Xenadrine, Hydroxycut, Metabolife, Thermadrol, Diet Fuel, Stacker and Ripped Fuel. Ever heard of any of these? If not, you must have been living in a cave somewhere for the past ten years because "thermogenic" fat burning pills made with the herbal stimulant ephedra have become the hottest weight loss craze in the history of the industry.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these products every year and there's no end in sight to this fat burning pill feeding-frenzy. Even if Ephedra is banned for over the counter sale because of FDA pressure, it's likely that ephedra-free stimulant products will take their place in short order, even if they're weaker versions of the original products. The strength of the brand names seems to be carrying them forward.
But are these thermogenic products all they're made out to be? Let me set the record straight once and for all.
Open up any bodybuilding or fitness magazine these days and you'll see multi-page advertisements boasting of "amazing", "clinically proven," "university-tested" results, with dramatic photos of physiques allegedly transformed overnight by using these products.
One headline says "Proven to increase fat loss 1700%." Another says "Burn up to 613% more fat!" Still another says, "34 times more fat lost than control group."
Frankly, the hype surrounding these products borders on being ridiculous. Where did these numbers come from?
1700% or 613% or 34 times greater THAN WHAT? Obviously, some "apples" are being compared to "oranges."
It's easy for supplement companies to cleverly take statistics out of context - just one of many sneaky tricks they have up their advertising sleeves. (Did you know there's an infamous book called "How to Lie With Statistics," written on this very topic? If you don't believe me, go to Amazon.com and see for yourself.)
If any supplement really did burn 1700% more body fat, there wouldn't be any overweight people left! But there are: There are more overweight people today than ever before in history!
Don't believe the hype! It's not that these products don't work at all - the problem is more in the deceptive marketing and advertising than the products themselves. The claims are simply outrageous.
Thermogenic fat burners do work, but they don't work miracles and they're not a substitute for proper nutrition and training. Because the primary ingredients ephedrine and caffeine are strong central nervous system stimulants, they also have many potential side effects and contraindications.
Use caution if you use thermogenic products at all and never use them if you are sensitive to stimulants and/or have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders or any other medical problems.
If you're not sure if ephedra products are safe for you, check with your doctor first.
Most of your results will come from hard training and a good diet. There are no magic pills. Why is it that people just don't seem to get this? It's human nature, I suppose. We all want instant gratification, so it's awfully easy to be swayed by the glossy four-page magazine spreads with those mind blowing (doctored?) before and after photos.
Certain supplement companies are partly to blame for our obsession with fast results. Instead of teaching and educating the public about healthy, sensible, slow and steady permanent fat loss, they tease and tempt with very shrewd marketing campaigns. Testimonials, endorsements, scientific studies and before/after photos are incredibly persuasive because they appeal to your emotions. "Take this pill. go to bed...wake up skinny - it's magic!"
Even the names of the products were carefully chosen: Do you think it's a coincidence that the #1 selling herbal weight loss supplement Xenadrine sounds a lot like the prescription drug Xenical? Not a week goes by that someone doesn't ask me about the "drug" Xenadrine (Xenadrine is a brand name for an over-the-counter, ephedra product; Xenical is a prescription drug).
If you want to lose body fat, get your diet and training program in order FIRST. Once you're eating nutritiously, moderately restricting your calories, doing cardio and working out with weights, then and only then - and only if you have a clean bill of health - should you even consider a thermogenic herbal product if you need an "extra boost."
Note: Personally, I've used ephedrine and ephedra products in the past and noticed a very strong stimulant effect which "boosted" my workouts, but I gave them up (for many reasons), and have not used them for years. I still reach 3-4% body fat every time I compete - with no thermogenic or "fat burning" supplements whatsoever.
For more information on this subject, subscribe to my FREE Bodybuilding & Fitness Secrets (BFS) newsletter at www.fitren.com and check out issue # 16 in the Newsletter Archives, called "Why a long time ephedrine junkie gave up stimulant-based fat burners forever.")
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