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Can Metabolism Boosters Help You Burn More Fat?

If it were possible to boost your metabolism in a pill, it would make keeping the calories off so much easier. Who wouldn’t want that?

But, while there are many pills out there that claim to be metabolism boosters, do any actually work? Before I list some effective supplements, you must understand that no pill is going to make a noticeable difference if you are not eating properly and exercising regularly.

That doesn’t stop companies from claiming their products cause fat loss without any change in lifestyle. But as most of you know deep down, these claims are always false. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, miracle fat melting pills do not exist. Still, if you are following a sound nutrition and exercise program already, you may benefit from certain supplements. The results will likely be subtle, but since losing fat can be hard as it is, it makes sense to use every tool available, provided it is safe.

Metabolism Boosters: Which Supplements Work?

The supplements that may actually affect metabolism are not so much “miracle pills” as substances you already recognize.

Green Tea Extract is supported by a good amount of solid research as a metabolic enhancer. It appears that catechins (Specifically, EGCG), which are a plant metabolite, are responsible for much of its fat-burning abilities. A paper published in the Journal of the American Society of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates green tea has thermogenic (i.e. metabolic-boosting) properties and enhances fat burning beyond that explained by its caffeine content.1 A study in Phytomedicine showed similar results, with subjects taking a green tea extract losing about 4.5% of both body weight and waist circumference over a three month period.2 The journal Obesity published a study which concludes green tea extract leads to reduced body fat, blood pressure, and LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol.3

Caffeine can also raise metabolism.4 Additionally, caffeine ingestion prior to exercise is shown over and over again to increase performance. Before using caffeine for this purpose, it is a good idea to weigh the benefits against the possible adverse reactions, like jitteriness, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and possible insomnia.

Ephedrine is a potent metabolic enhancer and also acts as an appetite suppressant. There are volumes of studies that support its effectiveness but unfortunately, due to its propensity to cause cardiovascular side effects5, it is no longer available for this purpose. Most of the fat burners that originally contained ephedrine have been rendered essentially useless with its removal.

Metabolism Boosters: Which Should You Stay Away From?

A review study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 11 supplements that supposedly aid in weight loss. Granted, not all weight loss aids work through metabolic enhancement (many do so through decreasing food intake), but I thought it was worth mentioning because 9 of the 11 supplements that were reviewed (including pyruvate, yohimbine and Garciniacambogia) did not appear to be convincing for burning fat. The exceptions were both ephedrine-containing compounds.6 This is not to say that those compounds have absolutely no worth, just that “the reviewed studies provide some encouraging data but no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that any specific dietary supplement is effective for reducing body weight.”

Another supplement with no human data on effectiveness is raspberry ketones. These are incredibly popular now, perhaps because Dr. Oz says they are a great fat burning supplement. However, unless you are a rodent, take this advice with a grain of salt, as the only research that supports a benefit was done on mice and rats.

So, What Should I Do If I Want To Boost My Metabolism?

It is easy to be lured into buying a supplement to “burn fat fast” or “melt fat away.” I talk to people every day who try these products and are sorely disappointed, even though most of them should know better.

If you want to keep your metabolism high while losing fat, engage in high intensity resistance training and interval cardiovascular exercise. Keep you calories under what you burn, but not by so much that your body thinks it is starving. 1-2 pounds of fat loss per week is a good rate and lessens the chance of significant metabolic slowdown. If you have all those pieces in place, then adding some green tea extract (containing about 100 mg of ECGC) three times per day and caffeine may enhance your fat loss. You cannot lose weight or increase your metabolism in any significant way by just taking a pill.

Show 6 References

  1. Dulloo A, Duret C, Rohrer D, Girardier L, Mensi N, Fathi M, Chantre P, Vandermander J. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans.. Clinical Nutr. 1999.
  2. Chantre D, Lairon D. Recent findings of green tea extract AR25 (Exolise) and its activity for the treatment of obesity. Phytomedicine. Vol 9; 1, 3-8. 2002.
  3. Nagao T, Hase T, Tokimitsu I. A green tea extract high in catechins reduces body fat and cardiovascular risks in humans. Obseity. Vol 15; 6, 1473-1483. Jun 2007.
  4. Rumpler W, Seale J, Clevidence B, Judd J, Wiley E, Yamamoto S, Komatsu T, Sawaki T, Ishikura Y, Hosoda K. Oolong tea increases metabolic rate and fat oxidation in men . J. Nutr. vol. 131 no. 112848-2852. Nov 2001.
  5. These side effects can be very serious, so while it can act as a metabolism booster, it is highly recommended you consult with your physician before use.
  6. Pittler M, Ernst E. Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review . Am J ClinNutr. V 79; 4, 529-536. Apr 2004.


  • Sree says:

    Wow Charlie, a short but well rounded up article! There are so many products out in the market with bizarre claims like this that for a while I was tempted to try something. This puts an end to those rumors and I like your emphasis towards the end that nothing can come close to a clean diet and good exercise.

  • Eric says:

    Wait so Santa and the Easter Bunny don't exist?

  • canali says:

    why not just drink more loose leaf teas in general, whether they be oolongs, white, greens or blacks? research has shown they all in various ways help with our health, from reducing plaque on arteries (potentially!) to fat loss...at the very least a large hot cup of tea helps take the 'edge' off my appetite, too, something an 'extract' won't.

    second, and more pertinent, a recent article came out debunking a lot of the herbal remedies out there (see articles//news stories at bottom)...sure green tea isn't a herbal supplement but it is part of a multi billion health food/nutrition industry that is rife with glitz/glam and often suspect practices, whether it be protein powders, herbal supplements or whatever....so if you do choose an extract, choose wisely or do your research into the company.


  • faedal38 says:

    "If you want to keep your metabolism high while losing fat, engage in high intensity resistance training and interval cardiovascular exercise."
    I do not agree.

    • Kristin Rooke, CPT says:


      Could you explain more about why you don't agree with that statement? We're always interested to hear other people's ideas.

      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

  • Dom says:

    I work as a picker in a hothouse 8-9 hours a day I don't have the energy to do a work out ? I just need some thing as a energy booster to add to my 5 litres + of water a day . Cheers

    • Kristin Rooke, CPT says:

      Hi there Dom! It sounds like you have a very active job, and I can definitely see how that could affect your motivation to workout. What are your workout goals? Do you want to lose fat, build muscle, or maintain your current level of fitness? At BuiltLean, we don't promote any particular supplements. That being said, one supplement that could help is BCAA's. There are many benefits associated with Branched Chain Amino Acids, such as decreasing belly fat, increasing muscle mass, and boosting energy. Give that a try, and if you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to support@builtlean.com and one of our elite BuiltLean Coaches will be able to help you out.

      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

  • Jennie says:

    I used to be slim in my high school days, but since college I have been gaining weight, so much so, that I now look bad, and everyone around is commenting on my weight. I did try some weight loss programs but honestly could not stick to any for too long, none of them showed results anyway, and my problem is not solved a bit. Please, please can anyone suggest me a good way to lose weight? Thanks in advance.

    • Kristin Rooke, CPT says:

      Hi there Jennie,

      There's no magic formula for weight loss. It all comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn, and exercising to maintain lean muscle & boost your metabolism. When it comes to exercise, we recommend doing strength circuits. This exercise method helps to boost your metabolism, activate the afterburn effect, maintain (or even build) lean muscle, and help you burn body fat.

      As for nutrition, we advocate a whole foods diet filled with vegetables, fruits, lean protein, & healthy carbs and fats. To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn. Whole foods are great for that purpose because they tend to be higher in fiber and nutrients, lower in calories, and more satiating than processed and packaged foods. To figure out how many calories you should eat to lose weight, check out this article.

      I hope that gives you some direction! If you have more questions, or would like more advice, feel free to reach out to support@builtlean.com.

      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

  • Sandy Bernard says:

    I did WW for 2 years and lost 60 pounds. Now, I find myself with a low basal metabolic rate because of the prolonged dieting and if I have zero room for any cheating so trips, parties and holidays are a nightmare. Having gained 10 pounds back in 6 months, I am looking for a pill that can help raise my metabolism. I just bought a green coffee bean with green tea supplement. I hope it will help since you say it has been proven. But I feel no boost of energy from the pills at all.

    • Kristin says:

      Hi Sandy,

      Are you currently following a workout program? One of the best ways to boost your metabolism is through strength & circuit training. HIIT can also help elevate your metabolic rate, because it induces the afterburn effect which means you're burning more calories for hours after you're done exercising.

      I would also take a look at your diet. Do you eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods? These foods are more nutrient-dense and provide the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that your body needs to keep you energized, strong, and healthy. Are you eating protein with every meal? Protein tends to elevate your metabolism because it requires more energy from your body to break down. Are you drinking enough water?

      When it comes to lifestyle - are you getting between 7-9 hours of sleep per night? Sleep is essential to stress reduction, fat loss, and overall health & well-being.

      At BuiltLean, we highly recommend building a lean and fit lifestyle rather than relying on pills and supplements to reach your health and fitness goals. If you follow an effective and scientifically-proven exercise and eating plan, you can absolutely build a lean and strong body. While years of dieting can absolutely take a toll on your metabolism, it's not necessarily irreversible. You just have to be willing to put in the work to bring your body back into balance. I hope that all helps and makes sense! If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us at support@builtlean.com.

      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

  • Sandy Bernard says:

    Thank you for your reply. I did all of the above, except for the sleep part. For example, I did the Modern physique exercise program from bodybuilding.com, which includes HIIT and weight lifting, for 6 weeks. Nothing came off. I was inputting my food in myfitnesspal, averaging 1800 calories per day for a weight of 170 lbs, ay 46. I eat lean meats, love veggies, no butter, olive oil spray...

    Anyway, decided to try the green coffee as an adjunct. Not too tempted to submit myself to the grueling training program again since it did nothing for me.

    I really thank you for your input.