Fat burners (a.k.a weight loss aids) are some of the most popular supplements on the market. You only need to look at the aisles of weight loss supplements and the number of sold products online for proof that the weight loss and diet industry is a big business.
That’s where this stimulant vs. non-stimulant fat burner comparison comes in. But before sharing the differences between the two, let’s first learn the basics.
What Do Fat Burners Do?
Fat burners usually contain these common ingredients: caffeine, green tea extract, Yohimbe, carnitine, and soluble fiber. These perform two functions: actively metabolizing fats in the body or reducing appetite. However, it’s better if the fat burner can do both.
Other components of fat-burning supplements cause thermogenic reactions in the body. When combined with a metabolic boost that you get from caffeine, for instance, you have an effective fat burner.
The right fat burner, which is research-supported and tested, can support overall wellness in various ways. These can lower cholesterol levels, reduce body fat, lower blood pressure, and increase emotional well-being if used in appropriate situations and correctly.
Still, fat burners cannot compensate for a poor diet that comprises too many carbs and fats. They work within a complete program that includes exercise and a balanced diet.
Stimulant vs. Non-Stimulant Fat Burners: The Difference
What Are Stimulant Fat Burners and How Do They Work?
Stimulant fat burners are supplements that contain caffeine or similar substances. These ingredients are included as they trigger thermogenesis, a metabolic process by which you burn more calories to generate heat.
Caffeine is a popular choice for a thermogenic agent as it stimulates the pathways that help in fat loss. It is a central nervous system stimulant that mobilizes fatty acids from intramuscular and adipose stores for fuel and sends out adrenaline bursts, which increase the metabolic rate.
However, caffeine can be problematic when it causes an excessive release of catecholamines in the body. The effect is that it can slightly negate your hard work in the kitchen and gym.
What are the Other Stimulants in Fat Burners?
- Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract helps you burn more calories by reducing the fat you absorb from food, according to a 2020 study in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research.
- Green Coffee Bean Extract
Green coffee bean extract may help with weight loss. It does so by lowering blood sugar and preventing the accumulation of fat. This fat-burning agent is created by steeping unroasted coffee in water.
It contains chlorogenic acid that has a weight loss potential. The reason coffee doesn’t do the same work in the body as green coffee bean extract does is that there’s a reduction in chlorogenic acid levels during roasting.
Why Are Stimulant Fat Burners Effective for Fat Burning?
Most stimulant fat burners contain caffeine, an ingredient backed by a decent amount of research supporting its effectiveness. It improves concentration and focus, alleviates fatigue, and increases wakefulness.
Caffeine may likewise boost fat oxidation while sparing muscle glycogen, a metabolic fuel for the muscles. Another main positive effect of a stimulant fat burner is appetite suppression. It may help people reduce their calorie and food intake.
The Side Effects of Stimulants
Taking a stimulant fat burner close to bedtime will interfere with your ability to sleep. There’s also a long list of side effects linked with short and long-term consumption. These include the ff.:
- Trembling and jitters
- Restlessness and nervousness
- Stomach irritation
- Heart palpitation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Elevated blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Stress hormone imbalances
- Gastrointestinal problems
With prolonged stimulant intake, your tolerance to the supplement builds up. When it happens, your body needs higher dosages to experience the same benefits it once felt. In short, it’s a dangerous cycle for your health.
Safety and Precautions: Read the labels and possible warnings ahead of time to minimize your risk as much as possible. It’s also best to talk to your doctor about any supplements you’re interested in taking.
Stimulant fat burners are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, anyone on any kind of medications, and someone with diabetes, high blood pressure, or a mental or behavioral disorder (dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.)
Suggested Read: How to Get Rid of Fat Burner Side Effects
What Are Non-Stimulant Fat Burners and How Do They Work?
Non-stimulant or stimulant-free fat burners avoid all caffeine-like ingredients. Instead, they focus on non-stimulants that may boost the metabolism to process body fat. Therefore, they won’t cause sleepless nights or make you restless or jittery.
Non-stimulant fat burners increase your overall energy expenditure and elevate your blood pressure. These eventually lead to weight loss over time. However, take precautions if you have high blood pressure, as these supplements may lead to hypertension.
The primary purpose of non-stimulant fat burners is to help people lose weight by speeding up their metabolism, which burns more calories over the day compared to people with sluggish metabolisms.
If done on an ongoing basis, then just one take of a stim-free fat burner, fat cells also release toxins through lipolysis.
Benefits of Non-Stimulant Fat Burners
The good thing about non-stimulant fat burners is you don’t have to be as careful about their effect on your body, especially on your ability to sleep at night. Non-stimulant fat burners also support your metabolism from morning to evening.
Key Ingredients in Non-Stimulant Fat Burners
- Cayenne Pepper Extract
Cayenne pepper extract may help with weight loss as it boosts the metabolism and burns calories. It likewise makes you feel full after eating. Some studies suggest that the actual fat-burning effect of cayenne pepper extract works almost the same as stimulants.
- Acetyl L-Carnitine
Acetyl L-Carnitine can help you lose weight and power up your memory. It plays a significant role in delivering fatty acids to the muscle cells, which utilize them for fuel in workouts.
Chromium helps regulate insulin and blood sugar levels in the body. Some studies also report that it decreases the percentage of body fat and increases lean body mass, which may lead to weight loss.
- Hoodia Gordonii
Hoodia Gordonii, also known as “Queen of the Namib” and “Bushman’s hat,” is a plant that gained attention in the early 2000s. It became popular after discovering that a nomadic hunter-gatherer group had been eating small pieces of its stem to suppress hunger in their long hunts.
Today, the plant’s extract is found in dietary supplements in the belief that it reduces appetite and thus is good for weight loss.
- Garcinia Cambogia
It prevents fat storage in the adipose stores. A study found that garcinia Cambogia was more effective at decreasing hunger, reducing appetite, and increasing fullness than a placebo. Yet, other studies demonstrated that extract from this plan has little to no effect on weight loss.
Also known as konjac fiber, you can find glucomannan in low to non-stim fat burners. It does not have stimulant properties and thus doesn’t produce the effect stimulant fat burners do, like increased focus or energy.
However, it has an exceptional ability to absorb water. A small amount of glucomannan absorbs liquid and turns it into a gel form, which promotes a feeling of fullness.
Suggested Read: Alani Nu Fat Burner Review
The Downsides of Non-Stimulant Fat Burners
The downsides of non-stimulant fat burners are limited. They may not be a better option to some because they don’t provide appetite suppression the way stimulant fat burners do.
Meanwhile, others prefer the mental boost that stimulating fat burners provide. And that’s something a stim-free fat burner doesn’t have.
How Long Does It Take for Fat Burning Supplements to Work?
About a week or two. It’s especially the case if you’re taking a fat burner while following a high-protein diet, getting enough sleep, and working out.
The caffeine in stimulant fat burners has a short half-life, meaning the time it takes for half of its content to degrade. Its half-life is only about five to six hours, although the energy it provides degrades faster. After three or four hours of taking the supplement, you may notice that your energy is flagging.
Suggested Read: How Long Does Fat Burner Stay in Your System?
Final Verdict: Stim or Non-Stim Fat Burner?
Different people respond to supplements differently. Some mechanisms by which fat burners operate may not be needed or suited for every individual. Meanwhile, some work better than others.
A stimulant fat burner works best if you want to burn fat quickly. However, if you can’t start your day without a cup or often drink three to four cups of coffee throughout the day, it’s best to choose a stimulant-free fat burner.
Non-stimulant fat burners still enhance fat loss by focusing the work on the body’s natural pathways to lose weight. They increase the body’s fat metabolism, and fat burn naturally without side effects.
Most fat burners, unless specified otherwise, contain caffeine or a similar substance. It’s a stimulant. If you still prefer a stimulant fat burner, limit caffeine intake throughout the day or stick to the recommended timing and serving size.
Another option is to combine stimulants and non-stimulants so they work synergistically to burn fat. This option takes different pathways to weight loss and achieving results beyond thermogenesis alone.
Nevertheless, don’t consider the importance of a good diet pattern and an active and healthy lifestyle.
For access to more nutrition and health info, exercise and fitness articles, lifestyle tips, and celebrity workouts visit ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.