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Thermogenics: what they are and how they work
Thermogenics: what they are and how they work

Thermogenics: what they are and how they work

Date: April 06, 2022

Is it possible to burn Fat naturally?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the "Fitness and Nutrition" world. We start from the assumption that there are no "magic pills", and we try to understand what the supplements defined as " fat burners " are and what they really do.

We all dream of taking a magic pill which, after repeated and constant intake, “miraculously” makes us reach that much desired physical shape, eliminate the bacon or slim the hips. The truth is that even today there is no such thing but, if it is true that there are no miracles "in tablets", it is also true that science offers us increasingly valid and proven strategies to stimulate some of these processes.

Adipose tissue (also called fat mass), unlike what was believed some time ago, is not a metabolically inactive tissue. It is a connective, consisting of specialized cells called adipocytes, mainly responsible for the accumulation of fats in the form of triglycerides, but it is also equipped with vessels, nerves and immune cells, and is itself a large endocrine organ distributed in our body, consisting of two types of cells (white and brown). These two types of adipose tissue are distinguished from each other by different anatomical localization, structure and above all function.

So what are the peculiarities of these two types of adipose tissue?

The white adipose tissue , despite the name suggests otherwise, has a yellowish color (linked to the presence of carotenoids). It is a large energy reserve, has a mechanical, heat-insulating function and has the ability to produce adipokines ("signal" molecules) which act as hormones. From an endocrine point of view, the most active part is the visceral one, which secretes substances capable of promoting inflammation and insulin resistance. It is for this reason that abdominal fat is considered the most dangerous of all.

The brown adipose tissue in humans is present in small quantities in the newborn, and with the growth part it turns into white tissue. It is different in structure, since the brown cell is much smaller and rich in mitochondria (small organelles that are inside the cells and are responsible for the production of energy) which, thanks to the presence of cytochromes, give the typical brown color from which it takes its first name. It has the function of producing heat in response to low temperatures, dissipating energy and consuming calories (thermogenesis). In fact, if the body suffers from hypothermia, it is the brown adipocytes that mobilize their triglycerides, from whose "destruction" (technical term is catabolism), energy is released, precisely in the form of heat.

So, in summary, white adipocytes store fats and brown adipocytes burn them.

The use of thermogenic supplements serves precisely to promote this particular mechanism, increasing caloric expenditure in the form of heat.

The function of thermogenics is therefore to increase the production of heat in the body: by increasing the body temperature, a better oxidation of lipids is obtained. In this way the body will have a greater demand for the release of fatty acids, which will then be used as an energy source, creating an increase in energy expenditure. In a nutshell, the intake of this type of supplement favors the use of fats as a preferential fuel source.

However, this is not enough to make us reach our goals. If we expect to lose weight only with the use of a thermogenic, or imagine taking it as a substitute for a balanced diet, we are very wrong. In response to the question “ Is it possible to burn fat naturally? "We answer that no, it is not so. The most powerful and effective fat burner is physical exercise, related to a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

These substances, in fact, only work if combined with a targeted diet, planned by a professional in the sector, and constant physical activity, which is the best tool we have available to burn excess calories.


How to choose the thermogenic product that best suits our needs, without being conditioned by aggressive packaging or increasingly illusory claims, based on false promises?

Per a thermogenic to be truly beneficial, it is essential that one or more of these elements are present in its composition, the effectiveness of which is known and approved by several studies:

  • Caffeine: It is a psychostimulating substance capable of improving performance by promoting the use of fats as fuel while saving carbohydrates. It affects many biological reactions, and is found naturally in coffee, but also in cola, yerba mate and chocolate. Although its effects on the body are numerous, most of them are due to its stimulating effects. A level of caffeine intake of up to 400mg per day does not pose safety problems in adult individuals but rather has a positive effect on the performance of most athletes.
  • Guaraná: Native plant of the Amazon rainforest with stimulating properties that reduces physical and mental fatigue. Its seeds contain guaranine, an analogue of caffeine. Promotes the release of two hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which promote the increase in body metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and the number of breaths.
  • Green tea: The substances contained in this drink are methylxanthines (in particular caffeine, theophylline and theobromine), which have shown the ability to stimulate lipolysis. Green tea, in fact, accelerates the metabolism of fats and sugars, facilitating the reduction of body weight and diuresis.
  • Capsaicin: It is an alkaloid contained in chilli, able to activate the brown adipose tissue, transforming the consumption of fats into heat. Present in the fruits or berries of these plants, its action is called rubefacient: that is able to stimulate the flow of blood in the area where it comes into contact. Furthermore, even low dosages of this molecule rapidly release adrenaline, giving energy to the organism, and subsequently endorphins, with exciting activity.
  • Garcinia Cambogia: This substance is obtained from the skins of the Garcinia gummi-gutta fruit . It facilitates and speeds up weight loss, controls the sense of hunger (it has anorectic effects through the modulation of serotonin levels) and counteracts the conversion of sugars into adipose tissue.

It is important to know that many of these elements stimulate the sympathetic central nervous system by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate, thus stimulating the increase in basal metabolic rate.

Per people with tachycardia or with high blood pressure problems, who in any case want to make use of a thermogenic support without excessively stimulating the nervous system, the elements to be taken into consideration and which should therefore be present in the supplement are:

  • Slendacor: It is a blend of three selected Ayurvedic herbs (Turmeric rhizome, curry leaves and Morninga oleifera leaves), effective in inhibiting the accumulation of fat in fat cells, promoting lipolysis and promoting the reduction of body weight.
  • Synephrine: It is a substance contained in bitter orange that stimulates weight loss, has a sympathomimetic activity (ie it mimics the effects on the sympathetic nervous system), and stimulates beta 3 adrenergic receptors located mainly in brown fat. It therefore causes stimulating, arousing and contracting reactions.
  • Grains of Paradise: The grains of paradise plant belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and is native to Equatorial Guinea. Its seeds, ground or whole, have a thermogenic action characterized by the ability to transform white fat into brown fat, stimulating its disposal.
  • L-Carnitine: It is an amino acid with an important role in the metabolism of lipids, transforming fat into energy and facilitating its combustion during exercise. It is in fact able to facilitate the entry of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they are oxidized to produce energy. In sports, it is used to enhance energy capacity as well as to improve performance and body composition.


In conclusion, it is important to remember that the body adapts and gets used to the stimuli, when provided continuously, and this means that some supplements lose their effectiveness over time. To maximize the effect of thermogenics, the ideal is therefore to take them by cycling , or alternating integration with periods of suspension.

We can therefore say that thermogenics, if taken correctly, are a real "Jolly", to be used in anticipation of the famous bikini test or simply in those moments of particular focus in which we find ourselves when we decide to throw down that pair of kilos too many. They represent a valid help to realize the efforts derived from physical activity and a balanced diet, supporting our ability to "burn" calories.



Giada Barca

Nutritional Sport Cosultant

The College of Naturopathic Medicine

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