There are two ways to take a fat burner. You can swallow a pill or powder, change nothing else in your life, and hope for the best, or you can make it part of a comprehensive training, nutrition, and supplementation plan all geared around your goal. Any idea which approach is more effective?
Once you have the fundamentals in place, it's your fat burner's job to help you lose weight faster. Here's how to help this supplement reach its full potential.
1. Know Your Calories
If you're trying to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, meaning you need to burn more calories than you take in. Sure, you can guess at that number and hope that the fat burner will simply take you over the edge, but your chances are far better if you use a calorie calculator to guide you. Set the goal as "lose weight," which will put you at a slight deficit of a few hundred calories.
If you find yourself losing more than 1-2 pounds per week, don't be afraid to add calories back in, or cut back to a half-dose of your fat burner. Weight-loss expert Bill Campbell, Ph.D., explains that any faster pace risks burning muscle tissue, a no-no for healthy, lasting weight loss.
2. Dial In Your Workouts and Cardio
How you eat has plenty to do with how many calories you burn. But so does how you train!
There are numerous methods you can use to increase the intensity of your workouts and lose more weight faster. For instance, you can hack your lifting sessions to increase workout density with what strength coach Todd Bumgardner calls "fillers."
You can dial in your cardio for weight loss, too! Do a full training phase of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio, or alternate HIIT days with more moderate cardio on other days.
Facing down a tough workout? Remember, you can take a caffeinated fat burner as a pre-workout, too!
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3. Follow the Directions
This may seem obvious, but not every fat burner is the same. So when you buy one, make sure to read the label! Certain fat burners work better on an empty stomach, while others don't work as well in the presence of certain macronutrients.
Yohimbine, for example, is found in many fat burners. Studies have shown that when yohimbine is consumed on an empty stomach, only about 22-30 percent is absorbed—even as low as 7 percent in some subjects.
Search different ingredients to find the best fat burner to fit your unique workout style and fat-loss goals.
4. Take Your Fat Burner at the Right Time
Timing is crucial to ensure that you are getting the most out of your fat burner. For example, if you take a fat burner to help control hunger, your first dose should be before or with your first meal of the day. If your fat burner recommends multiple doses throughout the day, use your second dose to curb midafternoon cravings and to give you an energy boost as you power through the end of your workday.
Remember, dosing recommendations for each fat burner can vary dramatically. Consider this another push to read the label and know that you're taking the recommended dosage of each product.
5. Monitor Your Sleep
Missing out on sleep can have detrimental effects on your fat-burning goals. Even partial sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease the number of calories burned in response to exercise, and prolonged sleep deprivation has been shown to amplify this effect.
Adequate sleep also improves your natural metabolic rate, allowing your fat burner to be a helpful addition to your weight-loss program rather than a necessary compensation for bad habits. Getting enough sleep every night will also help you feel better each day, helping you stay motivated, train harder, and stick to your fat-burning plan.
Most people feel the stimulant effects of caffeine for approximately six hours after consumption, so as a general rule, do not consume your fat burner within six hours of bedtime. Although just to be safe, eight hours is often recommended. If you are more sensitive to caffeine, consider taking a non-stimulant fat burner instead.
The best non-stimulant thermogenics help burn the fat without impacting your sleep.
6. Stay Hydrated
Many people find that fat burners make them both sweaty and thirsty. The solution isn't to suffer through it, it's to prioritize hydration to enhance your fat burning! Without enough water, your energy, strength, and yes, your ability to shed body fat all suffer.
When you're hydrated, you'll be able to do more work, and better work, leading to more calories burned and greater fat-loss results. Research also shows that consuming water when blood sugar and insulin levels are low—like 4-6 hours after a meal—can increase the body's ability to use fat as fuel.
Struggle to get all that water down over the course of a day? That's when flavored hydration supplements can be your best friend.