The two most important phases in the muscle building process are the bulking and cutting cycles. This statement is laughably obvious to anyone who has the slightest interesting in bodybuilding.
What might not be so obvious is the ingredients that go into the supplements used in both cycles and how to spot a good one from a not so good one.
Fat burning supplements (or cutting supplements) are arguably the most popular supplement sold today. They are used not only for bodybuilders hoping to remove fat percentage to achieve that ripped look but also by literally anyone wanting or needing ti lose weight.
Here are are a selection of ingredients that are found in and make up a large proportion of the best fat burners available today.
There’s a good reason caffeine is nearly always included in a fat burner, and other performance enhancing supplements. It is one of the most proven and effective ingredients ever studied. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and fat-burner.
Through an increase in dopamine and adrenaline, caffeine induces feelings of euphoria, improves your mood and elevates your excitability which in turn boosts your energy.
It exerts two principal methods of burning fat.
First, caffeine causes a thermogenic response in the body. Here, your core temperature rises and your body reacts by cooling it down. This process burns fat to fuel it.
Secondly, when used for prolonged periods, caffeine forces triglycerides to release fatty acids, which can also be used as fuel. This is called a lipolytic effect.
Supplementing with caffeine can also increase levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) which lowers fat content in cells volume by reducing their triglyceride levels. It also improves protein synthesis, helping your muscles recover and grow after exercise.
White Willow Bark
This is a source of salicylic acid, which is synergistic with the p-Synephrine and Caffeine in this supplement. The effects of adrenaline are enhanced by Salicylic Acid as is the process of stimulatory signalling. This ingredient essentially boosts the fat-burning, energizing, and performance enhancing effects of the supplement as a whole.
Being a cousin of aspirin, Salicylic Acid will also act as an anti-inflammatory agent, helping your muscles and joints recover from a hard day in the gym and on the go.
The active constituent of Coleus Forskohlii is Forskolin, which can increase levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). We explained in the caffeine section that increasing cAMP lowers the triglyceride levels in fat cells and can boost protein synthesis. Forskolin works with the other ingredients to increase both its own effectiveness and caffeine's.
This amino acid is rarely used in fat-burners as it has no direct fat-burning effect of its own. We have included it because it is very effective in conjunction with caffeine and other stimulants.
What it does is smooth out the nervous edge you can get with stimulants while actually enhancing their positive effects on cognition and attention. Anxiety is reduced, helping you focus on what’s really important at work, at the gym and at home.
L-Theanine is also effective at positively regulating nitric oxide levels. Higher nitric oxide levels lead to vasodilation which in turn improves your circulation. Improved circulation means more oxygen and nutrients get to your muscles and brain via elevated red blood cell traffic. This process is a major benefit during weight lifting.
Isolating p-Synephrine separates it from its parent, bitter orange to give us a safer, more powerful fat burner. Working in symphony with Caffeine, White Willowbark, and L-Theanine, p-Synephrine's actions on the adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine system increase the body’s metabolic rate. Increasing your metabolism burns more fat, even when you’re relaxing.
Piperine Extract - BioPerine
This extract from black pepper in a small amount increases the bioavailability of the other ingredients in a formula through increased absorption. Basically, it heightens the effect of everything else.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
ALA can help preserve lean muscle mass gains, increase muscle endurance, and reduce fat retention. And it doesn’t stop there. Alpha Lipoid Acid protects vitamins like C and E from being metabolized, thereby enhancing their properties.
It is also a powerful anti-oxidant, neutralizing free-radicals which can damage cells and ultimately cause health problems.
Free radicals are the result of metabolism, which gets dialled up through exercise. We have included ALA in our blend as much to provide a front line defence against these harmful agents, as we have for its body sculpting properties.
Eventually, metabolism breaks down ALA, but even the resulting metabolites have anti-oxidant properties. ALA does not go down without a fight.
This is the icing on the cake as far as we’re concerned. A fat-burner should be a solid performance enhancer, as well. Alpha-GPC increases acetylcholine formation in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which is key to muscle contraction strength and cognitive function.
Stronger muscle contractions allow an increase in power output and we all know where that leads…muscle mass. And muscle burns fat as fuel just to exist.
The stronger the muscles, the more fuel they use. The boost in cognitive function, combined with increased power output will dial in your mind-muscle connectivity when you raise the intensity at the gym. When training aggression, drive and power hit you at the right time, you can dig so much deeper than you thought possible.