by Scott Tousignant · Filed Under: Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
If you’re already lean, it’s important to understand that fat loss supplements, which may work for the rest of the population may not be very effective for you.
The article below will clear the air so you don’t waste your money on the supplements that don’t work… and instead save it for the supplements that have the greatest chance of assisting you in your quest for achieving ripped abs and a chiseled body.
Frankly, I’m not into supplements much. Creatine, fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin D3, protein, powder, and Full Strength are about all I take throughout most of the year. There are times when I add in some bcaa’s as well.
Recently, as I’m in the process of going from lean to ripped, I decided to experiment with the go-to caffeine & ephedrine stack. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you if it was helping or not, simply because I’m getting results from a calorie reduced meal plan and increased HIIT/cardio.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s wasting money on supplements that are worthless… and worse yet… cause more harm than good.
That’s why I’m grateful to know the guys over at Examine.com
…and today, they’ve been kind enough to share an article, revealing the supplements that you should probably avoid along with some that may be of use to you. Enjoy…
Lean and Ripped?
The terms “lean” and “ripped” are pretty colloquial in usage, and thus not really easy to define. In our case here, we are going to consider ~8-12% body fat percentage as lean, and ~5-8% BF% as ripped.
The transition from lean to ripped is quite difficult, and is quite different from taking an obese person to being average (a lot mores stressful). This is exemplified with the importance of carbohydrate intake, the existence of refeed days, and how simply reducing calories to partially starving yourself actually does work for an obese person but doesn’t lead to anything productive in a lean person.
While there are many different exercise strategies and dietary techniques to aid in your quest to get ripped (admittedly, they are the most important things to consider), there are some supplementation strategies you can utilize to aid you.
What about that supplement I recently heard about?
Lets backtrack for a second, and tackle the term “fat oxidation.”It’s a bit misleading when it comes to weight loss supplementation. In a sense, fat oxidation is the overall percentage of energy that is being derived from fatty acids.
While technically increased fat oxidation increases the rate of fat burning, if the overall metabolic rate is left unchanged then the final effect is merely a reduction in glucose oxidation rates. If fat oxidation is increased alongside an increase in metabolic rate then there will be appreciable fat loss over time, but this is because of the metabolic rate being increased (and increasing the metabolic rate tends to increase fat oxidation anyways).
A good example of the relative inefficacy in manipulating fat oxidation is the usage of the ‘fat burning zone’ for cardiovascular exercise, which says to keep ones VO2 max within the 60-70% range as fat oxidation is highest. While there is an increase in fat burning if measured acutely during this time, long term interventions do not note any differences in weight loss when compared to higher intensity cardio as long as caloric expenditure is similar (and sometimes high intensity outperforms, but for independent reasons).
==> Fat oxidation is a misleading term when it comes to fat loss, even more so since it is technically accurate. Increasing fat oxidation without increasing metabolic rate does not necessarily cause fat loss
There are some dietary supplements that are able to effectively reduce fat mass, but they only seem to work in obese or unhealthy persons and are either unproven in lean persons or have been confirmed to lose their efficacy.
Good examples of this include Berberine (13.3% reduction in BMI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22474499) and 3.6% reduction in body fat (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22739410) after 12 weeks of supplementation) and fucoxanthine (4.9-5.5kg lost over 16 weeks (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19840063)) which both seem to reduce fat mass secondary to alleviating some health conditions; diabetes and fatty liver, respectively. Until studies are conducted in lean persons specifically, these supplements should be avoided for the purposes of getting lean to ripped since they may be misleading.
==> People who are unhealthy and obese may have a wider variety of supplements that can reduce fat mass; these supplements may not or do not work in lean persons without health complaints
What supplements should I use?
Thermogetics and Metabolic Rate Enhancers
The only supplements that actually ‘burn fat’ in already lean persons are those that enhance the metabolic rate. They can act in a few different ways:
Secondary to the thyroid, where the increase in T3 and T4 concentrations causes an increase in their influence on the metabolic rate. Supplemental T3 can do this reliably
Secondary to the brain and adrenals, where the stimulant just releases catecholamines (adrenaline) and causes fat loss; caffeine and ephedrine work via this manner.
A direct influence on the machinery of fat burning, such as the receptors (beta-adrenergic) or intracellular proteins (adenyl cyclase). These are the targets of clenbuterol and forskolin, respectively.
An increase in uncoupling, a mitochondrial process where excess energy is sort of ‘wasted’ to produce heat. This inefficiency requires a higher amount of energy storages to be broken down to meet a cell’s ATP quota; cold exposure and dinitrophenol are examples of this (although the latter not at all recommended for safety reasons)
The above mechanisms are the things that actually ‘burn fat’ and are most relevant to supplementation. While not an exhaustive list (testosterone and adipokines can also do some cool things), they are the most commonly seen mechanisms when it comes from getting lean to ripped that can be manipulated with dietary supplements.
Supplements that are recommended for fat burning in this category include:
Ephedrine (as an ECA stack usually), which is the standard go-to stimulatory supplement for otherwise healthy persons who want to lose bodyfat. In places where ephedrine cannot be taken, the weaker substitution known as synephrine can be used (it works, but to a lesser degree)
Green tea extract. This one is sort of conditional since there are differences in genetics that lead to fat burning, but if adding green tea extract to a stimulant makes you a bit nauseous (an indicator of increased adrenaline release) then it can be an effective fat burner augmenting agent
Cold exposure. While it is usually dependent on the season and somewhat unpleasant, it does appear to cause fat loss over the long term in otherwise healthy lean persons. It is not sure if just taking an ice cold shower is as effective unless the cold is maintained for up to 30 minutes
While the last one was not a supplement, it is interesting to note that ginger (as well as another less known supplement known as grains of paradise) seem to cause fat loss secondary to enhancing the effects of both the thermic effect of food and cold exposure. If cold exposure is used, then these supplements may be able to enhance its effects.
Sleep aids are useful for getting lean to ripped for one of two reasons. The first is that the diet and exercise regiment of a hardcore cutting diet may impair sleep (relative to a fed diet) and the latter is that if stimulants are used in high enough levels they will directly and significantly impair sleep.
Sleep aids that appear to be effective include:
Melatonin, which is the currently most potent supplement for reducing sleep latency (aka. knocking you down for the night). While it does not inherently benefit sleep quality, it can help you get a better sleep if you tend to take a while to fall asleep
Lavender, which is well known to cause relaxing effects in the body when used via aromatherapy and appears to be active following oral administration as well. Although the evidence is of somewhat lacklustre quality (hard to follow a double blind protocol with aromas), the scent of lavender appears to be effective in improving sleep quality
Magnesium, particularly if you are relatively deficient in it. Consider a magnesium deficiency something that impairs your sleep, and normalizing this deficiency with supplementation of increased food intake can help with your sleep.
There is another supplement not widely available known as Oleamide which seems to be similar to melatonin, but for sleep quality. It increases in the body during sleep deprivation and injections induce sleep reliably, and while it lacks human testing currently it appears to be safe and effective in rodents at reasonable oral doses.
Physical Recovery Supplements
This category of supplements is catered mostly around anti-inflammatory supplements or other supplements that either reduce muscle damage inherently or accelerate the rate of muscle repair. They are not inherently fat burners, but their usage results in less delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and secondary to that a greater workload can be conducted.
The greater workload per se is going to be what helps with getting from lean to ripped.
Supplements in this category tend to include:
Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), particularly the free acid form. Said form appears effective when taken 30-45 minutes before a workout for reducing soreness and percieved readiness for another workout in the following days and has been confirmed to be effective in trained athletes.
Fish Oil supplementation, mostly due to its antiinflammatory properties when superloaded (3g of combined EPA and DHA minimum) causing a reduction in muscle soreness and some forms of joint pain. Alternate options to high dose fish oil include aspirin or high dose (500mg) curcumin paired with piperidine for absorption.
Simply some carbohydrate sipped during your most strenous exercise session. Although it won’t be the end of the world if they exceed your daily calories, they should ideally be treated a part of your diet.
Alright, I hope this advice pays off for you in a big way.
Examine.com has been creating an incredible buzz during the past few months.
With over 350,000 visitors each month, it’s great to know more physique artists will be armed with the best information they need to make a very informed decision about their supplement selection.
They have also put together a comprehensive supplement reference guide, which makes it even easier to find the supplements that best match your health and physique goals.
These guys are independent and do not recommend specific brands or products. They simply arm you with the best info to make an educated choice.
Simply put… They ROCK!
Sculpt a Masterpiece,
About The Author
Scott Tousignant is a Certified Fitness Consultant and Elite Natural Bodybuilder with the UFE.
Scott specializes in helping regular guys get ripped abs insanely fast. With his careful attention to the finer details, you'll carve out a rock hard and jacked physique in no time flat!
When Scott needs to urgently strip away stubborn sacks of fat for a photo shoot or bodybuilding contest, he turns to his time-tested proven system… Elite Physique.
Now you too, can follow his easy-to-follow system to finally uncover your ripped abs and chiseled body! Get the full details by visiting Elite Physique today!