When it comes to fat loss and the use of supplements it’s important to remember that no amount of supplementation will replace consistent hard work and effort.
To see results you must master the basics and then do them regularly. This means creating and maintaining a calorie deficit, getting enough protein in your diet and lifting weights with a focus on progressive overload.
Only once you’re doing all these things should you begin to think about introducing supplements into your routine to get some of the benefits they offer.
In this article, we’ll look at the 4 fat loss supplements worth buying and why they’re worth buying.
If your goal is to lose fat then it goes without saying that your goal is also to maintain muscle mass, as it’s by doing these 2 things together than you avoid skinny fat syndrome and go straight to lean and muscular.
Getting enough protein in your diet is an important part of being able to do this.
Not only is protein vital for the maintenance and growth of muscle tissue but it’s also has a higher thermic effect of food than fat and carbs which means you’ll feel fuller for longer after eating it. (1)
As for how much you need research (2, 3, 4) consistently shows that an intake of between 0.6g – 1.1g per pound of body weight is enough to both preserve or build muscle depending on the circumstances.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re hitting your protein goals each day is to incorporate protein shakes into your diet, as not only are they quick to make but they’re also convenient, transportable and cost-effective.
There are several different protein types you can choose from depending on your goals and dietary preferences. To help you decide we’ll cover each of them.
Whey Protein Powder
The most popular form of protein and is a by-product of the cheese-making process. It is considered a complete protein as it provides all amino acids and comes in 2 main forms; concentrate and isolate.
Whey protein is fast digesting, typically contains 20 – 30 g of protein per serving and is ideal for making protein shakes or smoothies.
Casein Protein Powder
Casein is a slow-digesting, milk-based protein that contains a full amino acid profile and is considered a complete protein. However, due to its gel-forming properties, it is badly suited for making protein shakes but perfect for making protein desserts.
Casein is a slow-digesting protein, typically contains 20 – 30 g of protein per serving and is ideal for a pre-bedtime snack.
Vegan & Vegetarian:
Vegan and vegetarian proteins include soy, hemp, rice and pea proteins and are often made from a blend of plant sources to ensure it contains a complete protein source.
Creatine is a naturally occurring molecule found in the body that helps your muscles produce energy during intense activity like weightlifting. The amount you have in your body depends on your diet, particularly meat intake, exercise, muscle mass and testosterone levels. (5)
Creatine is primarily stored in your muscles as phosphocreatine and is used to create a high-energy molecule called ATP that is used for intense exercise. Supplementing with creatine helps ‘top-up’ the amount you have in your body by as much as 10 – 20%. (6)
This increase in creatine stored in the body increases your energy output which provides several sought-after benefits.
You might think that given how beneficial supplementing with creatine can be that there are some complicated dosing schedule and a hefty price tag, but you’d be wrong.
Taking creatine is stupidly simple, all you need to do is take 3 – 5 grams a day. (16)
Doing this will see you reach saturation within a couple of weeks, whereby you’ll continue taking 3 – 5 g per day to keep yourself topped up.
Alternatively, you could ‘load up’ by taking 20 grams a day for the first 5 – 7 days, this will see you reach full saturation in half the time taking a smaller dosage would but offers no other benefits. (17)
As for buying it, that’s simple too. You want to get creatine monohydrate, which is the same as the naturally occurring creatine in your body with the addition of one molecule of water attached.
As for why any of this matters for fat loss, here’s why.
The key to looking lean and muscular instead of skinny fat comes down to maintaining your muscle mass in a calorie deficit. This is done by getting enough protein and regularly lifting weights and applying progressive overload.
Anything that can help you do this is invaluable and creatine is one thing that can help. Not to mention that creatine can be particularly effective for those following a Vegan or Vegetarian diet as research shows these diets tend to result in lower creatine stores in the body.
Often known as a health drink for the high amounts of antioxidants it packs, green tea extract can assist with weight loss in several ways.
This is because of antioxidants called catechin, in particular, one called epigallocatechin (EGCG) which can boost your metabolism.
It does this in part by increases the amount of the hormone norepinephrine which works to break fat down into the bloodstream where it can be burnt for energy. (19)
Green tea extract has also been showing to increase the fat-burning effects of exercise with one study showing that participants who supplemented with green tea extract burnt up to 17% more fat than those who didn’t take the supplement. (22)
On top of this green tea extract may also boost your metabolism by 3 – 8% with the effect varying between individuals (23, 24, 25) with some evidence showing that green tea extract may also increase the amount of fat lost from the stomach. (26, 27)
In short, green tea extract can help you increase the amount of fat burnt during exercise, boost your metabolism at rest and may even help you lose more fat from stubborn areas of the body like the stomach.
Whilst the overall effects might be quite small (3% of a 1,800-calorie intake is only 54 calories) when combined with a calorie deficit, optimal protein intake, regular strength training and the other supplements in this list the effect becomes more significant.
Not to mention that research shows that the fat loss when using green tea extract is more often harmful visceral fat than subcutaneous fat, which is an invaluable benefit it and of itself. (28)
Aside from being one of the most consumed substances in the world caffeine can also help you lose more fat. In fact, there are several benefits of regular caffeine supplementation for the average weightlifter. (29, 30, 31, 32)
This means if you’re not inclined to spend your hard-earned money on expensive, often junk-filled pre-workout supplements, then coffee may be the answer you’re looking for.
One thing to be aware of is, if you drink coffee regularly then you’ll build up a tolerance to its effects, and over time it effects will decrease and/or you’ll need more caffeine to achieve the same results (33).
Nonetheless, caffeine, like green tea extract, increases the breakdown of fat which can be beneficial if you’re already in a calorie deficit.
However, performance benefits are not the only reason coffee and caffeine may be useful as a fat loss supplement. Research also shows that coffee may also help reduce your appetite by releasing a hormone called peptide YY (PYY for short). (36, 37)
PPY is normally produced in the gut as a response to eating and helps signal that you’re full, with researchers believing that it plays an important role in how much you eat. (38)
Whilst more research is needed to know precisely how this mechanism works, there is a weight of evidence showing that caffeine consumption can help you lose more fat, boost workout performance and help you eat less at mealtimes.
As for how much you need to achieve this effect, the studies used between 100 – 200mg of caffeine and for reference here are the typical values per coffee type:
A lot of coffee shops include the info on their website if you wanted to see. For example, here’s Starbucks’s.
If you’re interested in caffeine and coffee for its weight loss benefits, then you may need to consider cycling your usage to prevent a tolerance building up.
As for supplements, it is possible to get caffeine in tablet form, which is ideal for those who don’t particularly drink coffee or don’t like to drink coffee but are interested in the benefits it can provide.
Fat loss supplements and/or pre-workout powders generally tend to be a mix of the supplements in this article except for protein powder and usually with the addition of BCAAs.
They’re designed to give you an edge when training and provide an alternative to taking each supplement individually. However, they also often include other ingredients that serve no purpose or cause a quick burst of energy followed by a crash.
So, whilst it can be beneficial to look for something that comes in more of an all-in-one format you also need to make sure that you’re getting it from a reputable company.
When it comes to pre-workout or fat loss supplements, I generally prefer to have a strong cup of coffee.
Ultimately, it’s your diet and training that will make the biggest difference in the pursuit of your goals and you’ll want to get this sorted before thinking about using supplements.
However, you might find that the strategic use of a handful of supplements may help to make your progress a little bit quicker and a little bit easier.
When this is the case, I recommend you use protein powder, creatine, green tea extract and caffeine.