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Success with natural fat burners is just as much about understanding their role as it is about finding the best options.
In other words, if you fall victim to the “diet soda effect,” letting your savvy food choices stand in for exercise, proper hydration, etc., then you’re much less likely to lose weight.
But when properly paired with these other elements, all-natural fat burners just may make the difference between a metabolic stalemate and that long-awaited moment when the numbers start going down.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the best natural fat burners around, including supplements as well as whole foods, so you can easily incorporate one or more of these into your routine.
Very near the front of the fat burner hype train is green tea, and not without reason.
The compound in green tea that researchers home in when it comes to weight loss is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.
The exact mechanism by which EGCG promotes weight loss is still being whittled down, but the general consensus is that it helps the body burn more calories with the same amount of effort.
However, here’s the thing: while most studies note a weight loss effect caused by EGCG extracts, they very often report a “clinically irrelevant” potency when it comes to the amount of weight lost, BMI changes, etc.
For example, this academic review from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia concluded that, out of 14 randomized clinical trials assessing the fat-burning potential of green tea, participants who received the green tea lost between 0.2 to 3.5 kg more than those who received the placebo.
While we understand people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes may need more fast-acting solutions, we’re slightly more optimistic about these findings for two major reasons.
First, life carries on for longer than a 12-week trial window, meaning consistent green tea users can lose a whole lot more than 3.5 kg (extra) if they are responsible in other areas.
Also, green tea is lush with antioxidants, polyphenols, and other highly touted compounds that have been shown to protect against degenerative disease and possibly even certain forms of cancer—see this literature review for more info.
Native to India and parts of Southeast Asia, garcinia cambogia is hailed as an all-natural fat burner that can speed up your metabolism.
In this University of Cordoba study, garcinia cambogia showed a serious ramping up of natural fat-burning benefits at the 3- and 6-month marks, hinting at a high utility for semi-long-term users that resembles that of green tea.
When administered twice a day at a dosage of 500 mg to 214 obese participants, garcinia cambogia caused a significant increase in basal metabolic rate (BMR).
This trend wasn’t the only association Spanish researchers attributed to the steep weight loss at 3-6 months among the 214 obese participants in their 6-month study.
In addition to a commensurate increase in basal metabolic rate, the researchers also connected this rapid weight loss with a “highly significant reduction of fat mass and visceral fat … independent of sex, age, or suffering from hypertension, DM2 (type 2 diabetes), dyslipidemias or other combinations.”
Both the lack of discrimination in these effects along with the complete lack of adverse effects reported by patients in this study bode very well for garcinia cambogia as an effective fat-burning tool, both clinically and otherwise.
We certainly can’t guarantee your local grocery or even health food store(s) will have whole garcinia cambogia (they probably won’t), but extracts in capsule form are ubiquitous among major retailers across the US.
Every once in a while, the surface-level assumption is actually correct: chili peppers really can “burn” fat, to an extent.
This review from Peking Union Medical College in China found that capsaicin—a phytochemical in peppers you may have heard of—has demonstrated its ability to help with abdominal fat loss with little to no adverse events in most studies.
The mechanism behind this effect as postulated by the majority of clinical researchers is about as close to a true fat-burning action you can get: fat oxidation.
As the Chinese researchers put it, capsaicin causes “sustained fat oxidation,” which means that it actively breaks down fat molecules in the body.
They also noted an “increase in the oxygen consumption (VO2) and body temperature reflecting increased energy expenditure,” which are key to weight loss as well.
Paired with the fact that capsaicin acts as an anti-fatigue agent, it’s one of the best compounds for anyone looking to pair exercise with a healthy diet for weight loss purposes.
There are plenty of options at your disposal for capsaicin capsules—fair warning, they can still burn a bit.
If you prefer to go for the natural source, capsaicin is found in virtually every pepper with a non-zero Scoville heat unit score: jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers, and if you’re insane, the Carolina Reaper (among many other peppers).
For those of us reluctantly along for the ride throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s as our well-meaning parents entertained one weird diet trend after another, the mention of grapefruit may leave a (wait for it) sour taste in the mouth.
But wouldn’t you know, it looks like mom was right on this one—probably.
By the conclusion of this 12-week trial conducted by metabolic researchers at Scripps Clinic (CA, USA), the three forms of grapefruit administered to the 91 obese patients had all outperformed placebo as a weight loss agent by a significant margin.
Fresh grapefruit took the lead with an associated loss of 1.6 kg, followed by grapefruit juice at 1.5 kg, grapefruit capsules at 1.1 kg, and the placebo trailing at 0.3 kg.
Importantly for those participants with metabolic syndrome—which so commonly accompanies obesity—grapefruit also caused a “significant reduction in 2-hour post-glucose insulin level” as compared to placebo.
The study authors went on to note that the fat-burning mechanism of grapefruit is still unclear, and though some findings contest the fat-burning effects altogether, they tend to agree on improvements that could help with metabolic syndrome (blood pressure, blood lipid management, and more).
Protein and weight loss? It’s a bit of a forehead palm when you first hear the idea, but we chalk up the lack of public understanding on this connection to unilateral thinking in how protein is usually marketed (muscle mass, muscle mass, muscle mass).
When the focus is finally shifted elsewhere, we find a very strong case for weight loss that’s hedged on three key principles: replacing carbs and fat, acting as an appetite suppressant, and boosting metabolism.
To be clear, replacing carbs and fat with protein is a context-dependent benefit, but for those of us with 100+ cereal aisle options, it’s generally an excellent idea and a great way to interfere with extra fat deposition.
As this Jeju National University Hospital (of Korea) study finds, protein also increases the feeling of satiety by elevating blood amino acids and “hunger-inhibiting hormones,” creating a double whammy effect when combined with the above point.
Yet another key weight loss benefit of protein comes by virtue of the typically large and complex protein molecule; being harder to break down than carbs and fats requires an increase in “thermogenesis.”
In other words, your metabolic furnace has to run hotter in order to process protein, resulting in greater energy output and potential fat burning.
And yes, the muscle-building application of protein pairs perfectly with its fat burning effects for those interested in landing on a lean and muscular body composition after the weight is lost.
All of the above ingredients/nutrients can be sourced from natural, whole foods, or in supplement form.
Here are just a few examples of other supplements you can take to aid with fat burning, keeping in mind they won’t magically work on their own:
Hi-Health Metabolic Fusion
Featuring a batting-roster-sized selection of popular fat burners, we can’t speak for every single ingredient’s efficacy in the case of Hi-Health Metabolic Fusion, but many of the top players are here.
Overall, it’s clean, loaded with metabolism boosters (and hey, adaptogens for stress and focus), and completely free of questionable additives.
HUM Ripped Rooster
Taking a slightly avant-garde approach to fat burners as popular products are concerned is Ripped Rooster by HUM, which uses a metabolite (byproduct) of the hormone DHEA to boost your metabolism.
In addition to 7-keto DHEA, this supplement uses green tea extract and chromium, the latter of which may help control blood glucose levels.
NOW EGCG Green Tea Extract
Speaking of green tea extract, NOW EGCG is a consistent favorite of ours for its clean, vegan capsules, high potency (standardized to 80% catechins), and value.
Thanks to the potency, the EGCG may impart more than weight loss benefits, including inflammation control, antioxidant effects, and more.
Nature’s Way Forskohlii Standardized
Finally, Nature’s Way Forskohlii Standardized is one of our top picks for weight loss because of its gentle effects and its demonstrable improvement of body composition.
To be sure, more research on forskolin root extract is needed to more clearly delineate its efficacy and safety, but many are already touting its ability to reduce body fat.
For a more detailed breakdown of the top belly fat burners on the market, check out this article authored by our registered dietician.
Natural Fat Burner FAQ
How can I increase my fat burn naturally?
All of the above foods and supplements are an excellent starting point for anyone looking to naturally increase their metabolism.
Some of the most easily accessible options (that you may already have at home) include peppers (or capsaicin supplements), green tea, and/or high-protein foods or supplements.
As always, we highly recommend bolstering this effort with exercise, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest.
What are the strongest natural fat burners?
The research consensus on fat burners in general is not quite robust enough to make hard-and-fast comparisons between most options, especially considering the variability in how different participants respond to the same compounds.
What are the healthiest fat burners?
Every whole-food-sourced option above (garcinia cambogia, green tea, peppers, etc.) has plenty to offer nutritionally.
Making comparisons within this tier will require the context of your specific goals, needs, and so forth.
Most peppers alone have more than 200 chemical constituents that can impart benefits throughout the body, so a more nuanced approach to nutrition is required to declare one option healthier than the other.
Does lemon water burn fat?
While lemon water may indirectly promote fat loss by promoting satiety, hydration, and a possible boost to metabolism, it does not appear to directly impart any fat-burning effects on its own.
Natural fat burners abound throughout a variety of foods, some of which you may already be eating. Fat burning supplements are a convenient way to increase your intake of these foods, and may also contain fat-burning compounds that you otherwise would not have access to.
In some cases, the mechanism by which these foods/ingredients promote fat loss is yet undetermined, but we often see scientists pointing to increases in metabolism, increases in the feeling of fullness, and improvement in energy expenditure via other means.
But keep in mind, even the most effective fat-burning food is not going to offset an otherwise poor, calorically excessive diet, especially if exercise isn’t in the picture.