7 Top fat-fighting supplements

Give your training and dieting efforts a boost with these seven fat-fighting supplements

August 12, 2008
7 Top fat-fighting supplements
Diet and exercise are without a doubt the best way to burn away bodyfat. But if you get those two things in check and still aren't seeing the results you desire, maybe it's time for a boost.

Sure, summer is coming to a close but it's never too late to get in shape — just follow one of the many Hers fat-burning diets we've provided over the years (such as Diet Emergency), and consider using a few of the following seven supplements. They're safe and effective for helping melt away those final few pounds separating you from your best physique ever.

Soy Protein Powder When considering fat-loss supplements, protein powders probably don't come to mind. Yet soy protein powder is not only a great supplement for boosting muscle recovery and growth in female athletes but research now confirms that it enhances fat loss as well.

A recent review paper published in a 2008 issue of the journal Obesity Reviews supports the existence of soy protein's fat-shedding properties. University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers reviewed eight human studies, as well as several animal studies, and concluded that soy protein can aid fat loss, possibly by decreasing appetite and caloric intake.

Backing this theory is research from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) revealing that soy protein contains peptides (small proteins) that influence your brain to keep your resting metabolic rate elevated. This burns more bodyfat and dulls hunger to help you eat fewer calories throughout the day. That's a double-whammy on bodyfat, particularly the fat around your midsection, as another study from the University of Alabama found. Researchers reported that women who drank a 20-gram soy protein shake daily for three months lost a significant amount of abdominal fat, while those who consumed a 20-gram casein shake daily actually gained fat around their waists and abdomens.

To see benefits, add at least 20 grams of soy protein to your daily diet. On workout days, have 10 grams each of soy and whey protein powders within an hour before training, and immediately after workouts ingest 10-20 grams of soy protein powder with 10-20 grams of whey protein powder. On rest days, drink a 20-gram soy protein shake.

Green Tea Extract If you're not familiar with green tea's health-promoting and fat-burning effects by now, it's time to get on board. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the main compound responsible for green tea's fat-burning effects. EGCG works by preventing the breakdown of norepinephrine, a neurohormone that boosts metabolic rate and fat-burning.

Although drinking green tea is a smart idea, we suggest you supplement with green tea extract to get the full fat-burning effects. Researchers report that the body better absorbs catechins from green tea extract than from tea made from leaves. Supplement with 500-1,000 mg of green tea extract standardized for EGCG three times daily before meals. Be sure to take one dose about an hour before you train to add a jolt to your workout and enhance fat-burning during and after your gym session.

Caffeine Caffeine has received its share of negative publicity over the years. What was once considered the bad ingredient in coffee, teas and soft drinks has finally had its name cleared via scientific research, which shows it's a safe and effective supplement for athletes and even promotes aspects of a healthy life.

The main way in which caffeine works to shed bodyfat is by binding to fat cells. This bond blocks the storage of dietary fat in fat cells and enhances its release into the circulation. Less fat in the fat cells equals smaller cells, which means less bodyfat. Take 100-300 mg of caffeine in supplement form (such as caffeine anhydrous) in the morning and one hour before workouts, which encourages fat-burning during and after training and boosts strength levels and training intensity during exercise.

Arginine Seeing this amino acid in a fat-burning supplement article might come as a surprise. Yes, arginine is a potent nitric oxide (NO) booster that can help you in your training and recovery, but new research presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association reported that this supplement has fat-burning potential.

Researchers found that female endurance athletes who took arginine for four weeks lost about 2 pounds of fat while simultaneously gaining about 2 pounds of muscle—all without changing their diet or training. Imagine the benefit it may provide alongside a fat-burning diet.

Arginine is readily converted to NO in the body, and this may be the mechanism that actually leads to fat loss. Research shows that NO enhances lipolysis, the removal of fat from fat cells when it's released into the bloodstream, where they travel to tissues such as muscle to be burned for fuel. Over time, this causes the fat cells to shrink. Arginine also enhances growth hormone (GH) levels. While GH is important for the recovery and growth of muscle tissue, it also enhances lipolysis.

Take 3-5 grams of arginine in the form of L-arginine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, arginine ketoisocaproate, arginine mallate or arginine ethyl ester before breakfast, 30-60 minutes preworkout and 30-60 minutes before bed for best results.

Capsaicin If you like spicy foods, such as some Mexican, Thai and Indian dishes, you may already be getting the benefits of this fat-burner. Capsaicin is the chemical in chili peppers that's responsible for their spiciness. Basically, it works by raising levels of norepinephrine, which boosts your metabolic rate and encourages fat loss.

Research also confirms that it works to reduce hunger. Thus, you can boost fat-burning simply by ordering spicy dishes or adding about 1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper or cayenne pepper to your own cooked meals. For those who can't stand the heat, take capsaicin supplements that supply 40,000-80,000 Scoville thermal units (or heat units) per dose 2-3 times per day before meals.

Beta-phenylethylamine Also known as phenylethylamine (PEA), this is one of the latest fat-burning supplements to create a buzz in the fitness world. PEA is simply a naturally occurring metabolite of the amino acid phenylalanine, which enhances the transmission of nerve impulses. It works to boost fat loss by stimulating an increase in the body's levels of norepinephrine.

Another benefit of PEA is that it can provide a feeling of euphoria by boosting dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, helping you to better tolerate eating low-calorie foods and lower-carb meals. Yep, it can be a lifesaver when dieting. Use a PEA supplement that provides 100-500 mg of beta-phenylethylamine and take it 1-2 times daily.

Raspberry Ketone This aromatic compound found in red raspberries has a similar structure to capsaicin and therefore works in a comparable manner to burn bodyfat. Researchers at Ehime University School of Medicine (Japan) reported in a 2005 study that raspberry ketone was found to be effective at promoting fat loss in rats by enhancing norepinephrine levels. Yet another study found that human subjects who took raspberry ketone orally or by a patch lost significantly more fat than those subjects who took a placebo. Try supplementing with 100-200 mg of raspberry ketone twice daily before meals.

Even if you choose just one or two, taking these supplements can make a decided difference in your physique, especially when you're doing all you can as far as smart training and nutrition strategies.


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