By Lauren Jacobsen
When you think about fat burners, the first thing you probably think about is stimulants and thermogenics, those fat burners that increase your heart rate, cause the jitters, and probably prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep if taken too close to your bedtime. Stimulant-based and thermogenic
fat-burning supplements work directly on the central nervous system, spiking norepinephrine levels and shutting off the enzymes that break them down and reduce their effectiveness. The result is an increased and prolonged effect of norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline. Adrenaline is not only a key hormone involved in fat burning, it is also involved in “flight or fight,” and although its effects are incredibly useful for fat burning, energy, and focus, the side effects are not always desired by everyone. Enter the non-stimulant, or “unusual” and not so commonly used fat burners. These are a class of weight-loss enhancers that don’t come with the stimulating side effects, but are nonetheless just as effective when combined with a calorie-reduced diet plan.
Fibres, or bulking agents, work by swelling in the gut and slowing down digestion. This slowed digestion reduces appetite and can result in eating less when taken between meals. Since a fairly large dose is required to induce its appetite-suppressing effect, they are often sold on their own or in combination with only a few other ingredients. Fibres can also be found added to many common diet foods or drink products to reduce blood glucose peaks, and to lessen appetite and subsequent hunger.
Glucomannan, or konjac root, is an Asian indigenous plant that can pass relatively unchanged through the digestive system, but it does swell as it passes, gathering water. This extremely soluble fibre decreases appetite and food intake as it moves. It has also been shown in many studies to be effective for not only aiding in appetite suppression, but also decreasing blood glucose levels and increasing weight loss. In seven different trial studies of glucomannan, doses ranging from two to four grams per day significantly lowered body weight (between 3.1 and 5.5 pounds of weight loss).
An Australian pilot study showed that subjects who consumed one gram of a caralluma fimbriata extract for 12 weeks experienced significant losses in waist circumference (5.7 cm versus 2.8 cm loss in the placebo group); a 20-per cent loss of appetite; and a reduction in body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and cholesterol levels. The active components of caralluma are glycosides and flavones, although the exact mechanism is still unknown.
Prickly pear can be found growing in the deserts of Mexico, the United States, and on the hillsides of Southern France. Prickly pear contains minerals, antioxidants including beta-carotene, vitamin C, flavonoids, and is loaded with fibre. In one double-blind, randomized study, women were given either two grams of prickly pear or a placebo for 30 days. At the end of the study, women who received the real stuff showed significant weight loss when compared with the placebo group. Prickly pear has also been shown effective for reducing total cholesterol and bad cholesterol, blood glucose, and insulin.