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Side Effects of Fat Burners

fat burners side effects
Dr. Neha Choudhary
Dr. Neha Choudhary
August29/ 2015

Today morning as I was sipping through my morning cuppa and scrolling through my phone, I realized how the importance of our external appearance has changed over years. Almost all of my friends on Social Media had a new profile picture every day and I am sure be it a girl or boy everyone was working so hard to achieve it. Most of the girls had perfect portfolio pics and could give models a run for their money and guys were not shying behind, instead were flaunting their six packs.

I am sure we all know how important exercising is and it’s good to stay fit. But it’s bad when this becomes an obsession. With the popularity of today’s Gym, Culture people are often misguided and blinded to take supplements. The other day I was just looking for a good protein for myself when I was lost in the world of suggestions for pre-workouts, fat burners (capsules and powders) and what not. And these are easily available, over the counter.
But what most people don’t know is that there are several side effects of these so-called supplements people take in order to get faster six packs.

These fat burners are available in the form of capsules or powders. They are a growing industry in our modern society. Also, along with media’s pressure to be slim and beautiful many are motivated to try fat burners to achieve rapid weight loss. The common ingredients used in these fat burner pills are caffeine and ephedrine. Research has shown that these fat burners can speed up weight loss, but they also have harmful side effects, which are not advertised well.

What are Fat Burners?

Referred to as thermogenics, these are gaining popularity at a rapid pace as more and more people want to shed their weight faster. These are easily available in pharmacy and health stores. However, Doctors and dietitians do not recommend these owing to several risks attached to it.

So How do these Fat Burner Pills Work?

There are three main ways in which these “fat burning” supplements accomplish their mission.

Appetite Suppression

Appetite is suppressed by manipulating the body’s chemicals and hormones to trick the brain into feeling full. The idea is to trigger a sense of well-being that distracts you from the need to eat more.

Increased Metabolism

By artificially increasing the human body’s metabolism (also known as the speed in which it breaks down and uses nutrients) is a long established method of weight loss. One of the most common drugs used to do this is caffeine. So when the body is stimulated by caffeine, it releases hormones into the bloodstream to quicken the metabolism.
Overuse of metabolism stimulants can also go haywire and then have the opposite of the desired effect, in turn causing the metabolism to slow down in self-preservation.

Fat Blockers

This is another way fat burning supplements claim to get rid of the body fat. These supplements are usually made from a shellfish derivative called chitosan. Chitosan enters the body, binds to the fat in the food a person has eaten and keeps it from being absorbed by the body.

But there are two downsides to this method. Firstly, these fat blockers can also prevent the body from absorbing other nutrients it needs. And secondly, that bound fat still needs to leave the body, which it often does in the form of stomach pain, unpleasant anal leakage, and diarrhea.

Side Effects:

Negative effects of these drugs vary from a nervous feeling to heart attacks.


It is described as an inability to sleep. (Synonyms: sleeplessness)
Fat burners contain ephedrine or caffeine, which can have a negative impact on your sleeping patterns. This inability of your body to get sufficient rest can cause extreme fatigue and can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections/illnesses such as the flu or a common cold.


It is a dangerous condition, especially during hot weather or when you are exercising. Dehydration can cause headaches and, in severe cases, you can collapse if performing an intensive exercise. Vanderbilt University says that ephedrine and caffeine can cause dehydration while accelerating weight loss.

Blood Pressure

Fat burners typically work by heating up your body. They increase your metabolism and cause you to burn fat at a higher resting rate to accelerate weight loss. Researchers state that ephedrine in the fat burner also has side effects which including increased heart rate and blood pressure. And the higher your heart rate and blood pressure is, the higher is your risk of decreased circulation.

Emotional, Behavioral and Mental issues

Fat burners also have negative side effects on a mental and emotional level. Researchers have found out that fat burner pills such as ephedrine can cause nervousness, anxiety, irritability, edginess, aggressive behavior or emotional mood swings. In extreme cases, people are at heightened risk of causing self-harm.


In the worst scenarios, fat burner pills have been linked to death. In 2003 the FDA banned the use of fat burning pills containing ephedrine.


Increased heart rate and high blood pressure put your heart at risk.


These contain several ingredients that could cause allergic reactions

Stomach Problems

Regular consumption of fat burner pills can cause stomach problems such as diarrhea, tummy pain, and constipation.

Nutritional Deficiency and Electrolyte Imbalance

These fat blockers can also prevent the body from absorbing essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, which can cause deficiencies in our body. Losing important salts and water due to diarrhea caused by these pills can cause electrolyte imbalance in our body.

Other Ailments

Due to mineral and vitamin deficiencies, it can include a headache, mouth ulcers, skin dryness, hair loss, greying of hair and immature or early aging.

So think twice before you pop a pill to push those fat cells away. There are no shortcuts to a healthy life, you have to work towards it. A healthy balanced diet and regular exercise is the key to a healthy body and a happy mind. Stay fit.

Dr. Neha Choudhary
Dr. Neha Choudhary

Dr.Neha Choudhary completed her MBBS from Bangalore,India and is currently pursuing her higher studies in Melbourne,Australia.

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