Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet that you can take to instantly melt fat—it takes hard work in the gym and a disciplined diet. That said, an effective diet and training program can be made even better with the help of the right supplements. And thanks to major advances in supplement science, there are a plethora of ingredients that have clinical research and anecdotal evidence showing they can help your body to safely burn fat more efficiently.

But if you walk through your local GNC or browse the thermogenics online, you’ll be faced with hundreds of products to choose from—which is where our guide comes in. Use it, and you’ll know what products to look for based on your body and your goals. 



Products engineered to help you efficiently burn fat are often referred to as thermogenics. Thermogenics refers to the ability to increase the number of calories the body burns, and the more calories the body burns, the more heat it produces.


You’ll definitely want to make sure that the product you select includes several thermogenic ingredients. After all, when it comes to dropping body fat, the most critical factor is burning more calories than you eat. Thermogenics can help keep you on the right side of the calorie-burning equation. Here, we break down the key ingredients to the most effective fat burners.



Almost every fat burner on the market today includes some form of this stimulant, be it caffeine anhydrous, caffeine from green tea extract or guarana, or you may find it listed as its chemical name­­—methylxanthine­. Caffeine burns more calories and fat, it also reduces hunger, enhances mood, fights fatigue, and even boosts muscle strength.


Another popular thermogenic is green tea extract. Numerous research studies show that the active ingredient in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), raises the number of calories burned. The bitter orange (citrus aurantium) extract, synephrine, also leads to large increases in calories burned. And yet another thermogenic ingredient gaining popularity is the natural chemical from cayenne peppers, known as capsaicin, but may be listed as capsicum.



These ingredients cause lipolysis, which, in simple terms, means a release of fat from the body’s fat cells—yes, the ones that are most commonly found hanging around your love handles. By removing fat from the fat cells, the fat can be burned away as fuel, causing the fat cells to shrink. And that means that you get leaner. It’s a good idea to make sure that the fat burner you select increases lipolysis. The good news here is that caffeine is one of the most effective ingredients for increasing lipolysis. And as we stated, almost every fat burner out there contains some form of caffeine.


Another good ingredient for removing fat from fat cells is yohimbe, which you may find listed as its active ingredient yohimbine. Forskolin is another popular fat releaser, which has the added benefit of boosting testosterone levels. And yet another effective fat releaser—especially when taken before workouts—is hydroxycitric acid, which is an extract from the fruit of the garcinia cambogia tree.



Once the fat is released from the fat cells it must be burned away for fuel. Otherwise, it will float around in the blood stream and find its way back to the fat cells. That’s why it’s important to use a fat burner that also increases calorie burn. By increasing the number of calories your body is burning, it helps to burn up more of the fat that lipolytic ingredients release from your fat cells.


Another way to ensure that the freed-up fat gets burned away for good is to use fat burners that include some form of the ingredient carnitine. Carnitine helps to transport the freed-up fat into the mitochondria of cells, such as muscle cells. The mitochondria are basically microscopic furnaces that burn up fat as fuel.



You don’t need a medical degree to understand the role of the thyroid gland. It produces thyroid hormones that increase your metabolic rate, which means the number of calories the body burns. While a good fat burner will already contain thermogenic ingredients to increase calorie burn, those of you who are in your mid-30s or older may want to consider a fat burner product that includes thyroid-stimulating ingredients, such as 7-Keto DHEA, which may also be listed as 7-Keto.


Another ingredient that has been shown to boost the body’s thyroid hormone production are plant sterols known as guggulsterones.



Let’s recap one of the most critical points of fat loss. To lose body fat you must burn more calories than you eat. To rephrase that, you must eat fewer calories than you burn. If sticking with your diet is one of the biggest challenges you face, then you might want to consider choosing a fat burner product that includes an appetite suppressant, such as the konjac root fiber, glucomannan.


Other effective hunger fighters include the jojoba extract, simmondsin, which increases the release of hormones that make you feel full, as well as 5-HTP, which helps to curb carb cravings.



In addition to focusing on calories, another trick to aiding fat loss is keeping insulin levels low. When insulin levels rise, such as after a meal containing carbs, fat burning is shut down and fat storage is turned up. That’s all bad news when trying to lose body fat. If you’re not willing or just unable to keep your carb intake low while dieting, you may want to consider fat burners that have added insulin-lowering ingredients. Good insulin controllers include the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid, cinnamon extract, the mineral supplement chromium, and evodiamine, which also boosts calorie burn. 



If controlling your carb or fat intake is particularly problematic, you might consider fat burners that include carb blockers or fat blockers. This way you can enjoy some of the foods you just can’t seem to give up, without its making as much of an impact on your fat-loss efforts. The best carb blocker on the market today is white kidney bean extract (phaseolus vulgaris), which has numerous clinical studies supporting its ability to block the amount of carbs your body actually absorbs.


If fatty foods are your diet downfall, then look for products that include the seafood shell extract chitosan, which binds up dietary fat and removes it from your body before you absorb it and store it as body fat.



If you find that when you diet you become a miserable SOB, you’re not alone—calorie deprivation can put the best of us in mood slump. But luckily, most fat burner products provide ingredients that help to lift your mood and even boost your mental function. Caffeine is one of those ingredients that can make a real difference in your mental outlook and function while dieting. Now you see why caffeine is in so many fat burners. It really is a dieter’s best friend.


Another good ingredient that raises spirits and mental capacity is the metabolite of the amino acid phenylalanine, called phenylethylamine, which also increases calorie burn. Still others include the amino acid tyrosine and the lesser periwinkle extract, vinpocetine.  



If you’re dropping body fat not just to get your weight down, but to look impressive for a certain date, maybe a bodybuilding contest, or just a beach vacation, then you might want to look for fat burners that also contain diuretics. When you see M&F models in ripped condition, they’re not just low in body fat, but they are also low in the amount of water they are holding under their skin. No matter how lean you get, your abs won’t look impressive if you’re packing too much water.


Using a fat burner with natural diuretics like dandelion (taraxacum officianilis) extract, uva ursi (also known as bearberry), or horsetail extract will help to get the extra water off, so you can show off all your hard-earned muscularity in its most-ripped fashion.