Are There Any Thermogenics that Work to Burn Fat?

Are There Any Thermogenics that Work to Burn Fat?

Thermogenics supplements claim to help increase energy, burn body fat, and increase weight loss. Read on to learn if there are any thermogenics that work.

What Are Thermogenics that Work?

The word “thermogenic” means to produce heat [R]. Thermogenic substances raise body temperature, increase energy expenditure, and boost metabolism [R, R].

A faster metabolic rate may promote fat reduction and weight loss. That is why thermogenic substances are often made into dietary supplements [R].

Types of Thermogenic Supplements

The following are types of thermogenic supplements:

  • Caffeine
  • Green tea extract
  • Garcinia Cambogia
  • Coleus Forskohlii
  • Yohimbe/Yohimbine
  • Capsaicin extract
  • Citrus aurantium extract
  • Methylliberine
  • Evodia extract
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
  • Raspberry Ketones
  • Hoodia Gordonii
  • L-Carnitine
  • Paradoxine

Are There Thermogenics that Work?

Thermogenic substances have been studied for their metabolic and fat burning abilities. Learn the benefits of these supplements.


Those who drank beverages containing caffeine lose weight more than the general population showing there could be weight loss benefits of caffeine [R]. Caffeine was also found to improve metabolism and contribute to fat burning [R, R, R].

Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract is a concentrated form of green tea. It contains catechins. These compounds have antioxidant properties that increase metabolism and promote fat loss [R, R]. One study found green tea extract to increase metabolic rate among 10 healthy men better than placebo [R]. The combination of caffeine and catechins in tea burned more fat than catechins alone [R]. Women lost more belly fat after taking a daily dose of 856 mg of a green tea extract for 12 weeks when compared with a placebo [R].

Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia Cambogia is a fruit extract used in weight loss supplements. Research on this compound is mixed. Early studies showed little effect on fat and weight loss when compared with a placebo [R]. There was also a 5% decrease in body weight among adults after 8 weeks of supplementation when paired with exercise [R]. Taking 400 mg of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), the active ingredient in garcinia showed little difference in weight loss when compared with a placebo [R].

Coleus Forskohlii

Coleus forskohlii may burn fat by using it as energy [R, R, R]. Only small reductions in fat were seen with this supplement. Men taking 250 mg of a 10% forskolin extract twice a day for 12 weeks had reduced body fat [R]. Women did not have any losses but also did not gain any weight either [R].


Sometimes a rush of adrenaline, dopamine, and epinephrine can increase metabolism. This is how Yohimbe works [R, R, R, R]. When paired with exercise Yohimbe improved only fat loss when compared with a placebo [R, R]. In conjunction with a low calorie taking yohimbine for 3 weeks had better weight loss outcomes than a placebo [R]. Other research indicates this supplement does not burn fat or reduce weight loss [R, R].

Capsaicin Extract

Capsaicinoids (CAPs) found in chili peppers and pepper extracts are responsible for enhanced metabolism by increasing fat reduction by stimulating receptors in fat cells called vanilloid 1 receptors. Body fat was reduced between 6 and 7 percent after taking 2 and 4 mg of capsicum for 12 weeks [R].

Citrus Aurantium Extract and p-Synephrine

Citrus aurantium extract and p-Synephrine are found in the skin of bitter oranges. They slightly decreased weight when taken from six to 12 weeks [R]. Weight loss was also greater among women taking the citrus extract than a placebo [R].


Methylliberine is a compound found in the kuncha tea leaf. When it comes to fat and weight loss there are no studies on this particular supplement so its effects are unknown.

Evodia Rutaecarpa Extract

Test tube and animal studies show thermogenic effects for evodia rutaecarpa extract. It fails to produce fat loss, but can generate heat, stop fat cells from forming, and prevent weight gain [R, R, R, R, R, R]. It is unknown if these results can be replicated in humans.


Theobromine increases the breakdown of fat cells [R]. Animal studies show a reduction in weight among rats given a theobromine rich cocoa powder [R]. In humans, theobromine did not affect weight loss when paired with an exercise program [R].

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a type of fat that has been studied for its ability to reduce fat and increase muscle. Few studies prove it to be effective at changing body composition and adverse side effects have been seen with its use [R].

Raspberry Ketones

Raspberry ketones is a compound found in raspberries. Animal and test-tube studies show the benefits of metabolism and fat burning. More research needs to be done to know its effects on humans [R, R].

Hoodia Gordonii

Hoodia Gordonii suppressed the appetite of rats and chickens [R, R, R]. Little research with no positive effects on body weight or metabolism were found in humans. It also increased blood pressure and pulse rate [R].


L-carnitine is a supplement used for weight loss [R]. It prevents weight gain by moving fat into cells to be used for energy [R, R, R, R, R]. Research on L-carnitine is mixed. Weight loss was seen in animal studies when compared with control subjects [R]. Other research showed no effect on fat loss [R]. Side effects were also experienced causing people to drop out of one study [R].


Paradoxine is a spice similar to ginger. It was found to increase metabolism and burn fat in both animals and humans [R, R, R]. Doses of 450 and 1500 mg per kg of body weight caused liver toxicity in rats [R].

Thermogenic Supplement Blends

Supplements containing a mixture of a few different thermogenic ingredients are also popular. When paired with exercise they have shown to increase metabolism [R, R]. A cocktail of thermogenics combined with a low-calorie diet for 8 weeks had greater fat loss than those who received a placebo [R]. Thermogenic blends provide results but more research needs to be done to know what is promoting fat loss and if there are any alterations in body fat [R, R].

Dosage for Thermogenics

The dosage for these fat burners varies depending on the supplement. Some have recommended doses but some do not [R,R,R,R,R,R,R,R,R]:

  • Caffeine: 200 mg per day
  • Green tea extract: 400-500mg EGCG equivalent per day
  • Garcinia Cambogia: 500mg of HCA 1 to 3 times a day, 30-60 minutes before a meal
  • Yohimbe/Yohimbine: 0.1 mg per kg of bodyweight between meals
  • Capsaicin extract: 2 to 6 mg per day
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid: 3,200 to 6,400 mg a day with meals
  • Raspberry Ketones: 100 to 200 mg a day
  • L-Carnitine: 500 to 2,000 mg a day

Many thermogenics have no recommended dosage due to limited research. These include coleus forskohlii, citrus aurantium extract, methylliberine, evodia rutaecarpa extract, Hoodia Gordonii, and paradoxine [R, R, R, R, R, [R].

Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and start with a low as dose as possible to see if there are any side effects.

Risks and Contraindications of Thermogenics

Like with any dietary supplement there are risks and contraindications to be aware of.

Risks include adverse side effects such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, stomach upset, constipation, nausea, headache, increased stomach acid, dizziness, dry mouth, diarrhea, allergic reactions, anxiety, insomnia, bloating, low blood pressure, fatigue, and risk of bleeding. Some supplements may lower HDL cholesterol and cause a fish-like odor [R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R].

There is no information on long term use. Many of these substances may also interact with medications and other supplements. Be sure to ask your healthcare professional about any possible interactions with thermogenics [R].

Natural Thermogenics in Food

While supplements may help to increase weight loss, the metabolism can be revved up through diet and exercise.

Consumption of water, fiber, protein, and healthy fat can increase thermogenesis, satiety, and weight loss [R, R, R].

Foods rich in protein fiber, and fat include avocado, eggs, grapefruit, flaxseeds, lentils and legumes, chili peppers, ginger, nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and dark leafy green vegetables like kale [R, R, R, R, R, R, R].

Sleep and exercise specifically strength training also improved the thermogenic effect to boost metabolism [R, R, R].

Final Thoughts About Thermogenics

Thermogenics that work at increasing metabolism have some positive effects on fat reduction and weight loss. However, more research needs to be done to know what happens over time when taking these supplements. If you are looking for a natural metabolic boost you can work to improve diet, exercise, and sleep habits. Those with health conditions or who are on medications should talk to their doctor before starting any thermogenic supplement regimen to avoid any adverse side effects.


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