Do Thermogenics Help You Lose Weight?
Cayenne Pepper, Capsaicin & Fat Loss
LAST UPDATED: September 2018.
Author: Nicola Joyce is a double amateur world title bodybuilder and English Channel swimmer. Her writing has featured in many global fitness publications.
This article features 6 cited references to scientific studies to validate any views. The references feature throughout the body of text.
The common question is, “Do thermogenics work for fat loss?”.
Thermogenic (fat burners) are a hot topic, with some experts claiming they can boost fat loss, and others convinced that they are of no benefit at all.
If you’re on a fat loss diet, all you want to know is: do they work, and are they worth the money?
With so many fat loss supplements on the market, we need to know if thermogenic supplements can really help boost weight loss (and if so, how do they work)?
To understand the impact of thermogenic supplements on fat loss, we first need to look at how the body uses energy.
What Does The Term Thermogenesis Mean?
Thermogenesis is the production of heat in your body, generated by burning calories. Remember, calories are a unit of energy.
At a very basic level, the more heat your body generate, the more calories you will burn.
There are a number of ways you can increase your body’s thermogenesis (and therefore burn more calories), including manipulating TEFF – the thermic effect of food.
But for now, let’s look at thermogenic supplements or fat burners, and how they can impact the amount of calories your body burns and how much body fat you can lose.
What Are Thermogenics?
Thermogenic drinks, tablets, and capsules contain ingredients which raise your body temperature and therefore encourage your body to actually burn more calories than if you hadn’t taken the thermogenic supplement.
In this sense, they temporarily raise your metabolism.
Ever felt hot and sweaty after having a few too many strong coffees on an empty stomach?
That’s a common example of a natural thermogenic (caffeine) at work.
How Do Fat Burner Supplements Work?
Fat burners and thermogenics can help your weight loss efforts in a couple of ways.
Firstly, as mentioned above, they help create more heat in your body (thermogenesis) which means you will burn more calories.
Secondly, they are likely to boost your mood and give you a feeling of more energy, which could mean that you move more, train harder, or work out for longer.
And finally, some thermogenic supplements have an appetite suppressant effect, which could help you eat less, avoid snacks, or achieve a short period of fasting.
This 2013 study looked at the effects of taking a commercially available thermogenic dietary supplement and reported back on the subjects’ resting energy expenditure, mood state and cardiovascular measures. 
Can Thermogenics Accelerate Fat Loss?
The thermogenic themselves will not actually get you leaner, apart from that initial point about physically up regulating your body’s natural thermogenesis.
The other points – giving you more energy, and suppressing your appetite – need behavioral input from you.
If you simply feel energized (but don’t move more), or feel less hungry (but go ahead and eat the snack anyway), then the thermogenic supplement will not be able to help you.
But if you are coming at fat loss with a diet plan, an activity plan, and the mindset to succeed, then thermogenics can give you the helping hand you need.
Common Thermogenic Ingredients
We’ve already mentioned that good old caffeine is effective in boosting your body’s thermogenesis.
It can also help release more fat from your body’s stored fat.
Unless you are intolerant to caffeine, it’s definitely worth adding this cheap, natural supplement to your stack.
As coffee, it’s cheap, tasty, and widely available.
As supplemental caffeine, it is cost-effective and easy to take during the day or before training. Research confirms that caffeine is effective as a thermogenic. 
Polyphenols – found in certain types of tea – are also helpful in boosting thermogenesis. 
Some teas – like oolong – contain caffeine and polyphenols, so you can get the effects of these two natural thermogenics at the same time.
This 2011 study shows that catechins and caffeine can be synergistic when taken together, having more impact than if taken separately. 
EECG (epigallocatechin gallate) find in green tea has a thermogenic effect, although the effect may be minimal.
This 2008 study looked at the effect of green tea on fat oxidation and energy expenditure, and found that average fat oxidation rates were 17% higher after taking green tea (than in the placebo). 
However, dosage is key, so if you want to use green tea, it’s best to get it from high quality green tea capsules rather than trying to drink enough of the tea itself.
Chilli pepper (capsicum annuum) is another significant natural thermogenic which can be found in lots of popular fat burners.
Capsaicinoids have been shown to increase thermogenesis, as in this 2010 study which concluded that a certain dose of capsaicinoids have a positive effect on free fatty acids. 
Bitter Orange (citrus aurantium), African Mango, and Fucoxanthin (a marine carotenoid found in edible seaweeds) are also popular, effective thermogenic ingredients found in popular fat burner supplements.
How To Use Thermogenics
The obvious time to take a thermogenic supplement is before training, either as a fat burner capsule, or as a powder which you use as your pre-workout drink.
Yet, you can also take fat burners during the day to help your body burn more calories outside of training.
Just don’t take them too close to bedtime, as the stimulant effect will keep you awake (and lack of sleep will have a negative effect on fat loss!) Sleep is one natural fat burner which we can all access every day!
The Take Home
So, do thermogenics help you lose weight?
There is no magic weight loss pill, and no supplement that will blast fat from your body like a furnace without a little extra hard work such as exercise.
That said, the research tells us that certain thermogenic ingredients can and will boost your body’s own ability to burn calories through thermogenesis.
If you combine this potential with a consistent calorie deficit, you will lose more weight than without the thermogenic.
And if you use thermogenic supplements to move more, train harder, and workout for longer PLUS avoid the temptation of overeating, you’re on to a winner.
There’s no substitute for a calorie deficit and hard work, however, if you are closing in on the final stages of a fat loss diet, thermogenics can give you a helping hand to boost your efforts and see results.
 Effects of ingestion of a commercially available thermogenic dietary supplement on resting energy expenditure, mood state and cardiovascular measures. Outlaw J, Wilborn C, Smith A, Urbina S, Hayward S, Foster C, Wells S, Wildman R, Taylor L. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Apr 30;10(1):25. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-25. PMID: 23627832
 J Food Sci. 2010 Apr;75(3):R77-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01561.x.Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in foods: a comprehensive review on consumption, functionality, safety, and regulatory matters. Heckman MA, Weil J, Gonzalez de Mejia E.
 Oolong tea increases energy metabolism in Japanese females. Komatsu T, Nakamori M, Komatsu K, Hosoda K, Okamura M, Toyama K, Ishikura Y, Sakai T, Kunii D, Yamamoto S. J Med Invest. 2003 Aug;50(3-4):170-5. PMID: 13678386
 Antiobesity effects of green tea catechins: a mechanistic review. Rains TM, Agarwal S, Maki KC. J Nutr Biochem. 2011 Jan;22(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.06.006. Epub 2010 Nov 5. Review. PMID: 21115335
 Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans. Venables MC, Hulston CJ, Cox HR, Jeukendrup AE. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):778-84. PMID: 18326618
 Effect of oral intake of capsaicinoid beadlets on catecholamine secretion and blood markers of lipolysis in healthy adults: a randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind, cross-over study. Bloomer RJ, Canale RE, Shastri S, Suvarnapathki S. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Jul 15;9:72. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-9-72. PMID: 20633266
Nicola Joyce (aka “the fit writer”) is a fitness industry copywriter who has been writing for and about sport and fitness since 2004. Nicola is a competitive drug-free bodybuilder (with two World titles at amateur level) and has also competed in powerlifting and a couple of strongman comps. Prior to her strength training days, Nicola was an endurance athlete and has even swum the English Channel twice. She can be found on all social media at: thefitwriter.
Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. It explores the many avenues of fitness and uses supporting scientific evidence for any reviews or analysis of products.
Ben himself has been interested in fitness from an early age. He started playing rugby at the age of 6 for his town, county and school where he gained his full colors while also being in the Army Cadets. After graduating from university in 2005 with a BA(Hons) Ben moved to London and nurtured his love for weightlifting to support his rugby, he also became heavily involved with cycling. Ben also started skiing and recently joined the Army Reserve to further develop his capabilities.