While it would be nice to choose where you lose fat, it isn't possible to spot-reduce and just get rid of your belly fat, and there isn't enough evidence to support the use of fat-burning supplements for this purpose. The best way to get rid of any extra belly fat is to eat less and exercise more. Some fat-burning supplements can have adverse effects, so check with your doctor before using any of these supplements to make sure it would be safe for you.
Green Tea and Caffeine for Burning Belly Fat
Among the potential fat-burning substances, green tea may be among the better options. A review article published in Obesity Reviews in 2011 noted that although there isn't enough evidence to recommend most fat-burning supplements, green tea and caffeine have been shown to increase fat-burning. You may want to make green tea your beverage of choice. Not only is it calorie-free, but it also appears to enhance the belly fat loss brought on by exercise, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2009. The combination of antioxidant substances called catechins and caffeine in the green tea may cause increased energy expenditure and fat-burning, according to a review article published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2011.
Carnitine's Potential for Burning Belly Fat
While there is some evidence for the use of carnitine as a fat-burner, it isn't easy to increase your body's carnitine levels by eating foods containing this substance or taking carnitine supplements. An article published in the Journal of Physiology in 2011 found that taking carnitine supplements along with eating plenty of carbohydrates for six months may potentially increase fat burning, but this is not true for taking these supplements for a shorter time. So this supplement isn't a practical way to lose weight overall, and definitely isn't a quick way to lose belly fat, as it takes at least six months to even start working.
Other Potential Fat-Burning Supplements
A review article published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011 notes that while there is some evidence for chitosan, Irvingia gabonensis, conjugated linoleic acid and pyruvate, there isn't yet enough evidence to say for sure that they're helpful for weight loss. The article notes that Garcinia cambogia and chia seeds don't appear to show promise as fat burners. The 2011 Obesity Reviews article notes that evidence is also lacking for the use of forskolin, fucoxanthin, kelp and chromium for weight loss.
Safety Considerations for Fat-Burning Supplements
An article published in Consumer Reports in 2006 recommends avoiding the fat-burning supplements 5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, and citrus aurantium, also called bitter orange, as these both have potentially serious side effects. Bitter orange can cause increased heart rate, anxiety and chest pain, and 5-HTP can cause inflammation and pain in the joints and muscles and severe gastrointestinal issues. Another article, published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2011, notes that an herbal fat-burning supplement containing usnic acid, guggul tree and green tea extracts was linked to a case of liver failure.
There don't appear to be lot of safety concerns with green tea or caffeine as long as they're used in moderation, but they can cause some side effects, such as nervousness and irregular heartbeat, with an intake of more than 400 milligrams per day of caffeine. Stick to brewed green tea, because the green tea extract can cause abdominal discomfort and potential liver damage.
Exercise to Burn Belly Fat
The best way to get rid of belly fat is a combination of strength training and cardio. The cardio will help burn fat from all over your body, including your belly, while the strength training will help you build more muscle, which burns more calories at rest than fat does. For weight loss, aim to fit in at least 300 minutes of cardio per week and at least two strength-training sessions.
While you could lose weight and body fat by dieting alone, adding exercise will result in a better body composition after you're finished losing weight. It also appears that weight lost through exercise may be more likely to come from your belly fat than weight lost through diet alone, according to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
- Journal of Psysiology: Boosting Fat Burning With Carnitine: An Old Friend Comes Out From the Shadow
- Consumer Reports: Supplement Update: Six to Watch
- Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology: Acute Liver Failure Caused by ‘Fat Burners’ and Dietary Supplements: A Case Report and Literature Review
- Obesity Reviews: Fat Burners: Nutrition Supplements That Increase Fat Metabolism
- Journal of Obesity: An Evidence-Based Review of Fat Modifying Supplemental Weight Loss Products
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss
- American Council on Exercise: So, You Want to Spot Reduce? Here's How
- Drugs.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Journal of Nutrition: Green Tea Catechin Consumption Enhances Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Exercise-Induced Weight Loss Preferentially Reduces Abdominal Fat
- Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry: Antiobesity Effects of Green Tea Catechins: A Mechanistic Review