By Nmami Agarwal
We bring you a three-part series named “The Supplemental Truth”, through which we would guide you on what really is inside that humble jar of your favourite supplements or the ones that you have been eyeing ever since your favourite celebrity recommended it.
The first part of this series is all about Fat burners or “weight cutters” that have recently surged up in the market, gaining a rapid popularity. There are a greater number of people now, who are choosing fat-burners as a quick alternative to lose weight and burn fat. Fat burners are readily available in almost all of the hypermarkets, pharmacies, health studios, and online stores.
We have listed down the most popular fat burning supplements. But, are they labelled safe? Read more to find out.
- L- Carnitine – L Carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid in your body. It functions by transporting fatty acids to your energy producing centres called “mitochondria”, which in turn burns the fatty acids into energy. You can get it from food sources like- whole milk, cheddar cheese, asparagus and codfish. Food and Nutrition Board has not listed any Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for L-carnitine as it is sufficiently synthesized in a healthy human body, barring the need of any supplementation. FDA has approved its supplementation, in case of any listed deficiency. Many athletes do take carnitine supplements but there was a twenty year old study done to analyse its benefits on exercise improvement or physical performance that could not find any consistent evidence of its effects. Supplementing yourself with L-Carnitine without prescription of a qualified nutritionist or medical practitioner can lead to adverse health conditions like- diarrhoea, nausea, stomach pain, high blood pressure, low blood sugar and psychosis.
- L- Tyrosine – L Tyrosine is also a naturally synthesized amino acid produced from another amino acid. It is prescribed for medical conditions like stress, fatigue, and sleep deprivation. It is a pre-cursor to dopamine and adrenaline which are your body’s natural performance enhancers. It is also said to boost up your metabolism and thus, aids in fat loss. It can be derived from high protein food sources like- fish, milk, chicken, turkey, cheese and soy products. There are no studies that specifically show that L-Tyrosine promotes weight loss, although it is widely consumed as a supplement. If taken in more than required amount, it can hamper with the production of thyroid hormone, leading to a hyperactive thyroid. It can also cause side effects like- headache, nausea, joint pain and increased tiredness.
- Ephedrine – It is a medication that was synthesized to act as a stimulant, decongestant, and to treat hypotension associated with anaesthesia administration. It became popular due to its effect of stimulating thermogenesis and acting as a fat burner and performance enhancer. It was a popular supplement amongst body builders seeking to cut down on body fat before any stage appearance or event. However, its usage was banned by FDA in the year of 2004 because of reporting of many adverse effects associated with its administration. The side effects of this supplement include- hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, nausea, confusion, hallucinations, dyspnoea and dizziness. It was also linked to many cases of stroke. Now you know, you need to refrain from using any supplement containing Ephedrine, for all the good reasons.
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid– Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a type of polyunsaturated fat, found mostly in plant oils. It is also termed as “weight-loss miracle pill”. It is majorly sold in the form of capsules or syrup. CLA is a type of Omega- 6 Fatty Acid loaded with anti- inflammatory properties. Many supplements claim that CLA can help in blood sugar control, but there aren’t sufficient researches supporting the fact. There is a lack of good evidence on human health benefits, although many claims are done about it. Its dietary sources include: soy oil, sunflower oil, butter, grass-fed beef, full-fat dairy, lamb, turkey and fish. CLA works by increasing basal metabolic rate of your body, which aids in converting food into energy more efficiently. The best is however to derive it from the natural food sources. If not taken under the supervision of a certified nutritionist or medical practitioner, it may cause variety of adverse effects like- insulin resistance, fatty liver, decreased levels of HDL (good cholesterol), and stomach discomfort.
Over to you
While it is true that the supermarkets, health clubs, pharmacies are flooded with various brands of “fat burning” supplements, they usually are not required if you are following a healthy meal intake. Please refrain from consuming any dietary supplement on your own, without the supervision of a qualified nutritionist.
Stay tuned for the next posts in the series!