Let me start off by saying this: if you currently follow any “fitspo” or “health” coaches who promote fat burners on their social pages, unfollow immediately. They are likely not posting or sharing things for your benefit.
The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw someone who I used to follow religiously posting about a fat burner/thermogenic. The woman has almost 2 million followers; 2 million people who may or may not have enough knowledge or experience to not fall for the trick; 2 million people who maybe don’t necessarily believe that fat burners are good for you, but are slowly becoming desensitized to the fact that they are terrible for you. Ever since that incident, I’ve been paying very close attention to the people that I do follow on social in making sure that the “lifestyle” they are promoting is one that is, above all, NATURALLY attainable. People who, yes, look great and work their ass off, but that at least do not promote stimulants that deteriorate your health rather than promote it.
If you are not familiar with the term, a thermogenic fat burner is a supplement that you take to increase your base metabolic rate which in turn increases energy expenditure. The thermogenic component helps increase body temperature which aids in fat loss.
I fell for that trick for a while. When I was in the middle of dancing in college, and with the pressures to look a certain way, I spoke to some friends who told me about a fat burner they were taking. I was into it because they said it curbed your appetite and gave you crazy amounts of energy when cutting which were the two main problem areas for me. I love to eat. I have always loved to eat, but that’s because I was always crazy active. I ran cross-country, I danced, I weight trained. I had to fuel my body. But young me did not understand that. I used fat burners for a few weeks at a time to really cut and look “bomb,” for photo shoots, for performances, for auditions. I would eat tilapia and asparagus for every meal. I would run 6 miles on 1,000 calories a day in the hot ass Miami weather and barely be able to finish. My heart rate would elevate to the point that I would be worried for a little but then focus on my breathing and just tell myself that I was okay because the bottle said it’s normal. And through all of this, I would ALWAYS bounce back. Not to mention the fact that I was on a fat burning thermogenic supplement (which raises your body temperatures), and went to the beach, which resulted in 1st degree burns all over my body. Something I had to treat with steroid injections from my doctor on my butt, all the week before a huge audition I was prepping for. Fun.
Here is a pic of what I looked at at the time. Which, by the way, I was still not satisfied with (I know).
Yeah, I looked great. But behind that smile, I was hungry, anxious, angry and stressed.
I am now a huge advocate of balance when it comes to training, nutrition and overall lifestyle because I’ve been to all the ends of the spectrum. I’ve done juice cleanses, no carb, high fat, 20 hours of cardio, all that crap. And now, after not trying to go on any diet, not restricting myself and not taking any stimulants, I’ve found myself at a place where I finally feel like my body has chilled out, is finally accepting the fact that I’ve put it through so much shit and is listening to my nurturing actions. Yes, I train a lot because it’s a part of my job, but I eat for it. Yes, I eat healthy but I do not restrict myself. Yes, I drink a night time recovery tea, and do support some supplements like protein and BCAA’s, but I also take it very personally when people I thought I trusted on social medial let me down in such a way by promoting things that are CLEARLY terrible for you. Even through the time I was taking fat burners and thermogenics I knew it was not good for me, and I did not promote them. I take it very personally when I see influencers manipulating the public into purchasing things that are terrible for them just for their own profit.
Now that this rant is over, I want to share some reasons why you should stay away from fat burners:
1. They are not all regulated or tested
According to Livestrong, in 2015, the FDA identified more than 20 fat burners that had dangerous ingredients that included “sibutramine, a drug previously prescribed for obesity but removed from the market in 2010 due to increased risk for heart attack and stroke; an unapproved laxative known to increase the risk of cancer; a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, which is used to treat depression and can cause seizures and increase bleeding risk in people taking medications such as blood thinners.”
2. Can lead to acute liver problems
From liver inflammation to acute liver failure, there are so many different ingredients with so many different side effects in these fat burners/thermogenics that it should come to no surprise that your liver will not be happy about it. The less external, unnatural things your liver has to process the better. I like to preserve my liver to process my wine consumption and leave it at that haha.
3. Your heart rate will spike to unnatural levels
So that you kind of understand how serious this actually is… before I took these things, my resting heart rate must have been around 50 naturally, because I trained so much. When I was taking these pills, I would walk out of my car and to the entrance of LA fitness, and my heart rate would spike so much I could literally feel it pumping in my chest. That would come and go depending on what I was doing, or if I got a little stressed, etc. Some supplements contain Bitter Orange, a thermogenic. The Mayo Clinic states that “while some research studies suggest that bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) can help with modest weight loss when combined with diet and exercise, it’s probably not worth the risk” (chest pain, anxiety, death).
4. It will make you irritable and anxious
I was f*cking cray cray when I was taking those things. First off I was hangry AF because I was barely eating. I was over-caffeinated, dizzy sometimes, on edge. I honestly look back and feel very bad for my exes and anyone that I interacted with at the wrong time because this was not a friendly Camila. I was happy with the way my body looked, but I was so unhappy inside. I just wanted to look good and be healthy and I didn’t know how.
The purpose of this post is to potentially help you from making the same mistakes that I made during this time and remind you once again that if you are ever considering taking a short cut in fitness or nutrition, you are actually taking the long way. Nothing, absolutely nothing will replace the feeling of balance, consistency and success after hours devoted towards your goals. And nothing besides BALANCED, non-restrictive nutrition, realistic, sustainable exercise, and consistency will allow you to keep those results long term. In a social media world flooded with people telling you things are good for only for monetary profit, I want to share with you why those things are terrible for you… for no profit. And I hope you spread the word.
For more rants follow me at @milamarianaa