Let's face it, the entire industry around weight loss supplements is full of dodgy snake oil, but that doesn't mean you should discredit all of them.
Two of the products we mainly see clients have success with are fat burners and fat binders.
And to help you figure out which type might have the better ingredient profile, we've put together this guide with the help of our resident trainers and nutritionists.
Let's start with a few definitions.
What Does A Fat Burner Do?
A fat burner is a supplement that uses natural ingredients to trigger your metabolism into processing more fat.
Thermogenesis is the main reaction that these fat burners aim for, and this is a completely natural process.
What it means is that your body slightly increases its core temperature, and it achieves this by making your metabolism source more energy in fat storage.
Different fat burners rely on a mix of stimulating and non-stimulating ingredients, but they generally work on this metabolism principle.
Side effects are generally considered to be very limited, which is why fat burners have become favored diet supplements.
Fat burners we recommend trying:
What Does A Fat Binder Do?
Fat binders, on the other hand, work by triggering processes in your digestive system.
These supplements aim to trap fat in your stomach and limit how much your body absorbs and processes.
It's almost like dietary fiber, which passes through your digestive tract without being absorbed or broken down.
From a diet perspective, fat binders impact your macros and calorie intake while having a limited impact on what you actually eat.
It's important to note that fat binders won't do anything for your stored body fat.
3 Main Differences
We've broken this section down into three areas to give you a better picture of the difference between fat burners and fat binders.
Let's start with fat binders.
As already mentioned, they work in your stomach and attach to fat molecules in your digestive system.
And because fat has a high calorie-density (9 calories per 1 gram of fat), you end up reducing how many calories your body processes.
Fat burners, on the other hand, work by boosting your metabolism and tricking it into burning off stored fat, and increasing your energy levels.
Both can contribute to weight loss efforts, but it's important to know that a fat binder doesn't help you reduce all those existing love handles.
2. Side Effects
Starting with fat binders again, some of the side effects people have reported include:
- Gas, and
Speaking of the diarrhea issue, we've covered the topic on our blog: Can Fat Burners Cause Diarrhea?
Certainly not something you want to experience in the middle of an exercise routine.
When it comes to fat burners, you have to be careful to look out for stimulants.
While ingredients like caffeine may work wonders to burn off extra energy , they might increase your chances of high blood pressure and keep you awake at night.
"Caffeine appears to increase energy use even when you're at rest. It stimulates thermogenesis — one way your body generates heat and energy from digesting food." - Katherine Zeratsky, Registered Dietician.
3. Supplement Form
The majority of fat binders and fat burners that we have tested come as a capsule.
You usually take a few of them each day and spread out the dose throughout the day so that your body has a continuous effect from them.
You'll find a few that come as a powder that you mix with water or a smoothie, but we find the capsules tend to be a lot more convenient.
Do fat burners actually burn fat?
Yes, some fat burners actually burn fat. They do this by triggering your metabolism to boost certain thermogenic processes.
At the same time, fat burners aren't an option to try and lose a ton of weight while sitting on the couch eating junk food. It's just a small boost when combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Other good fat burners: Best Fat Burning Supplements without Stimulants
Is Chitosan a Fat Binder?
Yes, Chitosan is a fat binder that claims to help in combination with a weight loss diet.
Fat binders like this bind to fat cells to reduce their absorption and force them through your stomach, just like what happens to fiber.
Fat Burner vs Fat Binder: Which Is Better?
There is no magic pill to deal with stubborn belly fat.
But there are some pills that might make your weight loss efforts just a little bit easier.
Our experience has been that fat burners and fat binders complement each other.
The binders may help you reduce weight gain, while the burners may actively help to reduce the fat cells in our bodies.
Just keep in mind that there are people who are sensitive to stimulants and that they might cause stomach upset.