The term 'fat burner' is used to describe nutrition supplements that are claimed to acutely increase fat metabolism or energy expenditure, impair fat absorption, increase weight loss, increase fat oxidation during exercise, or somehow cause long-term adaptations that promote fat metabolism. Often, these supplements contain a number of ingredients, each with its own proposed mechanism of action and it is often claimed that the combination of these substances will have additive effects. The list of supplements that are claimed to increase or improve fat metabolism is long; the most popular supplements include caffeine, carnitine, green tea, conjugated linoleic acid, forskolin, chromium, kelp and fucoxanthin. In this review the evidence for some of these supplements is briefly summarized. Based on the available literature, caffeine and green tea have data to back up its fat metabolism-enhancing properties. For many other supplements, although some show some promise, evidence is lacking. The list of supplements is industry-driven and is likely to grow at a rate that is not matched by a similar increase in scientific underpinning.
Obes Rev. 12(10):841-851.