Scientific analysis of 35 Natural Fat Burning supplements (what works and what doesn’t)


Everyone wants to lean down/stay lean at some point in their life. In this post, I will list 35 fat burning substances/ingredients, often found in fat burners, as well as rate their effectiveness according to the available studies. This will help you to be able to choose a fat burner that has all or most of the best ingredients so that you can get the best bang for your buck.

1) Leucine

Rating: ★★★★☆


Leucine is an amino acid most abundant in meat and promotes fat oxidation. Animal sources being the greatest and plant sources being very low. BCAA (which main ingredient is leucine) supplementation is inversely correlated with obesity. However, this rat study (1) found that leucine deprivation increased beta-oxidation in white adipose tissue and increased uncoupling protein (UCP-1) in brown adipose tissue. But as we know, the results from rat and human studies are commonly quite controversial.

Total protein/BCAA intake during the day is also highly inversely correlated with obesity (2), as protein is the least used for energy and is the most thermogenic macro-nutrient. BCAAs are a useful tool for lowering serotonin, and/or to use pre-workout to enhance amino acid delivery to muscles post-workout.

I advise BCAAs as a supplement for leucine because it is best to supplement with all three amino acids (isoleucine, leucine and valine) which work in synergy together and BCAAs contain all three.

  • BCAA – pure unflavoured, 16oz, 2:1:1 ratio.

2) Carnitine

Rating: ★★★☆☆

L-carnitine is a quaternary ammonium compound found in the body. It’s used to transport long-chain fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane (by forming a long chain acetylcarnitine ester and being transported by carnitine palmitoyltransferase I, CPT-I, and carnitine palmitoyltransferase II, CPT-II) to be used for energy.  (3). Shorter chain fatty acids, such as MCT, doesn’t require the carnitine shuttle to gain access to the mitochondria. Carnitine induces a glycogen sparing effect possibly by increasing fat oxidation. Carnitine also reduces lactate accumulation at high intensity training, increases power output, blood sugar levels (prevents low blood sugar), as well as increases muscle & liver glycogen and CPT-1 (4).

Carnitine supplementation for 3 months resulted in no change of muscle carnitine levels, but after 6 months there was a 21% increase.

Because the body can make its own carnitine, and because it’s also available in high amounts in meat, I give this one a 3/5. But if you don’t eat much meat, or eat a low carb diet then this could be highly beneficial. The carnitine shuttle is like the bottle neck to fat loss. Long chain fatty acids can only enter the mitochondria in proportions to the amount of carnitine shuttles. More shuttles = faster entry and faster fat loss.

3) Green coffee bean extract/caffeine

Rating: ★★★★☆


Green coffee bean extract (GCBE) is just the extraction of the raw coffee beans that haven’t been roasted.

It inhibits fat absorption in the gut and shows promising result to prevent weight gain. It’s also a good source of caffeine, chlorogenic acid and other anti-oxidants (5). Adiponectin (a hormone that increases insulin sensitivity and stimulates lipolysis) is seen to be elevated in mice and humans fed green coffee bean extract (6, 7), which results in fat loss. GCBE has the benefit over plain caffeine because caffeine doesn’t contain any of the other beneficial polyphenols as the whole bean does. As we all know, caffeine is found in almost all fat burners, and now you know why because it works. It increases resting energy expenditure, fat burning, mental focus, power output, has a glycogen sparing effect, enhances performance, and much more…

100 mg of caffeine increases the resting metabolic rate of lean individuals by 3-4% over 150 min. (71) And repeated caffeine ingestion of 100 mg every 2 hours over 12 hours increases energy expenditure by 8-11%. The effect, however, is greater in lean individuals than in over-weight individuals. Caffeine by itself can help you burn 350+ calories/day extra, with higher doses being more effective. Caffeine works synergistically with other compounds I’m going to mention in this article so it would be best to combine it with something else than just take it on its own.

Other substances also high in caffeine include guarana and kola nut.

  • GCBE – 400mg per cap, 120 caps

4) MCT

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MCT are medium chain triglycerides which do not require the carnitine transporter to gain access to the mitochondria to be burned for energy. MCT include caproic aicd (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12). It also doesn’t interfere with glucose oxidation as long chain fatty acids do. Actually, you can even make ketones when ingesting MCT combined with carbs.

Ingestion of MCT 18-24g/day resulted in 1.67kg greater fat loss compared to olive oil after 16 weeks (8). Also, ingesting 30g of MCT daily resulted in an increase in energy expenditure of an extra 500 calories (9).

I don’t think MCT is very potent for fat loss if you look at it as a supplement (although it can have that benefit), however, it can still be very beneficial and potent if you use it to replace other fats/oils in your diet.

MCT is anti-inflammatory, pro metabolic, however the boost in metabolism is only short lived. MCT is a powerful tool and many people report fat loss when they add it to their diet, but I’ll only be giving it 3/5, as it’s more of a food than a supplement.

  • MCT – 16oz, C8 only (bulletproof, brain octane oil)

5) Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

CLAs can be either cis- or trans-fats and the double bonds of CLAs are conjugated and separated by a single bond between them. CLA is most abundantly found in red meat and dairy fat. CLA is actually healthy, whereas linoleic acid is not.


CLA leads to only minor increases in fat loss, but in many studies, even up to 6g/d does not result in any change in body composition. (10) It also has no ergogenic effect. If you’re unhealthy it might help you improve your health, but as a fat burner, it’s not very effective in my opinion, so I’ll be giving it a 1/5.

6) Yohimbine

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Yohimbine, the extract of Yohimbe tree bark, is a natural inhibitor of alpha-2 adrenergic receptors (which increases noradrenaline and thus lipolysis), with higher affinity to α2 than α1 receptors. However, high doses can overwhelm this effect and cause a drop in blood pressure, via mainly α1 agonist.

Ingestion of yohimbine prior to exercise boosts lipolysis and serum FFA levels both during and post exercise by blocking adipocyte α2 adrenoreceptors, thus inducing lipolysis by stimulating beta-adrenergic adipocyte receptors.

The one human study of yohimbine shows that subjects used 20mg a day and experienced 9.3% fat loss vs 7.1% after 3 weeks (11). No side effects were recorded.

It only really works in a fasted state though, which goes hand in hand with intermittent fasting and fasted training for fat loss.

Yohimbine is an antagonist to all serotonin receptors, except 5-HT1A (good), but also to the dopamine receptors and a SERT inhibitor (not good).

Rauwolscine is a stereoisomer of yohimbine and functions as an α-adrenergic receptor antagonist. While rauwolscine is thought to have similar potency as yohimbine at the α2-receptor, which allows for lipolysis, it appears to be approximately 50-fold less active at the α1-receptor, which inhibits lipolysis. (12) Rauwolscine is also a partial 5-HT1A agonist and a 5-HT2A and 5-HT2B antagonist.

As there aren’t many studies to support both substances for fat loss, and it’s mainly effective only when fasting, I’m only giving it a 3/5, and a 2/5 for rauwolscine.

7) Forskolin

Rating: ★★★★☆


Forskolin is the extract of the Indian coleus plant, Coleus Forskohlii. Forskolin leads to the production of the active form of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). HSL is directly involved in the mobilization of triglyceride stores in adipose tissue which releases free fatty acids to be used for fuel, within the body, but doesn’t block adrenergic α2 receptors like yohimbine does. Although both stimulate lipolysis, they work in different ways and could work in synergy.

250mg of 10% forskolin extract twice a day (50mg extract daily) resulted in a favorable fat loss (4.14% (4.52kg) vs. 0.96% (0.51kg) for forskolin and placebo group respectively), as well as a bonus increase in free testosterone by 16% after 12 weeks (13). Forskolin is shown to increase both total testosterone and free T. It also increases dopamine and the sensitivity of its receptors.

Forskolin is good for fat loss, however, it’s potency is still under question, so this one is a 4/5.

8) Garcinia Cambogia

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Gancinia cambogia extracts as well as hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a main organic acid component of the fruit rind, shows to inhibit fat gain by reducing appetite, via increasing the serotonin levels related to satiety. (14) However the increase in serotonin is not good at all, as gut serotonin increases fat mass and is doubled in obese individuals. (15) Vitamin B2, B3 and D reduces gut serotonin levels, just to name a few.

Hence, I’d rather advise to avoid this supplement as it can cause serotonin toxicity even if it’s slightly beneficial for fat loss (I would not say a reduction in food intake is a good measure to say something increases fat loss). (16) Read more on how to lower serotonin.

Hydroxycitric acid is also somewhat toxic to the body and it may even destroy the testicles after prolonged use, (w) however, this study has been criticized because of possible contamination of the HCA used and various design flaws.

Garcinia is found in many supplements, yet the evidence shows that fat loss isn’t very significant and also it increases serotonin, I’ll be giving it a 1/5.

9) Ginseng

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Panax ginseng (the type of ginseng mainly used in fat burners) is shown to increase fat metabolism via the AMPK pathway. Mostly animal studies have been done, where it does show to exert a fat loss effect, however, it is very small. Ginseng also increases serotonin, and decreases serotonin transporters (which help to detox serotonin out of the body) in serum, but not in the brain, so ginseng doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier – In other words, ginseng is shown to increase serotonin in the body but not in the brain. (17) Ginseng also down-regulates tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) gene expression, which lowers dopamine synthesis. In conclusion, this is really not a good herb to use for fat loss. (18) Plus, Panax ginseng is found to be estrogenic. (19)

10) Ashwagandha

Rating: ★★★★☆


Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, which allows the body to better ‘cope’ with stress. It also contains numerous other health benefits, such as reducing cortisol, elevating testosterone levels and being a nootropic.

In this study, individuals consumed 300mg of a high-quality KSM-66 extract of ashwagandha or a placebo after awakening and before bed. The ashwagandha group resulted in significantly greater strength gains, hypertrophy and fat loss compared to the placebo group. Too high dosage, however (larger dosage than done in the study) can be more serotonergic than dopaminergic, so it’s important to not take a too large dose.

Many people use this herb extract with great success, especially when building muscle, so I’ll be giving it a 4/5.

11) Pyruvate

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Pyruvate is a three-carbon compound that is a byproduct of glucose metabolism. It increases the utilization of fat and elevates resting metabolic rate.

A few studies show that it works at high dosage:

  • 30 grams of pyruvate plus 16 grams of calcium pyruvate per day resulted in 2% greater fat-loss after 21 days (20)
  • 6g/day resulted in a 12.4% loss of body fat after 6 weeks compared to a non-significant fat loss in the placebo group (21)
  • 6g/day resulted in a 14% loss of body fat after 6 weeks compared to a non-significant fat loss in the placebo group (22)

Pyruvate is safe to use with minimal side effects. The most common adverse side effect is gastrointestinal upset. But you have to take big doses of this supplements in order for it to be effective, and the body can rather make pyruvate from carbs endogenously, and you can take vitamin B1 to help your body burn the pyruvate, instead of being used to make lactate. So supplementing with pyruvate itself is rather very unnecessary and can just contribute to the problem of lactate formation, if vitamin B1 is deficient.

12) Hordenine

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Hordenine (N,N-dimethyltyramine) is a compound found in various foods and is a noradrenaline (NE) reuptake inhibitor (23), similar to green tea extract. The increase in NE stimulates cAMP production through the rTAR1 (trace amine receptor), which increases lipolysis. This will aid in both fat loss and muscle gains.

Research on it for fat loss is very scares, plus oral absorption seems to be very low and doesn’t have an effect, so I’ll give it a 3/5 just because of the lack of evidence to prove that it works well.

13) Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) fruit extract

Rating: ★★★★★


Citrus aurantium contains synephrine, octopamine, hordenine, m-methyltyramine and tyramine, with p-synephrine being the most abundant alkoloid. Synephrine is structurally similar to the adrenergic agent, epinephrine/ephedra. (24) This study shows: “The subjects showed a mean of 0.94 kg loss during the first week when no product was given and 2.40 kg during the second week when a Citrus aurantium supplement (975 mg) was taken”. “At present, Citrus aurantium may be the best thermogenic substitute for ephedra.” (25) Citrus aurantium prevents the decrease in thermogenesis during a caloric deficit and also suppresses appetite similar to ephedra. Caffeine further amplifies citrus aurantium’s effect. (71)

It has little research backing it up, however, the studies that are available show it to be quite promising in terms of fat loss, so I’m giving it a 5/5. Doses of 1g might be most beneficial especially when combined with caffeine.

14) Yerba mate

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Yerba mate fat loss

Yerba mate is used to make the beverage known as mate in both Spanish and Portuguese. The active ingredients of yerba mate (YM) include polyphenols and caffeoyl derivatives (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, 3, 4-Dicaffeoylquinic acid, 4, 5-Dicaffeoylquinic acid and 3,5-Dicaffeoylquinic acid), phytosterols and saponins (26, 27). 1,000mg YM shows to increase energy expenditure during exercise by 24% and also increases fat oxidation, without hindering maximal performance. It also decreases lactate and increases VO2max and RER. (28)

6 weeks of Yerba Mate supplementation (333.38 mg Yerba Mate 3 times daily), decreased body fat mass and percentage of body fat compared to the placebo group, which was statistically significant. WHR (waist to hip ratio) was also significantly decreased in the YM group (2.1cm) compared to the placebo group. (29) Yerba mate has other significant benefits as well, such as has chemo-preventive activities (3031), enhances intestinal propulsion (32), has vasodilatation effects (33), inhibits glycation (34), inhibits oxidative stress (35), is anti-inflammatory (36), is an appetite suppressant, increases mental energy and focus, improves mood and promotes deeper sleep. (w)

Another active ingredient of YM includes, theophylline, which increases RER and weight loss similar to ephedrine. (37)

YM reduces pancreatic lipase, which prevents the digestion and absorption of dietary fats and is also a MOA inhibitor (40-50%), which prevents the breakdown of dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline.

15) Green tea extract (GTE)

Green Tea

Rating: ★★★★☆

GTE catecholamines

GTE has shown to increase fat oxidation by 8%+ over 24 hours, but the effect doesn’t seem to be dose dependent. Also, it gives a 24% increase in fat oxidation during exercise. The minimum effective dose appears to be around 270mg/d. (38) 375mg EGCG (one of the polyphenols in GT), inhibits COMT, which increases circulating catecholamines, such as noradrenaline. (41) This increases fat oxidation significantly. Long term use also upregulates genes such as MCAD, NRF-1, UCP3, and PPARα, which increases fat burning. (42)

There is a synergistic effect between GTE and caffeine, and fat oxidation is significant greater (16% increase) when the two are combined. (39) There is no need to cycle over the course of 12 weeks.

GTE has very low oral absorption, 2%, however it can accumulate in tissue. So the effect might only get more effective after a few days/weeks of tissue buildup.

It has quite a good amount of research backing it up, and due to its synergy with caffeine and general effectiveness, I’ll give it 4/5.

15) Guggulsterone

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Guggulsterone is a phytosteroid or ketosteroid, found in the resin of the guggul plant, Commiphora mukul. Gugglesterone has been shown to have a strong thyroid stimulatory action when administered to albino rats. Its administration (1 mg/100 g body weight) brought about an increase in iodine-uptake by thyroid and enhanced activities of thyroid peroxidase and protease as well as oxygen consumption by isolated slices of liver and biceps muscle. (43) Human equivalent dose is 1.43mg/kg. Although guggulsterone might be very desirable as a thyroid mimetic, it also has other good and bad attributes.

Good: It’s an aldosterone (Ki = 39 nM) and cortisol (Ki = 224 nM) receptor antagonist and a pregnane X receptor (EC50 = 2.4 μM) and a partial progesterone agonist (Ki = 201 nM)

Bad: It’s an androgen (Ki = 240 nM) receptor antagonist and an estrogen (Ki > 5 μM; EC50 > 5 μM) and farnesoid X receptor (IC50 = 5–50 μM) antagonist.

So it’s a thyroid mimeticcortisol antagonists (anti-catabolic), an agonist to PXR (which detoxes foreign toxins) and progesterone, but then it’s also an antagonist to androgens (anti-anabolic and androgenic), and FXR (increases bile flow which helps cleanse the liver) and is also estrogenic. It’s both good and bad, but I’d rather not use it for this very reason.

Although these are all in vivo evidence, and the required dose to increase thyroid function is small, I don’t think it could be very harmful, yet I’d rather be safe than sorry.

16) Olive leaf extract (OLE)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

OLE, or more specifically, oleuropein, has been shown to affect certain genes associated with fat metabolism, such as PPARγ, C/EBPα, CD36, FAS, and leptin in the epididymal adipose tissue of high fat diet-fed mice. Furthermore, OLE increases thermogenic genes involved in uncoupled respiration (SIRT1, PGC1α, and UCP1) and reduced enzymes that prevented mitochondrial biogenesis (TFAM, NRF-1, and COX2). (44)

There are however no studies showing that it’s beneficial for fat loss (even though it’s used in some fat burners for that purpose), so I’d say it’s very beneficial for health, but can’t yet say for fat loss.

17) Acacia catechu

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Catechu is an extract of acacia trees, which is commonly used as an astringent and food additive. It’s been shown to increase the protein expressions of CPT-I (carnitine transporter), ACO (acyl-CoA which is involved in fat metabolism) and UCP3 (increases uncoupling and energy expenditure). It also lowers the expression of fatty acid synthesis-related genes (SREBP-1c, ACC and FAS) in the liver, increases the mRNA expression of adiponectin and decreases expression of TNF-α (indicator of inflammation) in white adipose tissue. (45)

All are still in vitro evidence, and no fat loss evidence yet to show.

18) Cayenne

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Capsaicin, the phytochemical responsible for the spiciness of peppers, has the potential to modulate metabolism via activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptors. TRPV1 activation induces calcium influx, and in certain tissues this is associated with increased activation or expression of key proteins such as endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), KLF2, PPARdelta, PPARgamma, and LXRα. (46) It also increases resting energy expenditure and fat oxidation, but the effect is rather small.

3–25 jalapeno peppers contain <30-250 mg capsaicin. 1 pepper would be around 15g in weight.

  • 3 and 10 mg/day doses of encapsulated capsinoids tended to increase resting energy expenditure (REE) by 0.8 and 0.9 kcal/kg/day over 2 weeks and 0.4 and 0.6 kcal/kg/day over 4 weeks, which indicates a tolerance effect (72).
  • 1g of red pepper can stimulate thermogenesis for over 270 min (4 hours 30 min), but the extra energy burned is small (10 calories over 270 min).
  • Also, resting energy expenditure increased by 2% after ingesting 2.56mg of capsaicin for the day (73).

Evodiamine, a major alkaloidal principle of Evodia fruits (Evodia rutaecarpa, Rutaceae), showed vanilloid receptor agonistic activities comparable to capsaicin. (47)

These two ingredients have many many benefits, however in terms of fat loss, the effect is very small, especially with the amounts present in supplements, so I’ll give it a 1/5. If you eat cayenne pepper or chilies, that amount of capsaicin will increase your metabolic rate a little, yet the amount of extra calories burnt will not be noteworthy at all.

19) Ginger

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

The current meta-analysis demonstrated that ginger intake reduced bodyweight, WHR, fasting glucose, increases insulin sensitivity and HDL-cholesterol, but did not affect insulin, BMI, triglycerides, total- and LDL-cholesterol levels. (48) Ginger is also anti-flatulence, -nausea, -serotonin, -oxidant, -inflammation, etc…

Zingerone (a component in ginger) also stimulates the release of catecholamines, which aids in the breakdown of fat cells and was also shown to inhibit obesity-induced inflammation. (w) Fresh ginger, however, does not contain zingerone, as it is produced by cooking or drying the ginger root, which causes a reverse aldol reaction on gingerol.

But same as capsaicin, it’s effect on fat loss isn’t noteworthy at all.

20) Naringin

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Naringen is a component found in citric fruit which is also often used in fat burners. In humans, naringin is metabolized to the aglycone, naringenin, by naringinase present in the gut. Naringin and its aglycone naringenin belong to the flavonoid family. Naringenin-fed animals had a significant increase in PPARα, carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT-1), and uncoupling protein 2 (UCP-2) expression in the liver, which might be responsible for the reduction in adiposity in rats (49).

Naringin inhibits some of the detoxification enzymes, including CYP3A4 and CYP1A2. This will prevent detoxification of certain compounds and can prolong the duration of it in the body, potentiating its action. This is good in the case of, say thermogenic/androgenic/nootropic substances, but bad in the case of toxins.

All in all it lacks human evidence for fat loss.

21) N-methyltyramine (NMT)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

NMT is a human trace amine and natural phenethylamine alkaloid found in a variety of plants and is an α-adrenoreceptor antagonist, thus is able to stimulate lipolysis. Furthermore, NMT has been shown to enhance appetite and digestion of foods through its stimulatory effects on gastrin and pancreatic secretions. This aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients (good) while inhibiting the breakdown to fats to energy (not good). (50)

No in vivo evidence, plus it has some down sides.

22) Methyl tetradecylthioacetic acid (TTA)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

TTA, which is similar to omega-3 fatty acid, but it has a sulfur group at the omega-3 position and can therefor not be burnt for energy. It’s a synthetic fatty acid used as a nutritional supplement which acts as a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) agonist and increases mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation in vitro. (w)

In this study (74), 1g of TTA was taken daily for 28 days, but didn’t lead to fat loss as the diet wasn’t controlled.

23) Octopamine

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Octopamine, similar to p-synephrine, is also a potent adrenergic receptor agonist, but more so to the β3 receptor. β3 receptor doesn’t stimulate lipolysis as much as β2 receptor does (51).

24) Fucoxanthin

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Fucoxanthin is a marine carotenoid and present in the macroalgae and microalgae. It increases UCP-1, reduces PPARg expression and many other proteins that are associated with fat gaining. (52) The combination of 300 mg pomegranate seed oil and 300 mg brown seaweed extract containing 2.4 mg fucoxanthin significantly resulted in the reduction of body weight and liver fat content after 16 days (53). Hence, making it very effective at leaning the liver down and assisting it to work properly, and a proper functioning liver is vital to health and losing fat. However, more proper research has to be done to show it’s effectiveness in fat loss.

25) Cirsium oligophyllum

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Cirsium oligophyllum is a flowering plant in the Asteraceae, and its active constituent possesses β-adrenergic receptor agonist activity, and stimulates lipolysis in subcutaneous fat cells (54), possibly due to the uncoupling of protein in vitro. No human studies available yet.

26) 1,3-dimethlyamylamine (1,3 DMAA, geranium stem extract)

Rating: ★★★★☆


1,3-dimethlyamylamine appears as a simple aliphatic amine, functioning as a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and/or norepinephrine releasing agent. Which may help explain the increase in circulating free fatty acids and glycerol with supplement ingestion. (55) There isn’t evidence how it effects fat loss in humans, however its safety has been questioned, as a number of adverse events and at least five deaths have been associated with methylhexanamine-containing supplements. Hence it is banned by many sports authorities and governmental agencies. (w) It’s potent but can be dangerous when taking large doses.

27) Bauhinia purpurea

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Bauhinia purpurea has been reported to have thyroid stimulating properties, with no signs of overt toxicity (56, 57). Thyroid hormones play an important role in metabolic rate, with an increase in thyroid function possibly leading to an increase in energy expenditure. (58) However there are no human studies to prove that it induces fat loss.

28) Bacopa monneira

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

A 50% ethanol extract at dose of 200m/kg, has been reported to increase thyroid hormone, T4, by 42% (59). Bacopa doesn’t seem to increase T3 or the conversion of T4 to T3, and doesn’t seem to increase metabolic rate. Clinical trials have not found any adverse effects of bacopa monniera when consumed at a dosage of 300 mg· day−1 (60, 61). Bacopa increases acetyl-choline, via inhibition of acetylcholinesterase, and it also inhibits Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) and antagonizes 5-HT6 and 5-HT2A receptors. (62) Bacopa is fat soluble and is best to take with a fatty meal. There is no human evidence that bacopa aids in fat loss, despite its thyroid promoting property.

29) Ma huang a.k.a. Ephedra

Rating: ★★★★★


Its main biologically active component is the alkaloid ephedrine, which increases epinephrine which increases lipolysis. A meta-analysis report approximately 0.9 kg/mo greater fat loss compared to placebo (63). Its downside is that it has adverse psychiatric effects and depletes monoamine in the long run, which could lead to a neurotransmitter disorder.

This was one of the most powerful fat loss herbs. The most effective dose is 150mg and it goes synergistically with caffeine, aspirin, and forskolin. It gets a 5/5 for its effectiveness.

30) Chitosan

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Chitosan is a polysaccharide extracted from the shells of shrimp. In this meta-analysis all trials indicated that chitosan extract results in a very small, yet statistically significant greater reduction in body weight compared with placebo. (64) However high quality studies only found a very non-significant better fat loss of 0.6kg in the treated groups.

31) Irvingia gabonensis (african mango)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Irvingia gabonensis, also known as African mango, is used as a weight-loss supplement to reduce appetite and help burn fat. Twenty-eight subjects received Irvingia gabonensis (IG) (1.05 g three time a day for one month) while 12 were on placebo and the same schedule. At the end, the mean body weight of the IG group was decreased by 5.6% and that of the placebo group by 2.2% (65) However body fat percentage was not reduced in either group.

32) Griffonia seed

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

There isn’t much data on this herb, however it seems to be helpful to reduce appetite which can aid in fat loss, although it did so by increasing serotonin (which is not good). (66)

33) Eria Jarensis Extract (N,N-DMPEA) – also known as N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Eria Jarensis extract is an extraction made from the Jarensis orchid plant. This extract is quite remarkable due to its similarities to popular substances including Ephedrine, DMAA and AMP-Citrate which are no longer legal for use in supplements.

It has the same backbone as DMAA, however, it’s structure is slightly different. This study has an excellent explanation of how it works. (67) There is currently no human evidence showing that it works for fat loss, but because it acts similar to DMAA it does show promise. Dosage: 125mg twice daily.

34) Higenamine

Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s a natural ingredient found in plants, and is a potent β2 adrenoceptor agonist. (68) Higenamine is usually dosed between 20-40 mg which is similar to Synephrine or Ephedrine.

35) Grains of Paradise – scientific name: Aframomum melegueta

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Grains of paradise, also commonly known as, ossame, Melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains, fom wisa, or Guinea, is a species in the ginger family.

It is shown to increase whole body energy expenditure, by increasing thermogenesis via uncoupling in the brown adipose tissue. It’s effective at reducing viceral fat, at doses of 30-40mg/day, however doesn’t affect/reduce other fat stores in the short term (4 weeks). (69, 70)


Your vitamins and minerals are also very important for the burning of fuel, especially the B-vitamins. Don’t just buy any fat burner, but make an informed choice. A good fat burner should also contain ingredients that suppress appetite, increase mood and improve relaxation without increasing serotonin.

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6 Replies to “Scientific analysis of 35 Natural Fat Burning supplements (what works and what doesn’t)”

  1. Does green tea/green tea extract inhibit 5AR or DHT in any way? I’ve read somewhere that the catechins present in green tea was a DHT inhibitor, just not sure.

  2. Would it be best to avoid panax ginseng if dht boosting is one’s desired goal? There are many articles on panax ginseng’s supposed male health benefits.

    1. Yes. There are many other fat burners and substances that improve your health that will not inhibit the 5AR. A good fat burning combo that will also boost DHT is caffeine, aspirin, niacinamide, methylene blue and bitter orange extract.

  3. Hey Hans, love your articles. I didn’t know that about ginseng and i just bought one, bummer. What adaptogen do you recommend instead? I’m currently in a stressful period of my life and need something to assist while i work on improving my situation

    1. Hi Juan,
      As adaptogens, I like the basics, such as Tribulus, Rhodiola, succinic acid, magnesium, picamilon, etc.

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