Do those fat burner pills really work? I get asked that almost as much as "How do you get abs?" Let's talk about it.
As a fitness magazine cover model and trainer now for almost 20 years, I can say I have tried my share of many different fitness supplements out there- everything from vitamins to protein powders, to pre-workout N.O. drink mixes, to thermogenics more commonly known as "fat burners".
Of all the different types of fitness supplements out there, fat burners sell the most units. Their popularity has exploded over the past few years, due to various celebrity ad campaigns and just plain plastering the media with different ads on TV and in the magazines. The era of the notorious "before and after" photos have also helped to push huge sales figures for them. The fact that we are fighting an obesity epidemic does'nt hurt sales either.
I was paid to appear in a campaign for one such product- one of the most popular "fat burners" out there- Iovate Health's Hydroxycut Pro Clinical. I got in inside look at how these products are marketed and- what it really takes for them to work. Simply, these supplements will only work if you do your part in the kitchen and in the gym. For example, if you took the suggested doses on time every day but did not exercise and took in too many calories from poor eating habits, then you would still gain weight.
Now for the 8-week Hydroxycut study I was involved in. Hydroxycut has many different products available, the target market for those wanting to lose a large amount of weight, and those wanting to lose that hard-to-get rid of last few pounds of annoying tummy chub; and everywhere in between. Pro-Clinical had two of those such products and my group was the latter group, lasting 8 weeks. The other subjects in the study were put on a 12-week study. During that 8 weeks, I lost about 13 pounds, not a whole lot. Others were more viable subjects for them, losing 25, 30 and even 40 pounds.
After being selected by a regular audition-style meeting, the Hydroxycut top brass hopefully decide to select you for the job. Well I got lucky and booked it. On the first day, it was hinted you are able to eat whatever you want (not recommended) so that you look substantially softer and out of shape in your before photo- so I went out and ate some crappy McDonalds grub and boy did all that salt, sugar and dead calories show up in my system the next day for my before photo. It just reminded me that there are people who eat that crap every day; it's no wonder they are so out of shape.
We were then given scales to weigh ourselves and were required to provide weekly photographic evidence that we are losing weight and staying on track to our target weight by the 8th week. If you did not make the cut each week and did not provide the evidence that Hydroxycut wanted, you were let go from the program. After all, they were paying us to be used as success stories. Here are a couple photos from my trial, these were from 3, 4 and 5 weeks into it. One is from the set of the actual commercial shoot. You can tell from the first photo I am holding more salty water weight from not really attacking my clean eating habits just yet; the others you can tell pretty easily I was cutting salt and calories…
I took the suggested amount of Hydroxycut every day, of course. But the REAL weight and inches lost came from the fact that we had to train and eat right every single day; with the consistency and dicipline of a military platoon, or we just would'nt get paid. So, from that standpoint, money is a huge motivator; sort of like the fact you purchase the bottle of fat burners, that in itself is insentive to train and eat right, so they will work even better. I just can't stress the importance of consistent smart eating and training for the results you really want, not fat burners.
Don't get me wrong, I like fat burners and I take them. But if I did'nt take them, I would still be able to get the results I want with no problem. It's what I do in the gym and the kitchen every day that brings results. The reason I take thermogenics a.k.a fat burners is that some of them have high amounts or combinations of stimulants that motivate me to train harder. Hydroxycut's Pro Clinical is not one of those types of supplements as it is pretty weak in the stimulant department. It focused more on herbal appetite suppressants, something that does not really apply to my own personal needs in a thermogenic. I don't drink coffee so I just like them for the stimulant rush.
That's it, I don't take them for anything else. I don't need an appetite supressant, unless I am trying to get selected for some sort of paid job like Hydroxycut. Even then, I just won't eat anything that has a lot of salt or dead calories which is basically prepackaged or processed food- the crap we should not be eating anyway. I prepare my own food and read, read, read the labels if it has a barcode on the package. Just that alone will shed pounds and inches without the use of fat burners.
Again, the stimulants in some of these products have the amount of caffeine that 3-4 cups of coffee have, with some other things like B vitamins, niacin, yohimbe, yerba mate, etc. All these things thrown together can elicit a nice amped-up feeling which helps you motivate to train harder- but they don't "burn fat". Your body does that magic when you program it with proper training and eating habits.
Hydroxycut is a good product, the shoot was a blast and I met some great people, no doubt. Just remember that it is a SUPPLEMENT and it does just that. It only "supplements" your already existing smart eating and training methods you should be doing daily. As of now, this is the only true magic pill we have.
Ok, time to stop writing, pop a "fat burner" and get to the gym! 😉