You know better than anyone that no magic pill will sculpt the body you want. But if burning body fat is your goal, some supplements make the perfect physique accelerators to complement proper training and nutrition.
Inside look: One of the most popular drugs on the market, this stimulant is found naturally in substances like coffee and tea.
Why it works: Caffeine helps you burn body fat through many different mechanisms. First, it stimulates your central nervous system, helping you to lift more weight and train longer and harder so you burn more calories. Second, caffeine encourages your body to release stored fat, which you can then use to fuel activity. Third, caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant, so it will help prevent you from taking in excess calories throughout the day.
How to use it: Research shows that the anhydrous (dry) form of caffeine is the most effective for burning body fat. For best results, take two doses per day, one shortly after waking up and the other about 30 minutes before workouts. Take 100–200mg per dose, up to a total of 400mg per day, based on your tolerance. And, of course, avoid taking later in the day to prevent sleep disruption.
Inside look: Capsaicin is the substance that gives chili peppers their heat. Taken as a supplement (or even in food), capsaicin is a proven fat burner.
Why it works: Capsaicin encourages your body to release fat from storage, and it also boosts your metabolic rate when used regularly. This supplement increases your body’s production of norepinephrine, a brain chemical that’s similar to adrenaline, revving up your energy and burning the fat that’s been released.
How to use it: Look for products that contain 50,000–90,000 Scoville units (a measurement of heat intensity) per dose, and take about 30–45 minutes before meals or up to five times a day. You can also include more ground chili peppers in your favorite dishes.
Dandelion Root Extract
Inside look: A supplement derived from the root of the yellow-flowered weed, dandelion root extract has many medicinal properties, from helping to calm an upset tummy to reducing urinary tract infections.
Why it works: Dandelion root is a natural diuretic, encouraging your body to release subcutaneous fluid and sodium chloride (salt), helping to reveal your natural lean muscle. While dandelion root doesn’t specifically burn fat, it’s included in many fat burners because it helps you display all the hard work you put in at the gym.
How to use it: Look for products that contain about a 4-to-1 ratio of root extract to taraxasterols, and take 500–1,500mg in 2–3 doses per day with meals. Also, avoid consuming salt when you want a quick slim-down.
Inside look: Derived from the rind of a sour tropical fruit found in Southeast Asia, Garcinia cambogia contains a natural fat-burning substance called hydroxycitric acid (HCA).
Why it works: Garcinia encourages your fat cells to release stored fat that you can then burn for energy. It also helps prevent calories you’ve consumed from being stored as fat. Finally, Garcinia is an appetite suppressant, so you can better stick to your diet.
How to use it: To get the most from this supp, take 500–1,000mg 2–3 times a day for a total of up to 3,000mg. Take one dose about 30 minutes before workouts.
Inside look: Glucomannan is a form of soluble fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant.
Why it works: This supplement absorbs water after you consume it, expanding in your stomach to give you a feeling of fullness that helps you reduce your calorie intake when you’re dieting. In addition, glucomannan slows down digestion of the foods that you do consume, so you’ll go longer before feeling hungry and your body will absorb nutrients (including protein) for a longer period, helping to protect against muscle breakdown when you’re in a calorie deficit. Plus, it reduces the insulin release that drives calories to fat storage.
How to use it: For best results, take 1–2 grams of glucomannan about an hour before meals. Consume plenty of water—about 8–10 ounces per gram of glucomannan—to get the most benefits.
Green Coffee Extract
Inside look: This supplement is derived from the unripe fruit that encases the coffee bean.
Why it works: Green coffee extract contains chlorogenic acid, a compound that helps your body release stored fat. In addition, green coffee extract reduces the release of insulin, helping to keep your blood sugar in check. It also helps prevent your body from storing carbs as body fat, so you primarily use carbs to fuel workouts when you consume them shortly before training.
How to use it: Take 200–400mg of green coffee extract 2–3 times a day between meals. Look for products that have been standardized to 50% chlorogenic acid, and begin with a smaller dose, working up gradually.
Green Tea Extract
Inside look: The active component is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a phytochemical that may help reduce heart disease, cancer risk, and cholesterol, among other possible health benefits.
Why it works: As a weight-loss aid, green tea extract helps reduce body fat by boosting metabolic rate—the number of calories you naturally burn every day. It also helps release stored fat by helping your body maintain levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, so more fat is burned as fuel rather than being shuttled back into storage.
How to use it: Take 200–500mg of green tea extract that’s been standardized to 50% EGCG, up to three times a day. Unlike with caffeine, many people find that they can take green tea extract later in the day without it affecting their sleep habits.
Inside look: Derived from red raspberries, raspberry ketones are chemicals that the body makes when fats are broken down for fuel.
Why it works: Supplementing raspberry ketones helps spare muscle tissue, encouraging your body to rely on stored fat for energy. This supplement also boosts your metabolic rate so you’ll burn more calories throughout the day.
How to use it: To increase fat loss while following a reduced-calorie diet plan, take 100–200mg of raspberry ketones about 30 minutes before meals.
BOOST YOUR RESULTS
Follow this eight-week program for maximal fat loss
- Cut your calorie intake by 15% by reducing carbs. An active woman who typically consumes about 2,400 calories a day should aim for 2,000–2,100 calories.
- Eliminate caffeinated beverages and increase water intake.
- Cut calories another 10% so that you’re consuming about 1,800 per day.
- Add one dose of caffeine before workouts, starting with 100–200mg, or a dose that is comfortable for you.
- Add one dose of glucomannan before your last whole-food meal of the day.
- Add another dose of glucomannan before another whole-food meal, taking in two doses a day.
- Continue to take in caffeine before workouts.
- Add other pre-workout supplements such as Garcinia cambogia, green coffee extract, green tea extract, and/or raspberry ketones.
- Take capsaicin before meals or add chili powder to your whole-food meals.
- Add a third dose of glucomannan, taking it before a whole-food meal.
- Add in dandelion root extract to help your body release subcutaneous water.
- Cut sodium intake drastically to reduce fluid retention.
- Increase water intake for the first part of the week, but cut water consumption drastically for a day or two before a competition or photo shoot.
Remember to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, every day. Also make sure to drink plenty of water with each dose of glucomannan.