The 411 on Fat-Burners
(Do they really work, or is all just a scam?)
There are three essential ingredients a fat burner must have to be effective:
- Appetite suppressant
- Energy Booster
In order to explain this properly, I am going to skip over the first two for the time being and start with thermogenesis. Thermogenesis, what is that? Most people cannot answer that question, so let’s first break down the word... thermo = heat. genesis = the production or creation of. Put them together and you have the production of heat. Let’s take that one step further, with everything in life there is a cost, the cost of heat is the expenditure of energy. Now, before I go any further let me explain something about energy... energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be converted, transferred, or stored. So my above statement really should read... thermogenesis is the conversion of energy into heat within the body.
Next, let’s describe how we measure the amount of energy being converted, transferred or stored in the body; this measurement is a calorie. A calorie, technically speaking, is the energy required to heat one gram of water one degree celsius. Where do these calories come from, they come from our food. Which if you remember a calorie (energy) cannot be created or destroyed, only converted (heat), stored (fat) or transferred (human waste).
It all starts with food, so here we go... The food we eat is used in our bodies in different ways. Some is converted into energy (calories), some leaves our body via our waste system (feces or urine), and finally some is stored (fat). Whatever is not processed in this way can be used for metabolism. Our bodies’ biggest energy expenditure comes from heat or thermic energy. This is what sets us apart from reptiles or cold-blooded animals. As mammals we’re considered warm blooded animals and thus why so much of our body’s energy expenditure is thermic energy. We’ve got to keep our blood warm!
The calories left over, not being used for thermic energy (keeping the body warm) is used for other body functions such as cell reproduction, growth, movement (our muscles at work) and the well known phenomenon of storage – aka fat.
Thermogenesis, the fancy way of saying the body’s ability to convert calories (energy) into heat, can be broken down into three types:
Work-induced thermogenesis involves exercise. Our muscles need to create heat to work the most effectively and safely. When you hear people talking about warming up, this is done to protect your muscles, because warm muscles work more effectively than cold ones.
Keeping the body’s temperature regulated is what thermo-regulatory thermogenesis is all about. The average body temperature for humans is 98.7 degrees, which in general is quite a bit warmer than the surrounding temperature. There are even two types of thermo-regulatory thermogenesis: shivering and non-shivering. Shivering is a mechanism the body uses to create heat. Our skeletal muscles create the shivering which heats up our bodies. The non-shivering thermogenesis relates to the third type as mentioned above: diet-induced thermogenesis.
Diet-induced thermogenesis is related to the food we eat. Have you ever noticed when you eat a big meal you may start to feel warmer? The reason is the body creates that additional energy to help with digesting all that food. With that increased energy activity in the body it is noticed by us as heat. Brown fat tissue is the organ responsible for diet-induced thermogenesis humans and all mammals. Brown fat tissue is very important to animals that hibernate and for newborn babies as they utilize the non-shivering thermogenesis for body temperature regulation.
Brown fat tissue, more technically known as adipose tissue, are in close contact with our blood vessels and major organs. Brown fat has the important function of helping to warm the blood, when activity is triggered, which is then circulated throughout the body to share the warmth.
Our bodies’ thermogenic system is amazing. It is triggered by the sympathetic nervous system. The hypothalamus gland can register cold or the eating of a lot of food which then triggers the sympathetic nervous system, which is an automatic nervous system. Heartbeat and breathing are just two of the functions that the sympathetic nervous system controls and we’re not even conscious of it! The autonomic (automatic) nervous system uses up energy all the time.
Norepinephrine is a chemical transmitter that is released by the sympathetic nervous system that causes thermogenesis and other activities in the body. Our sympathetic nervous system can be compared to the thermostat in the body. Each one of us has a basal metabolism which can be measured, this measurement is the amount of energy that is required by the body to just sustain life. Norepinephrine is released when the body requires more energy, like turning up the thermostat for more heat.
Many people report increased sweating when their bodies are in thermogenesis. If the thermostat is turned up so to speak, we are requiring more of the energy we are consuming to be used for thermogenesis as well as other ares of the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, less energy is used in work and less is used for storage via fat, because the brown fat is activated and it calls into service the white cells which are the primary storage of fat in the body.
The number of fat cells in the human body always remain the same, but the size of these cells can vary greatly depending on how much the body is storing vs. using vs. consuming.
Loss of appetite is just one of the benefits of thermogenesis. If you are not as hungry, you will eat less, if you eat less, you have less to store (fat). The same thing can be said for exercise, thermogenesis is activated in order to raise one’s metabolism, allowing for the release of more energy allowing one to perform his or her physical tasks. In doing this one feels they have more energy, allowing them to do more and inevitably burn more fat.
The brown fat cell is unique in that it has a special mitochondria, specifically designed to create more energy in the form of heat than other cell’s mitochondria’s. The mitochondria in any cell is its powerhouse, its inner source of energy. Just think of the brown fat cell as a super energy burner that produces more heat than any other cell in the body.
Studies have been conducted and it has been determined that a large part of the problem in human obesity has less to do with eating habits as it does with the breakdown and deterioration of brown fat cells. It is also a theory that a part of the problem with human obesity lies in the amount of adipose tissue activity. The biggest difference found between lean people and obese people, based on the consumption of the same foods, is the amount of brown fat activity in their bodies. It has been found that even previously obese people still have a deficiency in their brown fat systems, which can either be re-programmed or they will always have to be cautious in their day to day diet.
OK, are you starting to get the big picture? Now back to the beginning... the three crucial components that make a fat-burner affective are: (1) appetite suppressant, (2) energy booster, & (3) thermogenesis. All three of these key ingredients necessary for a fat-burner to be effective have been covered in the simple explanation of thermogenesis described above.
- Appetite suppressant = less hungry = eat less = less energy (calories) stored (fat).
- Energy booster = more energy = possibility for more work = more calories converted to energy for necessary heat = less calories stored (fat) or stored calories (fat) being converted to energy for heat.
- Thermogenesis = raise body’s core temperature = rise in necessary energy = more calories converted to energy for necessary heat = less calories stored (fat) or stored calories (fat) being converted to energy for heat.
In short, YES... fat-burners do work! NO... they are not a scam! In conjunction with a healthy diet and proper exercise, a fat-burner that meets the above three requirements is very effective and could quite possibly be the dietary supplement necessary to help achieve the fitness goals you desire!
By Dr. Albert Scott