Something that you may or may not be aware of is that many fat burners, thermogenics, and weight loss supplements work by loading you up on caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it gives you energy. As anyone who has had a couple too many cups of coffee can attest, however, caffeine can often leave you with jitters, shakes, and headaches, not to mention dehydration and other side effects.
Why Avoid Stimulants?
Why would you want to avoid caffeine and other stimulants in your fat burners? There are a few reasons.
First, caffeine is a drug that quickly builds up a tolerance in your system. Over time, it starts to take more and more caffeine to give you any energy benefits, and the side effects get worse and worse. This is also why many fat burners recommend that you take their product on an on-and-off schedule, taking it for a few weeks or a couple of months, then dropping it for a few weeks. This lets your tolerance drop and makes the stimulant more effective.
Stimulants are also not always the safest products around. It's possible to overdose on caffeine – though the amounts necessary are very high – but even high consumption levels can lead to side effects like shakes and jitters, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure.
Caffeine can also do all kinds of terrible things to your sleep schedule. When you have a stimulant in your system, you'll find it harder if not impossible to fall asleep, and sleep won't be very restful. This is less of a problem if you take your fat burner first thing in the morning and work out before lunch, but it can still be a problem long-term.
Plenty of people want an alternative to the usual selection of stimulant fat burners out there, so it should be no surprise that there are dozens if not hundreds of possible options. We've taken a look at many of the most recommended stimulant-free fat burners out there, and here are our recommendations.
Be Wary of Hidden Caffeine
Before getting into the specific products we've recommended, you should take a moment to familiarize yourself with the many alternative names used by marketers for caffeine. Any time you're investigating the ingredients list of a product, be it a beverage, a supplement, a drug, or food, you should know what euphemisms are in use.
For caffeine, you might see:
- Green Tea Extract: the "extract" here is caffeine, which is naturally present in green tea.
- Thea Sinensis: the scientific name for one variety of Chinese green tea.
- Cola acuminate, cola nut, cola nut extract: no, it's not Coca-Cola; cola nut or kola nut is a caffeine-containing seed pod of an African evergreen.
- Theobroma cacao, cacao extract: chocolate has natural caffeine in it, so cacao-based products often have some level of caffeine as well.
- Guarana: an ivy-like plant native to the Amazon, Guarana contains almost double the caffeine found in coffee seeds.
- Paulinia Cupana: the scientific name for Guarana.
Any time you see an ingredient like one of the above, know that it's probably just a way of hiding that the product you're consuming has caffeine in it in some form. Some people will tell you that caffeine from green tea or cacao is easier on the body, but it's not really true. It may be more pleasant to consume chocolate rather than a caffeine pill, but the caffeine is still the same chemical, acting on the body in the same way.
Just keep an eye out! If you're looking to avoid stimulants in your fat burners, you need to be aware of all of the ways unscrupulous product developers hide those stimulants from you.
How Non-Stimulant Fat Burners Work
Stimulant-based fat burners work by stimulating your body, your digestive system, and your metabolism into being more active. Caffeine alone can passively boost your calories burned each day (by around 10-12 calories per hour, so not a lot), but the real benefit is in the energy it gives you. With that energy, you'll find it easier to be more active, get into working out, and burn more calories with more vigorous exercise.
So how do non-stimulant fat burners work, when this primary mechanism of fat burning isn't available?
First, many of them work by suppressing your appetite. In part, because they're a supplement you're taking with a shake or beverage, and because they contain fiber and nutrients, fat burners make you less hungry, so you don't snack and you don't eat as much. Moreover, fiber makes your digestive system slow down, so you feel full longer and don't have cravings to snack later. Eating fewer calories is just as good as burning more calories in terms of weight loss, after all.
Second, some ingredients in stimulant-free fat burners work by binding to some ingredients in the food you eat, carrying them through your digestive system rather than allowing your body to absorb them. In other words, they make your body absorb less from the food you eat. When your body absorbs less of the sugars and fats you eat, it can't store the excess as fat.
What We're Looking For
So what are we looking for in a fat burner? There are a few different criteria. First and foremost, when we recommend stimulant-free supplements, we mean stimulant-free supplements. Almost every single list online that purports to include stimulant-free fat burners has at least one, if not several different supplements which include obfuscated caffeine.
Second, the product needs to be available. A few lists out there recommend products that are no longer in production. You can still buy them on stores like Amazon, at least until the GNC or Vitamin Shoppe runs out, but once they're gone, they're gone. We're not going to recommend a product that you'll fail to find once you get used to it.
Third, we're looking for interesting, novel, or effective ingredients. There are a lot of products out there that are more or less identical formulas with different branding. We've tried to avoid recommending more than one product with the same formula. Everything we've added on the list below is unique.
The Best Stimulant-Free Fat Burners
By now you've probably scrolled on past a lot of the reasoning. What you really want, and what you came here for, is the list of recommended fat burners. So here you go - a handful of popular stimulant-free fat burners:
This fat burner includes ingredients aimed at suppressing appetite, as well as diuretics that encourage your body to shed water weight. This means it's effective for losing easy weight quickly, though the effects will taper off after a few weeks of use. Silencer is also part of an overall weight loss program produced by Redcon1, which includes meal replacements and other supplements. Silencer itself contains common weight loss ingredients such as L-Carnitine, Garcinia Cambogia, and Conjugated Linoleic Acid.
Performance Lab's Fat Burner
Performance Labs designs a range of sport and weight loss supplements that are specifically engineered to be taken daily, rather than on an on-and-off cycle. Fat Burner is free of common stimulant ingredients, but it does include a few of the more common appetite suppressants, as well as some ingredients – like cayenne pepper and black pepper extract – aimed at inducing thermogenic fat burning. These chemicals react in your body, and your body has to spend energy to deal with them, thus burning stored fat.
Transparent Labs' Fat Burner
Transparent Labs offers several different fitness products, most of which are meal replacements or supplements. They have two formulas of their fat burner, one with caffeine and one without. Their formula includes some common ingredients like L-Carnitine and Cayenne Pepper, but also has a few more unique additives like Fucoxanthin (an antioxidant) and Rhodiola Rosea.
Bulk Powders Complete Thermogenic
This fat burner is pretty standard as far as formulations go. It has some vitamins, a couple of minerals, L-Carnitine, and so on. One thing worth noting is that it has "caffeine-free green tea" in it. It's possible that they processed the green tea to remove the caffeine, but it's just as likely that they sourced green tea from somewhere that doesn't realize caffeine-free green tea simply means tea with a lower than normal amount of oxidation, and thus caffeine. All green tea has at least a little caffeine in it, the question is how much of a dose you're getting.
Primeval Labs' Pyretic
This is one of the more robust and interesting formulas out there. The product includes a couple of common ingredients, like Choline, but it also has a few you don't see very often. These include things like Gymnema Sylvestre, Grains of Paradise (a type of pepper), and a couple of aggregate ingredients.
Aggregate ingredients are ingredients that are themselves other products. One of the more common is "Capsimax", which is a capsicum extract, or a processed version of cayenne powder. In this case, Pyretic includes InnoSlim, which is a combination of a couple of herbs produced by NuLivScience.
Sometimes, you have to be careful with aggregate ingredients, because they might be hiding the actual ingredients from you. A product can avoid listing caffeine as an ingredient if it's including an aggregate ingredient that itself has caffeine in it. In this instance, that's not the case, but it's something to watch out for.
Forskolin is an ingredient in many of the different fat burners we've already listed, and dozens more besides. This particular product is almost entirely nothing but forskolin itself, in case you want to experiment and see which individual ingredients have which effects on your weight loss journey. In addition to the forskolin, this product includes "hemerocallis fulva extract", which is an extract of the common daylily.
Forskolin is a common ingredient because it's often used in cell signaling experiments and thus has a lot of human testing already performed to ensure that it's safe. Whether or not it's actually effective for weight loss is unknown, despite what stores will tell you.
Fat Burners to Watch Out For
In the course of researching different stimulant-free fat burners, we also came across several that illustrate the point we were making above. For example, check out LeanBean's fat burner. It's compelling; designed for women, free of stimulants, engineered for weight loss. Unfortunately, you can see their ingredients list includes green coffee extract, which is, you guessed it, caffeine. They can claim it's stimulant-free all they want, but they're lying.
Another example is LeanXT. The second ingredient on their list is 500mg of Green Tea Extract, which is one of the clearest examples of "definitely not caffeine, trust us" caffeine included in a supplement you can find.
Have you used a stimulant-free fat burner? If so, we have two questions for you. First, are you sure it was stimulant-free, or did it have caffeine in it you didn't know about until now? Second, if it was truly caffeine-free, how did it work for you? Every fat burner has mixed reviews because everyone is different. Different people react differently to different formulas and different extracts. Some, though, might simply be better than others, so we're always on the lookout for real reviews and recommendations. Leave your comments below!