The Truth About Fat-Burning Supplements

Photo: Urban Outiftters

In an ideal world, you'd be able to chow on greasy pizza and undo the damage with a fat-burning supplement. Commercials in the '90s and early '00s assured us this could be done, but those claims were (and should have been) met with skepticism. While intriguing in theory, the bad news is the supplements you see in commercials full of bikini-clad models and men with six-packs are largely a marketing ploy.

After shooting off several emails to our network of nutritionists, almost every response denounced these so-called fat melters. 

"I am very skeptical in general of health claims like this—especially with unregulated products like supplements," says nutritionist Ali Wender. "You really never know what goes into these 'magic' pills, and it could be potentially very harmful. Losing weight or decreasing body fat is something that takes effort and is best done gradually by making sustainable lifestyle changes, often under the supervision of a registered dietitian."

Adds Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CSCS, "I don't promote or recommend any supplements for fat-burning. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so their effects are not well-studied or substantiated. Plus, even if these supplements could burn fat, research shows that it is health behaviors that provide benefit against disease—not weight loss."