We’ve all seen the commercials on TV for them; some being endorsed by pseudo-celebrities, others by normal (not actors though) people. Yes, I am talking about fat burners. Hydroxycut, Xenadrine, and Stacker-3 are to name a few. The main question is, what exactly are they, do they actually work, and are they safe?

Fat burners are essentially pills which contain certain herbal ingredients such as Ephedra, HCA, Chitosan and Pyruvate, all of which claim to either increase energy, stimulate your metabolism and/or suppress your appetite. These supplements are supposed to work by increasing thermogenesis-that is, by converting more of the food you eat into heat before it can be stored as fat. Being able to do this safely would, of course, be a welcome way to avoid the buildup of fat and keep off extra pounds.

It’s hard to say if they actually work. Finding a conclusive study about just about any dietary supplement, including so-called fat burners, may make for a long day. What we do know is that most supplements need further studies done. Supplements aren’t standardized so you don’t know if what’s listed on the bottle is what you’re getting. Plus, no one knows what the long-term effects of these supplements are and, even scarier, how they interact with other medications. So, to answer the question of whether fat burners work, I have to say… I don’t know.

With any chemically manufactured thing you put into your body, you have to worry about side effects. Here is a small list of some of the side effects you could experience with any fat burner taken:

1. Increased blood pressure
2. Nose bleeds
3. Blurred vision
4. Acne outbreak
5. Restlessness & hyperactivity
6. Loss of appetite
7. Increased heart rate
8. Headaches
9. Lightheadedness
10. Dizziness
11. Insomnia
12. Nausea and upset stomach

In my opinion, none of these effects really seem like fun to me. I have a friend that was actually taking Xenadrine and was having some bad side effects from taking it. More people need to be aware of this before they start taking anything like this. There are alternatives to fat burner pills. Increase your physical activity-whether it’s walking briskly, lifting weights, or doing a Beachbody program. Not only will the exertion help you shed some pounds, but it’s also more beneficial to the heart and skeletal muscles. Don’t spend your hard earned money, there are no shortcut pills to a leaner body.

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