After speaking to a friend who is a naturopath, I later learned that I was heavily taxing my adrenal glands and confusing my body’s natural response to stress. The ECA or “fat burner” was just adding undue stress to an already stressed system – ultimately, it acted counter-productively on my training and, at the time, weight loss.
So if fat burners aren’t the solution, than what is? Answer. I truly believe that high intensity training (HIIT) is the best way to burn fat. Numerous studies have shown that doing HIIT as opposed to long, dragged out moderate intensity workouts, results in up to 9 times greater fat loss. Quite literally, if you follow HIIT principles in your training, you could turn an atypical 45 minute workout into a 20 minute workout and get better results. Phil Campbell, a very good friend of mine, has done a ton of research on this subject. In his book, Ready Set Go Fitness, he describes the benefit of HIIT training through his “Sprint-8″ method. In his research he shows that anyone can naturally increase their Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels by adopting this training methodology. The benefits are immense, and here are just a few: increased metabolism, decrease in fat, younger, tighter skin, better sleep, and the list goes on… here’s a link to supporting research by the National Institute of Health Research.
In short Lydia I don’t believe there’s any short cut to losing weight and fat burners aren’t a solution I would recommend to anyone looking to improve their fitness levels. Instead my advice would be to watch what you eat, implement HIIT principles into your exercise routine, and get plenty of sleep. Voila! Its that simple. (but hey, if a venti, quadruple shot long pour Americano helps put a little more umph in your workouts, well, be sure to pick me one up too)
This article was written by Dai "The Moose" Manuel
Dai Manuel is a dad, husband, Fitness Town COO, Toastmaster, Crossfit Coach, Ambassador with Visalus & Fitfluential. How can I help you reach your goals?